2012: the Bartitsu Year in Review

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Tuesday, 18th December 2012

As is traditional as the year draws to an end, here is our annual round-up of all things Bartitsuvian.  2012 saw a continuation of the boom in new Bartitsu clubs and study groups that began last year, due in a large part to the huge success of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the new Sherlock TV series from the BBC. This year also saw a number of formal commemorations of people associated with the original Bartitsu Cub in London.

Please note that, in general, the events recorded here are those for which we received detailed reports after the fact, as opposed to those for which we only received announcements.

January: A lecture on Bartitsu is presented at the Catalyst Club in Brighton, UK.  Dashiell Hammett’s 1924 short story Nightmare Town, featuring cane-fighting hero Steve Threefell, is showcased.  Formation of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts, a new, full-time Western martial arts studio in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

February: A combined Bartitsu and Kapap (Israeli military close-combat) seminar to benefit the Christopher’s Smile charity is held in the UK.  Allen Reed teaches a Bartitsu intensive in Leaf River, IL.  The Broughton Pugilism Gloves go into production.  Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts holds an Open Day featuring demonstrations of Bartitsu, historical fencing and stunt fighting.  Publication of the book Ancient Swordplay: The Revival of Elizabethan Fencing in Victorian London, including a chapter on historical fencing at the original Bartitsu Club.

March: The Bartitsu Club of New York City is featured in a radio interview on WFUV.  Bartitsu seminars are given at the AnomalyCon steampunk gathering in Colorado, the Alte Kampfkunst historical martial arts academy in Wuppertal, Germany and in Veldhoven, Holland.  Bartitsu is showcased in an item on the BBC’s popular One Show TV magazine series.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago is featured in magazine and newspaper articles and hosts the first Antagonisticathlon.

April: Prominent Bartitsu Club members Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and William Henry Grenfell, the 1st Baron Desborough are commemorated.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago is featured in the Chicago Tribune and the 190 North TV show and the Bartitsu Club of New York City offers a seminar at a 19th Century Extravaganza.

May: The Broughton Pugilism gloves are reviewed. We offer a profile of Ryan Drago, Bartitsu rassler.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago’s new website goes online.

June:  The new Battersea Bartitsu training group is founded.  Bartitsu is featured on Russian television.   The life of E.W. Barton-Wright is commemorated with an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  The Bartitsu Society donates a wall display commemorating Bartitsu and Barton-Wright to the Sherlock Holmes Collection at Marylebone Library in London.

July: A plaque commemorating jujitsuffragette trainer Edith Garrud is unveiled in Islington, London.  Bartitsu classes and a screening of the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes documentary are featured at the 2012 CombatCon event in Las Vegas.  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago hosts the second Antagonisticathlon martial arts obstacle course.

August: New Bartitsu clubs are started at the Royal Arts Fencing Academy in Columbus, Ohio and on the Isle of Wight (UK).  Mark Donnelly teaches a seminar for the Bartitsu Club of New York City.  An interview with Tony Wolf is featured on the BBC World Services radio show.

September:  The Bartitsu Club of Chicago hosts the second annual Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture conference and training seminar.  Sherlock Holmes fans travel to the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland to re-enact Holmes’ fatal battle with Professor Moriarty.  Fundraising begins towards creating the Forteza Clubhouse, a 19th century-style club room at Chicago’s Forteza martial arts studio.

October:  The grave of Bartitsu Club instructor Alfred Hutton is rediscovered.  The Forteza Clubhouse fundraising project ends successfully, having raised $6790 towards the construction project.

November:  An article on the jujitsuffragettes is featured in the BBC History Magazine.  Publication of Emeline Godfrey’s new book, Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society.  The popular FightNetwork.com site features a short video on Bartitsu history.

December: Publication of The Friday Society, a new steampunk/adventure story for teenage readers featuring a character loosely based on E.W. Barton-Wright.

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