“The New Art of Self Defence: A Clever Display” (1898)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Monday, 20th February 2017

From The Sporting Life – 29 October, 1898

Anything absolutely new with regard what no one will deny is an ancient and honourable pastime (we refer to the noble art) must of necessity be received with curiosity, and, to say the least of it, pleasure.

The noble art of self-defence stands where it did in the long ago, and beyond superiority and inferiority on the part of its professors, remains exactly the same, no better, no worse- as illustrated by Jackson, Figg, Broughton, and Cribb down to Mace, Sayers, Heenan, Travers, Wormald, and the rest of England’s greatest pugilists. It has been left to Mr. Barton-Wright to demonstrate some original ideas, which he illustrated on Wednesday evening St. James’s Hall.

Mr Barton-Wright describes his new art of self-defence as founded upon the principle of throwing unnatural strain upon any one of the joints of the body, arms, legs etc., which anatomically and mechanically it is absolutely impossible to resist.  It matters not how strong your opponent may be considered, viz., disturbing his equilibrium, at the time completely overpowering and paralysing his efforts.

In addition. Mr. Barton-Wright’s programme embraced an easy method of extricating oneself from the clutches of an adversary when attacked from behind suddenly and unawares, and in a most dangerous position, in any and every case the claimant to this new art of self defence contends that, notwithstanding the most formidable disadvantages, any and every opponent can be easily and effectually overcome.

On Wednesday evening the demonstrator illustrated all these methods, and showed their salutary effects to an attendance, if not numerous, then decidedly select, many ladies being present.

We may mention that Mr. Barton-Wright argues that boxing only a part of self defence, and that defence implies any means whereby a man is able successfully to meet an opponent. It was essentially a fashionable drawing room entertainment, and received unanimous approval.

At the outset (nine o’clock) Mr. Barton-Wright announced that, owing to disappointment, several of his artists had failed to put in an appearance. W. Clarke and Izar wrestled a five minutes’ bout in the Graeco-Roman style as the commencement to the proceedings. Tom Burrow, the famous club swinger, officiated as referee.

Catch-as-catch-can style came next, between A. Muller and E. P. Gruhn. The latter gained first and second falls and Muller the third. Donald Dinnie, the far-famed Scotch athlete, was here introduced.

Swiss trousers wrestling by F. Scherzdegger and Jean Schwickley. This provoked roars of laughter. Schwickley (anglicised) won the first fall, Scherzdegger the second. A “dog fall”; one of the men, shaking his head, described it as a “notting,” and they rested. Finally Scherzdegger won.

Mr. E. W. Barton-Wright now made a welcome appearance, attired in University costume, with Mr. Chipchase (middle-weight Cumberland and Westmoreland amateur champion).  Mr. Heffmann introduced Mr. Barton Wright.

Japanese Wrestling. —The illustrator divested himself of boots and socks. His illustrations were:

Tests of the art of falling, fall on back without shock, stomach throw on Mr. Chipchase.

Neck hold with throttle, throwing a man sideways, receiving an attack in Cumberland and Westmoreland style, holds when resisting a throw, demonstrating a lever weight, different ways of tripping, falls in marvellously intricate positions, cross-buttocks lowering the centre of gravity, different ways of throwing man and holding him down, and a thief’s throw.

There was then a bout with Mr. Chipchase – and finally Mr. Barton-Wright concluded amidst a hearty and well-deserved round of cheers.

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