From Suffragettes

The Martial Arts of “Enola Holmes”

Enola Holmes: Netflix Poster With Millie Bobby Brown Teases New Mystery | ColliderThe new Netflix movie Enola Holmes stars Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown in the title role as Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister.  Based on the popular book series by Nancy Springer, the movie is the first mainstream production to feature suffrajitsu-style action as a major plot point (not counting the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it self-defence training scene in the 2015 movie Suffragette).

The first martial arts shout-out comes very early in the film.  During a montage in which Enola admiringly describes her famous older brother’s many talents, viewers are treated to a cute animation based on Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright’s 1901 “Self Defence with a Walking Stick” article.

Bartitsu (or “baritsu”, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rendered it) was immortalised in Doyle’s 1903 short story The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Holmes explains that he’d used the art to defeat his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, during their infamous battle at the brink of the Reichenbach Waterfall.  The animation is especially notable in that Barton-Wright’s face has been replaced with that of Superman/The Witcher star Henry Cavill, who plays Sherlock Holmes.

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Having absconded from the Holmes family estate in search of their mysteriously missing radical suffragette mother Eudoria (played by Helena Bonham Carter), Enola makes her way to London where her investigations lead her to a women’s jiujitsu class taught by Edith Grayston (Susan Wokoma).  Edith’s first name is clearly inspired by that of Edith Garrud, who was the first female professional jiujitsu instructor in the western world.  It’s worth noting that Helena Bonham Carter’s character in Suffragette, self-defence instructor Edith Ellyn, was also named in honour of Mrs. Garrud, at the actresses’ own requestEnola Holmes is, thus, the second film in which Carter has been cast as a jiujitsu-fighting suffragette!

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Allowing for the artistic license of portraying a women-only Japanese martial arts class in London during the year 1900 – the Bartitsu Club was open for business then and did offer women’s classes, but it would be another nine years before Edith Garrud started her “Suffragette Self Defence Club” – the  class itself is highly accurate.  The trainees’ uniforms are period-accurate hybrids of Japanese martial arts do-gi and Edwardian ladies’ physical culture kit and even the mats on the floor are typical of the quilted style used in circa 1900 gymnasia.  The techniques being practiced by the jiujitsu trainees in the background of this scene are also entirely plausible for this time and place.

Retiring to the school’s office, Edith and Enola engage in a wary parlay – Edith clearly knows much more about Eudoria Holmes’ whereabouts that she’s prepared to reveal – and an impromptu, semi-playful physical challenge during which the frustrated Enola attempts a takedown nicknamed the “corkscrew”.  This occasions another quick pictorial interlude, featuring a section of a (fictional) book titled Jujutsu: The Martial Art, whose cover may well have been inspired by the (real) Fine Art of Jujutsu, which was written by Emily Diana Watts in 1906.

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We’re treated to a quick riff through the pages – which are montages of photographs from actual early 20th century jiujitsu magazine articles – and then a step-by-step guide to performing the corkscrew manoeuvre, which will clearly be significant later on in the story.

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After some further skullduggery, Enola finds herself engaged in a desperate back-alley fight with walking-stick wielding assassin Linthorn (Burn Gorman) who is stalking her friend, the young Viscount Tewskbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge).  This is, by far, the movie’s most elaborate and spectacular fight scene, well-choreographed by stunt co-ordinator Jo McLaren:

Although Enola again fails in attempting the corkscrew technique during this encounter, the astute viewer suspects that she’ll pull it off in the end … which is exactly what happens when, after many more machinations, she finds herself again at a disadvantage in taking on the same assassin, this time in the shadowy hallway of Viscount Tewksbury’s family manor:

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Having rescued the hapless Tewksbury, it only remains for Enola to solve the Mystery of the Missing Mother – which does happen, after a fashion, though we suspect that there is more to discover in that regard during the inevitable and welcome sequel.

In the meantime, here’s a featurette on the fight scenes of Enola Holmes:

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The Hidden History of the Radical Suffragette Bodyguards

Suffrajitsu author Tony Wolf will be offering this live online lecture and presentation via the Atlas Obscura’s Online Experiences program on October 21, 2020:

Established during the volatile summer of 1913, at the height of increasingly militant suffragette activism and of repression by the police and government, the outlaw bodyguard team was nicknamed “Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons.” They employed disguise and deception tactics as well as hand-to-hand combat when necessary to protect their leaders against assault and arrest, such as during the infamous “Battle of Glasgow,” when they brawled with a much larger contingent of police constables and detectives in front of a shocked audience of 4,500 people.

