Len Lanius: American JJ Pioneer

Len Lanius

Longtime Cincinnati resident Leonard (“Len”) Lanius, born around 1865, claims he was the lightweight champion wrestler of the world at one point.

That would have been around 1890 and I have verified that he did at least referee a match in 1894. In fact, the loser of the bout gave Lanius some lip, whereupon Lanius promptly removed his coat to take care of business. Police interference prevented it from going any farther.

Once, while speaking about the Gotch-Hackenschmidt bouts, Lanius noted that “it was the invasion of the Jap wrestlers around that time that put me to work on perfecting a style of defense to check their attack. Their methods were quite baffling.” That, of course, led to his publication of American Jiu Jitsu: The New Art of Self Defense in 1922.

His career is quite varied. As a boy, he went to Cincinnati and shined shoes and and sold papers for a living, his father having died of consumption before Len was born. He took up wrestling at around 12-13 or so as a sickly lad who had been told he might not reach twenty (didn’t they all start sickly when they’re sell books?), but the wrestling cured him and he became a champ, boasting he once went seventy matches without a fall.

He traveled with the circus and on the vaudeville circuit, then later retired from wrestling and joined the sports staff at the Cincinnati Post. He also coached for several years at the Ohio Military Institute in Cincinnati. He occasionally spoke on the radio about wrestling for WLW. By 1921 Lanius had entered the field of optometry and was still going strong, visiting out of state optometric conventions in 1933. (He was president of a Cleveland optical factory in ’33). But his early passion was chickens (so to speak).

According to census data, he was the proprietor of an optical store by January 1920 and had a wife, looks like her name was Minnie, some 9 years younger than he. He wasliving in Cincinnati, and he had a 23 year-old married son, Ralph D. Lanius, who managed his optical store.

In March of 1921 Lanius demonstrated to the members of the Rotary club his “Yankee Jiu Jitsu” at the Park Hotel. The Rotarians particularly enjoyed when he boosted his demonstration partner (Dr. Otis G. Morse) over his head. You know those crazy Rotarians.

On June 9, 1921, Lanius gave an exhibition of his version of jujutsu at the Busy Bee cafeteria during the Kiwanis club program. He was one of the principal features! This was the opening of the Christen Kenton club and there were over 100 attendees. That’s a lot of Kiwanis.

But it was during his early circus/vaudeville traveling days that a bachelor friend gave Lanius two hens and told him to fatten them up and then invite him to dinner. That was the beginning of a beautiful man-poultry partnership, and by 1917 Lanius was known all over Ohio for his poultry passions. In fact, he was the president of the Ohio branch of the American Poultry Association for three years, as well as a licensed poultry judge. The papers would even run his photograph whenever his fairground lectures were advertised.

By 1912 he owned the College Hill Poultry farm in Cincinnati and by 1917 he also owned the G.E. Conkey Co. of Cleveland. It appears that there wasn’t hardly a single fair or poultry meeting at which Lanius failed to lecture, although the 1917 lectures were mainly ominous warnings of the grave shortage of either poultry or eggs that loomed on the horizon due to the cold season causing a grain shortage. Luckily the country appeared to survive the hen/egg catastrophe. In case anyone is wondering, he sold layers, including White Leghorns, Buff Leghorns, White Wyandottes, D.C. Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons.

All facetiousness aside, I bet the guy could spin some tales or he wouldn’t have been invited to speak at all those events. Too bad nothing really survives but his book. Speaking of which, I scanned a copy almost exactly three years ago and passed it around. I see there is now a version floating around on the web. I don’t know if it’s the one I set free, but if you do a little Googling, you should be able to find a place to download it.

Yep, that’s the one I scanned a few years ago, same signed dedication as my book. I can’t believe no one ever bothered cleaning it up, especially since I provided it in MS Word. Anyway, you can download a copy here, but be warned, I never intended for it to be released to the public in that state, I was just doing a quick scan for friends.

