- Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Sunday, 24th December 2017
These photos from The Bystander of November 15th, 1905 portray a self-defence class taught by Ernest Regnier, a.k.a. “Re-Nie”, for senior members of the Parisian police force.
Regnier had been a proficient but down-on-his-luck wrestler until he was sponsored by the physical culture entrepreneur Edmond Desbonnet to travel to London and study at the Japanese School of Jujitsu. Upon Regnier’s return to Paris he decisively won a much-hyped contest against savateur Georges Dubois, sparking a brief but intense jiujitsu craze in the French capital. During that period he established a very nicely appointed dojo at Desbonnet’s gymnasium, wrote a text-book titled Les Secrets de Jiu-jitsu and also began instructing the French police, as shown below:
Regnier over-reached, however, when he began to challenge much stronger and more experienced wrestlers. Thereafter, the French jiujitsu boom continued mostly via books promoting the Bartitsu-like integration of Japanese unarmed combat with French savate, such as Georges Dubois’ Comment se Defendre and Jean Joseph Renaud’s La Defense dans la Rue.