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  1. #1
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Was Bartitsu really the "original MMA"?

    No. Well, sort of ...

    Obviously, people have been mixing and matching fighting styles for about as long as there have been people, and there are numerous examples of codified styles that pre-date Bartitsu and which combined various fighting ranges and classes of techniques.

    Bartitsu's claim to fame is that it was literally the first martial art to deliberately combine Asian and European styles for both competition and civilian self defense. The learning exchange went both ways, though; Japanese martial artists had already devised jukenjutsu based on the European musket and bayonet, and tanjojutsu, drawing mostly from jojutsu, based on the fashion of carrying European-style walking sticks.

  2. #2
    Hesperus's Avatar
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Personally, the only thing that makes MMA MMA is the wonderfully nonrestrictive rule set.

  3. #3
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    CrackFox's Avatar
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    I rag on schools that take a mixture of martial arts and call it an MMA class, so I don't see why I should make an exception for Bartitsu.

    Bartitsu might even be a good way for preparing for MMA, but it isn't MMA. For me MMA is a form of competition that allows fighters from different martial arts backgrounds to take part.

  4. #4
    Sophist's Avatar
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    While I'd agree it probably isn't MMA under the modern definition, conceptually it was much closer to MMA than even the much-vaunted approach of Bruce Lee. Lee's "Use whatever works for you" is a lukewarm first step down a road Bartitsu was much, much further down with its approach of training all ranges in order to keep a fight within a range at which you had clear superiority. If anything, it's a shame that Barton-Wright didn't manage to promote it better and keep his school going beyond 1903; had it reached an appropriate critical mass, it could have resulted in a very sophisticated and modern system indeed. Imagine a hundred years of development starting from the solid arts of judo, boxing, savate and stickfighting and focusing on combining them efficaciously.

    Bartitsu really could have been a contender.

  5. #5
    BaronVonDingDong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR
    Bartitsu's claim to fame is that it was literally the first martial art to deliberately combine Asian and European styles for both competition and civilian self defense.
    Were there Bartitsu competitions then? I was wondering how you might spar or pressure-test Bartitsu as a unified skill-set rather than simply its discrete parts (just jiu-jitsu, say, or savate)?

  6. #6
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    Matt Phillips's Avatar
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    I'm sure Dldr didn't mean MMA in the sense of the rule set for the sport, but rather 'Mixed Martial Art' literally, in the sense that practitioners trained several complete martial arts at the same time.

    If he simply meant an MA that trained all ranges, then Pankration was first (obviously).
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  7. #7
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sophist
    While I'd agree it probably isn't MMA under the modern definition, conceptually it was much closer to MMA than even the much-vaunted approach of Bruce Lee. Lee's "Use whatever works for you" is a lukewarm first step down a road Bartitsu was much, much further down with its approach of training all ranges in order to keep a fight within a range at which you had clear superiority. If anything, it's a shame that Barton-Wright didn't manage to promote it better and keep his school going beyond 1903; had it reached an appropriate critical mass, it could have resulted in a very sophisticated and modern system indeed. Imagine a hundred years of development starting from the solid arts of judo, boxing, savate and stickfighting and focusing on combining them efficaciously.

    Bartitsu really could have been a contender.
    There are rumors that he continued to teach it privately into the 1920s, but it's a damn shame that it never took off the way it could have, back in the day.

  8. #8
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaronVonDingDong
    Were there Bartitsu competitions then? I was wondering how you might spar or pressure-test Bartitsu as a unified skill-set rather than simply its discrete parts (just jiu-jitsu, say, or savate)?
    We know that the instructors at the Bartitsu Club used to cross-train and compete among themselves; Swiss wrestler Armand Cherpillod studied jujitsu with Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi, Barton-Wright tried to teach Tani boxing, Pierre Vigny probably added jujitsu elements to his stick fighting, etc. Beyond that, we assume that they started to evolve inter-style/all-styles sparring in their classes, but we don't know the details beyond some vague hints.

    The major venue for "Bartitsu competition" was actually the matches Barton-Wright promoted in the music hall wrestling circuit, which were essentially jujitsu vs. all comers. Challengers had to wear gi jackets but were allowed to try whatever wrestling style/skills they liked against the Bartitsu guys. They generally lost by submission, but they were also pretty much set up to lose by the way the matches were structured (they won a prize if they could avoid being submitted within a particular time period). Because European wrestling at the time didn't include submission fighting per se, the challengers were at a considerable disadvantage - while they could often throw and pin the Bartitsu men, they didn't know what to do next, and so they were vulnerable to jointlocks and choke subs.

    This point was noted by wrestling aficionados at the time, but to the general public, it seemed as if the Bartitsu/jujitsu fighters were just unbeatable.

  9. #9
    RoninPimp's Avatar
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Know of any good online articles?

  10. #10
    DdlR's Avatar
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    The essays at www.bartitsu.org are the most detailed available online, but the real nitty-gritty re. their cross-training and the challenge fights is in the Bartitsu Compendium (volumes I and II).

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