- Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Friday, 30th November 2018
Here’s a newly-discovered Bioscope playbill for the short silent film Ju-Jitsu to the Rescue, which starred former Bartitsu Club instructor Yukio Tani and which played widely throughout England during late 1912-early 1913.
The film itself is sadly lost, but scarce and scanty reviews indicate that it began with a technical demonstration – possibly as part of a scene in which Tani was instructing a student – and then closed with a dramatic fight sequence in which Tani rescued a third party who was being unfairly set upon. One reviewer mentioned that “the villain is defeated by Tani by means of his well-known arm lock”, which almost certainly refers to the extended jūji-gatame lock by which Tani won many of his music hall challenge matches.
Tani was actually the second Bartitsu Club affiliate to star in a film, as Edith Garrud had famously appeared in a short subject called The Lady Athlete, Or, Jujitsu Downs the Footpads, which was produced in 1907. A number of other very early short films also featured Japanese unarmed combat, including Juvenile Ju-Jitsu and A Lesson in Ju-Jitsu (both released in 1909) and the slapstick comedies Charlie Smiler Takes Up Ju-Jitsu and Nobby’s Ju-Jitsu Experiments (both 1914). None of these films are known to have survived, although it’s worth noting that the great majority of items in the British film archive have not yet been catalogued.