- Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Friday, 28th October 2016
The Tokio and Osaka professors of the Japanese art of self-protection are in England, ready, under guidance of Mr. Barton-Wright, not only to display their skill, but to meet any British wrestler and show him he knows nothing of his game. They gave a private exhibition at the Tivoli Theatre yesterday, and they almost persuaded the hundred or so gentlemen who looked on that Japan is ahead of this country in personal self-defence, as with some other things, and infinitely superior to Continental peoples.
The writer of this paragraph has good reason to know that there no humbug in the business. After sitting open-mouthed throughout the performance, he still had a lingering suspicion that there was collusion, wherefore he asked Mr. Barton-Wright, who is himself an adept, what would if somebody rushed at him with a big stick. The scribe suited the action to the word, whereupon Mr. Barton-Wright treated him to one of the Japanese “locks”, which consisted in seizing the uplifted wrist with both hands and pressing the left elbow into the hollow of the sceptic’s arm, irresistably forcing him onto his back. If he had not yielded, he felt that his arm would have been broken.
This was one of the simplest demonstrations. It is said that there are 300 grips and throws the art. Exhibiting a considerable number yesterday, the two Japanese shied one another about in the most alarming manner. A rough who attacked one them would run risk getting killed, but on the Tivoli stage there was a thick carpet, and besides, the art, or rather the science, includes knowledge of how to fall.
Although each professor weighs less than ten stone, Mr. Barton-Wright declares that Sandow could not hold either of them down, and that the most skilful and heaviest English wrestler would thrown. Anybody is liberty to try after this week, for these terrible Japs begin a series of performances on Monday. Even expert boxers would probably come off second best, though the visitors know nothing of boxing. As for the French savate, they laugh at it.
One thing, however, should be clearly understood; Japanese self-defence knows no sporting rules. It is a serious thing, taught and practised for serious ends, and could only be tolerated in this country as counter to Hooliganism. Its thorough character is the reason of its efficiency. Like boxing, it must be learnt and practised, but it is more elaborate and scientific than our English sport, for the resistless nature of the grips and throws largely depend upon a knowledge of anatomy. Let any man of healthy physique once master its principles and learn to apply them promptly, and the biggest Hooligan that ever rushed would be at his mercy.