Portraits of Sadakazu “Raku” Uyenishi

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Saturday, 5th March 2016

Sadakazu Uyenishi was aged just twenty years when he arrived in London to join E.W. Barton-Wright’s new Bartitsu enterprise during the year 1900. Although he was young, Uyenishi was already a highly experienced martial artist, skilled at kenjutsu (swordplay) as well as the use of the rokushakubo and hanbo (the six foot staff and three foot baton, respectively). His unarmed combat training had been with sensei Yataro Handa in Osaka.

Uyenishi and his training partner Yukio Tani both taught jiujitsu classes at the Bartitsu Club, also performing demonstrations and competing in open “challenge” contests against all comers in the great London music halls.

After the closure of the Bartitsu Club in 1902, Uyenishi continued to teach via his own dojo in London’s Golden Square district, as well as wrestling in challenge bouts. In 1905, with the assistance of his student E.H. Nelson and writing under his professional wrestling alias of “Raku”, Uyenishi produced his Text-Book of Ju-Jutsu, which was illustrated with cinematographic photo-series and which became a popular reference work. He also taught what may have been the first jiujitsu classes for English soldiers, at Aldershot Camp.

Little is known of Uyenishi’s life after he returned to Japan in late 1908. Percy Longhurst, writing an updated biography of Uyenishi for the 9th edition of his “Text-Book” published just after the Second World War, noted that Uyenishi had died “some years before”.

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