The Bartitsu School of Arms: Beamish Museum, 2013

  • Originally published on the site on Tuesday, 12th February 2013
School of Arms 2013 logo copy

Announcing the third international Bartitsu symposium, to take place at Beamish Museum near Newcastle, UK, between September 14th and 15th, 2013.

Update: the Google Groups email list for the School of Arms event is now live at this website.

Instructors and participants who have booked their tickets should now have received an automatic subscription notice allowing full access to the list, delivered to the email address they gave when making their bookings. You may need to check your spam folders, etc.

If you are booked to attend the event but have not received an automatic subscription or invitation, please apply for membership via the webpage link above.

  • Premise
  • Training
  • Schedule
  • Location and venue
  • Museum visit
  • Saturday night buffet and forum at the Sun Inn
  • Antagonisticathlon
  • Prerequisites
  • Please bring:
  • Local accommodation options
  • Registration


To preserve and extend the pioneering martial arts cross-training experiments begun by E. W. Barton-Wright at the original Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture, circa 1901:

History copy

Under Bartitsu is included boxing, or the use of the fist as a hitting medium, the use of the feet both in an offensive and defensive sense, the use of the walking stick as a means of self-defence. Judo and jujitsu, which are secret styles of Japanese wrestling, I would call close play as applied to self-defence.

In order to ensure, as far as it is possible, immunity against injury in cowardly attacks or quarrels, one must understand boxing in order to thoroughly appreciate the danger and rapidity of a well-directed blow, and the particular parts of the body which are scientifically attacked. The same, of course, applies to the use of the foot or the stick.

Judo and jujitsu were not designed as primary means of attack and defence against a boxer or a man who kicks you, but are only to be used after coming to close quarters, and in order to get to close quarters it is absolutely necessary to understand boxing and the use of the foot.

– E.W. Barton-Wright, lecture for the Japan Society of London, 1902



School of Arms participants will meet each morning at the Beamish Museum main entrance and then board an authentic early 20th-century electric tram for a five-minute trip back in time to “Beamish Town”, circa 1901.

The event includes an intense and immersive two days of cross-training and circuit training with fellow enthusiasts, guided by a team of Bartitsu instructors and inspired by the ideal of Barton-Wright’s School of Arms:

In one corner is M. Vigny, the World’s Champion with the single-stick: the Champion who is the acknowledged master of savate trains his pupils in another … he leads you gently on with gloves and single-stick, through the mazes of the arts, until, at last, with your trained eye and supple muscles, no unskilled brute force can put you out, literally or metaphorically.

In another part of the Club are more Champions, this time from far Japan, who will teach you once more of how little you know of the muscles that keep you perpendicular, and of the startling effects of sudden leverage properly applied …

… when you have mastered the various branches of the work done at the Club, which includes a system of physical drill taught by another Champion, this time from Switzerland, the world is before you, even though a “Hooligan” may be behind you …

– “S.L.B.” in the article “Defence Against ‘Hooligans’: Bartitsu Methods in London”, from The Sketch, April 10, 1901

Following the successful model of the previous events in London and Chicago, our days will include whole-group training sessions as well as skills-based circuit training and breakout groups concentrating on particular areas of interest. Some cross-training sessions will be team-taught by instructors and others will involve peer-to-peer work.

Instructors and class themes will include:

Tony Wolf (New Zealand/USA) will be running sessions in combat tactics/biomechanics across each of the Bartitsu skill-sets of boxing, low kicking, jujitsu and stick fighting, as well as neo-Bartitsu “combat improv” drills, building upon the stylised canonical sequences through progressive levels of improvisation and resistance as a bridge between set-plays and free-sparring.

Allen Reed (USA) will concentrate on canonical jujitsu sequences and counters to those sequences arising from resistance by the opponent.- UPDATE Sept. 6 – sadly, due to his wife suddenly being taken ill, Allen will not longer be able to join us at the School of Arms. The canonical jujitsu sessions will be distributed amongst the other instructors.

James Marwood (UK) will focus on practical applications of Bartitsu principles, specifically the use of boxing/pugilism and jujitsu atemi-waza and grappling to deal with assaults. Working from the premise that such an assault will be a surprise, James will show that the base arts and principles of Bartitsu can be applied to vastly increase one’s chance of a successful outcome.

Mark P. Donnelly (USA) will cover advanced tactics and techniques for employing walking stick, cane, umbrella or parasol at all ranges; using the reach advantage to best effect at long range, holding your own at medium range against a pugilist and exploiting the mechanical advantage of grappling with a cane at close range.


Friday, September 13th: 12.00 – 5.00: optional (but highly recommended) visit to Beamish Museum, including a 1/2 hour Bartitsu demonstration to be held in either the Beamish bandstand or the Masonic Hall (see below for details).

Saturday, September 14th: Bartitsu training at the School of Arms venue 10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m., 1/2 hour lunch break  (we recommend that you bring a packed lunch);  training 1.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.; Antagonisticathlon (weather permitting – see below); 6.00-9.00, reconvene for buffet dinner, discussions and socialising at the Sun Inn, just down the street from the School of Arms venue.

Sunday, September 15th: Bartitsu training at the School of Arms venue 10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m., 1/2 hour lunch break (we recommend that you bring a packed lunch); training 1.00 p.m. – 4.15 p.m.; closing, presentation of participation certificates, group photos and farewells.

Please see the Visit Northeast England website for information on other regional cultural attractions and events.

Location and venue

The 2012 School of Arms venue is Beamish Museum which is located near the town of Stanley in County Durham, UK.

