View Full Version : The Bartitsu Compendium, Volume II: Antagonistics

8/26/2008 1:18pm,
Bartitsu was, in a sense, the original Asian/European MMA, being founded in England in the year 1899 by E.W. Barton-Wright, who was also the first known European to teach jujitsu: see http://www.bartitsu.org . It was more-or-less a cross-training method between old-school British boxing, the low kicks of street savate, Shinden-Fudo-ryu jujitsu and self defense with a walking stick.

Although primarily a self defense system, Bartitsu was promoted by MMA-type tournaments in which European wrestlers were challenged to compete against Barton-Wright's Japanese champions in submission matches, pre-dating the UFC by about ninety years.

The first volume of the Bartitsu Compendium (2005) presented the canonical curriculum, i.e. the set of jujitsu kata and stick fighting sequences that were recorded by Barton-Wright during the (brief) heyday of Bartitsu in the early 1900s.

The second volume is a compilation of excerpts from fifteen Edwardian-era self defense or "antagonistics" manuals covering eclectic pre-WW1 "British jujitsu", boxing, savate and stick fighting skills, linked by a modern cross-training curriculum. This curriculum is explained in an early chapter and reinforced throughout the remainder of the text. The object is to provide resources for the practice of "neo-Bartitsu", i.e. modern versions of the style, which are open to individual interpretation.

At 413 large pages and well over 400 illustrations the book covers a great deal of technical territory, beginning with a set of mechanical and tactical principles that apply across the board (skeletal alignment and leverage, pre-emptive striking, etc.) and progressing
through stand-up fighting, throwing and ground-fighting techniques.

All of the pictures are in black and white, of course. Some of the original authors offered very detailed instruction, such as William Garrud, whose 1913 book "the Complete Jujitsuan" is the Compendium's main source for jujitsu instruction. Other authors only offer a single picture demonstrating the "key moment" of a throw, punch, kick, stick disarm, etc., with a paragraph or two describing the action.

The editors have obviously taken pains to minimize repetition as much as possible, so that the jujitsu sections, for example, clearly demonstrate the major techniques and are supplemented by unusual variations from other books.

There are also intermediary chapters on blending the various styles together, such as integrating jujitsu-type close quarters techniques into stick fighting, or transitioning between boxing and standing grappling. There are also sections on jujitsu atemi-waza techniques and "dangerous blows" in boxing.

The last third of the book consists of a series of chapters on historical points of interest, such as the "boxing vs. jujitsu" debate of the early 1900s, which was played out in the "Letters to the Editor" column of sports and fitness magazines and which reads like a
more gentlemanly version of modern style-vs.-style forum arguments. There is also an interesting essay about Edith Garrud, an early instructor of self defense for women, and her association with the Suffragette movement.

The second volume of the Bartitsu Compendium is unusual in that it is not presenting any one style, but rather a cross-training method between four different historical styles. Given the challenges of getting these disparate sources to agree with each other, I think that the editors did a fine job and I would recommend this volume of the Compendium to anyone with an interest in the fore-runners of the modern MMA phenomenon.

Eddie Hardon
8/27/2008 5:39am,
Thanks very much for this Review. A Great Post. You have whetted my appetite for further investigation so I shall now have to check my local Waterstone's or Foyles - which I pass as I cycle home.

Thanks again for your constructive analysis.

8/30/2008 3:13am,
You're welcome, but as far as I know the book isn't available in stores. You can order it online at http://www.lulu.com/content/3115394 .