Our presentation will include a slideshow of rare archival photographs and documentary film reenactment footage as well as a question and answer session.

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“The Unstoppable Letty Pegg” – an Upcoming Jujitsuffragette Novel for Young Readers

Letty Pegg

Something to look forward to  – writer/academic/comedian Iszi Lawrence’s new novel The Unstoppable Letty Pegg has just been made available for pre-order and will go on sale on Jan. 6, 2020.  According to the publishers, it’s:

The story of the suffragettes with the Jiu Jitsu and roller skating left in… this impeccably researched debut novel from Iszi Lawrence shows the fight for women’s suffrage as it really was.

Lettice Pegg’s father is a working-class policeman and her mother is a middle-class suffragette. Stuck between them (and her terrifying grandma) as they argue, Lettice mostly cares about trying to fit in at school and convincing her parents to let her have roller skates and go to the music hall. But, when Lettice sees her mother brutally thrown to the ground by a policeman while on a protest march, her life changes forever. Not all of the women on the march are vulnerable to attack. Some of them have a secret weapon: Jiu Jitsu.

As the suffragettes welcome Lettice to the fight back, things at home go from bad to worse. Can Lettice bring her family back together and keep her new friends?

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A BBC Radio Interview On Suffrajitsu, the Upcoming Play by Horse + Bamboo Theatre

England’s Horse + Bamboo Theatre Company is currently developing Suffrajitsu, an original play celebrating the suffragette Bodyguard through puppetry, music and film.  Aimed at young audiences, the play will begin touring the UK in Autumn 2018; you can learn more about, and support the project via this Crowdfunder site.

In this interview, Horse and Bamboo executive director Esther Ferry-Kennington offers a history of the company and discusses the historical influences and artistic aims of their Suffrajitsu project.

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Suffrajitsu Back in the News as UK Celebrates 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

February 6, 2108 marks the centennial anniversary of (limited) women’s suffrage in the UK.  As numerous cultural and media organisations mark the anniversary, here are some current and upcoming projects that focus particularly on “suffrajitsu” – the use of jiujitsu by radical suffagette Bodyguards, circa 1913-14.

The Good Fight


Chicago’s Babes With Blades Theatre Company is currently staging Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, which details the history and missions of the suffragette Bodyguard team.  Women’s jiujitsu pioneer and Bodyguard trainer Edith Garrud appears as a character in the play.

Suffrajitsu by Horse + Bamboo Theatre

England’s Horse + Bamboo Theatre Company is currently developing Suffrajitsu, an original play celebrating the suffragette Bodyguard through puppetry, music and film.  Aimed at young audiences, the play will begin touring the UK in Autumn 2018; you can learn more about it, and support the project via this Crowdfunder site.

“The Awesome Art of Suffrajitsu”

The UK fashion and lifestyle magazine Stylist has featured suffrajitsu, including some great original illustrations, in its suffragette centennial issue.

No Man Shall Protect Us

Currently in production, the documentary No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards will make use of narration, rare archival media and dramatic re-enactments.  Successfully crowdfunded in late 2017 and co-produced by Tony Wolf, author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, the completed documentary will be made freely available online later this year.

Suffrajitsu at the Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England will be showcasing Edith Garrud’s suffrajitsu as part of the Warrior Women exhibition during mid-late February.

Kitty Marshall: Suffragette Bodyguard at the Museum of London

The Museum of London’s year-long Votes for Women exhibition includes a showcase for Katherine “Kitty” Marshall, who was an active member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard team.  Marshall also wrote the memoir Suffragette Escapes and Adventures, which currently exists in manuscript form as part of the Museum’s suffragette collection.

Kitty and the Cats: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Suffragette Bodyguard and the London Police

Author Emelyne Godfrey’s book on Kitty Marshall and the Bodyguard will be released later in 2018.

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No Man Shall Protect Us – a Suffrajitsu Documentary Now on Kickstarter!

No Man Shall Protect Us is a new documentary project to be co-produced by Suffrajitsu author Tony Wolf:

(…) closely based on detailed accounts by witnesses, journalists, police constables and radical suffragettes. Narration, graphics and rare archival film will portray the dangerous work of the Bodyguard Society during this spectacular clash of wills and ideologies.

We will also be using a theatrical “black box” docudrama format, with dramatic performances by costumed actors representing Emmeline Pankhurst, martial arts trainer Edith Garrud, Canadian Bodyguard leader Gert Harding, political radical Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and Chief Constable James V. Stevenson of the Glasgow police force.