If you have any further information on old Len, please shoot me an email.

Some of the references used:

Charleston Daily Mail 5-23-1933
Coshocton Tribune 3-15-1921
Indianapolis Star 2-9-1912, 9-1-1917, 10-5-1918.
Lanius, Len. American Jiu Jitsu: The New Art of Self Defense (1920)
Lincoln Daily Eagle 4-26-1917
Marion Daily Star 4-5-1921, 4-5-1921, 6-9-1941
U.S. Census, Cincinnati, OH, Ward 26, Hamilton County (1-20-1920)

Carnival of Martial Arts #5 is on the March!

Go check it out at Mokuren Dojo where Pat was kind enough to host it this month. He did a special theme issue on “Warriors of Peace and Justice” and received a nice response.

There are many quality posts, but here are a few that caught my eye:

Patrick Parker included an older Nonviolent self defense that matched this month’s theme. I love the photo he links to, check it out!

Chris also hopped into the wayback machine to post his thoughts on Conflict Resolution: A Casualty of Non-Violent Martial Arts. Pretty amusing in that he immediately takes a shot at any art that doesn’t free spar as being “inadvertently harmless.” I found myself nodding my head in agreement at first, but then I began to think of exceptions, such as some forms of silat, combatives, etc.

Dave Shevitz posted on Jury Duty and Ki Tests, which I thought was an interesting look into the deliberation room through an aiki filter.

I found some common ground with Eric Frey this time after reading his How to Spot a Punch Coming a Mile Away post. I once had an excellent boxe-francaise instructor that I finally had to agree to disagree with because I simply refused to focus on my opponent eyes when kickboxing.

The next Carnival (#6) will be hosted by Black Belt Mama so be sure and get your submittal in by February 23. Submit your post here

Jujutsu Suffragettes

The day before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday seems an opportune time to recall the suffragettes now that the U.S. has a woman and an African-American as top contenders for the presidency. [FN1]. It is incredible to think that only 80 or so years ago women in the U.S. and U.K. did not enjoy the same voting rights as men. I quite literally cannot imagine that anyone in either country today thinks the same, and yet it was so recent that some of our older population undoubtedly can recall living in that period.

The right to vote was hard-fought, in some cases quite literally with fists and weapons. Here are a couple photos from “Black Friday.” On November 18, 1910, in response to the Prime Minister quashing a women’s voter bill, 300 suffragettes marched on the House of Commons. In a public relations disaster for the government, police were caught on film assaulting unarmed women attempting to march past. Here are some images from that day (click for larger size):

Black Friday1Black Friday2

Militant suffragettes eventually upped the physical level of their own campaigns and smashed shop windows, burned and even bombed on occasion. When caught and imprisoned, they went on hunger strikes which led to forced feeding through nasal tubes, yet another government public relations disaster.

Edith Garrud, wife of William Garrud, taught jujutsu to the Woman’s Social and Political Union “bodyguard” and used her school as a hideout when the heat was on from the police. William Garrud was well-known as a health and strength and self-defense instructor and owned his own gymnasium before he became associated with the Tani/Miyake school in London in the early 1900s. After Edith and William were divorced (or perhaps before, during, and after), William also taught jujutsu to his paramours.

The following is one of my favorite illustrations, and followed quickly on the heels of the publication of a series of photographs showing Edith Garrud tossing around a police officer:

The Suffragette That Knew Jiu-Jitsu

I didn’t write much here because others have written better and at length on the subject, so see:

Damsel v. Desperado

The Evolution of Women’s Judo 1900-1945

Ju-Jutsu as a Husband-Tamer: A Suffragette Play with a Moral

Tony Wolf’s article, “Edith Garrud’s Dojo” in the Bartitsu Compendium.

There is also a brief militant suffragette section with illustrations at the University of Glasgow Special Collections Women’s Suffrage page, which saved me scanning a hardcopy of the illustration above.

