Some “new” and unusual snippets of Bartitsu history

According to an item in the Morning Leader of Tuesday, 29 November 1898, the entertainments for an upcoming charity bazaar were scheduled to include:

Mr. E. W. Barton- Wright (who) will on Friday and Saturday give a demonstration of Bartitsu, the new art of self defence and show some Japanese wrestling. He will also explain and expose the simplicity with which certain well-known feats of strength are performed.

Although Barton-Wright gave a number of jujutsu demonstrations during late 1898, this is the first and only known report of his demonstrating “feats of strength”. Those feats were almost certainly among those he described in his Pearson’s Magazine article “How to Pose as a Strong Man,” which was published two months after the charity event.

The Leader of Thursday, 29 June 1899 included the following short article, which is the only known example of Barton-Wright himself promoting the Bartitsu Club prior to its opening:


“Bartitsu,” be it known, is the art of self-defence, and a club is being formed where this art in all its phases will be practised.

“It will be purely a sports club,” explained Mr. Barton-Wright to a Morning Leader representative, “where men and women, girls and boys, can be instructed in fencing, sabre play, la savate, boxing, and Bartitsu.”

The club will be somewhere in Piccadilly. One special feature will be the instruction of members, especially lady members, in the art of defending themselves with a walking stick

“As you know, I have given exhibitions of Japanese wrestling, which art I am now teaching to certain well-known society leaders. But for the Bartitsu Club, which is to be a limited company, I am going over to Japan to secure some of the best instructors in certain of Japanese wrestling. I have lived and travelled in nearly every country on the globe and this is the most perfect form of self-defence. It is one that, with a little study, can be acquired by women equally as well as men and once learnt is never forgotten. Classes will be arranged, and instruction given privately. We are expecting a full complement of members from the beginning.”

The Hampshire Post and Southsea Observer of Friday, 24 March 1899 adds a hitherto unknown third verse to the “Bartitsu” poem quoted in several other newspapers around that time:

What’s the new Bartitsu?

Well, a fellow gits you

By the wrist,

and with a twist,

on the floor he sits you.

Into knots he knits you,

Every joint he splits you.

Winds your coat

Around your throat,

Throttling into fits you.

When at length he quits you,

Wondering whether it’s you,

With a broom

They clear the room,

That’s the new Bartitsu!

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