“Suffrajitsu” Back in the News as UK Celebrates 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

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.

Suffragette City

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.

Vigny vs. Vigny

La canne vigny en Santiago Stickfighting.

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op zaterdag 3 februari 2018

Santiago stickfighter Andres Morales (in the fencing mask with white trim) takes on a sparring partner also using the Vigny style in this clip from our Chilean colleagues.

Vigny-style Sparring Under the Canopy

Santiago stickfighting La canne vigny

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op zaterdag 27 januari 2018

Chilean stick fighter Andres Morales, in the fencing mask with white trim, and a sparring partner demonstrate some of the challenges of sparring in the Vigny style under low-hanging branches.

More from the Santiago Stickfighters

Andres Morales (in the fencing mask with white trim) demonstrates the Vigny style in action against an opponent using a more generic style in this recent sparring match:

In this clip Mr. Morales takes on two opponents at once, fighting on uneven terrain and through the obstacle of overhanging tree branches:

La canne vigny vs 2 stickfighter

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op zondag 14 januari 2018

Gentlemanly Fisticuffs in Seattle

An academic exhibition of the manly art of pugilism from a 19th century history event in Seattle. Note the use of the milling guard with elbow covers rolling into the “chopper” (back-fist or hammer-fist) punch, which was part of the London Prize Ring style and fell out of favour with the requirement of wearing large gloves under the Queensberry Rules.  Likewise, frequent entries into throwing range were very much a part of the LPR style.

“Gentleman Jack” Gallagher Brings Umbrella Fighting to the WWE

Mancunian pro-wrestler “Gentleman Jack” Gallagher is a rising star of World Wrestling Entertainment due to his (mostly) unflappable charisma, technical grappling style and distinctly Bartitsuvian umbrella-fu, as seen in this “duel” with rival wrestler Aria Daivari:

… and heard straight from the horse’s mouth:

Perhaps an ambassadorship is in order …

More Vigny Stick Sparring from the Santiago Stickfighters

La canne vigny

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op maandag 18 december 2017

Santiago stickfighter Andres Morales (in the fencing mask with white trim) illustrates the tactical advantages of shifting between  the rear, double-handed, front and lowered front variant guards versus an opponent who maintains the simple front guard.

La canne vigny

Geplaatst door Andres Pino Morales op zaterdag 23 december 2017

Mr. Morales dominates this sparring match versus a seemingly less-experienced opponent who relies primarily on thrusting attacks.

“Ring-Combat” – A Novel 1920s Wrestling Sport

In this ingenious and curious style of wrestling, athletes contend over the possession of a solid rubber ring, with the winner being the grappler who is able to wrest the ring away from their opponent.  This ’20s-vintage sport was revived some years ago by members of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago, who endorse Ring-Combat as a strenuously enjoyable form of recreation.

“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: