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"I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me." Sherlock Holmes
I'm going to Baker Street next week. So I was thinking about Sherlock Holmes (who lived there at 221B). I haven't seen the Robert Downey and Jude Law movie yet - somehow Jeremy Brett is the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. Anyway I found the quote above. Actually he probably meant bartitsu. Or perhaps the printer made a mistake. A man called Edward William Barton-Wright developed his own eclectic MMA - mixed martial art - at the end of the nineteenth century. Maybe he had been bullied at school for having too many names. Anyway Barton-Wright worked in Japan for some years and apparently trained in Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu in Kobe and also judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo. Then he made his martial art by including four styles of fighting each with its own ma ai or optimum fighting distance.
The first was stick-fighting using a walking stick to keep an assailant at a safe distance. This was developed from la canne, a French martial art.
The second was kicking techniques as used in savate - also a French martial art - as the distance became a little closer.
The third was boxing as the attacker came within striking range.
And the fourth was jujutsu - grappling with the attacker and throwing him as he came close enough to grip.
So Barton-Wright had a very comprehensive approach to ma ai. He said:
"Under Bartitsu is included boxing, or the use of the fist as a hitting medium, the use of the feet both in an offensive and defensive sense, the use of the walking stick as a means of self-defence. Judo and jujitsu, which were secret styles of Japanese wrestling, he would call close play as applied to self-defence.
In order to ensure as far as it was possible immunity against injury in cowardly attacks or quarrels, they must understand boxing in order to thoroughly appreciate the danger and rapidity of a well-directed blow, and the particular parts of the body which were scientifically attacked. The same, of course, applied to the use of the foot or the stick.
Judo and jujitsu were not designed as primary means of attack and defence against a boxer or a man who kicks you, but were only to be used after coming to close quarters, and in order to get to close quarters it was absolutely necessary to understand boxing and the use of the foot."
Apparently now there are two strands of bartitsu. One is an historically accurate bartitsu as practised by Sherlock Holmes, and the second is a neo-bartitsu which is a modernized version for real self-defence. Some of those cane techniques look very cool!
And I said MMA earlier for a reason. Barton-Wright was probably the first person to stage mixed martial arts tournaments.
And you never know when a little bartitsu can come in handy. For example if ever you are engaged in a life or death struggle over the Reichenbach Falls.