Boxing a Kangaroo (bad idea)

We all have fond memories of this:

And recently on, Tony Wolf reprinted an article from 1893 entitled “The Kangaroo as Prize Fighter” which discusses the change from the Kangaroo’s natural defenses into a human-like stance.

It looks like this (not pretty):

I think the appaling part of the 1893 article is the closing:

The flesh of the kangaroo is highly esteemed as a food, and from the hides a valuable leather is made. These are legitimate uses of the animal. But it is shocking to think of degrading so useful a creature down to the level and equal of a brutal human prize fighter.

In a way, the humour at the end, degrading the animal to human fighting, is funny and true. More importantly, the view at the time is that animals should be imported for slaughter is morally dubious at best.

Importing the Exotic for Show and Sport

I’m a little conflicted about the status of the kangaroo, since Bartitsu essentially followed the same path to reknown: London imported Japanese experts to pit their jujitsu against boxers and wrestlers of the West.

As a Canadian, much of my culture is imported, or was originally imported until we made it our own. Perhaps I should be teaching Canadian Defendo rather than England’s Bartitsu, except that Defendo is almost entirely based on concepts imported from other foreign self-defence methods.

Then again, in our interconnected world, most everything is either imported, remixed or modeled on older systems. Should we worry about cultural nationality? I’d argue that the capture, transportation to foreign lands and abuse/slaughter of indiginous species is a clear ethical line to draw.

Saturday’s Workshop

I’m no kangaroo, come box me at the Introduction to Bartitsu Workshop this Saturday. We’ll also do many of Sylvester’s tactics: the headlock, throws, kicks and escapes, not to mention actual 1890’s era pugilism.

And yes, the cane fighting will continue to be a large portion of the workshop, even for the kangaroos among us.


David McCormick Head of Stage Combat at Academie Duello and certified Instructor with Fight Directors Canada. Head of Bartitsu at Academie Duello, the longest continuously running Bartitsu program in the world.
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