Pierre Vigny Strikes a Pugilistic Pose (June 7th, 1899)

Bartitsu Club savate and stick fighting instructor Pierre Vigny is pictured striking a classic boxing stance in this promotional photo, which was originally published in the Boxing World and Mirror of Life, a popular London sporting journal at the very end of the 19th century. During this period, Vigny had only recently arrived in the English capital city and was entering his first collaborations with Bartitsu founder Edward Barton-Wright, initiating both the fusion of Vigny stickfighting with jujutsu and also the development of Bartitsu unarmed combat as a definable style unto itself.

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An Update on the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III

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!

Posted in Academia, Antagonistics, Biography, Canonical Bartitsu, E. W. Barton-Wright, Editorial, Edwardiana | Comments Off on An Update on the Bartitsu Compendium, Volume III

Early 20th Century French Self Defence Manuals Translated by M.P. Lynch

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.

The titles include:

HOOKS, TRIPS, THROWS, & TAKEDOWNS: Standup Grappling: The Cherpillod Method – note that this 1905 manual on stand-up wrestling was written by former Bartitsu Club wrestling and physical culture instructor Armand Cherpillod.

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.


The Secrets of Jiu Jitsu – written by Ernest Regnier, a.k.a. “Re-Nie”, who had trained with Bartitsu Club instructors and went on to pioneer jujutsu in France.

HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF: CANE – FISTS – DIRTY TRICKS – by Georges Dubois, the well-known Parisian athlete and artist who had lost a savate vs. jujutsu encounter with “Re-Nie” but carried on the produce this excellent manual on street self defence.

WRESTLE: The Joseph Clère Method

BOXING & BATON, CANE & CHAUSSON: The Julien Delauney Method

THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE IN THE STREET: Savate – Boxing – Grappling – Cane – Knife

100 Ways to Defend Yourself in the Street: With Weapons from canes to knives and knuckle dusters

Emile André’s : The Basics of La Canne & Batôn

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“Moving Pictures” of Savate and la Canne

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.

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The Bartitsu and Suffrajitsu Stories as Rendered by Teenagers

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.

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The Soft Art: Ju-Jitsu (The Sketch, March 22 1905)

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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E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu in the Sherlock Holmes Collection

  • 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.

Posted in Academia, Baritsu, E. W. Barton-Wright, Exhibitions, Fiction, Pop-culture, Sherlock Holmes | Comments Off on E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu in the Sherlock Holmes Collection

Self-Defence with a Cane (1928)

This short article from the Motherwell Times of July 27th, 1928 remarks upon a visit to London by Herbert Gordon Lang, who perpetuated and modified the Vigny method of stick fighting.

Lang had originally learned the art from former Bartitsu Club member Percy Rolt during an extended training visit to Rolt’s Hove gymnasium, thereafter incorporating some techniques from the West Indian stick fighting art of bois. As a Police Superintendant in India, Lang taught his combined method to police trainees and also wrote the book The Walking Stick Method of Self Defence (1923).

There is in London at present a slightly-built man who would not feel very alarmed if he suddenly saw three burly hooligans rushing at him with knives in their hands.

His light malacca cane would whistle through the air three or four times. There would be cries of pain, and his assailants would be incapacitated.

This man, who can walk about the world with so much confidence, is Mr. H. G Lang, a district superintendant of police in the Bombay Presidency, India. He has recently introduced into the Indian police force a method of self-defence with a light walking-stick, believed to be of Continental origin, which has been found very effective.

Mr. Lang told a reporter that by this method a young girl could disable a powerful man with even a short umbrella. He said: – All that you need know is the vulnerable parts of a person’s body, and the means of delivering the blow. A sharp, slashing blow on the side of a man’s neck may easily kill him. A rap on his hand will make it useless. A mild blow on the inner side of the knee has made it impossible for a man to walk properly for months.

The ordinary untrained person defending himself with a walking-stick would strike down on his assailant’s head or shoulders. This is a “dead” blow which cannot be quickly repeated, while the stick can easily be caught by the other person. Glancing cuts to the side of a man’s neck can be delivered with lightning rapidity, and the stick cannot be caught. Even a man about to fire a revolver from close range could be diabled with a slash to the hand or the face.

I have found that my knowledge of this method of self-defence has given me the feeling of the greatest confidence. On one occasion in India I saw a powerful built lunatic coming toward me. I did not feel alarmed and decided just where to strike. As it happened, he did not actually attack me.

Mr. Lang has written a fascinating book describing the different strokes and guards. In this reference is made to the “Riot Enclosure” in which the Indian police are trained to deal with mobs. It consists of circular arrangement of posts with sacks and boards irregularly placed to represent a mob.

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“The King’s Man” Trailer Promises a Melange of Gentlemanly Mayhem

Delayed several times due to the pandemic, The King’s Man – a prequel to the popular Kingsman series – is currently set for release in December of 2021. As this trailer demonstrates, alongside copious sword, knife and gun-play, the suave Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) is adept at close-combat with both umbrellas and crook-handled walking sticks.

The Duke is actually the second secret agent character in Fiennes’ career to possess that very specialised talent; he also played the unflappable John Steed in the otherwise regrettable 1998 movie adaptation of The Avengers (the classic ’60s British TV series, not the Marvel superhero franchise).

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“Charley Smiler” Suffrajitsu Footage Added to “No Man Shall Protect Us” Documentary

The “Suffrajitsu” scene from the recently rediscovered 1911 movie Charley Smiler Takes Up Ju-jitsu has been edited into the 2018 documentary No Man Shall Protect Us, which illuminates the role of the secret society of martial arts-trained female bodyguards who defended the leaders of the radical suffragette movement.

The documentary also includes a short section on Bartitsu as well as interview-style re-enactments with suffragette jujutsu trainer Edith Garrud, played by actress Lynne Baker.

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