On Sunday, May 25 instructors Tony Wolf, Nathan Wisniewski and Treyson Ptak co-taught a five-hour introductory Bartitsu seminar at the Forteza Western martial arts studio in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighbourhood.

The seminar began with a discussion of Bartitsu history and then a series of rotating warm-up exercises teaching the skills of synergy (tactile sensitivity) and alignment (triangulating posture). Participants were then taught a simple two-person jiujitsu kata taken verbatim from E.W. Barton-Wright’s articles published in Pearson’s Magazine in 1899.

This was followed by a series of boxing drills teaching the fundamental left lead and straight right punches and the chopper/right hand counter combination following a folding elbow cover guard against the opponent’s left lead punch. To this sequence was added the coup de pied bas (low, swinging “chop” kick) to the opponent’s knee or shin.

After loosening up with some spirited rounds of purring (an old English low kicking game/sport), we returned to the canonical jiujitsu kata, this time allowing the “attacker” to defend against the scripted counter-attack at one key point. The defender was then challenged to recover the initiative by flowing with the interruption and employing boxing punches and low kicks.

The instructors then introduced a second canonical kata, to which was applied the same process of unscripted interruption and spontaneous recovery.

Stick fighting training began with the three basic guard positions (left/rear, right/front and double-handed) and a look at the unusual “forehand/backhand” strike as a way to either strike over an opponent’s guard or to force them to guard very high. That was followed by a drill in ambidextrous striking from the double-handed guard and then a canonical Bartitsu set-play incorporating a lunging forehand/backhand, an elbow trap, use of the butt end of the cane as a “dagger” in close quarters and then a parting shot to the knee.

The next stick set-play involved a Bartitsuka armed with a stick opposed by a boxer, elaborated by allowing the boxer to deflect or trap the Bartitsuka’s scripted stick thrust, at which point the Bartitsuka could either regain the initiative via unarmed combat or attempt to wrest the cane back into their own possession.

The seminar wrapped up with a development of the synergy and alignment exercises to incorporate any of three canonical jiujitsu takedowns.