Since a catastrophic technical failure of the original Bartitsu.org site in April of 2019, we have been working behind the scenes to recover and restore the site, primarily via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
The restoration process has been laborious but we’ve now recovered and/or reconstructed the great majority of the items posted on Bartitsu.org between 2008-2019, including all of the significant technical and historical articles.
For the time being, please pardon our dust; correcting internal links is an ongoing process and we’ll amend this post as and when that’s completed.
During the reconstruction the posts have unavoidably become chronologically disordered. Most of them now begin with a note recording the date when they were originally posted.
We’d also like to draw your attention to the new and significantly expanded Categories menu on the right-hand side of the page. This feature will allow you to quickly and easily locate posts within a wide range of themes, supplementing the ever-useful search box.
This event has highlighted the fragility of electronic media and plans are afoot to produce a third volume of the Bartitsu Compendium, to be made available in printed as well as e-book formats, in order to further preserve the best of the research presented here since the publication of the second volume in 2008.
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the Bartitsu Society website 2.0!
Posted inEditorial|Comments Off on A User’s Guide to the Bartitsu Society Website 2.0
New loose-fitting Army overcoats are about to be handed out to the officers of the London police in place of the tight-fitting coats at present worn. The new coat is much lighter than the old. It is believed that the new cloth will be much warmer and more waterproof than the old, and what is more important will prevent the officer being handicapped by tight-fitting clothes in the event of a struggle with a desperate prisoner.
Ju-jitsu, the Japanese mode of wrestling, which is being taught to the police, is mainly responsible for the change, at having been found that, no matter how efficient the officer became, be was virtually helpless when encased in his present tight-fitting clothes.
Posted inJiujitsu|Comments Off on Jujitsu Overcoats (Ashbourne News Telegraph, 8 November 1907)
Edward Barton-Wright’s jujutsu training took place at the Shinden Fudo Ryu dojo of sensei Terajima Kuniichiro between roughly 1895-1898. That dojo was located in the town of Kobe in Hyōgo Prefecture, on Honshu Island. Barton-Wright later noted that he’d taken up jujutsu due partly to his life-long interest in the arts of self-defence and partly because, unlike most other foreign nationals resident in Kobe, he wasn’t a drinker and preferred not to spend his evenings lounging on verandas.
His main occupation there, however, was working as an antimony smelting specialist for E.H. Hunter and Company, whose factory is illustrated above. It’s likely that Barton-Wright had developed his expertise in this dangerous metallurgical specialty while working for various mining concerns throughout Europe and the “Straits Settlements” (in the present day region of Singapore).
E.W. Barton-Wright demonstrates the tomoenage (stomach throw) during one of his first major Bartitsu exhibitions, held at the famous Bath Club in London. This illustration has been adapted from the original, which appeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of Saturday 18th March, 1899.
The following short article is representative of the nationalistic arguments favoured by the French media prior to the much-anticipated jiujitsu vs. savate contest between Re-Nie (Ernest Regnier) and Georges Dubois.
The correspondent’s comments on Bartitsu are interesting in that while he’s right about the Bartitsu Club being the first place where Japanese instructors taught jiujitsu in England, he seems not to have been aware that Bartitsu combined Japanese and European self-defence arts, nor that Re-Nie himself was trained by former Bartitsu Club instructors.
Here’s the English translation:
Are you in favor of Dubois, or do you prefer the odds of Ré-Nie?
These questions are passionately debated by sportsmen in advance of their upcoming encounter.
The masters of French boxing here offer their opinions. Yesterday, Bayle issued an opinion rather in favor of the French method; Mainguet, we remember, supported the same thesis, which would seem to grant Dubois the majority of votes.
This majority, in what we will call “a prognosis”, certainly holds that the French method is well known, while jiu-jitsu still appears to us as a quasi-mysterious thing.
We are happy to be able, on this subject, to publish today some interesting remarks that we owe to the kindness of one of our loyal readers, M. Regard, from Marseille:
At the moment when one speaks only of the Dubois match.
“Regarding Re-Nie,” writes M. Regard, “it seems interesting to me to point out to you that the first Japanese professors of jiu-jitsu were brought to Europe – to London, in fact – by Mr. Barton-Wright, who had set up a club to teach this new method of combat; the only one difference is in the name. Barton-Wright’s method was called Bartitsu. It was in 1898. That club did not enjoy great success and soon closed its doors.”
