“‘Engagement'” Rings: Knuckle-Duster Jewellery” (1911)

Subtitled “Ingenious Weapons Favoured by Apaches – for ‘Engagements’ with Law-Abiding Citizens”, these pictures were originally published as a photo-feature in The Sketch of Wednesday, 1st March 1911.

The Apaches (pronounced “Ah-pahsh”) were members of the criminal underworld of Paris during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nick-named in honour of the Native American tribes. Many unique aspects of the Apache subculture, including their slang, dress sense, dances and even weapons and mugging techniques became the subject of sensationalistic media interest during their heyday, spawning an international cultural fad that might be called “Apache chic”.

The fashion of criminals using “knuckle-duster jewellery” was also taken up in London by Alice Diamond, known as “Diamond Annie”, who led the infamous shoplifting gang known as the Forty Elephants.

Three examples of knuckleduster jewellery – the devil’s head, the thorn and the rose.
The projecting ear and horn features transformed these heavy rings into devastating close-combat weapons.
A combination knuckle-duster and stiletto; the stabbing blade folded back inside the knuckle-duster when not in use.
Showing how the “thorn punch” was used.
The “rose” ring.
Several rings worn at once transform the fist into a dangerous weapon.
The “rose” and the “goat’s head”.

“The Gentle Methods of the Berlin Police: Manners of ‘Moving On'” (1910)

During early 1910, after the success of the Berlin police in quelling a labour dispute that had escalated into a riot, several British newspapers published feature articles on the training and methods of police recruits in the German capital.

The classic “bum’s rush” escort hold.
Restraining a recalcitrant’s arms with his own coat.
An instructor demonstrates a jiujitsu  takedown.
The Berlin police were armed with sabres.
Countering a stick attack with a sabre cut.
A quick takedown from the rear.
Police officers demonstrate a comealong hold.
Another restraint and takedown from the rear.
Learning the theory of crowd control.
Trainees practicing how to resist the buffeting of a violent crowd in drills with swinging sandbags.
Counters to wrist grabs.
Another escort hold, reminiscent of the infamous coup du pere Francois employed by Parisian muggers.
Another demonstration of a clothing restraint.
The “bum’s rush” hold again.
Close-quarters defence against a pistol or revolver.
Another sabre counter against a stick attack.
A hammerlock and shoulder restraint executed as a comealong hold.
Taking a man down from behind.
A double wrist restraint and takedown.
An armlock and escort hold.

” … the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu”: “Sherlock” writer Mark Gatiss replies in verse to criticism of “The Six Thatchers” fight scene

In response to the newest Sherlock adventure, The Six Thatchers, TV critic Ralph Jones wrote an opinion piece titled Sherlock is slowly and perversely morphing into Bond. This cannot stand. The elaborate fight scene between Sherlock Holmes and the assassin known only as Ayjay was cited as an example of Holmes’ undesirable transmogrification into an “action figure”.

Now Sherlock writer/actor/co-creator Mark Gatiss has followed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s footsteps by replying to a critic in verse, playfully underlining the fact that the Sherlock Holmes canon includes numerous action scenes:

Here is a critic who says with low blow
Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O.
Says the Baker St. boy is no man of action –
whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

The Solitary Cyclist sees boxing on show,
The Gloria Scott and The Sign of the Fo’
The Empty House too sees a mention, in time, of Mathews,
who knocked out poor Sherlock’s canine.

As for arts martial, there’s surely a clue
in the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu.
In hurling Moriarty over the torrent
did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?

In shooting down pygmies and Hounds from hell
Did Sherlock on Victorian niceties dwell?
When Gruner’s men got him was Holmes quite compliant
Or did he give good account for The Illustrious Client?

There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,
Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill
From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy
With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

W. Bruce Sutherland teaches jiujitsu in WW1-era Edinburgh

Along with Percy Longhurst and William and Edith Garrud, W. Bruce Sutherland was one of the most prominent members of the “second generation” of British self-defence experts. A Scotsman, Sutherland ran a physical culture academy in Edinburgh and took up jiujitsu after losing a wrestling challenge match to former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani.

Sutherland’s book Ju-Jitsu Self-Defence went through a number of editions and was notable for its inclusion of a number of “third party” defence and restraint techniques, designed for use by police constables.

By 1915 W. Bruce Sutherland was well-established as a self-defence and close-quarters combat specialist in Scotland, and the ongoing war effort saw him teaching the basics of jiujitsu – according to his own system – for institutions as diverse as the Boy Scouts, the Army and the Special Constabulary.

