Wiliam Barton-WrightThe art which in recent years has become known as the art of Sherlock Holmes is in fact a creation a 19th century engineer called William Barton-Wright. Barton-Wright was a well travelled man and while in Japan he studied martial arts under several jujitsu masters including Jigoro Kano, the father of Judo.

On his return to London in 1898, Barton-Wright set up a School of Arms in Shaftsbury Avenue where boxing, fencing, wrestling and savate were also taught. A master of self promotion he began touring the music halls with Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi, two prominent Jujitsu practitioners, offering a £20 purse, approximately 10 weeks wages, to anyone who could stay on their feet for 15 minutes with either of these experts. Thus Barton-Wright was able to successfully demonstrate the superiority of these Japanese fighting skills when employed by a small defender against a bigger more powerful assailant.

Wiliam Barton-WrightIn 1899, Pearson’s Magazine, printed an article by Barton-Wright describing the principles and techniques of a ‘New Art’ which he named Bartitsu; Conan Doyle called the skill employed by his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Baritsu. He explained that his new art of Bartitsu meant “real self-defence in every form.” As well as containing elements from ju-jitsu, Bartitsu also included skills and techniques from boxing, wresting and french kick boxing (Savate).

A visionary in many ways, Barton-Wright was emulated many year later by Bruce Lee, whose own quest for martial enlightenment led him to incorporate and adapt elements from different fighting styles in to his martial arts concept, Jeet Kune Do. Barton-Wright also published several articles on a self defence system using the cane, a device carried by most gentlemen at the time.

Although the Budokwai (the oldest and most famous Japanese martial arts club in Europe) honoured Barton-Wright’s contribution to martial arts in 1951 he was, a couple of years later, afforded only a paupers funeral in an unmarked grave. A sad and poor memorial for the west’s first mixed, martial artist and the man ultimately responsible for bringing Jujitsu to this country.

This introduction fails to do justice to this remarkable man, ahead of his time in many ways. Very few people, including martial artists are aware of him. A senior dan grade once asked me who was responsible for bringing jujitsu to this country, “William Barton-Wright,” I answered confidently. “No, it was Kano!” I was told.

UK martial artists, no matter what style they practice should acknowledge the fact that Barton-Wright was a pioneer in the combat arts. Today, societies exist that study and comment on the art of Bartitsu and a search on the net will find martial artists who list within their profiles ‘Bartitsu’ as a practicing or teaching style.

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From the heart …

This is not a rant nor is it a plea for sympathy, it’s a statement of truth – or at least the truth as I currently perceive it and, although truth is sometimes vanquished behind a hazy cloud of emotion, I think it’s just about clear enough for the sun to shine through.

As you all know, for the last year we’ve been looking for our own premises. We’ve inspected  a few, wasted money on surveys and solicitors fees and eventually, so I thought, found what we needed.

Having applied for change of use via planning application it was refused on two naff and poorly justified reasons. Sour grapes you could say, if that were just our opinion you’d be correct, but it isn’t.

So we’ve appealed, a laborious process that involved our club secretary visiting businesses in the area to obtain letters of support and a small payment to an industrious ex student canvasing door to door.

We’ve a strong case, a valid case, justified even and lots of bits of paper! The process will take about 3 months – however, we’ve recently learnt that may cost us the venue.

Not going into details, but suffice to say it doesn’t look good.

I wanted to rant, rave and generally kick things, but after a conversation on Saturday with my mentor Geoff Thompson, I was reminded that my intentions, whatever they were, should be aligned and pure and that the energy used on seeking out some form of retribution was energy ill-spent and wasted.

In short, all my efforts should be directed towards my intended goal and not to the misdemeanours or actions of others – I sort of knew this, but this latin temperament sometimes grabs hold of the English stiff-upper-lipedness and throttles all common sense out of it.

Having declared vociferously in a moment of anger: “If we don’t get this venue I’ll close all the clubs and stop coaching!” I now find myself calmy chastised by my own ‘pure intent’.

We will get a venue and maybe it won’t be this one. We do have to (as reminded by our gorgeous club secretary this morning) think about splitting up the Stopsley kids class into two separate sessions on different days and I have to keep aligning myself and not be distracted.

As Buddha would say: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

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