“I did a lot of sports,” adds Mr. Regard, “as much French as English boxing; I also know the best tricks of Bartitsu, which did not keep me from receiving formidable pains from thugs who knew a more complete jiu-jitsu than mine, which was, though not having been taught at a Bartitsu academy, nevertheless better developed than my torsions of fingers and sharp blows of the hands.”
I therefore conclude that the victory shall go to M. Dubois and, in best French spirit, I hope that the old method taught by our teachers will find its followers, as it did in the halcyon days.”
Thus, the “official” opinion seems quite unified, and all in favor of our national method.
A few more days, and we will be sure of the validity of these various opinions.
As it turned out, the heavily-hyped contest was anti-climactic, ending in a quick and decisive victory for Re-Nie by means of a simple takedown and a juji-gatame armlock:
There is a good deal to be said for ju-jitsu, but there are occasions when something in one’s hand is bettor than any amount of tricks in one’s head.
Not that it is necessary for a man to go about with a revolver or a life-preserver, or any other cumbersome and bulky article concealed on his person. It is quite possible to make a very effective weapon of the humble and useful walking-stick. It is a thousand pities that Englishmen don’t learn how to turn their ordinary stick into a weapon of defence, and choose a serviceable one with a view to that end. You can use an ordinary walking-stick just as you use a foil or a singlestick; or you can grasp it in the middle as our ancestors did when they indulged in quarterstaff play, and if you are at all dexterous you can do a deal of execution in very little time.
And even if your opponent should happen to possess “a revolver “—well, if you are spry, and get your blow home first, you can disable him, and after a smart rap with a good cudgel his revolver won’t be of much use to him, for his fingers for the time being will have lost their cunning with regard to the trigger.
But, supposing that it is a wet night and you have left your walking-stick at home and are carrying an umbrella. It is, I know, a sorry sort of a weapon to pin one’s faith to in a serious encounter. The fashionable gamp is made more for show than use. But don’t lose heart; you have no idea how in expert hands an umbrella can hamper a rough. It can also be used with deadly effect on occasion, if it happens to have an extra sharp point.
Use the ferrule and jab—you can find “the mark” even with an umbrella.
Of course, the old country dame’s device for frightening a cow—of opening her umbrella suddenly—won’t avail with a human opponent bent on depriving you of your spare cash. But grasped firmly in the middle you can bring it down with some considerable force on your assailant’s person, though for myself I think it wiser to stick to the jabbing methods of offence.
If your umbrella has a large crook handle you can bring the hooligan down very easily by hooking it round his leg.
But, of course, it is more than probable that you are without a weapon of any sort, and that you have never troubled to learn the art of jujitsu, in which ease you will have to rely on your fists. But don’t make the mistake of a certain scientific individual of my acquaintance, who supposed that the rough would conform to the Queensberry rules. He found out his error most thoroughly and painfully.
Remember the villain wants to lick you for the reason that he wants to rob you, not for the sport of the thing. So be on the look-out for a kick in your tenderest part, and don’t be chivalrous. If he kicks, kick too, and try and trip him, and then if you succeed sit on his head while you yell for assistance.
Now for a few hints on what to do if you are attacked by one of those low-down ruffians, and he carries a revolver and you are quite unharmed. Don’t waste any time. Go for him. Get to close grips. Most people make the mistake of taking hold of the pistol arm and forcing it upward under the impression that they are misdirecting the aim, forgetting – or perhaps not aware – that an expert shot can turn his wrist and so aim low at equally vital spots.
Grab hold with both hands—one at the wrist and the other above the elbow point—and by exerting force you can put your assailant hors de combat. It takes nerve and pluck, but you have a ten to one chance if you go for him, and only a hundred to one if you run away.
Posted inAntagonistics|Comments Off on “Everyday Methods of Self Defence” (Haslingden Gazette – July 23, 1910)
Originally published in 1912, the following article details the training offered at Percy Rolt’s Hove gymnasium, which was where Rolt had originally trained Lang in the Vigny style of stick fighting.
