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What is BARTITSU? 

    Often referred to as the "Martial art of Sherlock Holmes"

 

 

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The founder of Bartitsu, Edward Wm. Wright, was born on November 8th, 1860. During his early years Edward had opportunity to travel to many different countries and studied various martial arts. One of these arts being Jiu Jitsu. In his early 30s he legally changed his name to Edward William Barton-Wright. A joining of “Bart” from Barton along with “itsu” from Jiu Jitsu created the art’s title of “Bartitsu”. 

“Bartitsu is an eclectic martial art and self-defense method originally developed in England during the years 1898–1902.  In 1901 it was immortalized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The art has been featured in a number of Sherlock Holmes episodes on film and television. Although dormant throughout most of the 20th Century, Bartitsu has been experiencing a revival since 2002”
Victorian / Edwardian times found the Bartitsu club located at 67b Shaftesbury Avenue, in London’s Soho district, England. The elements of Bartitsu include JiuJitsu, Cane fighting / defense, Boxing (Pugilism, fisticuffs ) and Savate (French kick boxing), self defense with Umbrella. This art is often referred to as “the martial art of Gentlemen” as well as “the art of manliness”. Bartitsu also included a comprehensive physical culture training system.

“Savate takes its name from the French for "old boot" (heavy footwear that used to be worn during fights). The modern formalized form is mainly an amalgam of French street fighting techniques from the beginning of the 19th century. There are also many types of savate rules. Savate was then a type of street fighting common in Paris and northern France. In the south, especially in the port of Marseille, sailors developed a fighting style involving high kicks and open-handed slaps. It is conjectured that this kicking style was developed in this way to allow the fighter to use a hand to hold onto something for balance on a rocking ship's deck, and that the kicks and slaps were used on land to avoid the legal penalties for using a closed fist, which was considered a deadly weapon under the law.” (wikipedia)

One may assume that this was a boys only event being early 1900’s but the practice of Bartitsu was not limited to only the gentlemen. Women also practiced JiuJitsu along with umbrella defense and using long Hatpins of the era as weapons and Quite successfully. A New York Times newspaper in  Jan. 1898 reports that Sadie Hawkins helped a Chicago tramcar conductor during an attempted robbery as she repeatedly stabbed two criminals in the arms and legs with her hatpin resulting in their quick exit from the tram.
 
“ ‘A new club where men and women, boys and girls, can be instructed in fencing, sabre play, la savate, boxing, and bartitsu.’ One special feature will be the instruction of members, especially lady members in the art of defending themselves with a walking stick. The promoter of the “Bartitsu club” is going to Japan to secure instructors in certain styles of Japanese wrestling, which he says is the most perfect form of self-defense and one that can be acquired by women as equally as men.
1899-08-11 The Daily Iowa Capital”

Edwardian England sported Jiu Jitsu practicing suffragettes. Using their techniques while being “man handled” by Police or opposing citizens during Women’s rights demonstrations. 

Sources:
“The sting of the Hornet”  at Batitsu.org
 “Early Days at the Bartitsu Club” Martial History Magazine 2010. by Jason Coach

 
 

 
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