FN1. I know there has been discussion of who has been the most disadvantaged, women or African-Americans, but I’m trying to avoid that in this context. For that, Steven Barnes for one has brought up the discussion on his blog here and here. As far as voting, African-Americans technically gained the right in the U.S. in 1870 with the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Women received the right only in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. On the other hand, African-Americans were often disenfranchised based on (mainly southern) state laws requiring poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character,” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” So the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s may be a better point to begin counting. Even now, gerrymandering is still regularly fought in court and if you were a black voter in Florida during the 2000 election you might be wondering how much things have really changed in the last forty years.

Jack Dempsey vs. the Evil Robots

“I can whip any mechanical robot that ever has or ever will be made.”

Jack Dempsey v. Evil Robot

So said Jack Dempsey. Captain Billy Fawcet, former WWI Army Captain, apparently talked Jack Dempsey into doing this puff piece for Fawcett’s biggest magazine, Modern Mechanix, in 1934.

The idea of the early sci-fi robot battling the hard hitting fighter is captivating and much more interesting than the article itself. (Click on the pic above to read the article).

The article is relative fluff, ostensibly pointing out boxing tips from the champ’s perspective, but my guess is Dempsey had little to do with the article. He describes how physics is involved in punching and posits that a robot will always be defeated by a boxer’s out-thinking it.

I won’t comment on Dempsey’s predictions on robotic thinking abilities, after all, even the futurists are wrong more often than they are right. However, the discussion of the physics of punching is weak, especially so considering that Dempsey’s Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense contains some of the best descriptions of generating punching power ever written.

Dempsey had his name on another interesting text on fighting with his How to Fight Tough based on his time spent in the Coast Guard during WWII. His tour appears to have been mainly a public relations move, the “very real threat” of Coasties engaging in hand-to-hand combat emphasized in the book copy notwithstanding.

Dempsey demonstrates a number of hand-to-hand moves, mainly on wrestler Bernard J. (BJ) Cosneck. Just to add to the spectacle, Cosneck appears in his wrestling boots and briefs throughout the book. Cosneck also wrote a book based on his time teaching the Coast Guard entitled American Combat Judo. Cosneck’s is by far the better work.

But that’s all beside the point. The point is to take a moment out of your busy day and imagine the Tin Man’s piston-like attacks facing those steel-denting Demspey hooks. Yeah, I’d still go with Dempsey.

A Third Fatality for Modern Mixed Martial Arts

The latest unfortunate death in Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”), that of Sam Vasquez, has again raised questions concerning the sport’s safety. MMA fans, promoters, blogger, and other commentors went on the offensive and made sure that their spin described the fatality as the first death during a “sanctioned” MMA bout. With the addition of that single word, previous deaths in modern MMA are summarily forgotten. I happen to think that not only do the deceased fighters deserve better, but that in the long run it does a disservice to the sport.

Here I’m defining “modern MMA” as anything occurring after the 1993 debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”). Not only because that promotion became the driving force behind MMA’s current popularity, but because earlier fatalities may or may not have much relevance to the sport in its current incarnation. In other words, events today are roughly similar due to a common agreement on exactly what the sport of MMA is and how it should take place. Looking at older MMA fatalities includes problems of documentation and interpretation beyond the scope of this post.

For example, look at the difficulty figuring out exactly what happened in the most famous MMA death to ever occur, that of Arrichion, which is still being discussed millennia later. I also have no doubt that there have been vale tudo deaths, but until someone who knows Portuguese spends a lot of time in Brazil doing interviews and reading old papers, we can’t know for sure. More recently, but still pre-modern MMA as I have defined it, there was the death of fifteen year old Alfred Castro Herrera in 1981. He was participating in “full contact” in Tijuana Mexico, which was described as “boxing mixed with karate and judo” in the St. Louis Globe Democrat (April 15, 1981). Was that MMA? Sounds like it, but maybe it was some Mexican wrestling hybrid, or maybe it was all stand-up striking. For the sake of consistency, I’m using the first UFC as the starting date.

