Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey!

Ace tipped me off to the new Sherlock Holmes movie (coming out in December): he’s got some thoughts about this one that you should check out. And before you start worrying, apparently Guy Ritchie (director) and Jude Law (Watson) are both Holmesians, while Robert Downey (Holmes) is… Robert Downey. So, there’s already a couple of good signs that it won’t suck.

But to segue, while looking up the answer to a question that my lovely wife asked (“Was Sherlock Holmes was the physical confrontation type?”) I came across, a site dedicated to the… well, there’s some controversy whether bartitsu is a ‘real’ Victorian martial art, and not helped by the fact that Doyle called it ‘baritsu.’ Still, people seemed determined to reproduce it now; they have books out (Bartitsu Compendium, Volume 1: History and the Canonical Syllabus) and the aforementioned website.

And this article on the umbrella as a combat weapon is quite good, although I shall politely not address its claim to be an authentic journal article from the Victorian era.

[UPDATE] I have been informed in comments that the article is quite real. I stand abashed.


  • Tony Wolf says:


    thanks for the links, but there’s really no controversy about whether Bartitsu was a real Victorian martial art; it was actually the first civilian self defence method to combine Asian and European combat styles. It’s all very thoroughly documented.

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the “Umbrella” article too, but for the record, yes, it really did appear in the “Ludgate Monthly” during 1897. It’s a great example of late Victorian humour. You can see a PDF version, in its original context, on GoogleBooks.



    • Moe_Lane says:

      Tony: all I know is that I saw a massive flame war on the topic once, to a level that I normally only associate with political blogging. No offense was meant to your field of study. 🙂

      And that is a real article? Huh. I usually can catch those; clearly, I need to delve deeper into the Victorian period.

  • Matt says:

    In “Study in Scarlet”, Watson does mention that Holmes is a “master singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman”. So Holmes could hold his own in a fight, although he doesn’t in the stories.

  • Moe_Lane says:

    As I recall, he was also possessed of enough strength to straighten an iron fireplace poker after someone bent it in the course of threatening him.

    The stories really are entirely different things from the movies. Not that I don’t like some of the movies.

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