Sherlock Holmes and crosstrainnig

I've been reading the comic The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen lately, and in one scene, aparently from one of the Sherlock Holmes novels, he throws an attacker off a cliff. On this webpage about the comic
I found out that Holmes had trained in what he called Bartitsu, the japanese method of wrestling. Aparently, bartitsu is a version of Jujitsu, with some added dirty english streetfighting added to it. The founders name is E. W. Barton-Wright, so I guess theres where the BART-itsu comes in. Very clever, eh?

Articles about the art can be found here:

Anyhoo, Holmes was also described as a very good boxer. I guess sir Arthur C. Doyle saw the benefits of cross training long before Bruce Lee did, eh? ;)

Hmm, according to this site, Barton-Wright studied under Jigaro Kano.

A.C. doyle was the man. Holmes was also shootin coke and morphene...THAT'S cross-training.

Bsrton-Wright is listed on the rolls at the Kodokan.

Also a keen amatuer inventor - he designed a
"compressed silk" throat protector (a forerunner to
todays soft body armor) for trench warfare during

Recently spent some time researching Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the martial connection, for a feature I did for Eye Spy publication....titled: Sherlock Holmes - the original Criminologist. (issue 20)

It seems that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was quite astute and aware of different cultures. Plus with a middle name like Conan you would think that there would be some martial connection ...Crom!

Holmes was someone that was very curious about unusual cultures and practises. In many of the stories, he would get into close quarter predicaments, as his work often took himself into London's less refined areas.

Also, at that period in which the story is based, traditional English boarding schools, where gentleman were supposedly groomed were quite physical..boxing and fencing were introduced along with Rugby, and the more traditional sports such as Cricket. Then Judo was introduced to quite a few schools. Unfortunetly today few schools maintain this interest in combat sports, beyond what goes on in Rugby! But that being said..the best cross trainers from an athletic perspective always seemed to be the Rowers. Less contact work but far superior cardio and muscular endurance to any kickboxers I trained with.

Coming back to Homes,I think he liked the technical aspects of the Japanese arts since it suited his cerebral persona. But perhaps MMA would have involved too much sweat and blood for someone who also enjoyed smoking, fine suits and other extra curriculum activities!


Hey Aran, can you e-mail me at

Got a couple non-related questions for you.

Back on topic, Journal of Asian Martial Arts ran an article on Barton-Wright which was perhaps less than totally flattering a year or two ago. He did indeed study at the Kodokan, but he had a japanese with hinm to handle the challengers. He seemed to be primarily a technique man, and many observers were seen to note that while the set-piece waza was effective in a dirty sort of way (much references to 'fouls'), they were unconvinced that Barton-Wright would be able to handle a serious professional wrestler. Not so his Japanese side-kick, but he didn't show waza, he just fought. Apparently he and Wright had a break-up over the split of the take, and he went on to fight professionaly for himself. Wright came off as a bit of a bigot in the interview they reprinted, although probably no more so than the next 19th-century Englishman.

Wright felt that the jujutsu (or judo or whatever) was not enough by itself, and so he augmented with boxing and savate.

Well, the guy took jujitsu and called it Bartitsu, so that tells me all about him I need to know. That's be like me studing wing chun and calling it wingotgamechun. Feh!

Holmes was indeed the man. While I think cross-training was the order of the day for 19th century physical culturists (TR talks about it) Holmes was particularly interested in it as a means to an end. I think he studied just enough to be deadly, and his primary interests were boxing, single-stick and fencing (and, of course, yawara; it is believed ACD saw a Barititsu demo and didn't know the word for jujutsu).

Holmes gets in a few noted scraps in the canon (the duel to the death with Moriarty being one of them; and it went down the way Moore describes it, with everyone thinking Holmes dead). In one story he takes on a rough hand and beats him "with a straight left." In another he is accosted by a half a dozen armed men with sticks and holds his own but is subdued and laid up (at which point Watson loses his cool and threatens to "thrash them all" or something). Holmes also believed in the utility of a Webley in the pocket.

This site is a portal to give you basically more than you ever wanted to know about Bartitsu. See especially the links page.The Bartitsu Society

Londinium was quite a rough place during Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's time. You can see how pugilism might have had appeal to someone who had to enter or live in those grim spots of the city.

ok John email sent.

Judo and Savate...that would be an interesting combination!!

"the guy took jujitsu and called it Bartitsu, so that tells me all about him I need to know."

What about a guy called Kano studying jujitsu and calling it Kano's jujitsu and then later judo? The early jujitsu guys in europe had the impression that they had to rename there style once they went out on their own and taught it. I'm not sure where this originated from, it may have even been because of Kano renaming his style/s.

Barton wright did study with Kano in Japan but also had contact with other jujitsu men and brought at least to out to the UK once he returned there.