“Entirely Due to Ignorance” (1905)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Sunday, 25th November 2012

Two skeptical view on the virtues of jiu-jitsu, courtesy of the Auckland Star.

From 1 July, 1905:

“Yes,” said little Perkins, I’ve learned jiu-jitsu.”

“Have you now,” said an admiring chorus. “Wonderful science, isn’t it?”

“It is. What is more,” he continued, “I had an opportunity a few weeks of applying my knowledge. I was attacked by an enormous hooligan one night; but I didn’t mind. I remembered what I’d learned, and I applied the ‘willy-nilly grip,’ which means you grab your victim by the right elbow and the left ear, and, thanks to jiu-jitsu, you can lead him wherever you like.”

“Excellent. That was splendid!”

“It would have been, but the hooligan didn’t know jiu-jitsu, and so he picked me up and dusted me against a lamp-post till I thought every bone in my body was broken; then he took what he wanted from my pockets at his leisure. But I’m not a bit discouraged; that fellow had never studied jiu-jitsu. If he had, he would have known that my hold had rendered him powerless.”

From 16 December 1905:

Having completed my course, I said farewell to Mr Yo San, and kept up my jiu-jitsu by practising on a chair; but after a while my better nature asserted itself, and I realised that it was cruel to hurt anything incapable of self-defence. Therefore, I was yearning to have an opportunity of trying my powers on some big human bully. My opportunities came too quickly, and I failed to grasp them. I also failed to grasp my opponents.

Sauntering down the road one morning, I saw a burly navvy abusing his wife. “You are a brute!” I said to him. “Desist at once!” He talked to me long and earnestly, and I looked for a convenient spot to catch hold of him. Curiously enough, he failed to adopt any of those attitudes which had enabled me to score such victories over Yo San’s assistant. According to the book, I ought to have gripped his fingers with my right hand, flung them across my chest, thus disabling him, and making him tap twice on the ground as a signal of defeat. He didn’t. He only tapped once, and it was on my nose, with a fist like a petrified ham; and it wasn’t a signal of defeat. Oh, no! It was the sign of a glorious victory, and when I came to myself I had a proboscis the size of a bag of cement.

Had I not had great faith in the art, this experience might have disheartened me; but I assumed that I was perhaps not sufficiently lightning-like in my movements — a matter of great importance in jiujitsu. Consequently, when I was standing gaping in a jeweller’s shop-window and felt a tug at my watch-chain, I promptly carried out Rule 27 — crooked my foot behind the thief, and smote him on the chin with the side of my hand. I drew another blank. I missed his jaw and hit the shop window.

Owing to a strange oversight, I omitted defeating a large retriever dog at jiu-jitsu. The animal belongs to a neighbour of mine. He came bounding towards me, and jumped up. I got the regulation shoulder grip on him. and reached for the fingers of his left hand, to bend them back, and complete the victory. Another mistake on my part. Dogs haven’t got any fingers, so, instead of my throwing Rover, he threw me, and wiped his feet liberally on my face before rushing off to brag about it to a fox terrier.

Since that day I have jiu-jitsued with an itinerant vendor of flowers, much to the detriment of a large box of pinks; endeavoured to stop a runaway burglar in his mad career, and been knocked down with a silver-plated presentation teapot as a result.

There is a lot in jiu-jitsu — I am convinced of it.

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