Well, that was amusing. Sun, sherry and armlocks, not in that order, at the fabulous Festival No. 6. Hugely entertaining and nice to see some relaxing violence in such a fine setting. My thanks to friends who came along and made it possible, and of course the glorious Idler Academy.
Category Archives: bartitsu
It was a pleasure to demonstrate a bit of cane fighting for the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London this week. Many thanks to my associates Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Searle.
Here’s an excerpt from The One Show, with me getting flatted by my old pal and fellow jiu jitsu instructor Mary Petty — I’m the bad cop. There are two nice throws at the end, so it’s worth wading through the beard commentary.
My associate Mr Cook and I took pleasure in demonstrating a bit of Bartitsu, the Victorian gentleman’s martial art, on Sunday Brunch on Channel 4. You can watch the demo here.
We were slightly hamstrung by lawyers, no doubt rightly concerned about showing anything too energetic on Sunday morning television. It all went fine though, I think. If you’re interested in Bartitsu, I’m teaching an introductory course at the Idler right now. You can book in here.
Bartitsu is called many things: the West’s first mixed martial art, the fighting style of Sherlock Holmes, the Victorian gentleman’s martial art. It was assembled from boxing, savate, cane fighting and jiu jitsu by Edward William Barton-Wright and taught in London around the start of the twentieth century. It then more or less vanished. Barton-Wright left some detailed instructions and photos behind, and lately game enthusiasts have resurrected the style. For more have a look at the Bartitsu Society’s site or Tony Wolf’s indispensable The Bartitsu Compendium.
Some friends from the UCL Jitsu Club and I got together to demonstrate a little bartitsu at the Idler Garden Party last weekend — an afternoon of diversions against the backdrop of Fenton House in Hampstead. It was an enormous amount of fun. We had the slightly weird but pleasant experience of drinking gin, listening to a ukulele lesson, hearing a philosophy lecture, and throwing each other around in the grass — not in that order.
Some of the movements in bartitsu are instantly recognizable to people who do martial arts today, but other techniques, if you’ll pardon the pun, throw us a little — ‘Why did Barton-Wright do it that way?’ we wonder. But of course, he was nearer the Japanese source than we are now, so we pay attention to his way of doing things. It’s a little like martial arts archaeology, and so far it’s been hugely rewarding.