Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Gentleman's Self Defense

Let's say you're walking home from your local after enjoying a drink in the company of friends when suddenly a young tough emerges from the shadows and demands your money. Also, it's Victorian London. You may hand over your purse and still receive a thrashing. Or you may do something like this:

Edward William Barton-Wright studied jujitsu and Japanese wrestling, among other Eastern martial arts. He combined these methods with Western boxing and wrestling techniques, and fencing, into a fighting style called Bartitsu, possibly the first mixed martial art. (Some Bartitsu maneuvers utilize walking sticks or parasols as weapons, and encourage using your hat or coat to distract an opponent.)

Barton-Wright also helped develop the first self-defense classes for women, which were especially popular with members of the English women's suffrage movement. Suffragette and martial artist Edith Margaret Garrud used her jujitsu skills to fight off police and civilians attempting to attack demonstrators for women's rights, all while decked out in the heavy clothing of a proper Victorian woman.

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