“The Art of Self-Defence by Jiu-Jitsu Methods” (1918)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Thursday, 13th December 2018

A full-page, colour ad for a 1918 film starring the notorious Captain Leopold McLaglen, whose martial arts misadventures are detailed in this article (note that his name was frequently spelled “McLaglan” in publicity releases, etc.)

Going by the rifle/bayonet theme, the now-lost film probably featured a demonstration of his bayonet fighting system, which he taught to numerous national militaries during the First World War.  Giving credit where it’s due, it’s possible that the McLaglen method, which included an emphasis on jiujitsu-like close-combat techniques, may have been better-suited to the grim realities of trench warfare than the more orthodox, “charge and stab” systems taught in most boot camps of the period.

A certificate awarded by Leo McLaglen to a jiujitsu trainee (1922).

The “Secret Science of Warra” may, conceivably, have been a garbled version of yawara – a term which generally refers to short fist-load stick weapons, but which was also sometimes used synonymously with jiujitsu.  Exactly what Leopold McLaglen may have meant by it is anyone’s guess.

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