Friday, 20 March 2009

Ye olde curiositie shoppe

I wanted to share with you a little piece of Jiu Jitsu trivia that I just picked up. Bored (as I often am) at work, I decided to browse e-bay to see what Jiu Jitsu related items were around. The usual mix of MMA gear, the odd Gi and instructional DVDs popped up. But also amongst the mix was a cutting from “Punch” magazine dated 1910, titled “The Suffragette that Knew Jiu Jitsu: The Arrest” by Arthur Wallis Mills.

What I thought was curious about this cartoon was the spelling of “Jiu Jitsu” which is often reserved nowadays in connection with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu whilst the Japanese original is often spelt “Ju”. It seems clear to me that it is only in recent times that any spelling of the Japanese word meaning “Gentle” has been standardised, hence the spelling in this cartoon.

However, I still felt that this was a nice little bit of trivia that would look good in a frame, so I put in my bid, forgot about it and lost. To be honest, I was a little bit gutted – you can by prints of this cartoon, but I felt I wanted the original with all of its history still clinging to it. That’s just me.

I put in a call to my Sister-in-Law, Tammy, who, with my Brother-in-Law and her Dad run a business in the US called “Bakertowne Collectables”. Here’s a quick plug – they buy and sell all types of collections and collectables and trade over e-bay…they’re a great place to try if you have some unique collections to sell or are looking for an obscure item or publication. Anyway, I thought that Tammy, with her connections might know where I could get a copy of the original. Almost instantly, the reply came “I have that edition right here in my hands!”. Schweet! It’s not what you know…

So I now have this original cartoon – monetary value is small, but I think it will look just great mounted and framed. Now I have it though, it has prompted me to do a bit of research on it and the history around it…the martial arts side. Women’s suffrage is well documented, but their involvement in Martial Arts is not so well known.

So where to start? Well, this cartoon is a good place. “Punch” was a weekly satirical zeitgeist publication and published this cartoon shortly after the release of a series of photos of Edith Garrud demonstrating Ju Jitsu techniques on a policeman (or at least a man dressed as one).

Garrud’s husband, William was a student of Sadakazu "Raku" Uyenishi - a Judoka who ran a Dojo in Soho in the early 20th century and was the author of the “Text Book of Ju-Jutsu as Practised in Japan”. William became the instructor at the Dojo when Uyenishi returned to Japan. Edith Garrud was active in the Women’s suffrage movement, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Sylvia and from her makeshift dojo at no. 9 Argyll Place, London (near Oxford St) she taught women of the WSPU the art of Ju Jitsu.

The need for women who were part of this movement to defend themselves became abundantly clear on “Black Friday” - November 18, 1910. In response to the Prime Minister quashing a women’s voter bill, 300 suffragettes marched on the House of Commons. Police were caught on film assaulting unarmed women attempting to march past. Unthinkable isn’t it? For a few still, this happened within living memory…

Ju Jitsu became an empowering force for a number of women in the Suffrage movement as shown in the article “Ju-Jutsu as a Husband-Tamer: A Suffragette Play with a Moral” From a publication called “Health & Strength”, April 8, 1911

In researching this, links to a Martial Art known as “Bartitsu” were also thrown up. Bartitsu was created by Edward William Barton-Wright who, while working as a railway engineer and surveyor in Japan, studied at two ju jitsu schools including the Kodokan Jiujitsu Dojo, possibly with Jigoro Kano, in Tokyo. He later incorporated stick fighting, Boxing and Savate into his learning and created an eclectic system which he named after himself – a pioneer in cross training and MMA if you will.

Barton-Wright was also one of the earliest people to open his doors to women, although, after the demise of Bartitsu, Edith Garrud’s Dojo became one of the most prominent places in London for women to learn self-defence.

Incidentally, Bartitsu was immortalized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the fighting system employed by Sherlock Holmes – a feature not missed in the movie starring Robert Downey Jr released later this year, directed by Guy Ritchie. The movie is rumoured to contain plenty of fight scenes featuring Bartitsu - interesting since Guy Ritchie is, I think, a BJJ Brown Belt under Renzo Gracie, so I’d expect to see a distinct influence on the Ju Jitsu components of Downey’s Sherlock’s Bartitsu.

