“Ju-ji-tsu Champion: Interesting Display and Interview with Professor Uyenishi” (1905)

From the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 15 April, 1905:

The local Companies of Engineers are to congratulated on affording the Hastings public their first experience the wonderful Japanese style of wrestling, Ju-ji-tsu. It was at the smoking concert held by them at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday that Prof. Uyenishi, the world’s champion, and instructor the Army Headquarters’ Gymnastic Staff, Aldershot, gave a most interesting exposition of the art. There was, naturally, a large attendance, including the Mayor (Councillor Eaton), who presided. Captain Holman (commanding officer), Mrs. Holman, Councillor Bones, Major F. G. Langham, Captain E. H. Langham, Lieut. Davenport Jones, Mr. Culhane, Mr. Allford, Mr. Deck, etc.

The Professor is small, but thickly set. For wrestling purposes he dresses in a sort of coat, open in front, reaching the thighs and enclosed in a leathern belt. His legs and feet are bare. At the start he gave an interesting display of the various throws and locks, with the aid of one his pupils. The locks were little technical, though the energy with which the victim banged the floor each time to show he had enough showed they were genuine. The great thing is to break your man’s arm if does not cry “Cave.”

The throws were simpler. The pupil trod on Uyenishi’s foot and threw him over his shoulder. Then, putting his foot in the Professor’s stomach, he fell backwards, and hurled him oyer his head. Then he kicked the man’s right knee and overbalanced him that way. Again, after an attack round Uyenishi’s waist, that gentleman issued a confused mass of arms and legs over his pupil’s shoulder. Every time Uyenishi fell down beautifully, with a nice sound plump.

Then out came P.C. Craske in somewhat similar garb, his 6ft. 2in. towering over the Professor’s 5ft. 3in. In the bout Craske was wary and tried to keep Uyenishi at a distance, while his opponent stood lackadaisically looking at him till saw an opening, and then acted sharply. After a failure or two he did the stomach trick, but Craske cleverly got up again without Uyenishi effecting his lock, somewhat to the latter’s surprise. The next time, however, was fatal, for about two minutes from the start Uyeniehi got him down the same way again and had him helpless round the neck and arms.

The second bout was a little shorter. Uyenishi gave Craske a fall which would have been final in the catch-as-catch-can, but the policeman got up again, and after Craske had seemed to push himself over, Uyenishi put his leg over his chest, pulled his arm out—and Craske kicked. Afterwards the Jap remarked on the Hastinger’s quickness for a big man.

To show his wriggling powers Uyenishi then lay down, on his back, with four men, two on each side, pressing pole down across his neck. Uyenishi lay still for a few moments, kicked his legs up, twisted over, and wriggled out in a second.

The last item in this most interesting performance was a bout with his pupil to show what Ju-ji-tsu is like between two men who know the code.

WORLD’S CHAMPION INTERVIEWED. HE TALKS OF HIS SYSTEM.

After the exceedingly interesting display of Ju-ji-tsu at the Engineers’ smoker at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday,  an Observer representative found his way to the back of the stage to have chat with Prof. Uyenishi of Osaka, Japan, the world’s champion in his own particular style. He was busy dressing to catch the 9.30 train to town, and was surrounded by small crowd of people, but by snatches the Press man managed to get what he wanted.

Prof. Uyenishi, like all the Japanese, is only a small man. He stands 5ft., 2ins., and weighs 9st. 7 1bs., yet has defeated all opponents, and challenges all comers, and has thrown out a special challenge to the Russian Hackenschmidt to defeat him ten times in an hour. The Catch-as-catch-can-man, unfortunately, cannot take it on.

No one could mistake the Professor for anything but a Japanese. Of course, he dresses European-wise, but with his coal black, close cropped hair, dark skin, thick moustache, and black eyes peering through spectacles, is a physical type of his race. He is also a type of the race in his courtesy if what one hears of the excellence of Eastern manners is correct. He speaks English, not perfectly, but well, with an interesting clipped-off pronunciation. In the intervals of exhibiting different styles of “holds” on everyone near him, the Professor told our representative that he had been in England 3 1/2 years, first on the stage.

Then he was seized with an ambition to have his system introduced to the Army and Navy, so he left the stage and devoted his time to teaching. In this respect he had a great success on Monday evening, for while was performing at Sandhurst, a man came up, and wrestled, not with him, but with a pupil, who had had only five months’ training. After had been defeated several times the man said he was Sergeant Dacombe, the strongest man in the two Forces, and had been specially sent to see what Ju-ji-tsu could do against superior strength.

The Professor is instructor the Gymnastic Staff at the Headquarters Gymnasium, Aldershot. Professor Uyenishi expressed admiration for our English styles of wrestling, but said they had no self-defence, which was the great thing in his method. They had styles like ours in Japan. Ju-ji-tsu, as everyone knows, based on thorough knowledge of anatomy, and of the weak spots in the human body.

“My system,” Uyenishi said, “never hardens muscles,” and to give a physical demonstration he bared his arm. There was a sort of bag hanging down from the triceps. Our representative felt it; it was soft as a half-inflated football bladder. One’s fingers appeared to go through and touch the other side, until he hardened it, and then it was like iron. The other muscles were just the same, and when stiffened became as hard as nails. We have never felt any muscle half as soft, and not many as hard. This produces pliability and quickness of action. “My system,” said the wrestler, “is never to put out the strength until the very moment of action,” and this was evident on the stage, when he walked about as lazily as possible till the very moment when he had the man over.

Professor Uyenishi said he has had many fights on the stage at the Tivoli and Empire, including some with the Russian champion, who appeared previous to Hackenschmidt and with Cherpillod, the Swiss champion, for whom he has great respect. Hardly had he said this when he finished dressing, and out came a cigarette case and a cigarette. Surprise was expressed, but the Professor said he smokes, and does not think it bad for his wrestling.

Then, with a handshake all round, and he shakes like a true born Briton, Professor Uyenishi and his pupil went off in hurry to catch the train. Our representative came away fired with desire to try on Sandow some of the tricks he had seen performed. There is a possibility of a Ju-ji-tsu class being started in Hastings.

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