While at Leeds Steampunk Weekend I partook in the Bartitsu demonstration. I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I found this a very easy and enjoyable experience. Bartitsu is described as Victorian Gentleman’s Cane Fighting. It’s an actual style of fighting that was designed for the discerning gentleman – out for a stroll through streets of Old London Town with his good lady – to protect himself against ruffians and would be muggers.
I’d already had a taster session at P.U.M.A in Sheffield that specialises in Bartitsu. If you get the chance to take classes and you want to try something in keeping with the era we’re interested in then Bartitsu is a good option.
We started by learning the correct way to stand. the idea is to adopt a stance similar to how you would walk down the street. After all, if you’re going to be set upon by a pack of proles during a stroll around the park, you’ll be in that stance naturally. We learned how to deflect being bashed on the head while side-stepping and delivering a crack to the neck or arm or sometimes pushing them over.
I found it interesting quite how natural and fluid it looks when fighting – much like a scrap on Ripper Street – yet there’s a lot of thought goes into the appropriate moves to despatch the pesky denizens of the night.
The display and short lesson concluded with a brief look at how to do it properly and that’s the video you can watch here.