What is Bartitsu?

Bartitsu is a Victorian Martial Art created by E. W. Barton Wright after travelling to the Far East and learning various different forms which he amalgamated into one form, specifically looking at the idea of self defence against all possible attacks

Why is Bartitsu referred to many times as the martial art of Sherlock Holmes?

When Arthur Conan Doyle, due to popular demand, was forced to resurrect the logical deer stalker wearing sleuth, he did so by using Bartitsu.

“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.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Empty House (1903)

Although dropping the first ‘t’ from the name and describing it as Japanese rather than English, this was far more for artistic licence than anything more. Therefore Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well-known Bartitsukas the form has.

How effective is Bartitsu?

The form can be very effective, it must be remembered that several disciplines as well as Barton Wright’s own pragmatism came together to create Bartitsu, from Boxing/Pugilism, Savate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling etc, etc. to form a well-rounded self-defence form. In fact the Bartitsu Club in Soho became so popular under Barton Wright’s tutelage due to his trainers traveling the UK taking part in organised fights and almost always winning no matter the opponent. Some modern MMA enthusiasts try and underplay the form as outdated or non-effective in the modern era but it can still be very effective in the right hands.

Can anyone practice it?

Although known as ‘the gentleman’s martial art’ or the manly art of self-defence’ it does mean that it is restrict to the very few ‘chaps’ around town, the very opposite in fact. Mrs Edith Margaret Garrud of the early English Suffragette movement and her husband were both students of Bartitsu at Barton Wright’s own club before it closed in 1903. After this peaked her interest her and her husband went on to learn more about the fighting arts and trained many Suffragettes.

Where can I study Bartitsu?

The study and practice of Bartitsu in the UK is still very limited with only around a dozen clubs really existing, e.g. either hand to hand specialists or stick fighting, modern or traditional and similar. However there are more than just these clubs and if you visit the Bartitsu Society website you will find a list of many more and even across the world, who can all help you train and peak your interest further.