A self-defense method developed by Edward William Barton-Wright in England during the years of 1898-1902, Bartitsu is an eclectic mix of martial arts designed for the discerning gentleman. In 1901 it was immortalised (as “baritsu”) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mystery stories.
Bartitsu was the precursor to what we know today as mixed martial arts. Mr. Barton combined elements of boxing, jujitsu, cane fighting, and french kick boxing in order to create a self defense system that could be used by discerning gentlemen on the mean streets of Edwardian London.
Barton based this new style on a varied mix of different fighting styles, the most prominent of which was jujitsu. There were also elements of boxing, the Golden Age fisticuffs style during the 19th and early 20th century, known for its stiff upright stance. La savate was also incorporated, which was a French style of kickboxing developed from street fighting sailors in the port of Marseilles during the 19th century. Barton also pulled la canne (stick fighting) from the shrewd streets of France, due to the prevalence of English men often carrying canes and umbrellas. But most eccentrically, Barton developed another unique aspect to Bartitsu, simply known as “Improvised Fighting” that included some creative and effective self defense techniques that used improvised weapons and surprises. A great example is exemplified in an article Baron wrote in Pearson’s Magazine describing using one’s coat or hat as a means of distraction.
Although we’ve lost many of these accessories in our everyday wardrobe, you can be assured that the Gentlemen at GENTRY are currently working on modern day reimaginings of Bartitsu where we improvise items such as the blackberry and iphone as weapons of mass destruction. Until we perfect these methods of modern day self defense, educate yourself on the basics of Bartitsu, The Martial Art of the Gentlemen.
Or if you are pressed for time, you can watch this video: Bartitsu – The Martial Art of the Gentleman