Incidentally, the Herrera death was pulled from EJMAS.com. Joseph Svinth has added a separate MMA fatality section to his excellent resource Death Under the Spotlight: The Manuel Velazquez Boxing Fatality Collection Go to the MMA fatalities to see the listings of known recent MMA deaths. The deaths prior to Vasquez are there and include Douglas Dedge’s fight in the Ukraine and Lee’s in Korea.

The reports on Lee are sketchy, but it appears that he may have died from a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Dedge is less clear, but there are numerous reports that he had been experiencing dizziness and blackouts in training. See Sherdog.com, which discusses those reports and gives a more balanced presentation than the earlier Guardian article cited at EJMAS. Judging by the video of the end of the Dedge fight, the Guardian made up its description of the fight wholesale. In fact, other than Dedge being either outclassed, tired, or both, it appears little different from any U.S. sanctioned bout, including a closely watching referee and prompt medical attention. While there are mandatory medical screenings before sanctioned events, it is questionable whether Dedge’s medical issues would have been discovered, because he obviously was avoiding diagnosis of the problem.

The “sanctioned event” spin assumes that the existence of athletic commissions and regulatory bodies are a necessity in putting on a safe fight, but safe fights regularly take place in states without commissions. Similarly, there are few, if any, boxing deaths in non-commissioned states. Obviously more boxing matches take place in commissioned states, but the point is that the promoter is probably more important to the safety of a bout than a regulatory body. MMA’s track record is not much different, as the UK and Japan have both held a significant number of unsanctioned shows without deaths and few serious injuries.

Commissions with weak enforcement may be worse than having no commission at all. In a non-regulated state or territory, coaches and fighters know to judge a promoter on his/her merits and past events. The presence of an athletic commission may grant a false sense of confidence if the commission fails to strongly enforce its own rules. An unscrupulous promoter in such a state ignoring proper safety precautions or lining up mismatches is worse than a good promoter in a non-sanctioned area. A good promoter in a state with a good commission would be the best of both worlds.

Based on the very few MMA deaths that have occurred, Joe Svinth pointed out in correspondence the same thing I had noticed, which is that there appeared to be two potential risk factors when looking at the three deaths in modern MMA. Those factors are the age of the participant and the length of time since the participant’s last fight.

The age correlation is shown in the Velazquez Collection with boxers; older boxers are at a higher risk than younger. See, e.g., Harris, C. Harris, DiRusso, S., Sullivan, T., and Benzil, D.L. (2004, May) Mortality risk after head injury increases at 30 years, Journal of American College of Surgeons 198:5, pp. 852-853. It is likely that the risk of mortality in MMA also increases slowly with the age of the fighter once they pass 30.

Also, a long layoff between fights likely increases the potential risk of mortality. However, this may be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation, as fighting too frequently in boxing also raises the risk of injury and mortality.

On the other hand, as Joe Svinth pointed out, both of those conclusions are drawn from a pretty small MMA pool and might be best considered a working hypothesis.

Lastly, although it would be difficult to quantify, it stands to reason that risk of serious injury increases when inexperienced fighters are mismatched against those significantly more experience.

A separate point to be drawn from the recent attention is the clear need for proper health care and disability insurance. Mandatory health, life, and disability insurance may be a good place to start. Boxing has a high incidence of career-affecting hand, head, and eye injuries. Because MMA has a higher incidence of striking injuries due to the lighter and smaller gloves and the allowance f elbows (see, e.g., Gregory Bledsoe, et al., “Incidence of injury in professional Mixed Martial Arts competition,” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (July 2006) 5, pp. 136-142, which can be downloaded here), it is even more important that MMA fighters are sufficiently covered.

I think distinguishing MMA deaths based on “sanctioned” versus non-sanctioned bouts serves little purpose. MMA is a sport, and just like any other sport, it will experience future deaths. Instead of trying to define away past deaths, let’s move forward MMA safety while remembering those who have lost their lives in the sport they love.

