William Bankier, third from left, demonstrates a jiujitsu arm-lock in this curious photograph from the Northern Whig newspaper of 13 December, 1937. Many years before this photo was taken, Bankier – known professionally as a music hall strongman under the name “Apollo, the Scottish Hercules” – had been instrumental in popularising Japanese martial arts in England, having taken over the management of Yukio Tani’s music hall wrestling career soon after the end of the Bartitsu Club era. In 1906 Bankier also wrote one of the first English manuals on Japanese unarmed combat, titled Jiu-Jitsu: What It Really Is.
Bankier’s demonstration partner in the photo is professional wrestler Bob Gregory, whose wife Valerie is shown observing the demo. Nicknamed “Princess Baba”, the former Valerie Brooke was the daughter of Charles Vyner Brooke and Sylvia Brooke, known as the “White Rajah and Ranee of Sarawak“. Valerie’s marriage to a pro-wrestler made tabloid news headlines throughout 1930s England.