In collaboration with the Babes With Blades Theatre Company’s production of Anne Bertram’s play The Good Fight, the documentary will also feature dynamic re-enactments of the Bodyguard Society’s origins, training and tactics, performed by a cast of twelve actors.

Check out the Kickstarter page for more info and to support this exciting new project!

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Suffrajitsu-inspired fashion

Here’s an intriguing example of modern fashion directly inspired by the lore of the suffragette Amazons.  According to the Beljacobs.com website:

For centuries, sweeping skirts and tight corsets dominated British womenswear. The war in 1914 changed this. As men left to fight, around 1.5 million women took up work, on buses, in factories, as ambulance drivers and window cleaners, and as their roles in society shifted, so – by necessity – did the clothes they wore. Fashion & Freedom, a new exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, explores this transformation through fashion and film.

Designer Karin Human was inspired by the ‘Suffrajitsu’, martial-arts trained Suffragettes who formed protective walls around Emmeline Pankhurst during marches. ‘Anywhere Emmeline went, the jiu jitsu’s would follow her,’ says Vydelingum. ‘If they were in a demonstration and needed to get her out quickly, they would surround her and march her out.’ Human’s dress of cotton, leather and nylon contains large pockets for tools and weapons – which the suffrajitsu would have needed.

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Play Suffragetto Online! – the 1909 Suffragettes vs. Police Board Game Meets the Digital Age

UPDATE: unfortunately, the tabletopzen.com site that used to host our free online version of Suffragetto, as described in this post, has not been operational for a long time. Therefore, the online version of the game is not currently available.  We still have all the assets and do plan to re-launch the game online at some point in the future.

Tony Wolf, the author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, has created a free, online version of the Suffragetto board game.  This recently re-discovered game, first published circa 1909, pits radical suffragettes against police constables in the mean streets of Edwardian London.

Suffragetto board demo 1

The game requires two players, who can be signed in on two different computers.

Here’s how to play:

  1. At least one player must create a free account at http://tabletopzen.com.
  2. Sign in and then click on the Suffragetto board in the Game Library.
  3. Study the rules (also listed below in this post) and then click on “Create Table” to generate a unique table for your game, with the pieces already properly arranged on the board.  You may need to re-size the game board using Ctrl and – to fit your screen size.
  4. You can now send the other player the URL for your table and they will then be able to join the game simply by creating a nickname.  Alternatively, if you are both signed in to tabletopzen.com, they can also join the game via the “Active Game Tables” screen in the Lobby.
  5. Use your cursor to move the pieces.

If you and the other player are using remote computers, it’s easy and fun to chat while you play using Skype or any similar service.

Enjoy playing Suffragetto!

Suffragetto board demo 2

Suffragetto Online Rules

Closely based on the original 1909 board game, Suffragetto represents the street battles fought between radical suffragettes and police constables in London during the years leading up to World War 1. The original game was created by the Women’s Social and Political Union and manufactured by Sargeant Bros., Ltd.

Fun fact: there was a real-life secret society of martial arts-trained female bodyguards who protected the leaders of the suffragette movement. Their escapades also inspired the 2015 graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons; see www.suffrajitsu.com for details!

SUFFRAGETTO

An Original and Interesting Game of Skill for Two Players

Suffragetto is a contest of occupation between two opposing factions, The Suffragettes and The Police.

The goal of the Suffragettes is to break past Police lines and enter the House of Commons. At the same time, The Suffragettes must also prevent the Police from entering Albert Hall.

It is the Police Force’s duty to break up a meeting of the Suffragettes, currently being held in Albert Hall, all the while, preventing the Suffragettes from entering the House of Commons.

The game is won by whoever first succeeds in introducing six members into the building guarded by its opponents.

Direction and Mode of Play

The game is for two players, each of whom has 21 pieces, representing the Suffragettes and the Police.

A coin toss determines the first player.

The rank-and-file Suffragettes are colored green, and the purple pieces are distinguished as Leaders of the Suffragette Party.

The rank-and-file Police Constables are colored dark blue, and the white pieces are distinguished as Inspectors of Police.

The Suffragettes are placed on the squares marked ‘S’ near ‘Albert Hall.’ The leaders of the party are positioned as follows: one Leader is placed in the middle of the front row, and the other four Leaders are placed at the ends of the front and second rows.

The Police Force is placed upon the squares marked ‘P’ near the House of Commons. One Inspector is placed in the middle of the front row, and the remaining four Inspectors at the ends of the front and second rows.