Established in 1972, Beamish is a multi-award winning open-air “living history” museum spread over 300 acres, with extensive exhibitions representing transportation, engineering, agriculture, coal mining and town life during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The museum houses some 300,000 historical artifacts, ranging from thimbles to vehicles and buildings, and is staffed by costumed interpreters. Beamish has also been used as a location for TV series, including dramas based on the works of novelist Catherine Cookson.

The Bartitsu School of Arms will be established on the second floor of the historic Barclays Bank building, which is situated along the main street of “Beamish Town”:

Please click here to view a fully interactive map of the local area, plus detailed directions. You can also use this map to check routes to and from the venue and accommodation/entertainment options, etc.

Museum visit

School of Arms participants are invited to join a special day visit to Beamish Museum on Friday, September 13th.  We will also present a half-hour Bartitsu demonstration for museum visitors, which will take place in the Beamish bandstand or in the historic Masonic Hall, depending on the weather.

Your School of Arms registration fee covers your ticket to take part in the Friday tour.

Saturday night buffet and forum at the Sun Inn

Our after-hours venue on Saturday night will be the Sun Inn, an authentic Edwardian-era pub translocated from the village of Bishop Auckland and now sited just down the road from the School of Arms.

We will enjoy a hot buffet meal of traditional Northeastern English fare at the Sun Inn, followed by drinks and discussion of matters Bartitsuvian.


Participants in the Antagonisticathlon represent Victorian-era adventurers fighting their way through a gauntlet of obstacles and “assassins”, inspired by Sherlock Holmes fending off Professor Moriarty’s henchmen in The Adventure of the Final Problem. Although the antagonisticathlon is not a competition, “style points” may be awarded at the judges’ discretion.

By special arrangement with Beamish Museum, and if the weather allows, we will be holding the Antagonisticathlon “after hours” on Saturday afternoon.


The School of Arms is intended to benefit the Bartitsu revival as a whole by encouraging cross-training and fellowship.  In order to ensure good progress for the whole group throughout the seminars, certain technical skills are required as prerequisites of participation. These include:

  • basic ukemi (breakfalling) – you must be able to comfortably and safely fall backwards and/or sideways to the left and right from a standing start
  • basic boxing – you must be able to comfortably and safely punch a hand-held, padded striking target with either fist
  • fitness – this will be a physically intense event and you should be in good general physical condition. We will be active all day, each day. People with significant physical challenges should contact the organisers for advice before committing to attending the event.

Though not a formal prerequisite, it is recommended that participants should also have some familiarity with the canonical armed and unarmed combat sequences recorded by E.W. Barton-Wright in his articles The New Art of Self Defence and Self Defence with a Walking Stick.  These set-plays will be the basis of some drills and exercises during the School of Arms.

Please bring:

  • A large water or sports drink bottle
  • A packed lunch for each day you will be attending (note that Beamish is a popular tourist destination and that there are often long lines at lunchtime)
  • Exercise clothing resembling 19th century physical culture kit (typically, a plain, form-fitting t-shirt or tanktop/singlet and either yoga pants, fencing pants or gi pants in any combination of the colours black, white, navy blue, maroon or grey)
  • A pair of exercise shoes to be worn during training; please note that outdoor shoes cannot be worn on the School of Arms floor
  • A sturdy crook-handled walking stick and/or rattan rod approximately 36″ in length, with any sharp or rough edges smoothed away, or a rubber-tipped Bartitsu training cane

Participants in the antagonisticathlon are encouraged to wear clothing evocative of the Victorian/Edwardian periods, if practical.

Fencing masks, gi jackets and sashes, boxing gloves, hand protection for stick fighting, mouth guards, striking pads, additional body protection (knee/shin pads, groin guards, etc.) are not required, but will be welcome if you can bring them.  A limited number of rattan canes, fencing masks and other items of protective equipment will be available for training and sparring purposes.

We suggest that you bring a light jacket or sweater as well as a raincoat and/or umbrella.  Average temperatures in the Northeast of England during early September range from 63-48° Fahrenheit (17-9° celcius).  The risk of rainfall is moderate.

Local accommodation options

This webpage details numerous accommodation options in the vicinity of the Bartitsu School of Arms venue.  Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own accommodation; this expense is not included in the 2012 School of Arms registration fee.

Update: A limited number of local billets (homestay options) will be available on a first come/first served basis, thanks to members of the Bartitsu Amateur Forum which is based close to the School of Arms location. Car-pooling to and from the Beamish Museum site may also be available. These details will be arranged via an email list for registrants.


The 2013 Bartitsu School of Arms is a boutique symposium and the event is strictly limited to 24 participants aged 18 years and older.

The registration fee for the event is £80.00 (€93.00, US$125.00). You can register and pay online (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and PayPal) via this link:

Registrations will be on a first-come, first-served basis and will left open until September 6th or until the event is fully booked.

Please register as soon as possible, ensuring that your registration includes an email address at which we may reliably contact you, so that we can keep you informed of any updates, etc.

If you wish to register for a single day, or for the Friday museum tour and demonstration plus only one other day, please send £40.00 (€47.00, US$63.00) via PayPal to, clearly noting which day you wish to attend.

Please note that your registration fee goes towards operational expenses associated with running the School of Arms. Participants are responsible for arranging for their own accommodation and buying their own meals and drinks, apart from the Saturday night buffet meal.

We look forward to seeing you at Beamish!

This entry was posted in Bartitsu School of Arms, Boxing, Canonical Bartitsu, Instruction, Jiujitsu, Physical Culture, Savate, Vigny stick fighting. Bookmark the permalink.