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Tor.com » Bartitsu: More Fashionable than Fisticuffs »

Ay-leen the Peacemaker reports back from a seminar on bartitsu, an obscure Victorian English form of martial arts that combined various fighting styles from boxing to jujitsu, and which is coming back into nerd vogue thanks to Sherlock and steampunk:

Prof. Donnelly started off by explaining how bartitsu was based on learning how to fight with whatever one had on-hand. During the Victorian era, every gentleman had a walking cane or pocket watch and women had a parasol, pocket watch or (eek) hat pins, which is why most of bartitsu’s moves employed those accessories. “If I were teaching a modern self-defense form using Barton-Wright’s philosophy,” Prof. Donnelly commented, “I’d probably use a cell phone.”

We learned how to block, parry and strike with canes, to use parasols like bayonets, and how both items can be used to pin down attackers. Best tip of the day: “Aim for the squishy bits.”

An intriguing historical tidbit:

The legacy of bartitsu was varied: for example, a secret society of bodyguards called the “jujitsu suffragettes” was created by Edith Garrud and protected woman suffragettes during protests…

Jujitsu. Suffragettes. IS THIS REAL LIFE.