Emelyne Godfrey to lecture on Bartitsu and suffragette jiujitsu

Emelyne Godfrey’s presentation on Bartitsu and Suffragette Jujitsu of the early 20th Century will be given at the next Martial Arts Studies Research Network Event, ‘New Research on Japanese Martial Arts’, which will take place on 3rd May 2017, at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.

George Dinnie vs. Yukio Tani (1908)

The following dramatic and highly detailed account is taken from the Sheffield Independent of Monday 3rd February, 1908.  It’s particularly interesting as it represents a hard-fought jujitsu-style contest taking place some seven years after the heyday of E.W. Barton-Wright’s music hall challenge matches.  By this time, many of the sporting journalists and wrestlers of England were experienced in the rules, conventions and techniques of Japanese unarmed combat.

Former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani requires no introduction here, but his opponent might.  George Dinnie was the son of the famous Scottish athlete Donald Dinnie, and George carried on the family tradition as a successful wrestler and strongman.  His wrestling specialty was in the Lancashire catch-as-catch-can style, which was commonly acknowledged to be technically comparable to jujitsu …

Bartitsu returns to the Royal Armouries (Leeds)

Sherlock, Stock and Barrel is a Sherlock Holmes-themed event taking place at the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds, England between April 29-May 1.

Notably, the event marks the return of Bartitsu demonstrations to the Armouries, which had, in the year 2001, hosted the first known Bartitsu demos to have taken place since 1902.

Inspired by E.W. Barton-Wright’s Self Defence With a Walking Stick articles, which had then only recently been republished by the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, the 2001 Bartitsu  demos were performed by Fight Interpreters Keith Ducklin and Rob Temple as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.

Above – Keith Ducklin (left) and Rob Temple demonstrate canonical Bartitsu techniques at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds (2001).

The circa 1970 revival of umbrella and walking stick self-defence

Much like the first decade of the 20th century, the late 1960s and early ’70s saw an increased general interest in self-defence due to a perceived rise in street crime and a cultural shift towards feminism.

 In 1967, a young Los Angeles radio producer named Jill Maina developed her own basic self-defence system.  A fencer since the age of nine, she observed that the then-trendy martial arts of judo and karate both required body contact with an assailant, and so she advocated the use of umbrellas and walking sticks as defensive weapons to keep muggers at bay.

Although she may well not have been aware of it, her new system re-joined a long-broken tradition dating back to the mid-19th century, which had last been in vogue during the first decade of the 1900s due to the work of E.W. Barton-Wright, Pierre and Marguerite Vigny and others.

Miss Maina’s system favoured thrusts, primarily with the double-handed bayonet grip but occasionally with the regular fencing grip, targeting the attacker’s throat, groin and stomach.  Strikes were reserved for disarming blows to the hand or wrist, should the assailant be armed.

Throughout this period, newspaper and magazine articles re-popularised the notion of using umbrellas and walking sticks as weapons of self-defence.  By 1971 Mr. Norman Simon, the owner of Uncle Sam’s Umbrellas in New York City, was reporting that 30-40 customers per week were asking for weighted walking sticks.

While noting the illegality of purpose-built “weapon canes”, such as those concealing guns or blades, Mr. Simon said that his employees were happy to drill holes into canes and fill the holes with buckshot for extra heft.  Uncle Sam’s Umbrellas sold spike-tipped “hiking” canes, ebony canes with steel ball handles and even a “fencing cane” that looked like wood, but was made of tapered steel.

Interestingly, Mr. Simon was also reported as having sold a “book on stick fighting”, which was probably either Bruce Tegner’s Stick Fighting for Self-Defense: Yawara, Police Club, Aikido, Cane, Quarter-Staff, with a Special Section of Defenses for the Blind and Otherwise Handicapped Persons (1961) or Hatsumi and Chambers’ Stick Fighting: Techniques of Self-Defense (1971).

“How to Carry a Walking-Stick” (1889)

Words of warning from the Pall Mall Gazette of 2 September, 1889:

THE art of carrying a walking-stick, or even an umbrella, properly, is one that has to be acquired, and does not come by any intuitive sense to the majority of people. To carry a stick in a manner that will not only look graceful, but without danger and annoyance to others, requires both thought and practice.

The primary use of a walking-stick, we may take for granted, is to give assistance in walking, or as a means of assisting our locomotion, and not to poke our neighbour’s eye out, or do other grievous bodily harm. The evolution and development of the modern walking-stick is an interesting subject in itself, but into which we must not digress, beginning with the good old times when the quarterstaff was carried for the purpose of defence, down to the beau’s tasselled cane, and from the “crutch” of the more modern masher, down to the later “tree-trunk” or “clothes-prop” period.

Certainly we have sadly degenerated since the days of Brummel, when every dandy used and carried his walking-cane with as much grace as a lady manipulated her fan. Now, as a rule, it is a mere thing of fashion, being oftener carried for ornament than practical use; but that it is undoubtedly a considerable source of danger, the cause of numerous accidents in the crowded streets of our large cities, mostly due to the thoughtless way in which it is carried, is a matter to which public attention should be drawn.