Anyway, it appears that Ju Jitsu was seen, at the start of the last century to be an effective way for women to defend themselves – a thought I’ve often had about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu today and yet, there are still very few women involved and this is a real shame. Rather than veer off on this subject myself, take a look at Meerkatsu’s blog which has a good article on this subject and also some of the links provided here by Slideyfoot to women in BJJ’s sites – they can give you insights that I certainly can’t.

Take care,

Main source of info and links here

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mind, Body and Spirit

It’s been just over a month since I made my last post…and how time flies! So here’s an update on all that’s been happening (or at least what I can remember!).

Jiu Jitsu: The Next Generation

Some congratulations are due! On the 1st March, Dave and his wife Toyah welcomed their daughter Nieve into the world. Both of them train with us and are Sensei and Senpai respectively in Kyukoshin Karate…I’d imagine with that pedigree, young Nieve has got an awesome journey in martial arts ahead of her! On 16th March, Simon and his wife Anna finally (long overdue) said “hi” to Marcella, their second daughter. Congratulations to you both!! And it doesn’t end there… Ram and his wife are expecting their first and Ian (AKA “Monkey”) and his wife are expecting their second not so long away. A ready made batch of Jiu Jitsukas!

Really, congratulations to all of you…it really is the greatest thing a person can ever be bestowed.

We can rebuild him…

I’ve already written about my quest to get fitter and slimmer so I thought I’d update on this. Since Christmas I’ve now lost about three quarters of a stone. It doesn’t sound much but when I’m being uncritical of my self, it’s actually quite good. I’ve made lots of small manageable changes to my lifestyle – mainly in the food I eat (although I’m still playing with this trying to get the right foods, right amounts an frequencies to get maximum benefit) and the result so far is slow, but steady weight loss. All that I’ve read has said that this is the way to go if you want to keep the weight off so hopefully this is good progress. Certainly my trousers feel looser which is always a good guide. There’s a long way to go yet though.

I’ve also become somewhat obsessive about my fitness training…but in a good way I think. At the moment a typical week looks like this:

Mon – 2.5 mile run at work
Tues – Jiu Jitsu (min 2hrs)
Weds – Gym (4 mile run, 10 mins row, 10 mins cross trainer all at average 70-80% MHR)
Thurs – Jiu Jitsu
Fri – 2.5 Mile run at work or Gym (as above)
Sat – Jiu Jitsu
Sun – Yoga and /or rest

I think that’s pretty good, but I’ve now started doubling up, so, for example, last Friday, I did my run at work and then went swimming in the evening. Yesterday, I went swimming at lunchtime and Jiu Jitsu in the evening. Swimming’s great for this as it’s quite aerobic, but low impact.

The sun has been out all of this last week, which makes my runs enjoyable, but I’m also starting to think I should dust my bike down and start cycling to work again now the lighter mornings and evenings are here (believe me – I have lights and reflectors galore but have still had far too many close shaves to want to cycle in the dark!).. It’s about 6.5miles one way so I figure this could also be a good, practical and functional way to add to my weekly regime.

I’m in a bit of a quandary about what to do with Yoga. It has been great, but one session is not enough to really progress. There are no other sessions and we are encouraged to do daily practice (which I don’t!). I would say, after around four months of Yoga, I have a good idea of the principles of the basic poses and the things I need to be aware of (but there really is no substitute for a teacher making corrections!). I have a book by the founder of Iyengar Yoga containing the main poses. I’m starting to wonder if I actually need to get up every Sunday morning to go to Yoga, or, with the props that I now have, whether I can simply practice at home. I do need to keep on with flexibility and core strength so it’s a tough one to call. Not sure what to do at the moment.

