Jujitsuffragette Documentary “No Man Shall Protect Us” Funded

The documentary No Man Shall Protect Us, detailing the history of the secret society of jiujitsu-trained bodyguards who defended the radical suffragettes during 1913-14, has now been fully funded via Kickstarter.

Members of the “Jujitsuffragette” Bodyguard team were trained by Edith Garrud, who had studied Japanese martial arts with former Bartitsu Club instructors Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi as well as Akitaro “Daibutsu” Ono, Taro Miyake, Mitsuyo Maeda and other notable sensei who were active in Edwardian London.  Mrs. Garrud will be portrayed in re-enactment sequences in No Man Shall Protect Us, which will document the origins, training, tactics and missions of the Bodyguard.

Production will continue through early January of 2018 and the full documentary will be made freely available online upon completion.


By Hook or By Crook: A New Weapon for the Millwall Dock Police (1903-05)

During the first decade of the 20th century, the Millwall Dock area of London’s East End was a notorious target for all manner of plunderers, who found easy entrance and escape via the Dock’s complex, shifting maze of alleyways.  The Millwall Dock Police, all of whom were former soldiers and whose average height was an impressive 5’11”, frequently found themselves in hot pursuit of agile thieves and looters on foot.

In December of 1903, the Chief Constable of the Dock Police introduced a unique weapon to assist his constables in making arrests of runaways.  This new item was a sturdy staff of 1″ oak with a wide curved handle, very similar to a shepherd’s crook.  As well as proving useful as a general-purpose walking stick, the staff was ideally suited to catching fleeing felons by snaring them around the neck, arm, leg or ankle.

The Chief Constable devised training drills for his men in the use of the hooked staff, “introducing several cuts and guards which are, at present, little known”, according to a report in the Nottingham Evening Post.

In an editorial, a journalist for the West Somerset Free Press remarked that the new weapon seemed to have been designed on the “Japanese self-defence principle”. That comment was very likely intended as a general allusion to jiujitsu but it also, probably accidentally, evokes the use of specialised “mancatcher” weapons such as the sodegaramitsukubō, and sasumata * in ko-ryu martial arts, most especially those associated with police work in feudal Japan.

The same journalist struck a pragmatic note of caution, observing that “there is considerable danger attached to the use of such weapons (…) for a man tripped up by a crooked stick might easily sustain severe injuries, and to maim prisoners is, to say the least of it, not consistent with English use.”

Nevertheless, by 1905 the crook-staff had become standard issue for Millwall Dock police constables.  Very similar techniques were likewise advocated for civilian use by E.W. Barton-Wright and Pierre and Marguerite Vigny, all of whom promoted the use of crook-handled canes and umbrellas to trip and otherwise impede attackers:

Above: Pierre Vigny (right) demonstrates an ankle-hooking technique on E.W. Barton-Wright.
Vigny hooks Barton-Wright around the neck, pulling him forward in preparation for a knee strike to the face.
Vigny illustrates another variation of the ankle-hook takedown, this time against Barton-Wright’s high cane strike.

* A modification of the sasumata has, incidentally, been revived in recent decades and is now widely used by Japanese police, security officers and even teachers; the latter regularly train in the use of the sasumata against knife-wielding school invaders.

“The Fall Guy”: S.K. Eida

The first generation of Japanese jiujitsuka to arrive in London included Kaneo Tani, Seizo Yamamoto and Yukio Tani, all of whom had been invited to the England by Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright.  K. Tani and Yamamoto remained in London for only a few months, but Yukio Tani remained and was then joined by Sadakazu Uyenishi.  The two of them taught, demonstrated and competed under the Bartitsu banner until mid-1902.

During the decade or so after the closure of the Bartitsu Club, a second generation of Japanese experts passed through the English capital.  Many of them – most notably professional challenge wrestlers like Taro Miyake, Akitaro “Daibutsu” Ono and Mitsuyo Maeda – settled only briefly before moving on to other countries.  Others, such as Yukio Tani, Yuzo Hirano and S.K. Eida, made England their home for a period of years, or even settled there permanently.

Except for the fact that he was born in Japan during 1878, little is known about Eida’s life prior to his arrival in London.  The earliest record of his presence there is to be found in the 1901 census, which lists him as an assistant gardener, living in Acton, West London.  At that time he was staying with his brother, Saburo Eida, who was an importer of art.  S.K. – whose given name was rendered by Edwardian English journalists as “Surye Kichi” – also served as a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, advising Londoners on the exotica of Japanese gardening.

Given that the Bartitsu Club was operating between 1899-1902, it’s possible that Eida trained there, though there’s no known record to that effect.  Several years later he did, however, join the staff of the Japanese School of Jujutsu, a dojo figureheaded by former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani and his colleague Taro Miyake.

