“Should an Assailant Strike at Your Wind or Heart with His Right Fist”: an Anomalous Canonical Bartitsu Technique Illustrated

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Saturday, 26th November 2016

In April of 2010 the Bartitsu Society discovered a “new” entry into canonical Bartitsu unarmed combat.  This self defence kata or sequence appeared as part of a reprint of E.W. Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence” article series in the June, 1899 American edition of Pearson’s Magazine.  Curiously, the sequence had not appeared in the original and better-known English edition and, also curiously, it was the only sequence in the American edition to be described in text but not illustrated with photographs.

Compounding the mystery is the fact that the sequence is titled “One of Many Means of Defence when a Man Strikes at You Low or Below the Belt”, which does not actually match Barton-Wright’s subsequent description of the techniques.  This may imply that the American Pearson’s editor confused two separate titles and descriptions, in which case there may be at least one more, as yet undiscovered, entry into the Bartitsu canon.

Here follows the sequence in question, as written by Barton-Wright and now illustrated for (possibly) the first time.  Note that the camera perspective reverses between numbers 2) and 3), to afford the viewer a better look at the techniques.

No. 1.—One of many Means of Defence when a Man Strikes at You Low or Below the Belt.


Should an assailant strike at your wind or heart with his right fist, step backward with your right foot, and in doing so place your right hand over your heart, with the palm outward, and grasp his wrist by placing your left hand over his wrist (the placing of the right hand over the heart is only a precautionary measure in case you miss catching his wrist when he leads off at your body).


As soon as you feel you have hold of his wrist, pull it towards you with a slight outward motion leftways, take a step forward with your right foot, placing it behind his right leg, and seize him by the throat, pressing your thumb into his tonsil or just under the back of the ear, which is extremely painful.


Then with a sharp leftward pull with the left hand, and a thrust or a push leftward with the right hand (keeping your right calf or the side of your knee tightly behind his right knee), you throw him on his back.

The photograph of this technique is modified from an essay on self defence in The Universal Book of Hobbies and Handicrafts (1935).

Retain your hold on his throat and ear, and dropping upon the right knee you pull his arm towards you so that his elbow is just across your thigh. With the slightest pressure you could break his arm. At the same time you extend your right arm vigorously and press your thumb well into the cavity under the ear, which will cause great pain, preventing him from getting up.

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