Mitsuyo Maeda vs. Hjalmar Lundin

This account of the January 1910 Mexico City match between Hjalmar Lundin and Mitsuyo Maeda of Brazilian jiu-jitsu fame (Konde Koma here, a common alias he used) comes from On the Mat-and Off by Hjalmar Lundin.

First, some comments are in order. Lundin says he won. However, a wikipedia entry gives a Mexican Herald reference of January 23, 1910 claiming the match was ruled a draw. Unfortunately, while I have dozens of Mexican Herald accounts from 1909 and a handful describing the tournament, I don’t have any that late in January. That said, I don’t have any reason to doubt the reference, and wouldn’t be surprised if Maeda claimed he won the match as well, cause that’s pro wrestling, folks. Don’t forget that there were not that many wrestlers involved in this tournament, so both accounts may conceivably be correct but discussing matches on two different nights.

Another point is that while Lundin describes Maeda tossing Auvray around like a child, after the previous week’s match the newspaper described Maeda’s head “playing a tattoo on the canvas” from the number of times Auvray slammed him down. So we could be looking at little give-and-go to keep the paying customers interested in a tournament that lasted multiple weeks.

I love that Lundin credits his familiarity with Cornish/collar and elbow wrestling as the element that allowed him to win the match. The jacketed throws and handholds are not dissimilar, and I’ve long thought that it would make an interesting matchup to see a Cornwall native or an American collar and elbow player go up against a judoka.

Lastly, I should point out that Lundin does use the term “Jap” to refer to Maeda, which may be offensive to some. This was written in 1937, before the outbreak of WWII, which is when I believe the term began to form its derogatory sense. I believe the passage shows that Lundin had much respect for the worthy competitor he found in Maeda and certainly was not using the term as an ethnic slur.

Here and There

THE Graeco-Roman Wrestling Tournaments which took place in December, 1909 in Havana, Cuba, and the following month in Mexico City, bring back many memories.

Although the majority of the wrestlers were Europeans, a Jap named Konde Koma competed during the final week of the Tournament in Mexico City. Because Konde, a Jiu-jitsu wrestler who had been in Mexico for some time prior to the Tournament had gained a fine reputation for himself, the fans more or less expected that he would fulfill his challenge to throw any one of the contestants in ten minutes, using his own style of wrestling. He claimed to be the Champion of his country and although he could not back up his assertions with any proof in black and white, his actions in the ring were sufficient!

His first appearance during the final week was with a huge Frenchman named Auvray who tipped the scales at 265 pounds. The Jap weighed about 170, but the way he tossed the Frenchman around, one would have thought one’s eyes, and not Konde, were doing the tricks. Despite the difference in their avoirdupois, Auvray went sailing back and forth across the stage for almost four minutes before the Jap was declared the winner, much to the Frenchman’s relief. After the match I asked Auvray, whom I knew to be strong as an ox, why he didn’t grab the Jap and hold him. (I might mention here for those who have never witnessed a Jiu-jitsu match, that contestants in the famous old Oriental sport always wear a jacket.) Auvray replied that everytime he tried, the Jap would grasp the former’s sleeves, go down upon his back and put his feet up until they met the Frenchman’s middle, and, with a quick but hard shove, would send the French contestant flying!

The Jap continued to beat his opponents until the sixth night, when my turn came. Of course I had profited a little by watching the others, but nevertheless I admit I was a bit nervous. I didn’t want him to make a monkey out of me as he had done the others.

My early training in the collar, elbow and Cornish methods I knew would aid me, because they consisted mostly of tripping and hip-locking. The Cornish wrestling in particular had been very popular among the Irish and Scotch and it was through a few of them I learned what I did of the style. Those tactics and the quick-tripping which I had often practiced were foremost in my mind when I went on the mat with Koma.