Sutherland (left) instructs recruits of the “Edinburgh Bantams” in a leg-pickup throw. The “Bantams” were members of a battalion of soldiers who were shorter than 5’3″ tall, and who had initially been ineligible to enlist because of their short statures.
Members of Edinburgh’s “Special Constabulary” receive training in self-defence and come-along holds.  The “Specials” were mostly older men who volunteered to serve as constables because many younger, professional policemen had joined the Army.
The “Bantams” – including some very young-looking recruits – learn a jiujitsu throw.
Sutherland (right) observes some of his trainees practicing a defence against a dagger attack.
Sutherland demonstrates a jiujitsu tomoe-nage (“stomach throw”) for an onlooking group of “Bantam Battalion” trainees.
A Special Constable practices an extended armbar restraint hold.

Inside Edith Garrud’s dojo (1910-11)

By March of 1910,  jiujitsu instructor Edith Garrud was becoming increasingly involved with the radical women’s rights movement, teaching her “Suffragettes Self-Defence” classes at Leighton Lodge in Edwardes Square, Kensington and performing politically charged demonstrations in which she defeated men dressed in police uniforms.

Edith’s jiujitsu dojo in Regent Street was the setting for the above photo sequence, which was originally published in The Sketch magazine.

The tatami mats stacked against the walls in the fourth and sixth photos were probably intended to serve as a neutral background for the photographer, perhaps so that the police constable’s uniform could be better distinguished from the wood panelling behind them.

Notably, a close-up view of one of the bookshelves reveals that the dojo made copies of Sadakazu Uyenishi’s The Text-Book of Jiujitsu and W. H. Collingridge’s Tricks of Self-Defence available to their students.

Uyenishi was, of course, one of the young Japanese instructors who had taught jiujitsu at the Bartitsu School of Arms.  He later followed his colleague Yukio Tani onto the boards of the London music halls as a challenge wrestler, but the impression is that he was happier as an instructor. Uyenishi taught his art to members of the British armed services as well as establishing the Golden Square dojo, which William and Edith Garrud later took over when Uyenishi returned to Japan.

Like the Garruds, W. H. Collingridge was a “second generation” instructor who had learned Japanese unarmed combat from Yukio Tani and his associate, Taro Miyake. His book was still being published, in an edition revised by their mutual colleague, Percy Longhurst, as late as 1958.

This photograph, originally published in The Sphere of Feb. 11, 1911, offers a very rare glimpse of one of Edith Garrud’s jiujitsu classes for girls, which also took place at the Golden Square dojo.  The unusual gi jacket designs, featuring dark ribbons along the hem-lines, may have been unique to these classes.

Perhaps some of the young ladies shown in this photo went on to join the clandestine “Bodyguard” unit of the radical suffragette movement, for which Edith Garrud also served as a trainer …

Captain Hutton demonstrates Pierre Vigny’s walking stick defence (London Daily Telegraph, Nov. 20, 1901)

Captain Alfred Hutton was a member of the Bartitsu Club committee and also taught fencing at the Club.  E.W. Barton-Wright encouraged his instructors to learn from each other and Hutton did so enthusiastically, studying jiujitsu with Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi and also walking stick defence with Pierre Vigny.

In November of 1901 Hutton was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Telegraph.  After a discussion of historical fencing techniques and a typically robust critique of the fencing instruction offered by the British army, Hutton addressed and briefly demonstrated the Vigny method to the bemused journalist.


This image is adapted, for purposes of illustration, from Hutton’s chapter on fencing with the Great Stick from “Cold Steel” (1889).

(…) And in a moment the Captain was holding a walking-stick in such a threatening manner that the interview seemed likely to come to an abrupt end.

“You see,” he went on, smiling, “the thing has far more possibilities than you might imagine.  Walking-stick play, as taught by M. Vigny, for instance, is an extremely useful bit of knowledge.  Now try and hit me on the head.”

We tried. As soon as the coals had been picked out of our hair, and the lower portion of our waistcoat had been removed from our collar, the captain cheerfully resumed:

“If you are mobbed, you observe, the great thing is never to raise your hand to strike. Always keep it low. Hold your stick at each end, and thrust the first man on the Mark, the second in the throat, clear a circle round you rapidly, and . . . .”

But the audience had fled. It is not a healthy thing to pretend to be a mob when Captain Hutton displays “a little of the art of self-defence,” and it was to a prostrate form upon a sofa that the captain addressed his last remarks.


Interestingly, Hutton’s description of stick defence vs. a group of attackers is almost a verbatim representation of “How to Use a Walking-Stick as a Weapon in a Crowd”, the fourth sequence in part II of Barton-Wright’s 1901 article on stick defence for Pearson’s Magazine.  The sequence is included below for comparison.