Of special interest is that the list of disciplines taught at the Hove gym encompassed the entire range of antagonistics that Rolt had practiced at the Bartitsu Club circa 1900-1902, even including the “ancient swordplay” Rolt had learned from Captain Alfred Hutton, the Bartitsu Club fencing master. This strongly implies that the Hove gym was, along with Pierre Vigny’s London-based School of Arms, one of the few locations in England where “Bartitsu” continued to be practiced, albeit not by that name.
The article also seems to confirm that Rolt took over the management of the the Hove gym in late 1912, and we know that Lang trained in a combination of stick fighting and jiujitsu there between May of 1920 and September of 1921. Allowing that we don’t know whether Rolt taught Vigny stick fighting etc. as a regular subject, or whether he may have revived its practice due to Lang’s specialist interest, that timeline does open up the intriguing possibility of a “Bartitsu survival” that lasted far longer than the activity of Barton-Wright’s original club in Shaftesbury Avenue.
“Mens sana in corpore sano,” may be a hackneyed quotation, but no one will venture to question its wisdom. To attain the physical, less than the mental ideal, proper instruction and guidance are necessary, and nowhere can this be better obtained than the Gymnasium, Holland-road, which under the experienced and successful direction of Mr. Percy S. Rolt.
At this admirable institution, which is equipped on thoroughly up-to-date and scientific lines, a system of exercises is pursued, which, while keeping the pupils interested and amused, develops both their physical and mental powers. Every movement is performed with some definite object, and one could go through course without gaining greatly in health, presence of mind, confidence and individuality. The public classes begin next week, and are arranged to suit children, youths, and young ladies, while special classes are also held and private lessons given for spinal curvatures and other deformities.
The subjects taught include musical drills of all kinds, Swedish exercises, Swedish gymnastics, La Savate (French boxing), ancient sword play, American ball punching. Cadets Corps military drill, shooting, cycling, fencing, boxing, wrestling, Japanese self-defence, single stick, walking stick defence, hockey, swimming, football, tennis, and net or basket ball.
Associated with Mr. Rolt is Miss Ethel West, who gives lessons in every type of ball-room and fancy dancing, deportment, calisthenics, and breathing exercises. Miss West is well-known in connection with the very successful “Mid Summer Night’s Dream” entertainment, recently performed at the Royal Pavilion, in conjunction with the Brighton Municipal Orchestra.
Mr. Rolt has many testimonials from headmasters, medical men. Army officers, etc., all speaking in the highest terms of the excellence of his system. The late Colonel Onslow, recognized expert, stated at the competition in 1910, that he had never seen many young people do such advanced and scientific work in such perfect style.
“LA DEFENSE DANS LA RUE.” This is the title of a book published by Jean Joseph Renaud — Pierre Lafitte and Co.. Paris. Treatises and booklets on self defence—generally based on some single system specially favoured by the author– are no means rare, but it is not often that a manual on this subject is published as well printed, illustrated, or equally comprehensive as to details as that just written by a French sportsman, best known in these countries for his fine swordsmanship.
In the preface the author lays stress on the eclectic character his work. While being practically acquainted with wrestling. French and English boxing, jujitsu and the manipulation of the walking stick, knife, and revolver for defensive purposes, Joseph-Renaud does not consider any of them as holding a monopoly for self-defence, and carefully analyses chapter by chapter each technique which be has—partly or wholly—found capable of assisting the law-abiding citizen against the hooligan or Apache. He attaches, however, a supreme importance to jujitsu, which in consequence is set out fuller than any of the other techniques of attack and defence.
The purpose of the book is twofold; first, to point out to the active sportsman who pursues boxing, wrestling, or any kindred form of exercise which are the most suitable features of his favourite sport for practical purposes, and, secondly, to enable all those who can spend but little time on training to acquire a few easy, but sure, means of self-defence.
It is but natural that Jean Joseph-Renaud, being a Frenchman, should put himself to some trouble in order to vindicate the science which, under the name of French boxing, is somewhat sneered at in England. He puts it on record that several times while measuring himself against English boxers he elicited from them genuine recognition of the merits of French boxing, “given,” as he puts it in a way very complimentary to the English sportsman, “with the utmost good grace and exquisite loyalty of the Englishman.” His exposition of two different schools of French boxing—viz.. “le jet de pied haut and le jet de pied bas “—are clear, and interesting, and deserve in any case attention as good forms of exercise.
