Log in

No account? Create an account
07 April 2010 @ 02:26 pm
Women's Self Defense with Umbrella  
I forgot to mention in my previous Eastercon post the Bartitsu ("The Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes") lecture that we went to. This, it must be said, started slow (and the speaker did a good impression of someone who had been drafted in to talk on the topic at the last minute and was making the best he could from a frantic Google and the discovery of bartitsu.org). However it was interesting to see that Victorian Orientalism also extended to the adoption and adaptation of Eastern Martial Arts nearly a hundred years before the craze resurfaced in the West (experts will now tell me there was a continuous Karate/Judo/Jujitsu/etc tradition in the UK from then onwards). Bartitsu, as a word is a conflation of the surname of Edward William Barton-Wright (who cobbled it together from every Martial Art tradition he could get his hands on, in so far as I could tell) and Jujitsu which was one of its major components.

Most of the talk was an interesting, if not terribly exciting, tour around the Victorian criminal scene, the European components of Bartitsu (specifically Queensbury and pre-Queensbury fist fighting rules) and a discussion of exactly which Jujitsu hold Holmes might have used on Moriarty. Then the topic of women's self defense came up.

The speaker admitted to some qualms about the whole area of self-defense for women, based around the observation that you need a lot of skill to compensate for deficiencies in weight and strength. But he had had a revelation when he looked at Bartitsu:

"Unknown to herself almost every woman carries with her a perfect means of protection from either lunatic or hooligan when she walks abroad or travels, in the shape of that inseparable companion of womanhood—an umbrella or parasol!"

"while she clutches the wrist of her assailant, she thrusts the umbrella with all her force into his neck."

"The rough is not living who can survive a second experience of this nature, and with experience a lady can hold at bay not one but two or three assailants."

The speaker commented that the only unrealistic thing was the conspicuous lack of a large pool of blood.

Like the speaker, I am also resorting to Bartitsu.org and specifically their reproduction of A 1902 article from the Daily Mirror. "... fencing has no practical use, but, when the principles of swordsmanship are applied to the umbrella, the woman who has become mistress of the art will feel a sense of security when travelling or alone that hitherto even the bravest of the fair sex have been strangers to."

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/2550.html.
bunn: bunnybunn on April 7th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I love the picture where she glories over her fallen foe!

I had an English teacher at school who used to be easily distracted into demonstrating Using Everyday Objects as Weapons for Self Defence.

I wonder if he was into Bartitsu?
louisedennislouisedennis on April 7th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
It's a great picture isn't it. Her expression and body language speak volumes.
helflaed: vampire rabbithelflaed on April 7th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
We had a law lecture like that- although to be fair it was about offensive weapons....

I'll never look at a bunch of keys in the same way again.
bunnbunn on April 7th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
That sounds familiar... Did you do 'mutilating the enemy with a ballpoint pen?"
helflaedhelflaed on April 8th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
Regrettably not.
louisedennislouisedennis on April 8th, 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
Now you mention it, I recall being told about keys at some point, though I can't recall who by...
Susanlil_shepherd on April 7th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
I have a scene in a novel where the heroine duels with large skewers. I must get some advice...
louisedennislouisedennis on April 7th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Madame Vigny would appear to be the go-to woman for 19th century Umbrella combat...
MysteriousAliWays: Go On Mrs Doylemysteriousaliwz on April 7th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
I love the smug expression on her face!

I have an eight-volume leather bound set of 'Every Woman's Encyclopaedia' from 1912 which, IIRC, recommends Jujitsu as a suitable skill for a lady. (It's a fascinating read, looks like it was published in weekly instalments and has all sorts of articles ranging from how to pick furs to choosing a suitable career in the colonies, to dental care (using cloth tape as an early form of dental floss) to various arts and crafts.
I don't remember any mmention of umbrellas as weapons, but then I haven't read all of it yet :)
louisedennislouisedennis on April 8th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
Those sorts of "how to do random things" books are always fascinating. I think that's half the attraction of the Igguldsen output - although I wish that were not marketed as "for boys".