“… this really wonderful science”: a Bartitsu display at the Guy’s Hospital gymnasium (Guy’s Hospital Gazette, March 31, 1900)

Suddenly conceived, hurriedly organized, there was every excuse if the Assault-at-Arms in the Gymnasium on the 16th inst. had been a failure. When, therefore, we can describe it as a complete success, there is every reason to congratulate the prime movers in the entertainment on the result of their labours. The programme comprised boxing, gymnastic and fencing competitions, and last, but not least, an exposition of “Bartitsu” under the direction of Mr. Barton-Wright, and a display of Elizabethan sword play by pupils of Captain Hutton.

The preliminary rounds in the boxing competition had been decided on the previous evening, and only the final tie was included in the programme, and the committee very wisely arranged that this event should be fought out at the beginning of the evening somewhat before the advertised time of commencement. Soon after eight o’clock Dr. Pavy took the chair at the judges’ table, and his arrival was the signal for a hearty demonstration by the audience in appreciation of the lively interest which Dr. Pavy takes in everything connected with the hospital.
A persistent rumour had been abroad that Dr. Taylor and Dr. Savage were to give an exhibition of modern foiling, and the arrival of Dr. and Mrs Taylor certainly seemed to lend colour to this view. But rumour lied, and we were not permitted to see what would undoubtedly have been the most popular item of the display.

Of the boxing we can do no more than quote the familiar sporting phrase that “both were likely lads and fought to win.” Perhaps it was significant that at the prize distribution afterwards the winner appeared with both wrists in strapping, while the loser did not appear at all!

The gymnastic display was not good. With one or two notable exceptions the men did not show anything like the form that is expected at these occasions, and the set pieces showed a lack of rehearsal which was no doubt due to the paucity of time at the disposal of the instructor. One item, however, gained rather than lost by this rawness; it was intensely funny to see and hear the surprise and indignation of one of the pair of men who should have “circled” head to foot, when his partner attempted to go round the wrong way.

The fencers gave a much better show, although the hits were rather soft and generally of the “lay on” type. Then M. Vigny and Mr. Collard, two of Mr. Barton-Wright’s instructors, gave an exhibition of “Bartitsu” walking-stick play. Everybody has heard of this new defence and offence, but it was a revelation to the audience to see the splendid development, the dexterity and quickness, and even grace, of the exponents of this really wonderful science.

A striking feature of the training is that in all the exercises the pupil must become ambidextrous; in fact, the rapid transference of the walking-stick from one hand to the other was, to the uninitiated at least, one of the most powerful factors in offence and defence, and one likely to prove most puzzling to the opponent.

After another round in the fencing competition, Captain Hutton brought forward two of the “Bartitsu” Club fencing instructors, Messrs. Collard and Rolt, who gave a display of Elizabethan fencing, using first of all sword and buckler, and then, the more stately rapier and dagger.

The two styles were essentially different in all but attitude. Neither man came “on guard” with the stilted style of modern foil play. Crouching at either end of the ring, they crept towards one another like tigers, and sprang in and out, thrusting and guarding with lightning rapidity. From a spectacular point of view these contests were superb; but it was unpleasantly obvious that “an affair of honour” in Raleigh’s time was not a matter to be entered upon lightly, and certainly not a matter from which either party could hope to escape unscathed.

With these events the programme ended, and after a short speech of thanks from the Chairman to Captain Hutton and Mr. Barton-Wright, and the gentlemen who had judged and given displays that evening, Mr. Cross proposed a vote of thanks to Dr. Pavy for taking the Chair, and for presenting and giving the prizes. With cheers for Dr. Pavy and Captain Hutton, the proceedings terminated.

Programme :—

Final Tie Of the Boxing Competition. — Mr. Pern beat Mr. Palmer. Referee: Mr. Godtschalk (Mirror of Life). Timekeeper: Mr. Griffin.

Gymnastic Display. — Winners Squad B (Messrs. Robinson, Steele-Perkins and Beattie). Judges: Mr. L. A. Dunn and Colour-Sergeant Young.

Fencing (Final Heat). — Mr. Jenson beat Mr. Roper. Referee: Captain Hutton. Judges: Mr. Clay and Mr. Norbury.

“Bartitsu” Display. — Messrs. Vigny and Collard. Judge: Mr. Barton Wright.

Sword Play. — Sword and Buckler, Rapier and Dagger.—Messrs. Collard and Rolt. Judge: Captain Hutton.