Another Update re. The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III

The third volume of the Compendium is currently being compiled, following the publications of Volume I in 2005 and Volume II in 2008.

Vol. III opens with a 166-page retrospective on the life and times of Edward Barton-Wright and the rise and fall of his Bartitsu School of Arms in Soho at the turn of the 20th century. This section represents the first truly comprehensive telling of the “Bartitsu story” in a long-form narrative format, drawing from twenty years of intensive research.

A curated Anthology section compiles the best and most interesting articles published on (now between 2008-2019, plus a selection of new articles on subjects of diverse interest to Bartitsu aficionados.

Section 3, “Techniques and Tactics” reveals exactly how Bartitsu combined and distinguished itself from the other antagonistics of its era, via a combination of hard-won historical data and the practical experience of the modern revival movement.

The final section offers a look back at the first twenty years of the Bartitsu revival, including the art’s influence on pop-culture and the activities of the Bartitsu Society as a grassroots, open-source martial arts association.

Stay tuned for further details as the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III nears publication!

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Bartitsu vs. Wing Chun in “Ip Man: The Awakening”

Set during the turbulent 1930s, this new feature film pits a young Ip Man (Tse Miu) against a British human trafficking ring, including one villain who employs Bartitsu.

Edward Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” has influenced fight choreography in feature films before – notably in the Sherlock Holmes duology starring Robert Downey, Jr. and in the Kingsman series – and was both displayed and name-checked in an episode of The League TV series. This scene is, however, the first time the art has been simultaneously shown and described in a feature film, and it’s not a bad representation from a stylistic point of view. The villain demonstrates a blend of each of the source arts of boxing, savate, jujutsu and stick fighting before meeting his just desserts at the Wing Chun-trained hands (and pole) of the unbeatable Ip Man.

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Umbrella-Fu in “In from the Cold”

In this scene from the action series In from the Cold, undercover spy/assassin Anya Petrova (a.k.a. Jenny Franklin/The Whisper, played by actress Margarita Levieva) breaks character to deliver an umbrella beatdown on an array of enemy agents. Alert viewers will note that she employs a couple of classic Bartitsu techniques …

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Physical Culture Historians

This YouTube channel offers a wide range of well-produced short documentaries, lectures, instructional videos and equipment demonstrations in connection with the grand tradition of 19th and early 20th century physical culture.

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Bartitsu Instructional Videos via the Redgate Bartitsu Club

The Redgate Bartitsu Club has produced a useful series of instructional videos on the basics of Bartitsu as a holistic fighting style, progressing through the ranges of stick fighting, (kick)boxing and fundamental jujutsu/standing grappling.

Some samples from each of the ranges follow:

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More Unarmed Bartitsu Sparring

Another set of light, technical sparring bouts courtesy of the Cateran Society.

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Jujutsu vs. Boxing (1909)

In this photograph, from a January 1909 full-page advertisement for the Golden Square School of Jujutsu in Modern Man magazine, William Garrud (standing) and Sadakazu Uyenishi demonstrate a kugi-nuki (“pincers”) takedown against a boxer’s left-lead punch.

Edward Barton-Wright’s introduction of the Japanese style to Europe in the final years of the 19th century began an ongoing “boxing vs. jujutsu” debate, mostly among armchair theorists. Barton-Wright, Percy Longhurst and other self-defence practitioners tended to argue in favour of a union of boxing with jujutsu as self-defence, while William Garrud had a particular interest in devising jujutsu counters to boxing punches. This type of defence was the subject of a chapter of his 1914 book The Complete Jujutsuan, which was later republished in the second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (2008).

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Light Unarmed Bartitsu Sparring from the Cateran Society

Although E.W. Barton-Wright recorded details of the stick fighting and jujutsu aspects of Bartitsu in his Pearson’s Magazine articles, it took many years of painstaking research and educated guesswork to piece together the Bartitsu Club’s take on (kick)boxing. This video is a decent representation of that style, as performed in a friendly, technical sparring match.

In particular, note the aggressive, elbow-forward defences displayed by the fighter in the black and white t-shirt and the transitions from the striking range to the grappling/jujutsu range, both key markers of Bartitsu unarmed combat.

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An Update on the E.W. Barton-Wright Memorial Project

Back in 2005, the Bartitsu Society intended to dedicate funds raised through sales of the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume 1 to the creation of a memorial stone for Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright, who had died under humble circumstances in 1951 and was buried in a so-called “pauper’s grave” – an un-marked, communal plot – at Kingston Cemetery, near London. We discovered, however, that there was a cemetery policy prohibiting the placement of individual grave markers on communal plots because it’s impossible to precisely identify where an individual was buried. A temporary, symbolic marker was then placed at the site by Society member Phil Giles (see below):

Our efforts then shifted to cultural memorials, including a wall display at the Marylebone Public Library, an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and various documentary and writing projects, all of which were carried out between 2008-2013.  

We also pursued memorial plaque options at the site of the original Bartitsu Club in Shaftesbury Avenue, but Barton-Wright was not considered to be historically notable enough for the Blue Plaque scheme and the location wasn’t suitable for commemoration via Green Plaque.  An effort to donate a permanent Barton-Wright display to the Self Defence Gallery at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds looked promising for a while, but became tangled in red tape.  

Frank Jastrzembski – an author and historian who arranged for a grave marker in honour of Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery, the famous 19th century Danish-American duellist, soldier-of-fortune and self-defence instructor – has recently discovered that it is now possible to install permanent markers on communal graves at Kingston Cemetery. These markers are not full “gravestones” but can be of any design within the dimensions of 12″ cubed. In collaboration with Edward Barton-Wright’s descendants, a permanent stone marker and plaque is now being designed as a fitting memorial for the founder of Bartitsu.

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“Self Defence with a Walking Stick, Revisited”

Click here to read jujutsuka/researcher David Brough’s peer-reviewed article for Issue #11 of Martial Arts Studies, tracing the development of walking stick self defence back into the early 19th century, through Pierre Vigny’s innovations at the Bartitsu Club circa 1900 and then into sporadic revivals via the English jujutsu scene during the late 20th century:

In Barton-Wright’s second article in 1901, also titled ‘Self-defence with a Walking-stick’ [Barton-Wright 1901b], we see more use of guards, strikes, and parries, with a straight cane. However, we also see defences using a hooked walking stick, where the crook of the handle is used to pull an opponent off balance by either pulling round their neck, or round their ankle. In this article, we also see an interesting evolution, which is the appearance of jujutsu techniques applied with the cane. For example, technique number 7 shows the bent arm lock, ude-garami, applied after a parry (Figure 4 overleaf). Do these techniques show that Vigny and Barton-Wright, who trained intensively with jujutsu experts Tani and Uyenishi, started to hybridise use of the cane with jujutsu techniques?

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