Having had a front tooth knocked out, and been severely prodded about various parts of the body, we can speak from painful experience as to this danger in our midst. The first of these modern nuisances is the man who carries a gigantic stick with a formidable knob or projection at one end. He usually carries this article by grasping it in the centre, in a horizontal position, and naturally swings his arm backwards and forwards as he walks. He may be unconscious that he forms a sort of perambulating battering ram, but woe betide the individual who may unknowingly approach too near him from behind.

Another man thinks proper to carry his stick under his arm in a similar position, projecting about two or three feet out at the back. Beware of him. If he should happen to stop suddenly, or turn to look into a shop window, as we have often seen him do, he kindly upsets the equilibrium of your hat, or you narrowly escape having your eye cut out; and we may remark in passing, a “Beg pardon ” won’t restore sight to a “blind optic.”

Who has not come across those people who will gesticulate and point at various objects, emphasizing their remarks with their walking-stick or umbrella, to the imminent danger of those in their vicinity; and it is extraordinary to what extent this habit is carried. It was formerly thought peculiar to the Briton, but he is gradually being educated or growing out of it; and the very necessary precautions the custodians of our art galleries were formerly obliged to make, in taking charge of walking sticks and umbrellas, before admitting such visitors, are gradually being relaxed. It is quite impossible for these people to inspect any object, from a valuable picture to a ‘bus conductor, without poking or prodding at it.

We must not forget to mention the man, probably of buoyant spirits, whom you may notice walking on his stick in a proper and sedate manner, suddenly commences swinging it round and round like a wheel, describing circles with the greatest velocity, to the risk of any unconscious person who may be close behind.

On the flights of steps running up from our undergound railway stations, the walking-stick demon is very much in evidence (what a pity Mr. Gilbert didn’t “have him on his list”); with his stick thrust under his arm, he is a frightful source of danger to women and children. Notice how he will perform progressive gyrations up the flight of steps, dodging from one side to the other, in order to get up quickly; and when he is suddenly brought to a standstill by a block in front, those who are behind him run the risk of having their front teeth knocked down their throat, or other serious injury.

We must confess the male sex are usually the greatest delinquents, although the ladies are not always faultless. How many long-suffering creatures of the male sex have not been prodded on the toe, or had the lower part of the trousers marked and torn, when walking beside a lady, who is carrying one of those atrocious long-sticked sunshades or parasols, and all owing to the manner in which it is carried. Then the lady who rushes blindly down the street during a shower of rain, with umbrella unfurled and lowered to the charge, is a thing of absolute danger, and should be avoided as a mad bull; especially if you happen to be of somewhat corpulent proportions and not very agile. She makes straight for you, and the result of such a collision is decidedly unpleasant.

Now, as to the carrying of a stick or umbrella from an artistic or graceful point of view very little can be said, as neither of those articles can be called artistic objects in themselves. Perhaps the most natural and easy mode is either to use it as an aid to walk with, as the walking-stick was intended to be, or, if carried, it should be held in a sloping position, with the handle lowered towards the ground. In adopting either of these positions we shall not prove a source of danger to others. If every one would only give a little thought to this matter, it would prevent many accidents which occur daily, and do away with an increasing danger which besets our crowded streets and thoroughfares.

“Hot, towzled, and flabbergasted” (1901)

An amusing account of a Bartitsu challenge contest from the Sporting Times of 7 September, 1901:

Amongst those who went on the stage the Tivoli the other evening to try a fall with the ’Jitsu Japs was certain well-dressed but notoriously impecunious actor. His turn-out was, truly, within a few curves of the immaculate; but—heigho! By the time Uyenishi of Osaka and Tani of Tokio had had their arms round his neck and their knees in his waistcoat, he was Rumpled Robin at 5st 7lb.

Hot, towzled, and flabbergasted, and with his upper garments in a bunch about his shoulders, he stood by the footlights and felt for his eyeglass.

“Will you try again, sir?” asked Barton-Wright, bringing Uyenishi forward.

“For Gawd’s sake don’t, Jack,” cried a seemingly friendly voice from the unreserved fatoils; “if Mo Angel could see those clothes now he’d cancel yet hire-agreement for ever!”

Then Jack retired discreetly; for, be it added, the fine old backsliding potentates of Scripture History are not the only ones who “rent” their garments. There are others.

“What Every Woman Ought to Know” (1911)

A short review from The Stage of 14 September, 1911, concerning a one-act polemic play that featured fight choreography by Edith Garrud:

On Monday evening Mr. Martyn Roland and Miss Eva Quin appeared at the London Pavilion in their “matrimonial mix-up” entitled What Every Woman Ought to Know, and met with a gratifying reception from a large audience.

What every woman ought to know in this special instance is ju-jitsu; and the story of the sketch is concerned with the successful taming of a drunken brute of a husband by a wife who has taken lessons in the Japanese methods of self-defence, and who downs her noble lord and master every time he makes a rush at her. In the end, of course, the husband and wife are reconciled, and there is every indication of a happier future, provided that the husband can always remember that discretion is the better part of valour.

Miss Eva Quin plays cleverly as the muscular wife, but Mr. Roland’s acting as the drunken husband is perhaps a shade too realistic, a circumstance which robs the sketch of some of the comedy it ought to possess.