Monday, November 19, 2012

I took part in the Italian knife and staff workshop at Forteza Martial Arts in Chicago over the weekend.

On Saturday we worked on the knife portion of the workshop. Roberto Laura, the instructor, started out by explaining he was going to introduce us to two different systems of knife fighting. The first is primarily a dueling system that only allows point work but will allow cuts if used on the s

treet. The second is only aimed at use on the street.

Both systems are based on the use of a long folding knife somewhat like a navaja. The second street oriented system also has hooking actions with the butt of the knife as in the navaja. The dueling system is quite interesting and as Roberto said think of Flamenco dancing with a knife.

It was also interesting that the training tool we used for all of the knife work was a wooden drumstick..

The staff system is based on using a four foot hard wood staff about an inch in diameter. The staff is held with both hands. I saw similarities to both Montante and jogo de pau in the moves we did.

Roberto is a very good instructor and moves around the room helping out with footwork and pointing out how to improve your techniques. If you have a chance to take a class from Roberto I recommend it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The next session of Bartitsu at Gallowglass Academy will start Monday October 29, 2012. from 7 to 8 PM for six weekly sessions. Location is the River Valley Complex, 605 Main St, Leaf River, IL 61047. Fee is $50. See for more details.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gallowglass Academy will once again have a presence at the Midway Village (Rockford, IL) Chautauqua on Saturday and Sunday June 9 and 10, 2012.

We will be offering classes on 19th century pugilism and military sabre both days. We invite all of our friends to drop to take the classes or talk about historic martial arts.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

We have scheduled our four hour Women's Self Defense class (in two sessions) on Tuesday May 1 and 8, 2012 from 7 to 9 PM at the River Valley Complex, 605 s Main St, Leaf River, IL 61047. You can go to our website or call 815-973-1064 for more details.

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

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Bartitsu Seminar at Gallowglass Academy

Our next Bartitsu seminar will be on Saturday January 21, 2012 at the River Valley Complex, 605 Main St, Leaf River, IL (25 miles south-west of Rockford, IL) Cost is $50.00 until January 7, 2012 and $75.00 thereafter.

See our website for more details or call 815-973-1615.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Medicine Ball/Playing Card Workouts

As I mentioned in my last post I am trying to add some variety to my regular workouts. I continue to use the new book I bought. I like the short workouts it provides so I can also use my recumbent bike or do martial arts in the same workout.

However, I have also developed two new workout routines by combining a playing card workout with the use of a medicine ball. I have put together a workout for the arms and upper body and one for the abs and legs.

If you are not familiar with using playing cards for a workout the idea is to match each suit of cards with an exercise. You then do the number of reps of each exercise to the number of pips on the card as you come to it in the deck. I do ten reps for each court card and for the ace. If you use a full deck of 52 cards you will get 94 reps per suit. Or you can make the ace 11 reps and go all the way to 95 reps!

Here are the two sets I have put together. Feel free to use these or develop your own.

Arms and Upper body

Clubs - Bench Press
Spades - Overhead Press
Hearts - Bent Over Rows
Diamonds - Curls

Abs and Legs

Clubs - Lunges
Spades - Squats
Hearts - Butt Lift Crunches
Diamonds - Knee Raised Crunches