Review: “100 Years of Judo in Great Britain”, Volume 1

This review is specific to Volume 1 of a two-part series of books by the late judoka and historian Richard Bowen (1926-2005), whose extensive private collection of judo/jujitsu books and ephemera now forms the Bowen Collection at Bath University.

The “Reclaiming of its true spirit” subtitle is curious, in that aside from a few scattered editorial comments, the book does not actually address reclaiming judo’s “true spirit”. Rather, Volume 1 of 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain offers a very thorough history of the early 20th century personalities and politics of jujitsu and judo in the UK, with generous asides exploring Japanese martial arts in the USA and elsewhere during the same period.

Bowen was obviously a devoted and very careful scholar, with long-term access to rare archives, diaries etc. in addition to in-depth first-hand knowledge of the subject and many of its principal figures. Specific to Bartitsu, he performed pioneering research into the lives of Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright, music hall challenge wrestlers Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi and strongman/jujitsu promoter William “Apollo” Bankier, amongst many other notables. 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain cites and offers extensive quotes from numerous c1900 newspaper articles, etc. that promise to open new doors for contemporary Bartitsu researchers. Also, students of Brazilian jujitsu/MMA history will be interested to read about Mitsuyo “Conde Koma” Maeda’s early experiences as a challenge wrestler in London.

Perhaps unavoidably, given that the book was published posthumously, some sections are obviously better polished than others. Frustratingly at times, there are no chapter headings, contents pages nor index, though there are almost 100 pages of carefully annotated end-notes. The proof-reading also leaves quite a lot to be desired. Ultimately, though, these are minor quibbles in comparison with the absolute wealth of knowledge and detail to be found in this book. It is a unique and very valuable contribution to martial arts scholarship.

“Master of Men: the Life’s Work of William Muldoon, Champion and Trainer of Champions”

“Master of Men” is an anthology of books, articles and essays about the remarkable Irish-American combat athlete and coach, William Muldoon. Muldoon learned the basics of wrestling as a soldier in the Civil War. After numerous adventures as one of “New York’s finest”, he left the police force to become one of the first American professional wrestlers, taking on all comers in rough and tumble saloon matches and working as an actor/stuntman on the Vaudeville stage.

In 1889, Muldoon’s radical training methods brought the out-of-shape, alcoholic bare-knuckle boxing champion John L. Sullivan back into form for his legendary title fight with Jake Kilrain. Muldoon later became the inaugural chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission and a personal trainer for some of the richest and most powerful men in America. Includes 29 rare illustrations and a special bonus interview with Scott Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.

The 316 page book is available in print or e-formats from the Antagonistics Emporium, which also features a free instant preview.

Edith Garrud: the Suffragette who knew jujutsu

Cover sample

Announcing the publication of a new book for teenage readers, or indeed for any reader interested in the true story of Edith Garrud, who taught jujutsu to the secret Bodyguard society of the English women’s suffrage movement.

Edith and her husband William were among the first generation of English jujutsu instructors, having learned the art from Bartitsu Club instructor Sadakazu Uyenishi and other notables.

The book details Edith Garrud’s life and career as a self defence instructor in Edwardian London and the adventures of the jujutsu-trained Bodyguard society, known as the Jujutsuffragettes, in protecting their leaders from arrest and assault. My hope is that it will inspire some young people, especially girls, both to stand up for what they believe in and also to enroll in martial arts training.

Suggested for readers aged 12 and older; includes 29 illustrations.

To view a free PDF preview and to order online, please visit the virtual bookstore.