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Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Baritsu

The origins and current appeal of a hybrid martial art that flourished in fin de siècle London and was famously used by Conan Doyle’s fictional detective. 

Holmes and Moriarty struggle at the Reichenbach Falls; drawing by Sidney Paget.
Holmes and Moriarty struggle at the Reichenbach Falls; drawing by Sidney Paget.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth was an excellent amateur singlestick player, swordsman and boxer. However, his special skill was in the Japanese system of wrestling called ‘baritsu’, which he used to hurl his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, down into the swirling waters of the Reichenbach Falls. But what is this baritsu to which Conan Doyle refers?

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