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Archive for December, 2011

After our last blog post, we had intended to post a review of the fictional bartitsu appearing in the new Sherlock Holmes film, but it turns out that  bartitsuka Tony Wolf has beat us to the punch, literally, in his The Substance of Style: A review of the martial arts action in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:

http://www.bartitsu.org/index.php/2011/12/the-substance-of-style-a-review-of-the-martial-arts-action-in-sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows/

and besides its fictionalized depictions, there is some big news in the bartitsu  and HES world. As many of you may know, Barton-Wright’s “Bartitsu Club” was a martial arts and physical culture studio which not only brought together the best of 19th century fitness and fighting arts, but served as a home for Alfred Hutton’s “Ancient Swordplay” circle – the first sustained effort at recreating the extinct martial arts of Europe. In his discussion of bartitsu on the Freelance website, Tony stated:

“Eventually, someone is going to bite the bullet and open a fully-fledged Edwardian-style martial arts and physical culture studio. “

We can say with absolutely assurety that when he made that statement, Tony had no idea that his interviewer, Freelance’s own president, Gregory Mele, would be the one biting that bullet, or that Tony himself would be coming along for the ride. And yet, not even a year later, we can proudly say that just such a studio is about to open its doors! Well, since Tony already scooped us once, why don’t we let him do so again:

A 5000 square foot Western martial arts and fitness training center is currently under construction on the border of Chicago’s Ravenswood and Buena Park neighbourhoods. Patterned after a circa 1900 physical culture studio, it features high timber ceiling, a hardwood floor and brick walls, which will be decorated with large historical prints featuring swordsmen and combat athletes in training.

The new gym will include my collection of antique physical culture apparatus, including Indian clubs, medicine balls, iron dumbbells, an 1880s rowing machine and wall-mounted weightlifting machine, pull-up bar and climbing ropes, forming a “gymuseum” for old-school physical culture training. Functional replicas of other classic training equipment and a Western martial arts store may be added in the future.

The complex will also include an upstairs library/meeting/lounge area reminiscent of a Victorian era private gentlemen’s club, with comfortable chairs and couches, a gallery of antique antagonistics images and books on all manner of Western martial arts and related topics. Basically, it will be an athletic club in the traditional sense, a place to socialise, relax and learn as well as to train.

Beginning in February, the school will be running multiple tracks in:

Historical fencing – Fiore de Liberi’s Armizare system, including two-handed sword, dagger and unarmed combat, as well as Renaissance-era rapier and Bolognese fencing
Fighting Fit – a CrossFit type exercise program geared towards martial arts/combat sports training
Modern self defence
19th century “antagonistics” – classical sabre, bowie knife, catch wrestling and both canonical and neo-Bartitsu

There will also be a full program of special-interest public seminars and intensive courses, starting with a Bartitsu seminar scheduled for January 22nd. The seminar will roll through immediately into a progressive, experimental course of 12 introductory Bartitsu classes over the following six weeks, between 6.30 and 8.00 pm each Tuesday and Thursday evening.

All going according to plan, the new school will have a web presence from early January.

(From: Art of Manliness)

Historical Swordsmanship and the Manly Arts are afoot in the Windy City!

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t the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright combined jiujitsu, kickboxing, and stick fighting into a new martial art he termed bartitsu. This elegant discipline would have been forgotten save for a famous, cryptic reference in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Sherlock Holmes used its mysteries to save his life from the villainous Professor Moriarty:

When I reached the end I stood at bay. He drew no weapon, but he rushed at me and threw his long arms around me. He knew that his own game was up, and was only anxious to revenge himself upon me. We tottered together upon the brink of the fall. I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me. I slipped through his grip, and he with a horrible scream kicked madly for a few seconds and clawed the air with both his hands. But for all his efforts he could not get his balance, and over he went. With my face over the brink I saw him fall for a long way. Then he struck a rock, bounced off, and splashed into the water.

Several years ago, director Guy Ritchie and actor Robert Downey, Jr. re-conceptualized the Great Detective as a Steampunk sleuth and man of action. Doyle fans have been divided on the interpretation, but one thing is certain, as martial artists themselves, Ritchie and Downey have given Holmes his fighting chops! Bartitsu, or “baritsu”, as Doyle penned it, gets screen time (seemingly faithfully) in the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, as can be seen in the teaser clip on YouTube .

We have yet to see the film, but rumor has it that the final confrontation between Holmes and the villainous Professor Moriarty is worth the price of admission. Of course, there is only one way to find out for certain…

Snapshot of the FAP BlogOne you’ve seen the Silver Screen depiction of “baritsu”, you may wish to find out more about the truth behind the fiction. In conjunction with the film’s American release this week, we are featuring Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, at 30% off of its regular price. A unique documentary relating the fascinating history, rediscovery and revival of Barton-Wright’s pioneering mixed martial art, this is a great present for martial artists, Holmes enthusiasts, or lovers of Victorian and Edwardian England.

Finally, if you are reading this blog, but somehow still don’t know what Bartitsu is, this interview with our colleague, Tony Wolf, ought to set things aright!

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