Bartitsu, the first documented MMA in the world

Hello, everyone. Last delay on this blog was much longer than I thought before. But I’ll try to do the best to make it live again. Today we’ll talk about one almost forgotten self-defense system from the past.

A few years ago in media the theme that Bruce Lee was a father of MMA, because he mixed different martial arts in his Jeet Kune Do. But it’s not truth, first of all because Bruce Lee didn’t want to create any type of sport competition, which the thing called MMA is, he wanted to create some kind of martial art style “without style”. And the man purpose was self defense.

But this idea was not original, I’m sure that most of today’s martial arts was created as “the best technics from other arts, without non-effective”. This idea in general is utopia and impossible. But we are talking about different. The first documented mixed martial art was Bartitsu, mentioned of which you can find in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” as “baritsu”. Conan Doyle was one of the students in Bartitsu club.

So, what this Bartitsu is? This is mixed martial art style, established by Edward William Barton-Wright in 1898. He was an English engineer, who lived 3 years in Japan, where he trained in Jujitsu dojo (Japanese Jujutsu, not BJJ, which didn’t exist then). Before it he studied Boxing, French Savate, cane fighting (French stick fighting), and was quite good for guy from Europe in the end of 19th century.

His “Bartitsu Club” was famous during 1899-1902, it’s founder published magazine articles in several magazines about physical culture, and as instructors there were Japanese jujutsu practitioners as Kaneo Tani, Seizo Yamamoto, Yukio Tano, Sadakazu Uyenishi, Switss wrestler Armand Cherpillod and master at arms Pierre Vigny. Also, there were all the newest training methods and machines for body training. It was highly progressive gym, with high-level instructors.

As the reason why this gym was closed is that tuition fee was too high for most Londoners, probably E.W. Barton-Weight didn’t do marketing study, and didn’t know how many wealthy-enough people lived there. Most instructors opened their own self-defense clubs later, and E.W. Barton-Weight became physical therapies later.

This mixed style has a really short history, but it was one of the first case of practicing Japanese martial arts in Europe, and its founder was one of pioneers of Jujutsu in Europe.

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