“Why Not Invent an English Art of Ju-jitsu?” (1905)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Thursday, 2nd March 2017

The following anonymous letter to the editor was originally published in the St. James’s Gazette of March 9th, 1905.

Sir, —Jujitsu seems to be the fashionable graven image of the moment before which the whole athletic world is bowing down. English wrestling is abasing itself before this foreign god nightly at the Lyceum Theatre, where the best of our English wrestlers are being used for dusting scenery and wiping the floor.

Is it, or is it not, a fact, that all the holds and tricks which the Ju-jitsu experts beat our wrestlers, and compel them to hammer the floor in agonised token of defeat, should properly be called “fouls”? English wrestling knows nothing of these tricks; but it is not hard to imagine that English wrestlers could invent a few that would have the same effect on Japanese wrestlers as Ju-jitsu has on English experts.

The Jap gets a twist on the Englishman’s arm of a sort that gives intense pain, and would result in a fracture if the victim did not at once give in. Why not invent an English art of Ju-jitsu which might include such holds as, say, seizing the opponent’s ear in the teeth, or thrusting the fist in his mouth and retaining it there; sitting firmly on the face, or pressing tightly on the wind-pipe with the knee? A little imagination will supply no end of victory-compelling holds.

I don’t know, but a sort of patriotic pride makes me wonder how the Ju-jitsu experts would shine in a wrestling contest according to English rules— all “fouls,” English or foreign, barred.

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