“Basically, it’s half historical recreation; half beating the crap out of someone with a cane.”


Bartitsu – the martial art of the Victorian Gentleman, is making a bit of a comeback.

Once nearly extinct, the street defense form Bartitsu that was all the rage for the Victorian Gentleman, is making a bit of a comeback. Partially due to the “steampunk” genre, this anachronistic art has seen explosive growth of late, with clubs popping up all over the US.

From The Atlantic:

“Bartitsu was developed by Edward Barton-Wright, a British engineer who moved to Japan in 1895. After returning to London, just before the turn of the century, he created a mixed martial art hybrid, combining elements of judo, jujitsu, British boxing, and fighting with a walking stick.

The style was promoted to the middle and upper classes during a time when they were becoming increasingly worried about the street gangs and crime publicized by the tabloid newspapers (continued)

“In this country we are brought up with the idea that there is no more honourable way of settling a dispute than resorting to Nature’s weapons, the fists, and to scorn taking advantage of another man when he is down,” Barton-Wright wrote in an 1899 edition of Pearson’s magazine.

“A foreigner, however, will not hesitate to use a chair, or a beer bottle, or a knife, or anything that comes handy, and if no weapon is available the chances are he would employ what we should consider are underhanded means.”

I find the racist/xenophobic angle amusing. Also the fact that it was the first fighting style to draw on both Eastern and Western styles, due to Barton-Wright’s experiences in the Orient. I highly recommend you read the whole thing.

Apologies for the sporadic posting of late. I am finishing my taxes and am about to finish a 5 trips in 7 days guiding stretch. I will be back full force this weekend.  In the mean time, please send your Reader Essay Contest submissions to thetruthaboutknives@gmail.com



  1. Mike L says:

    England has an interesting history of crime, violence and “rules”. In the 1700’s London had street gangs that liked razors as weapons. There were organized razor fights even. Including a title for the best. “Razor King ” of London. It was much more violent in the past. Even if we have todays media scaring the crap out of us.

  2. PeterK says:

    It’s like from Mistborn!

  3. cmeat says:

    sue had many talents. sadly, she is best remembered for her bartending.

  4. sagebrushracer says:

    Never practiced much, but watching Jeet Kun Do classes at the rec center was interesting. Strike patterns where the same with a fist, rattan stick, knife, sword. Easy to learn, the kids could pick it up quick, and they loved the rubber knive drills.

    one time the instructer had everyone wear old white shirts and sweats. Then he handed out magic markers for knives and let them do 30 second matches. Fun to watch.

    Martial arts are a good outlet for youthful energy that have multiple positive facets. Glad its making a come back.

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“Basically, it’s half historical recreation; half beating the crap out of someone with a cane.”

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