It was common for martial arts experts to supplement their teaching and competing income with “jiujitsu turns” on the music hall circuit, but the notably agile Eida seems to have made a unique specialty of this type of performance.  Between September 29, 1906 and April 27, 1907 he teamed with the popular French entertainer, Mademoiselle Gaby Deslys, in performing a “Ju-Jitsu Waltz” as part of a musical extravaganza called The New Aladdin, which ran at London’s Gaiety Theatre.

The Ju-Jitsu Waltz was, essentially, a series of spectacular throws performed by Mademoiselle Deslys, with S.K. Eida serving as her acrobatic uke or “fall guy”.  The equivalent term in Mlle. Deslys’ native language was “cascadeur”, likewise implying an acrobat who specialised in tumbling – the term survives in modern French show business to describe stunt performers.

In 1909 Eida married an English woman named Ellen Christina Brown.  She took the professional name “Nellie Falco” and, as “Falco and Eida”, the couple revived the Ju-Jitsu Waltz, touring music halls throughout the UK.

S.K. Eida fades from the historical record during the second decade of the 20th century, but it’s not unlikely that he is among the uke/fall guys who appear as “Apache” muggers during this 1912 French Pathe film clip:

He died at the age of forty, in 1918.


Vigny/Bartitsu Stickfighting in Chile

La canne vigny vs stickfighting

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op vrijdag 20 oktober 2017

In the above experimental sparring bout, Andres Morales (wearing the fencing mask with white trim) sticks closely to the Vigny style in contending with an opponent fighting in a more generic, free style.

La canne vigny.

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op maandag 23 oktober 2017

In the second video, Andres and his sparring partner both employ the Vigny style.  Note Andres’ tactical advantages in switching between the double-handed, rear and front guards, employing ambidextrous striking and even some double-handed strikes:

“The Suffragette Who Knew Jujitsu” – a Video Profile of Edith Garrud

The latest video update for the No Man Shall Protect Us documentary project profiles Edith Garrud, who was the first female professional instructor of the Japanese martial arts in the West, and also the star of one of the very first martial arts movies.

Click here to visit the No Man Shall Protect Us page on Kickstarter.

Mitsuyo Maeda in England (1907-08)

Of the select group of Japanese judoka and jiujitsuka who pioneered their martial arts in the West at the turn of the 20th century, Mitsuyo Maeda is almost certainly the most famous.  It was Maeda who settled in Brazil, beginning the legacy of Brazilian Jiujitsu that would eventually sweep the world during the 1990s MMA boom.

This article, however, will focus on Maeda’s relatively little-known activities in England, where – very much unlike most of the other Western countries he visited- the art of Japanese unarmed combat was already somewhat established.  E.W. Barton-Wright had begun lecturing on and demonstrating jiujitsu in the English capital nine years before Mitsuyo Maeda arrived there.

In the interim, a number of Japanese jiujitsuka – Kaneo Tani, Seizo Yamamoto, Yukio Tani, Sadakazu “Raku” Uyenishi, Akitaro “Daibutsu” Ono, Taro Miyake and others – had all taught, demonstrated and competed in England.  Instructional manuals such as Uyenishi’s Text-book of Ju-jutsu were widely available.  Thus, English wrestlers, sporting journalists and wrestling fans were largely familiar with the conventions and some of the techniques of jiujitsu, to the extent that jiujitsu matches had lost a measure of their novel sheen by 1907.

Mitsuyo Maeda was born in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture during November of 1878.  By 1904 he had become a seasoned and respected judoka via intensive training at the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo.

In early 1905 he followed in the footsteps of Yoshiaki Yamashita, who had introduced Japanese unarmed combat to the United States two years earlier.  Yamashita’s most celebrated student, incidentally, had been none other than President Theodore Roosevelt, who had a great enthusiasm for boxing, wrestling, singlestick fencing and other “manly pastimes”.

Maeda competed in a number of mixed-styles challenge matches in the US and even started a commercial judo school in New York City.  By mid-1907, however, he had left America for London.

Although little is known about the logistics or circumstances of Maeda’s stay in England, it’s evident that he quickly joined forces with former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani and their fellow challenge wrestler Taro Miyake, who were then affiliated with the Japanese School of Ju-Jitsu.

The first record of Maeda’s activities in England comes from an article in the Cambridge Independent Press of June 14th, 1907, describing a demonstration by Maeda and Tani held in conjunction with the Cambridge University Boxing, Fencing and Jujitsu Club:

Demonstrations of the Japanese art of Ju-Jitsu formed the most fascinating items in an attractive programme, among those assisting being two of the best exponents in this country, Maida (sic) and Yukio Tani, from the Japanese School of Ju-Jitsu, in London.

