Jiujitsu film footage from 1912

This 1912 vintage newsreel footage is among the earliest film recordings of Japanese martial arts techniques.

The film, which was probably shot in Paris, begins with a demonstration of formal jiujitsu waza (techniques) performed by Takisaburo Tobari, who had apparently travelled quite widely in Europe, visiting Germany and Austria between 1907-10. His partner in the demonstration is Taro Miyake, who had famously defeated former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani in 1905. Thereafter, Miyake and Tani continued to work as music hall challenge wrestlers, established the Japanese School of Jujitsu in London’s Oxford Street, and participated in the creation of the book The Game of Jujitsu. Both men also worked as challenge wrestlers and jiujitsu instructors in Paris, Miyake in particular being associated with Ernest Regnier’s dojo at 55 Rue de Ponthieu.

The second part of the newsreel features a spectacular and highly polished display of jiujitsu as gentlemanly self-defence against villainous “apaches” (French street gangsters). It is very probable that the participants in this display are S.K. Eida, Shozo Kanaya and Yuzo Hirano, all of whom also taught at the Oxford Street school. Possibly uniquely, it includes a demonstration of a jiujitsu defence against the infamous coup du père François strangulation trick.

The “apaches” evidently had a terrific time performing for the camera …

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