The art of Bartitsu is one which the practitioner utilises both their mental and physical capabilities.
The system, in Barton-Wright’s own words, has been carefully and scientifically planned. It is with this in mind that the practitioner must employ surprise, distraction, adaptability and intellect.

In this post, we will look at the core strategies of Bartitsu.


Avoiding Conflict

Logic is at the heart of Bartitsu, so logic dictates that the best defence is simply not to be attacked in the first place; however, this is not always a matter of choice.

The practitioner of Bartitsu has to consult one’s intellect; in doing so they should actively consider their surroundings, whilst being aware of oneself.
Critically, one must actively perceive the distance between their position and that of potential harm.

By having a mental map of one’s provisional scene, the act of violence can be dramatically foreshortened.


  • Avoid conflict where possible
  • Consider your surroundings
  • Be aware of yourself and your position
  • Identify the position of possible threats
  • Mentally map out your location
Avoiding Conflict Bartitsu

Effective Action

If the intention of harm is inevitable, one should be prepared to employ effective action.
Bartitsu, described by its founder as a scientific art, may be summed up in a sound knowledge of balance and leverage applied to human anatomy.

In light of the knowledge, the practitioner should utilise the art of surprise, disturbing the equilibrium of the opponent to negate their strength; and if necessary subject the joints to where they are anatomically unable to resist.


  • Be urgent with your action
  • Disrupt your opponent focus
  • Be efficient with your techniques
Effective Action Bartitsu

Controlling The Initiative

The principles of Bartitsu focus on the concept of controlling the initiative.
If one should lose initiative, it is vital to employ defensive actions which simultaneously defend and counter-attack.
Pre-emptive strikes or feints can force an opponent into a reactive state, interrupting their initiative; whilst manipulating their balance can weaken their offence and deprive them of their leverage.


  • The equilibrium is defined as both physical and mental
  • Disrupt your opponent’s equilibrium
  • Utilise pre-emptive strikes, feints and artifice to force your opponent into a reactive state
  • Manipulate your opponent’s balance to deprive them of their leverage
  • Simultaneously defend and counter-attack to regain the initiative


Controlling The Initiative


The practitioner must embrace every eventuality, basing ones defence and counter-attack on the actions of your opponent.
The art itself incorporates systems from multiple disciplines and includes the use of everyday articles.

Distance control, invitations, pre-emptive strikes and leverage control are just some of the tools of the practitioner.

Bartitsu has a unique modus operandi that embraces the reactions of the moment.


  • Apply the techniques as required by the needs of the moment
  • Adapt to the situation to hand, be it the surroundings, the opponent(s) and items available to you
  • Always adapt to take and control the initiative
Adaptability in Bartitsu


An approach must be taken to evaluate the theories and concepts against the terms of success. Though the principles are universal; variables such as the practitioner, opponent and surroundings will influence the techniques.
The syllabus is not to be a hindrance, exploring and adopting new methods should be embraced.


  • No method is too severe in order to overthrow an assailant
  • Embrace and explore concepts, techniques and scenarios
  • Use what works for you
  • Bartitsu is not just a set of technique but rather a collection of principles
Pragmatism in Bartitsu

Expanding Your Knowledge

Bartitsu has seen a resurgence of interest leading to several ways to learn more about this scientific martial art.
Below we have a list of useful links for your consumption.

Extending Bartitsu – Our area dedicated to the expansion of Bartitsu

Learning Bartitsu – A list of Bartitsu clubs and materials

The Bartitsu Compendium Volume 1 – A great resource for anyone wanting to learn about Bartitsu, both the history and techniques.

The Bartitsu Compendium Volume 2 – A must have companion for the the first volume.

Bartitsu on Facebook – a very active Bartitsu group