With the assistance of Mr. G. T. Lemon, Clare, Maida demonstrated the art of disturbing the balance, as practised by the people in the country of the chrysanthemum, and Yukio Tani, with Mr. E. T. Busk, King’s, as a medium, illustrated methods of causing surrender by discomfort, or, in other words, of getting an opponent in such position that he cannot move without giving his rival an opportunity to inflict bodily injury.

Maida and Mr. Z. Horikiri, a Japanese Non-Collegiate student, gave an exhibition of Shobina Kata —the ancient art of disturbing the balance by fancy throws—and there were also exciting Ju-Jitsu encounters between Mr. Z. Horikiri and Mr. E. Morse, King’s ; Yukio Tani and Mr. E. A. MacNee, Clare ; and Maida and Yukio Tani. In the contests between Englishmen and Japanese, the former, although invariably the bigger men, were no match for the Japs in dexterity. The display between the two professionals was especially exhilarating, although it was explained to the company that the men were not putting forth their best endeavours, as, if they did so, they would be likely kill one another.

Two months later, the Dundee Courier offered advance notice of a Highland Gathering to be held in Market Park, Crieff.  The main attraction was advertised as a “Grand Demonstration of Ju-Jitsu”, featuring:

(…) from the Japanese School, Oxford Street, London – Tarro Miyake, Champion of Japan; Yukie (sic) Tani, who has never been Defeated; Professor Maeda, Government Instructor; and Hirano, the Lightest and Cleverest Wrestler in the World.

Open Challenge to Any Wrestler in Great Britain. Military Display by a Detachment of the Scottish Horse. The Usual Athletic and Other Events. The Celebrated Kirkcaldy Trades Band will be in Attendance during the Day.

The Dundee Courier report was mostly notable for being one of the very few to spell Maeda’s name according to the modern conventions of Japanese/English transliteration.

In late January of 1908 Maeda competed in a massive international wrestling tournament held at London’s famed Alhambra music hall.  By that time he had assumed the professional pseudonym “Maida Yamato”, possibly because people who had English as their first language had difficulty pronouncing his real given name.

A Sporting Life journalist commented:

Maida Yamato (Japan) is one of the favourites of the tournament. He is still “alive” in the middles and heavies, and is the most dangerous competitor in the lighter weight. Yamato has been champion of Japan in his native style, which he says is not unlike the catch-as-catch-can method. At any rate, he says a ju-jitsu wrestler can pick the English method quite easily. “I don’t like wrestling black men,” he said.

The unfortunate racial bias displayed here was not uncommon among athletes and promoters at the turn of the 20th century.  Notably, when Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright was promoting his own mixed-styles wrestling contests, he had specifically welcomed all challengers, regardless of race.

In early February, Maeda offered a general challenge via Apollo’s Magazine, which was answered, as was the general custom at the time, by a counter-challenge in the pages of the Sporting Times.  A Private P.W. Brocklehurst of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, agreed to Maeda’s terms, noting that:

I will wrestle on the same conditions that (Maeda) offered Hewitt – that he forfeits £25 if he does not defeat within fifteen minutes. When will it be convenient to meet me the “Sporting Life” office to make a match?

A classified advertisement in the Sporting Life of 9 April, 1908, announced the Maeda would again be appearing on the same bill as Tani, this time in earnest competition rather than for display purposes.  Tani would be challenging a boxer known as “Young Joseph” to a jiujitsu vs. pugilism contest, while Maeda would take on Alf Hewitt, the English wrestler referred to by Private Brocklehurst, in a jiujitsu match.

As it happened, it was not Hewitt but rather Jack Madden who wrestled with Maeda on Saturday April 11th, and the result of their match does not seem to have been recorded.  The novelty of Tani’s contest with “Young Joseph”, however, did attract some notice from the press.

Shortly thereafter, Mitsuyo Maeda departed for Paris and then set off for Havana, then Mexico City, Cuba and finally Brazil, where his judo skills found much less jaded audiences.

“Hit Him Rapidly” and then “Belabour Him as You See Fit”

La canne vigny.

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

Andres Morales of the Santiago Stickfighters Club in Chile – a prize-winner in the international Bartitsu Sparring Video Competition – demonstrates rapid, powerful strikes from the Vigny front guard.

As Captain F.C. Laing wrote in The Bartitsu Method of Stick Fighting (1902):

Assume “first position,” guard head, then, before he has time to recover himself, hit him rapidly on both sides of his face, disengaging between each blow as explained; the rapidity of these blows will generally be sufficient to disconcert him.

La canne vigny

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op woensdag 11 oktober 2017

In this excerpt from a sparring match, Andres (left) executes an impressive double-handed guard > bayonet thrust > belabouring sequence.