In memoriam: E.W. Barton-Wright
From http://www.bartitsu.org/index.php/20...-13-sept-1951/ -
Today marks the 59th anniversary of the death of Bartitsu founder Edward William Barton-Wright.
Born in Bangalore, India, he was the third of six children of railway engineer William Barton Wright and his wife, Janet. Edward travelled widely as a youth, matriculating in France and Germany and then operating mining concessions in Spain, Egypt and Portugal. After studying jiujitsu in Japan for approximately three years, he returned to London and opened his Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture in 1899.
The Bartitsu Club era was a relatively prosperous and happy time for Barton-Wright, but it was short-lived. By 1902, for reasons that are still unknown to us, the Club had ceased operating as a martial arts school. The instructors that Barton-Wright had gathered dispersed, and he himself spent the rest of his career working as a physical therapist.
Barton-Wright’s life was punctuated by genuine innovations and bold plans, but plagued by financial and legal problems. A bankruptcy suit brought by a disgruntled former employee in 1910 seems to have dealt his professional life a crippling blow. From 1938 onwards, his therapeutic clinic was in his own home, a small flat in the London suburb of Surbiton.
Despite having quite literally pioneered the teaching of the Japanese martial arts in the West, E.W. Barton-Wright died in obscurity and in virtual poverty; a forgotten eccentric. To the very last, though, he remained proud of his art of Bartitsu. In a 1950 interview with Gunji Koizumi, the founder of the London Budokwai judo club, Barton-Wright recalled:
It was not until the 1990s that scholars began to realize E. W. Barton-Wright’s historical significance in the martial arts, not least being his radical innovation of Bartitsu as a method of cross-training between Asian and European fighting styles. The influence of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and the massive popularity of Mixed Martial Arts clearly vindicate Barton-Wright’s vision. Sadly, he was simply eighty years ahead of his time.
I have always been interested in the arts of self-defence. And I learned various methods, including boxing, wrestling, fencing, savate, the use of the stiletto under recognised masters, and by engaging regular ‘roughs’ I trained myself until I was satisfied in practical application. Then when I went to Japan, during my three years’ sojourn there, I studied Ju-jutsu under a local teacher in Kobe who specialised in the Kata form of instruction. I then met Prof. J. Kano, who gave me some lessons. On my return to England I founded an institution at which one could learn under specialised instructors all forms of sports and combative arts. For Ju-jutsu teachers, I asked my friends in Japan and Prof. Kano to select and to send … I then worked out a system of self-defence by combining the best of all the arts I learned and called it Bartitsu.
Barton-Wright was interred at Kingston Cemetery in Surbiton. For those who may wish to pay their respects, the relevant details are:
Section E (Consecrated), Grave no. 3012A
Note that, due to his having died in poverty, he was buried in a communal grave. A local ordinance forbids the placing of individual grave markers (gravestones) on these sites, because it is impossible to determine exactly where an individual is buried. Flowers may be left at the base of a tree growing from the grave.
Does "engaging in regular 'roughs'" mean that he got into fights and found the system practical, or that he engaged in free-play or sparring of some sort?
Note that the actual quote is "by engaging regular 'roughs'". My best guess is that this means "fighting (or just training with) tough guys". Baton-Wright spent years working in mining camps in Spain, Egypt and Portugal and claimed to have had numerous fights in that period (before he studied jujitsu in Japan). One of his students, Captain F.C. Laing, commented that:
Mr. Barton-Wright himself has been taken on by every sort of adversary, professional and amateur, both in play and in earnest, and so far I have never known him to come out of the fray without having got the better of his opponents; while being hard, agile and determined he is in no sense a "strong man" of the Sandow type; his success is due to knowledge, science, and readiness of resource in every emergency when bodily risk is run in an encounter with any and every sort of human adversary.
Oops, inserted the in.
That clears it up. Thank you.
Tony, thanks for posting this memorial. Although I only started training in Bartitsu two months ago I have learned to appreciate it more every week. Learning a system that has lots of canefighting is uberpractical. I wonder why use of weapons in other MAs is not trained with until the advanced stages?
Depends on the art in question. A lot of them start simo or even prior to empty hand.
Originally Posted by MGM
My personal opinion is that this "wait until you're really skilled" is a product of Japanese imports to the West in a post-WWII context when many of these Japanese systems as they were taught at the time were largely intended for physical education of school children. In that case it's logical to push the weapons work off.
Just my speculation, mind you.
Peace favor your sword,
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