Monday, February 13, 2012

Report from Gallowglass Academy Bartitsu Semianr Febraury 11, 2012

On Saturday February 11th five new bartitsuka gathered at Gallowglass
Academy to find out more about the art of Bartitsu. Four out of the
five had previous Oriental martial arts experience. The other student
had previously taken my classes on Bowie knife and tomahawk.

I started with the standard precis of the history of Bartitsu and how
it got to where we are today. We then started in on 19th C pugilism. I
like to start with pugilism as I find it provides a good warm up and
starts building a sense of body movement and contact.

We covered the standard left lead and right rear punches both in slow
motion and then with focus mitts so everyone got to actually feel how
powerful the punches can be. We then covered defenses from these
punches. First the standard blocks with the opposite arms and then the
Jack Slack elbow block. From the Slack guard I showed how to counter
with a "chopper" to the nose of the opponent. We then returned to
standard blocks and worked on using the elbow and hammer fist as a
counter strike.

We then moved to the two savate kicks I include in my Barttisu
teachings, the coup de pieds bas and chasse bas (both front foot and
rear foot versions). First we worked them slowly using each other to
see how they can be used against knee, shin and foot. I then had each
student use the kicks with full force against a kick shield. We then
went back and worked on combinations of kicks and punches in slow
motion on each other. For this I like to use Tony Wolf's idea of pushing
through with the punches and having the person being "hit" act out the

During the discussion of pugilism I showed how the pugilistic left foot
and arm forward stance can be modified for modern self defense with the
"fence" stance of both hands open in front of you to provide a physical
and psychological barrier to an attacker. Yet the hands up in front
also allow for powerful strikes.

This brought us to lunch time. During the lunch break I discussed the
modern legal ramifications of using force in a self defense situation.

After lunch we put the mats down and worked on how to do break falls.
Two of the participants had experience with falling before but the
other three had not. I then started work on the back hell throw from
pugilism has this is close to the throws that Barton-Wright (B-W) uses in
many of the jujutsu techniques.

This then moved into doing jujutsu from the Canon. Since we had been
doing the back heel throw I first taught the defense from a face strike
that is blocked and you end up tripping the attacker up with a rear
throw (back heel.) We then did a failure drill of allowing the attacker
to block the "back hander" strike so the defender had to do some other
strikes to set up for the throw or take the attacker down another way.

We then worked on the defense from a one handed lapel grasp, since this
is pretty much the same defense as the face strike but we did the grasp
with the left had so everyone could learn that these techniques can be
done on both sides. The failure drill for this technique was that the
attacker steps back with his left foot so you can not get the trip on
the first attempt.

The final technique we worked on from this series of throws was the
belt grab or reaching for the pocket watch defense. I switched this to
a neo-Bartitsu grab on the wrist since none of us wear swords or carry
pocket watches very often. For this I showed the pain compliance grab
at the throat version showing how this can also be used as a choke.

Next I taught the "How to Escort a Man Out of the Room" with the Figure
Four lock on the elbow. We then worked on a neo-Bartitsu version using
the same arm lock for a knife dense.

With that I thought it was time to start work on the Vigny cane
techniques. I explained how Vigny advocated using a walking stick with
a heavy ball on the end but I liked to use a crook handled cane for
modern defense since it is legal any where you go and does not stand
out as much as a walking stick does in our modern world.

First we worked on Guard by Distance. We started by doing the Canonical
technique slowly to get the feel for the move. I then had one of the
partners in each pair put on a focus mitt on their "cane" hand so the
defender could actually strike with power to the incoming hand. After
seeing how powerful the blow to the hand could be we switched to a
neo-Bartisu move with the attacker wearing a hockey glove while armed
with a knife. So again the defender could strike with some power while
facing a more realistic modern attack.

For the failure drill I had the neo-Bartitsu attacker with the knife
decide if the strike to the hand was hard enough to disarm them and if
not the defender had to follow up with other strikes with the cane.

We then worked on the first of B-W's defenses using a light stick
against a man with a heavy stick where again the idea is to trip the
attacker up. First we covered the Canonical technique and then switched
to a more modern neo-Bartisu "heavy stick" of a base ball bat. We then
worked on how to do the same basic technique but using the crook neck
cane to hook the knee of ankle of the attacker.

I then showed the technique of hooking an unarmed attacker at the neck
and pulling his head into a knee strike.

As a prelude to doing a series of failure drills against an unarmed
attacker I went back and showed how to use the head control movements
that B-W uses in the jujutsu techniques. For the Canonical technique we
used the two handed lapel grab. We then did a series of failure drills
where the defender with the cane has the cane grabbed or taken away by
the offender.

The grand finale of the day was everyone put on some head protection
and we did individual drills with everyone rotating through being
attacker and defender one at a time so they had the mat space all to
themselves. After the first series I stood by as coach and second
attacker who came with a base ball bat in case any defender got too
tied up with their offender.

After it was allover we did a quick after action review. Everyone said
they enjoyed themselves and learned new things. In particular they
liked the failure drill since their previous martial arts training had
never included that kind of follow up in case the first plan did not

The one really local student has already asked to continue training at


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