One thing that might make the decision easier is that I’m toying with the idea of trying British Military Fitness (BMF) once a week on Saturday mornings. It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I left the RAF. I’ve said before, I’ve never been fitter than when I was in my training in the RAF – the mix of functional exercises, aerobic workouts, camaraderie and genuine encouragement from PTIs (the image of PTIs shouting in your ears as you cry into the mud whilst doing your 1000th press up couldn’t be further from the truth – in the RAF at least!) is the most awesome recipe for rapid fitness gains. I decided to take a look at their list of locations and in the 8 years since I left the RAF, they have expanded enormously and now run sessions in a park not too far from me. The first session is free so I figure what have I got to lose?! However, if I try it and like it, then to be fair to my long-suffering wife, one of the weekend morning sessions is going to have to go (lie-ins at the weekend are very important when you have twins!). If I enjoy the BMF sessions, then I think the decision will be simple as I know from experience that the gains from that type of exercise will far outweigh the gains I’m making from one session a week of Yoga. I’ll just have to get some discipline and ensure I keep up some yoga practice at home! I’ll let you know how I get on if I give it a go.

Lastly on the body thing, yesterday I had my second session of Osteopathy. Since before Christmas I’ve had a tightness in my shoulder blade that has extended up my back, into my neck and had started to give me bad headaches in the base of my skull and started to disrupt my sleep. Some things just go on their own, but this one was just getting worse so I decided to get some help. After an initial consultation and some prodding, my Osteopath found the offending tissue and said it was probably due to some kind of knock during my late teens. Nothing significant sprang to mind, but my late teens/early twenties were my best Rugby years and I took knocks every week. Anyway – he certainly did, literally, hit the right spot – there’s not much, even in BJJ submissions that has hurt more than when he massaged the offending knot of tissue – if tapping would have made him stop I’d have been doing my Michael Flatley impression. The improvement after one treatment was noticeable and yesterday he went even further and deeper. I also got a full spine crack – neck, shoulders, lower back – wow, that always feels amazing and I arrived at training feeling lighter than air. Honestly, my back hasn’t felt so good in years. I’ve decided that £32 for a session is money well spent to keep everything doing what it should be so I’m going to have a session once a month as part of a “maintenance” regime. I’d recommend it – don’t suffer hoping things will just get better. You could be storing up problems for later – go get yourself seen to. Your body will thank you for it.

The melting pot…

One of the great things about Jiu Jitsu is that it creates a common bond amongst all who train it. People come from all walks of life, wear the same gear and train the same things. Life should be a lot more like Jiu Jitsu. Last night we had a discussion about religion and it just served to highlight how great Jiu Jitsu is. In our club, we have Anglicans, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists and each person is genuinely valued and respected for who they are, whilst at the same time, their religion being a total non-issue. We all share a mutual respect for each other and a love of the art we practice. Perhaps the world just needs more Jiu Jitsu?!


Training has ticked along well lately. We’ve been training mostly techniques of late – a good number of sweeps and submissions, mainly from butterfly guard. Dean has also been majoring on the good use of leverage. This has been the “yang” to the “yin” of the softer balance/sensitivity stuff we’ve been doing. Dean has his sights set on training with Rickson sometime in the middle of the year and this has focussed his mind on the fundamentals of Rickson’s teachings – the things that are most basic and effective in Jiu Jitsu and it’s been great to be a part of Dean’s preparations as his work effectively rubs off on us, his students. It’s great to see, practice, feel and discuss, how the hard and soft aspects of Jiu Jitsu work with each other – each having their time and place. For me, it’s great…I’m starting to get a good sense of how I need to move, feel, wait for the right times and also understand when to be hard and unyielding and remove options from my opponent. I need to work hard not to lose sight of the softer, free flowing stuff I’ve worked hard on – it would be easy to default to hard, static Jiu Jitsu, so I think some movement drills would be good sometime soon.

This month has also been the month of Steves. Tugboat Steve has been back – great to see him and always a challenge. His strength is awesome and can challenge the best technique – a great guy to have to train with. Also, we saw French Steve for the first time this year. Even having not trained for possibly six months, he still doesn’t give an inch…great to see him back and looking forward to another visit in April.

Training’s been good – what more can I say? I could bore you with my technique breakdowns but there are plenty of other blogs that do that much better than me and a myriad of books. On that subject, I’ve just had my copy of Saulo Ribeiro’s “Jiu Jitsu University” delivered. I’m a big fan of Saulo and Xande’s as I know how much they’ve trained with, and been inspired by, Rickson. On first scan, it looks like the best instructional book I own. I’m going to take a much closer look and I will review on this blog sometime.

Catch ya soon(ish) ;P