The “Soft Art” of Japan (1902)

  • Originally published on the site on Saturday, 30th April 2011

An excerpt from an article published in the Vancouver Sun of January 21st, 1902:

At the exhibition given at the “Bartitsu” School of Arms in London recently some remarkable feats were performed by the Japanese experts. In wrestling with an English wrestler the Japanese caught his opponent’s wrist and, by turning around so that his opponent’s arm rested on his shoulder, he threw the Englishman over his head, using his opponent’s arm as a lever.

Although in jujutsu proper no weapons are used, the methods of the art may be applied to the use of different weapons, including cudgels, swords, daggers and other instruments. At the exhibition in London the Japanese experts not only showed their wonderful skill in wrestling but also in defense against attacks with walking sticks and clubs.

A surprising feature of the exhibition was that (performed by) one of the Japanese experts, who in some mysterious manner taught by his art resisted strong pressure on his throat. A rod was placed across the throat of one of the men, who was lying upon the floor; and each end of the rod was pressed down by the combined weight of two men. How the Japanese managed to escape being strangled is a puzzle, but he actually resisted or evaded the pressure in some way and was not injured.

The exhibition in London was one of the first of its kind ever given outside of Japan.

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