Another typically French feature of M. Joseph-Renaud’s book are the chanters on attack and defence by means of the knife and the tactics employed by that pest of Paris, the Apache. The author is not above confessing that the information which he gives in this connection has been acouired at first hand. The well-known attacks, head downwards, so much in favour with the ruffians of the “Boulevards exterieurs,” are fully dealt with, both from the attackers’ and the defender’s point of view, in a chapter, “The Tactics of Street Fighting” which contains a host of valuable hints for all those desirous of venturing into the dark part of Paris. There is also a chapter on self-defence for ladies, mostly based on jujitsu.
One hundred and twenty-five full-page illustrations after photos supplement the author’s explanations, and the text has been furthermore enriched by about forty sketches. The whole is a very careful and able compilation containing much that is valuable and interesting.
The first martial arts shout-out comes very early in the film. During a montage in which Enola admiringly describes her famous older brother’s many talents, viewers are treated to a cute animation based on Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright’s 1901 “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” article.
Bartitsu (or “baritsu”, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rendered it) was immortalised in Doyle’s 1903 short story The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Holmes explains that he’d used the art to defeat his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, during their infamous battle at the brink of the Reichenbach Waterfall. The animation is especially notable in that Barton-Wright’s face has been replaced with that of Superman/The Witcher star Henry Cavill, who plays Sherlock Holmes.
Having absconded from the Holmes family estate in search of their mysteriously missing radical suffragette mother Eudoria (played by Helena Bonham Carter), Enola makes her way to London where her investigations lead her to a women’s jiujitsu class taught by Edith Grayston (Susan Wokoma). Edith’s first name is clearly inspired by that of Edith Garrud, who was the first female professional jiujitsu instructor in the western world. It’s worth noting that Helena Bonham Carter’s character in Suffragette, self-defence instructor Edith Ellyn, was also named in honour of Mrs. Garrud, at the actresses’ own request. Enola Holmes is, thus, the second film in which Carter has been cast as a jiujitsu-fighting suffragette!
Allowing for the artistic license of portraying a women-only Japanese martial arts class in London during the year 1900 – the Bartitsu Club was open for business then and did offer women’s classes, but it would be another nine years before Edith Garrud started her “Suffragette Self Defence Club” – the class itself is highly accurate. The trainees’ uniforms are period-accurate hybrids of Japanese martial arts do-gi and Edwardian ladies’ physical culture kit and even the mats on the floor are typical of the quilted style used in circa 1900 gymnasia. The techniques being practiced by the jiujitsu trainees in the background of this scene are also entirely plausible for this time and place.
Retiring to the school’s office, Edith and Enola engage in a wary parlay – Edith clearly knows much more about Eudoria Holmes’ whereabouts that she’s prepared to reveal – and an impromptu, semi-playful physical challenge during which the frustrated Enola attempts a takedown nicknamed the “corkscrew”. This occasions another quick pictorial interlude, featuring a section of a (fictional) book titled Jujutsu: The Martial Art, whose cover may well have been inspired by the (real) Fine Art of Jujutsu, which was written by Emily Diana Watts in 1906.
We’re treated to a quick riff through the pages – which are montages of photographs from actual early 20th century jiujitsu magazine articles – and then a step-by-step guide to performing the corkscrew manoeuvre, which will clearly be significant later on in the story.
After some further skullduggery, Enola finds herself engaged in a desperate back-alley fight with walking-stick wielding assassin Linthorn (Burn Gorman) who is stalking her friend, the young Viscount Tewskbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge). This is, by far, the movie’s most elaborate and spectacular fight scene, well-choreographed by stunt co-ordinator Jo McLaren:
Although Enola again fails in attempting the corkscrew technique during this encounter, the astute viewer suspects that she’ll pull it off in the end … which is exactly what happens when, after many more machinations, she finds herself again at a disadvantage in taking on the same assassin, this time in the shadowy hallway of Viscount Tewksbury’s family manor:
Having rescued the hapless Tewksbury, it only remains for Enola to solve the Mystery of the Missing Mother – which does happen, after a fashion, though we suspect that there is more to discover in that regard during the inevitable and welcome sequel.
In the meantime, here’s a featurette on the fight scenes of Enola Holmes:
Researcher/jujitsuka David Brough has produced this video demonstrating the first five jujutsu techniques from Edward Barton-Wright’s pioneering Pearson’s Magazine article “The New Art of Self Defence”, originally published in 1899.