Bartitsu Documentary Available (Sherlock Holmes-era martial art)
I wanted to let those who may be interested know that a new documentary on Bartitsu--the Victorian martial art referenced in Sherlock Holmes' novel "The Empty House" is available.
When I reached the end I stood at bay. He drew no weapon, but he rushed at me and threw his long arms around me. He knew that his own game was up, and was only anxious to revenge himself upon me. 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. I slipped through his grip, and he with a horrible scream kicked madly for a few seconds and clawed the air with both his hands. But for all his efforts he could not get his balance, and over he went. With my face over the brink I saw him fall for a long way. Then he struck a rock, bounced off, and splashed into the water.
- Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Empty House”
Doyle’s cryptic reference to the Great Detective’s mysterious martial art with which he had simultaneously saved his own life and defeated his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, at the brink of Reichenbach Falls intrigued and beguiled fans for decades. What few knew was that at the end of the Victorian era, E. W. Barton-Wright had combined jiujitsu, kickboxing, and stick fighting into the "Gentlemanly Art of Self-Defence" known as Bartitsu.
While jiujitsu went on to experience a boom lasting even through the First World War, firmly establishing the mystique of the Japanese martial arts in Western pop culture, and the popularity of boxing and wrestling continued unabated. For almost all intents and purposes, however, Bartitsu itself was forgotten when Barton-Wright's club closed its doors in 1902. Almost…
Now, a century after Barton-Wright’s experiment in cross-training between various Victorian-era martial arts and exercise methods, his “art of fighting to the last" has seen new life, as a dedicated circle of martial artists, Edwardian historians, and Sherlockians have breathed new life into this pioneering mixed martial art.
This forgotten chapter in martial arts history is available through the new documentary Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes. Featuring interviews with Harry Cook, Emelyne Godfrey, Mark Donnelly, Graham Noble, Neal Stephenson and Will Thomas, the adventure begins at Reichenbach Falls and travels to England, Italy and the United States, combining interviews with historical reconstructions and examples of modern training to relate the fascinating history, rediscovery and revival of Barton-Wright's "Gentlemanly Art of Self-Defence".
You can read more about Bartitsu’s history, rebirth and the creation of the documentary itself in an interview with writer and host, Tony Wolf.
I hope you find this of interest.