February 6, 2108 marks the centennial anniversary of (limited) women’s suffrage in the UK. As numerous cultural and media organisations mark the anniversary, here are some current and upcoming projects that focus particularly on “suffrajitsu” – the use of jiujitsu by radical suffagette Bodyguards, circa 1913-14.
The Good Fight
Chicago’s Babes With Blades Theatre Company is currently staging Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, which details the history and missions of the suffragette Bodyguard team. Women’s jiujitsu pioneer and Bodyguard trainer Edith Garrud appears as a character in the play.
Suffrajitsu by Horse + Bamboo Theatre
England’s Horse + Bamboo Theatre Company is currently developing Suffrajitsu, an original play celebrating the suffragette Bodyguard through puppetry, music and film. Aimed at young audiences, the play will begin touring the UK in Autumn 2018; you can learn more about, and support the project via this Crowdfunder site.
“The Awesome Art of Suffrajitsu”
The UK fashion and lifestyle magazine Stylist has featured suffrajitsu, including some great original illustrations, in its suffragette centennial issue.
No Man Shall Protect Us
Currently in production, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards will make use of narration, rare archival media and dramatic re-enactments. Successfully crowdfunded in late 2017 and co-produced by Tony Wolf, author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, the completed documentary will be made freely available online later this year.
Suffrajitsu at the Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England will be showcasing Edith Garrud’s suffrajitsu as part of the Warrior Women exhibition during mid-late February.
Kitty Marshall: Suffragette Bodyguard at the Museum of London
The Museum of London’s year-long Votes for Women exhibition includes a showcase for Katherine “Kitty” Marshall, who was an active member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard team. Marshall also wrote the memoir Suffragette Escapes and Adventures, which currently exists in manuscript form as part of the Museum’s suffragette collection.
Kitty and the Cats: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Suffragette Bodyguard and the London Police
Author Emelyne Godfrey’s book on Kitty Marshall and the Bodyguard will be released later in 2018.
Suffrajitsu martial arts lessons will be part of the UK National Trust’s Suffragette City, an immersive, interactive experience that will recreate the headquarters of the Women’s Social and Political Union circa 1913.
Suffragette Bodyguard leader Gert Harding (played by actress Scottie Caldwell) executes a jiujitsu arm-bar against a hapless police constable (Richard Traub) in an action scene from Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight.
Closely based on the real history of the all-women security team who protected the leaders of the radical suffragette movement in England just before WW1, The Good Fight will open at Chicago’s City Lit theatre on January 15. The play is being produced by the Babes With Blades Theatre Company and is directed by Elizabeth Lovelady, with fight choreography by Gaby Labotka.
Chicago’s Babes With Blades Theatre Company announce their production of Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, telling the story of the jiujitsu-trained Bodyguard team who protected the leaders of the radical suffragette movement in England just before the First World War. Suffragette jiujitsu instructress Edith Garrud is featured as a character in the play, alongside other historical figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Bodyguard leader Gert Harding.
Footage from the stage production will also be featured during re-enactment scenes in the forthcoming documentary No Man Shall Protect Us.
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.
The first update for the No Man Shall Protect Us documentary campaign also discusses the repurposing of Indian clubs as concealed weapons by members of the radical suffragette Bodyguard team.
I am here tonight in spite of armies of police. I am here tonight and not a man is going to protect me, because this is a woman’s fight, and we are going to protect ourselves! I challenge the government to re-arrest me!
- Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst
Crowdfunding now via Kickstarter, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us tells the true story of the secret Bodyguard Society of martial arts-trained women who protected the radical suffragettes circa 1913/14.
The production will make use of rare archival media, narration and theatrical re-enactments, featuring actors playing Emmeline Pankhurst, Canadian Bodyguard leader Gert Harding and jiujitsu trainer Edith Garrud among other notables.
No Man Shall Protect Us will be co-produced by Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf, the author of Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu (2008) and the graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons (2015). Pending a successful funding campaign, production will begin in January of 2018; the completed documentary will later be made freely available online.
Watch this space for updates on No Man Shall Protect Us!
Congratulations to high school senior Erin Lowe, whose dramatic presentation Suffrajitsu: The Women Who Fought Back won the first prize in the Senior Individual Performance category during a recent National History Day competition held at the University of Maryland.
A KCUR radio interview with Ms. Lowe is available here.
In this short scene from the 2015 movie Suffragette, newly militant Maude Watts (Carey Mulligan) receives her first lesson in jiujitsu from Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter).
In real history, Edith Garrud served as the self-defence trainer for the secret Bodyguard Society of the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose duties included physically protecting suffragette leaders from arrest and assault.
For more details, go to this Facebook event page.