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.
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):
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.
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?
As announced in January, work has begun on the production of the third volume of the Bartitsu Compendium, a series that began with the publication of Volume 1 in 2005 and continued with Volume II in 2008. After that the original Bartitsu.org website became our main communications outlet, but the catastrophic technical failure of that site in 2019 underscored the fragility of purely electronic media.
Volume III begins with a long-form, in-depth look back at the life of Edward Barton-Wright and the rise and fall of the Bartitsu Club, concentrating especially on the heady years between 1898 and 1902. Already numbering over 100 pages, this section will offer not only a truly comprehensive overview of the subject but also crucial and unique details that have not seen print (in any media) for about 120 years.
The second section serves as an archive and distillation of the very best articles published via Bartitsu.org (and now BartitsuSociety.com) between 2008 and the present day, plus “new” items on (among other topics) Pierre Vigny’s signature defence against a belt-swinging hooligan – here fully detailed for the first time in recent history – and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the 1907 production of The Lady Athlete, or Jiu Jitsu Downs the Footpads, one of the first martial arts movies ever produced.
Section 3 is a vital supplement to all the technical material presented in the first two volumes of the Compendium. These items include key insights into precisely how Barton-Wright’s martial art combined – and distinguished itself from – the other “antagonistics” of its era, drawn from a fusion of hard-won historical data and the practical experience of the contemporary revival movement.
Finally, section 4 features a thorough sampling of more recent Bartitsuvian events, particularly in the realm of popular culture. Paralleling the media interest, this section also delves into the modern Bartitsu movement as an exemplar of grassroots, open-source martial arts revivalism.
The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III is scheduled for release during 2022, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original Bartitsu Club in London. Further updates will be offered here as the publication date approaches!
A heads-up that a number of rare French antagonistics manuals, most dating from the period immediately following the brief Bartitsu Club era, are now available in English translation via Amazon, courtesy of M.P. Lynch. All the translations are available for under US$3.00 each and are available free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
YE OLDE RUFF & TUMBLE: Romein De Hooge – a translation of de Hooge’s Klare Onderrichtinge der Voortreffelijke Worstel-Konst (“Clear Education in the Magnificent Art of Wrestling”) from 1674. The “magnificent art” in this case has less to do with gentlemanly grappling and more to do with winning an Amsterdam bar brawl if you happen to be unarmed when things kick off.
If Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny had seen this film footage, he’d probably have shaken his head at much of it. At the turn of the 20th century, Vigny was among a minority of savate instructors advocating for a reformation of the rules and conventions governing the sport, which, if widely adopted, would have pushed competitive savate closer to the full-contact model of professional boxing. He was also a maverick when it come to la canne, having devised his own, self-defence-oriented version of the style that eliminated many of the fencing-based guards shown in the second film.
It’s satisfying to see the torches of interest in Bartitsu and Suffrajitsu being taken up by (much) younger enthusiasts. Here are three recent video documents on aspects of Edwardian-era antagonistics, by researcher/presenters who had yet to be born when the Bartitsu revival got underway in the early 2000s.
A well-researched video presentation on Bartitsu by Davi Gabriel, Luca Holanda, José Enzo and João Victor da Silva as part of the physical education studies course in Parnamirim (Rio Grande do Norte), Brazil.
Cora Price presents her first place-winning (and highly accurate) account of Suffrajitsu history for the National History Day Utah 2021 Junior Individual Documentary competition.
Pembroke Hill School student Erin Lowe presents her (again, very accurate) 2017 National History Day Gold Medal winning performance of the Suffrajitsu story at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.
Edwardian journalists, handicapped by the lack of standardised spelling of Japanese words in English, did the best they could via phonetics. “Tarro Myaki’s” name is properly rendered at Taro Miyake, and he was prominent among the second wave of Japanese jujutsuka to visit England during the very early 20th century.
This recently-discovered photo-feature from The Sketch magazine shows Miyake demonstrating several basic jujutsu waza.
Tarro Myaki, who is champion of the world, and who is shown in these photographs, beat Yukio Tani at the end of last year and has recently been wrestling with Joe Carroll. He is 23, weighs 11 and 1/2 stone and is 5’8″ in height.
A number of police constables are already being initiated into the mysteries of Ju-jitsu, and the military authorities have visited Tarro Myaki’s school with a view to having the “soft art” taught to the Army and Navy.
(1.) Should his enemy attack him by catching him by the neck, the exponent of Ju-jitsu pushes up his adversary’s right arm, and pulls at the sleeve of the left, at the same time swinging round sharply with his left foot (4.) Until the position here shown is obtained. The attacker is then cross-buttocked, and thus made ready to receive an arm-lock or a neck-hold.
(2.) To attain this common arm-lock, the Ju-jitsu user places his right leg lightly over his opponent’s neck, in order to prevent him rising, and, pressing his left firmly against his adversary’s body, seizes his arm, and holds it with the thumb upwards. He then presses on the limb, using his thigh as a fulcrum, and is thus able break it should he be forced to do so.
(3.) The arm-lock here illustrated is somewhat similar that shown Photograph 2, in this case the pressure is even greater, and is put on by the leg and foot.
(1.) When he wishes to throw a man who is holding him round the waist from behind, the exponent of Ju-jitsu first strikes his opponent’s hand sharply on the knuckles, thus causing him to release his grip. He then seizes his adversary’s right hand (2.) And, without moving his right leg, carries his left round, at the same time putting on the arm-lock (U-de-na-ta) here shown.
(3.) The arrest of a man is a comparatively simple matter if he is held in the way here illustrated. The upward pressure placed upon the upper part of the prisoner’s arm would dislocate the limb if its owner did not move forward. (4.) Should anyone attempt to catch hold of his collar with his right hand, the practiser of Ju-jitsu defends himself by placing his left hand under his opponent’s wrist, thereby guarding himself, and at the same time throwing his right hand under the upper part of his adversary’s arm. He then locks his fingers and forces backward, throwing his man or breaking his arm if resistance is offered.
Photographs by the Biograph Studio.
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Originally posted on the Bartitsu.org site on Saturday, 30th June 2012
On Thursday, June 28th, 2012 a wall display commemorating Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright was unveiled as part of the Sherlock Holmes Collection at Marylebone Library in London. The display consists of a large framed print of Sidney Paget’s illustration of Sherlock Holmes’ “baritsu” struggle with Professor Moriarty, and a companion print offering a summary of Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu and its connection with the Holmes canon. The display was designed by Tony Wolf and was donated to the Collection on behalf of the Bartitsu Society, towards the mission of memorialising Barton-Wright’s life and achievements.
Above: Emelyne Godfrey, author of the book Masculinity, Crime and Self Defence in Victorian Literature outside Marylebone Library.
Above: David Jones of the Sherlock Holmes Society strikes a pose inspired by Paget’s famous illustration. The text reads:
Above: Bartitsu instructors James Marwood (left) and George Stokoe demonstrate the Bartitsu method of self defence with a walking stick as part of Mr. Marwood’s lecture/demonstration in connection with the unveiling.