The Japanese Wrestlers (The Sketch, October 2, 1901)

  • Originally published on the site on Sunday, 13th March 2016

This very ordinary short report on one of E.W. Barton-Wright’s 1901 jiujitsu promotions includes a distinctly unusual photograph. The man on the left is probably Yukio Tani who was, along with Sadakazu Uyenishi, performing this type of exhibition for Barton-Wright at this time. The man on the right, however, does not look at all like Uyenishi, who was closely comparable to Tani in both age and physique. No other Japanese jiujitsuka are known to have been active in London during 1901, let alone to have been performing martial arts demonstrations and challenge matches under the Bartitsu banner.

It’s possible that the Sketch made use of an archival photograph and that the man on the right was actually either Yukio Tani’s older brother, who is known to us only by his initial, K., or S. Yamamoto. Along with Yukio, K. Tani and Yamamoto had been among the first group of jiujitsuka that Barton-Wright had brought to England in late 1899. The elder Tani and Yamamoto left after only a few months, apparently due to a miscommunication or misunderstanding about the type of work they would be asked to do. Yukio stayed on and was joined by Uyenishi in early 1900.

No other photographs of either K. Tani or S. Yamamoto are confirmed to exist.

Tani Yamamoto

So much enthusiasm has been created by the introduction into this country of the Japanese Secret Art of Self Defence that the Management have entered into an agreement with Mr. Barton-Wright for the appearance of his two Japanese Champions at the Empire Theatre from Monday last.  New features have been introduced, and, in order that the utility of these methods may be properly tested, members of the audience are invited to go upon the stage.  Mr. Barton-Wright has already arranged some important contests with three English Champion Wrestlers.

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