Moving and Hopping

Each player alternatively moves or hops one of their own pieces. Moving can result in moving to one space into a single adjacent square, hopping over your own pieces to move farther along the board, or hopping over an opponent’s piece to “arrest” or “disable” your opponent’s piece.

Moving

A piece may move horizontally or diagonally one square per turn into any of the 8 adjoining squares, as long as that square is unoccupied.

Pieces may freely move over any part of the board except:

a. No piece can be moved (except when arrested or disabled) onto the spaces marked Prison, Prison Yard, Hospital, or Hospital Grounds.

b. A Suffragette cannot move onto the spaces marked Albert Hall.

c. A Policeman cannot move onto the spaces marked House of Commons.

Hopping

On a player’s turn, they may hop a piece rather than move it a single square. Hopping means jumping over one of your own pieces into the unoccupied square on the other side of the hopped over piece (as in Checkers). A player may string together hops into multiple jumps, provided that each jump lands in a permitted zone (as listed above) and there is a space in between each piece hopped over. If the square behind a piece is occupied, the hop cannot be completed.

Any piece having gained entrance into their opponent’s House of Commons or Albert Hall may move about freely on the squares representing the building, but must not move or hop away from those squares. Moving within either the House of Commons or Albert Hall spends a player’s turn.

Arresting and Disabling

Properly hopping over your opponent’s pieces results in arresting or disabling your opponent’s piece(s). Police may arrest Suffragettes and Suffragettes may disable Police.

Any piece standing on one of the squares in The Arena (squares marked pink) is liable to be arrested or disabled by their opponent. Any of your pieces may arrest or disable any of your opponent’s pieces.

A rank-and-file Suffragette disables the Police by hopping over him in a diagonal direction. A Leader of the Suffragette Party can disable any member of the Police Force by hopping over him in any direction.

A rank-and-file Policeman arrests a Suffragette by hopping over her in a diagonal direction. An Inspector of Police arrests any Suffragette member by hopping over her in any direction.

A piece can only arrest or disable its opponents when it is hopping, not when simply moving. Thus, one of the smaller pieces may hop over a Leader or Inspector simply to move about the board. A single piece may arrest or disable multiple pieces during one series of jumps. Suffragettes who are arrested are moved to the Prison. Police who are disabled are moved to the Hospital. No piece can be arrested or disabled in the yellow zones outside the Arena, but may move or hop freely in these zones.

Exchanges

If at any point, the Prison and the Hospital each contain 12 or more inmates, either player may insist on an exchange of 6 or less pieces. The pieces exchanged must be of equal value, e.g., a Leader is exchanged for an Inspector, and the rank-and-file of the Suffragette party for the rank-and-file of the Police.

The exchanged pieces may start moving from the squares marked ‘Prison Yard’ and ‘Hospital Grounds’ respectively. No exchange can be made while any piece remains on the Prison Yard or the Hospital Grounds.

If one player does not agree to an exchange, the exchange does not occur.

Winning

The first player with six pieces in their opponent’s home base wins.

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“Suffragetto”: a Suffragettes vs. Police Board Game Rediscovered After 100 Years

The Bodleian Library’s recent Playing With History exhibition featured, among many other interesting historical games, the only known playing set of Suffragetto; a board game based on the battles between radical suffragettes and police constables in London during the early 20th century.

A free, online version of the game is also now available: see here for details!

The game itself appears to date from 1908/9 (Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928).  Although widely reported upon in recent media as dating from 1917, the earlier dates are much more likely, as the radical suffrage movement was largely abated by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Players enact the roles of either the suffragettes, represented by 21 green markers, or police constables, represented by 21 dark blue markers.  The suffragettes’ object is to occupy the House of Commons with six markers while defending their home base of the Albert Hall against the police, whose object is, likewise, to occupy Albert Hall while defending the House of Commons.

Each side includes five larger markers, representing the Leaders of the suffragettes and the Inspectors of the police, respectively.

Gameplay is engaged as each side takes turns in attempting to out-manoeuvre the other, capturing opposing markers by jumping over them as in chess or checkers.  “Arrested” suffragette markers must remain within the Prison section of the board, while “disabled” police constable markers must remain within the Hospital section.

If, at any point, the Prison and the Hospital each contain 12 or more inmates, either player may insist on an exchange of 6 or fewer markers. The markers exchanged must be of equal value, e.g., A Leader is exchanged for an Inspector, and the rank and file of the Suffragette party for the rank and file of the Police.

See Georgia Tech’s Suffragetto webpage for much more information, including a printable playing board so you can play the game yourself!

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