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Edward William Barton-Wright

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Edward William Barton-Wright C.E., M.J.S. (member of the Japan Society) (1860-1951) was a British entrepreneur specialising in both self defence training and physical therapy. He is remembered today as one of the first Europeans to teach Japanese martial arts and as a pioneer of the concept of hybrid martial arts.

Early life

He was born with the name Edward William Wright in Bangalore, India. He was the third of six children of railway engineer William Barton Wright and his wife Jorrie. After returning to England with his family during the 1880s, Barton-Wright was educated in France and Germany. Following matriculation, he worked as a railway clerk before embarking on a career as a civil engineer and surveyor. As a civil engineer, he worked for railway and mining companies in countries including Portugal, the Straits Settlements and Japan. At some point after 1881 but before 1898, he assumed the name Edward William Barton-Wright.[1][2]

Establishing Bartitsu

While in Japan (circa 1893-1897), Barton-Wright studied jujutsu at three schools; the Shinden Fudo ryū in Kobe, the Tenjin-Shinyo ryū in Yokohama, and Kodokan judo in Tokyo.[2]

Upon returning to England (c.1898), Barton-Wright combined the basics of these three martial arts to form his own style of self defence training, which he called Bartitsu. Over the next two years, he also added elements of British boxing, French savate and the la Canne stick fighting style of Swiss savate Professor Pierre Vigny.[3]


  1. Noble, Graham. "The Master of Bartitsu," Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 1999, v. 8:2, pp. 50-61.[1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wolf, Tony (ed.) The Bartitsu Compendium. Lulu Publications, 2005.
  3. Barton-Wright, E.W. "Ju-jitsu and judo." Transactions of the Japan Society, 1902, v. 5, pp. 261-264.

In 1899, Barton-Wright wrote an article entitled "How to Pose as a Strong Man", detailing the mechanical and leverage principles employed in performing various feats of strength.[1] He also produced a two-part essay entitled "the New Art of Self Defence" which was published in Pearson's Magazine and re-printed in the Boston Times newspaper [2][3]

In 1900, Barton-Wright established the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture at 67b Shaftesbury Avenue in London's Soho district. The school offered classes in a range of self defence disciplines and combat sports as well as various physical therapies involving the electrical application of heat, light, vibration, and radiation. During the next few years, Barton-Wright organised numerous exhibitions of self defence techniques and also promoted tournament competitions at venues throughout London.[4]

In 1901, Barton-Wright published additional articles that detailed the Bartitsu method of fighting with a walking stick or umbrella.[5]

Later life

By 1903, the Bartitsu Club had closed down. Subsequently, Barton-Wright mostly abandoned self defence instruction in favour of his interests in physical therapy [6], which he pursued, establishing various clinics throughout London, for the remainder of his career.

In 1950, he was interviewed by Gunji Koizumi, the founder of the London Budokwai judo club, and he was presented to an audience at a Budokwai gathering later that year.[7] He died in 1951, aged ninety, and he was buried at Kingston Cemetery in Surrey, England.[8][9]


  1. Barton-Wright, E.W. "How to Pose as a Strong Man," Pearson's Magazine, v. 7, pp. 59-66.
  2. Barton-Wright, E.W. "The New Art of Self-defence: How a Man May Defend Himself against Every Form of Attack," Pearson's Magazine, March 1899, v. 7, pp. 268-275.[2]
  3. Barton-Wright, E.W. "The New Art of Self-defence," Pearson's Magazine, April 1899, v. 7, pp. 402-410.[3]
  4. Wolf, Tony and Marwood, James. (2006) "The Bartitsu Club."[4]
  5. Barton-Wright, E.W. "Self-defence with a Walking Stick," Pearson's Magazine, February 1901, v. 11, pp. 130-139.[5]
  6. Wolf, Tony (ed.) The Bartitsu Compendium. Lulu Publications, 2005.
  7. Koizumi, Gunji. "Facts and History," Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin, July 1950, pp. 17-19.
  8. Noble, Graham. "The Master of Bartitsu," Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 1999, v. 8:2, pp. 50-61.[6]
  9. "Barton-Wright's Grave Site," February 7, 2007.[7]

External links