The Morning GIF: Bartitsu

Long before Sherlock Holmes name-checked the discipline, Pearson's Magazine illustrated Bartitsu with these photographs. 


Lorraine Murphy


Published Apr 17, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 6:27 pm CDT

Here at the Daily Dot, we swap GIF images with each other every morning. Now we’re looping you in. In the Morning GIF, we feature a popular—or just plain cool—GIF we found on Reddit, Canvas, or elsewhere on the Internet.

There’s nothing like a little Bartitsu to start the day off right.

Bartitsu is a nearly forgotten martial art invented by the lyrically named Edward William Barton-Wright, who took what he learned studying Jujitsu in Japan and added a dandyish flair and a stout cane. It’s nothing more nor less than the art of self-defence with a walking stick, umbrella, riding crop, or whatever other stout class signifier a gentleman may have to hand. Barton-Wright described it as “a most exhilarating and graceful exercise.”

Bartitsu’s most famous practitioner is Sherlock Holmes, who namechecked the discipline when explaining how he got away from Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls (spoiler!). His stickhandling skills have also been on display in the recent Robert Downey Jr. movies, but not the BBC program Sherlock.

In an article for Pearson’s Magazine in January 1901, Barton-Wright explained his newly created discipline. The article was illustrated with many state-of-the-art photographs depicting two boater-hatted combattants, one presumably a dashed villain, the other an honest gentleman.

Here are both guys, in sepia, thanks to this glorious GIF from the Tres Elegant Tumblr, where it has gotten 7275 notes.

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 17, 2012, 10:47 am CDT