Having been accustomed to handling the big Graeco-Roman wrestlers with ease, the Jap thought he could do likewise with me, but in the first mix-up I got the better of him, after which my confidence returned. I had no trouble then in winning the match. It was a surprise to the crowd and a set-back for Koma. He had been the hero all week, but as soon as he was beaten the fans, true to form, called him a bum. The Mexicans had thought he could beat anyone, but they had not taken into consideration the fact that I was trained in the catch-as-catch-can style as well as the Graeco-Roman.

I am glad to know that our police-force is taught many of the Jiu-jitsu tricks and holds, for with lightning-speed a man can down another by fast foot work, or even break an arm or leg, should the occasion demand it.

Was Savate’s Drop Kick from Pro Wrestling?

Of course that begs the question: Does savate possess the drop kick?

Unless you’re a youngster, you’re probably familiar with the numerous books Bruce Tegner published primarily in the 1960s, one of which was a text on savate. Therein, Tegner demonstrated first a jumping drop kick from the standing position and then a leaping sidekick from a moving start. Click on the thumbnail below for a close-up:

Drop kick

So is this a savate technique? If not, from where may it have derived? First, I am skeptical that the drop kick is a technique common in savate. I could easily be mistaken, but I don’t recall seeing the drop kick in either modern boxe francaise or in any classical savate manuals.

So where did it come from? Well, the obvious jumping ability and the high knee chambering does remind the reader of savate. A further reading of the history section of Tegner’s book reveals that he did go to Quebec at the age of fourteen for a year to learn savate from Jean-Claude Gautier. Tegner was born in 1929, so this was during WWII. Tragically, Gautier later died in that war as did so many other French savateurs. In fact, savate instruction was so severely depleted at that time that the art was nearly lost.

While Tegner may have very well learned the drop kick from Gautier, it may instead have been an anachronism. Tegner did not publish his savate book until seventeen years after his early training with Gautier. In the preceding thirty years, wrestling had introduced the drop kick as part of its aerial theatrics. Then once WWII began wrestlers were tasked with much of the hand-to-hand combat training and later published their methods, often including lip service to savate methods (think D’Eliscu, Cosneck, etc.).

“Jumping Joe” Savoldi had begun using the drop kick in the squared circle as early as 1933 and took credit for its invention. Likewise, wrestler Abe Coleman claims he invented the drop kick after seeing kangaroos on a visit to Australia in 1930. Either way, the method was firmly established well before Tegner went to Canada to learn savate.

In 1934, the press made a to-do over an anonymous wrestler complaining about Savoldi’s use of the drop kick. (Washington Post, Jan. 30, 1934). This was likely Jim Londos complaining before his January 31, 1934 rematch with Savoldi. Savoldi won the rematch after previously double-crossing Londos earlier in 1933, although in the meantime Savoldi had lost the title to Jim Browning.

But back to the relevant point: in 1934, the press referred to the drop kick as the “American savate,” giving initial credence to the idea that the drop kick may have been a technique introduced to wrestling from savate, but I think that also is a red herring. My take is that the term savate was just being used as a generic term for a foot technique in the article because of savate’s strong association with kicking techniques. I don’t believe the term was used to indicate an actual connection to savate.

Therefore, I conclude that Tegner’s use of the drop kick was idiosyncratic and not a widespread technique commonly used in savate. I suspect that instead the drop kick was incorporated at some point from the influence of wrestling. I’d love to be proven wrong, though, so if any of you savateurs can set me straight, don’t hesitate to speak up!

On the Mat-and Off by Hjalmar Lundin (1937)

A new reprint is now available that offers a nice counter balance to Fall Guys because it deals with wrestling in the days leading to that transition to complete entertainment rather than after.

Lundin arrived in the U.S. in 1893 and was touring as a strongman by 1894. For decades following, he toured the U.S. and other countries as an exceptional wrestler. Lundin documents his associations with the most famous wrestlers of his time, such as Farmer Burns, Frank Gotch, Mitsuyo Maeda (Konde Koma), Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Tom Jenkins, George Hackenschmidt, Jim Londos, and many others.

