What is Bartitsu?
In its essence Bartitsu is Victorian Mixed Martial Arts. Pre-dating the rise of Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do and the modern mixed martial arts phenomenon, Bartitsu started the concept of using what works no matter what fighting system it comes from. Incorporating techniques from countless other martial arts Bartitsu combined them to create a defensive system suitable for the Victorian gentleman in the streets of Victorian London.
The originator of Bartitsu was Edward William Barton-Wright who was a British Engineer who spent time working in the Empire of Japan. Already a pugilist he encountered Jujitsu and returned to London with the concept of combining the best elements of existing martial arts to create his ‘new art of self defence’. Taking English Pugilism for the firsts, French Savate for the feet, Japanese Jujitsu for close range and Swiss cane fighting for long range he created a system that for a while was widely popular.
Of course we are no longer Victorian Gentlemen and our setting is no longer Victorian London, but the principles remain the same. Using Pugilism, Savate and Jujitsu as a basis, the aim is now to experiment with new techniques and incorporate what works into the growing syllabus that makes up modern Bartitsu. Unlike many systems that are designed for war or competition, Bartitsu has at its heart using what you have at hand to defend yourself in real life, every day situations.
At the Bartitsu & Antagonistics Forum we focus on both Classical Bartitsu (as it was taught by the Bartisu Club in Victorian London) and Neo Bartitsu (an ongoing project to develop Bartitsu as an evolving martial art). For the most part this involves incorporating techniques from:
- Pugilism – Bare Knuckle Boxing and associated pre-Marquis of Queensberry Rules techniques
- Savate – French kick boxing developed on the violent docks of Marseille
- Jujitsu – Japanese wrestling, throws and joint locks from the far east
- Improvised Weapons – A systematic approach to using what is available to your advantage
To find out more about Bartitsu please visit the Bartitsu Society. As well as informative articles it is the best way to link in with the wider Bartitsu culture and find out what is happening world wide.
We are also proud to have been accepted into the All Styles Martial Arts Association and would encourage you to read more about their work and the mazing array of seminars that they run.
Provost Duncan McNulty
Provost McNulty currently runs the Bartitsu & Antagonsitics Forum as well as leading the weekly classes in Sunderland. Choosing the title Provost to denote organisational responsibilities rather than qualifications he has always claimed to be a first among equals rather than a traditional instructor. Coordinating the efforts of the scholars so that the study group as a whole can continue to learn and advance.
Whilst Duncan trained in sports fencing and archery during childhood and through University, his unarmed martial studies began in 2001. Training in Lau Gar Kung Fu and Kick-boxing in Dundee before moving to Newcastle and switching to Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu and Qi Gong. Believing that Europe’s own martial history was being overlooked he decided to leave Eastern martial arts; turning instead to study Italian Rapier and English infantry sabre.
During a weekend symposium Duncan got his first taste of Bartitsu and became hooked. Reading all he could get his hands on and getting anyone to who was willing and able to teach him, he developed a solid grounding in the martial art. In 2012 he gathered a group of like minded individuals together to set up a Bartitsu study group and so the Bartitsu & Antagonistics Forum was