Lundin describes the differences between the “shooting” matches and the “works” that came later. He tells who could wrestle and who couldn’t, and discusses everyone from Olympians to those who made their living purely as entertainers in the rasslin’ ring.

Included is Lundin’s account of his defeat of Mitsuyo Maeda, the man responsible for Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Unfortunately, the cover photo renders poorly on the sale site, but it actually looks fine, more like is seen here.

Fire Sale and Free Book Downloads

I recently marked down all of the print reprints to cut-rate prices. I also enabled free downloads for electronic versions as well [Update- downloads are now cheap, with some available online by clicking “REPRINTS” at top right].

Please note that the downloads are optimized for printing, rather than reading online, but it should still be a good experience. I don’t know offhand how some of the current ebook readers will handle the more graphics-intensive downloads, but if it’s a problem, print it out on a good printer and you’ll have a nice read.

I had originally hoped that the sale of reprints would subsidize the purchase of future rare books to reprint in turn, but the time and cost of making a reprint compared to the miniscule return is simply not worth it.

Therefore, I cut the paperback reprints prices and enabled free downloads in order to better disseminate this information, which was the goal to begin with.

Click here or on the reprints tab at the top of the page to see all available titles.

Bartitsu FAQ

This is the Frequently Asked Questions post Tony Wolf publishes every now and again for the benefit of new members to the Bartitsu Forum. I thought this would be a good introduction and a good time to spread the word because work is now underway on Volume II of the Bartitsu Compendium.

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Q – What is Bartitsu?

A – An eclectic martial art founded in the late 19th century by E.W. Barton-Wright. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartitsu for the basics, http://www.bartitsu.org for a more thorough summary and buy the Bartitsu Compendium for the whole story. The Bartitsu Forum message archives, Files and Photos sections are also full of information and the best place to get involved.

Q – What is the Bartitsu Society?

A – An informal, international community of Bartitsu enthusiasts who communicate via this email list. Since 2002 we have been active in the research and restoration of Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self Defence”. Our major project to date has been the publication of the Bartitsu Compendium in 2005 and our major interests include:

* the early history of European jiujitsu

* the eclectic Japanese/European self defence methods developed between 1899 and the early 1920s, and the lives of their founders and practitioners

* street gangsterism, the suffragette movement, “physical culture” exercise programmes and other Victorian and Edwardian-era social phenomena, as related to the martial arts

Q – What is the difference between canonical Bartitsu and neo-Bartitsu?

A – Canonical Bartitsu refers to “Bartitsu as we know it was”; the specific self defence techniques and sequences demonstrated by E.W. Barton-Wright and his colleagues between 1899-1904. Today, canonical Bartitsu is practiced as a mark of respect for Barton-Wright and as a form of living history martial arts training. It also serves as a common technical and tactical “language” amongst contemporary Bartitsuka.

Neo-Bartitsu refers to “Bartitsu as it might have been” and to “Bartitsu as it can be today”; to modern, individualised interpretations of the art, potentially including sport, self defence and performance applications. We are currently developing the second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium to provide resources towards neo-Bartitsu. In any case, we hope that neo-Bartitsu forms will hold to the spirit and feel of the c1900 methods.

Q – What is the Barton-Wright memorial project?

A – E.W. Barton-Wright died penniless in 1951, and was buried in a “pauper’s grave” in Kingston Cemetery, Surrey, England. In 2006, Bartitsu Forum member Phil Giles discovered the exact location of B-W’s grave-site. All proceeds from sales of the Compendium and Kirk Lawson’s Bartitsu DVD have been dedicated to creating a suitable memorial for B-W as a pioneering martial arts innovator. We have nearly reached our target figure!

Q – How can I get involved?

A – Easy! Post your questions, ideas and comments to the Bartitsu Forum (and by all means, an introductory post will be welcome). The Forum is an active and notably positive venue for communication on all matters Bartitsuvian.