“Suffragettes and Policemen: Amazons in the Making” (1910)

From the London Daily Mail, 25 August 1910:

A practical test of Suffragette jiujitsu took place the other evening between Mrs. Garrud, an expert in the Japanese art, and a policeman. Mrs. Garrud is one of the organisers of the women athletes’ branch of the Women’s Freedom League, and her object is to make jiu-jitsu an additional weapon of woman’s fight for the vote

The first policeman opponent was not an interrupter at a meeting, nor had he offered a Suffragette any insult, other than a doubt that Mrs. Garrud could toss him over her head.  In explaining how it would be possible for the Suffragettes in future to police their own meetings and forcibly eject any of their one-time lords, Mrs. Garrud had casually remarked that for her part the overthrow of an average policeman would be a simple matter. In no way did the constable resent her expression of opinion, but his doubts were evident. A smile crept over his face as he stood regarding her. “Why,” he said, “you’re only a little dot of a woman.”

“Well., I’m not exactly a giant,” admitted the Suffragette. “If you’re sure you aren’t frightened of getting hurt, I think I’ll throw you.”

Again the big policemau smiled. It was all so very, very foolish. His great red hands played idly about his 43in chest, and then in a moment of vanity he clenched his right fist, so that the muscles of his forearm stood out in heavy lumps.

Mrs. Garrud is 4ft 10 inches in height, and she, too, smiled. “I’m glad you’re not more than thirteen stone,” she murmured.

Then the struggle commenced. As a huge mastiff would bend down upon au insolent kitten, the man swooped on the womau. First he tried for a catch-as-catch-can bodyhold, but the Suffragette eluded his grasp. Their hands met, and the giant tried to pull her to him, but that was the very last thing she intended to allow. Pulling away from him, she ran lightly backwards, with the policemau pressing heavily after her. Desperately he exerted all his strength, striving to push the woman off her balance aud on to the mat. Then, suddenly, the thing happened. In a flash the woman fell flat on her back, with the massive policeman towering above her. Up shot one of her feet to meet his diaphragm. Her little arms strained, and as he pulled against himself the man lost his balance, swirled over her head, turned a somersault in mid-air, and fell heavily on the back of his head. In less than ten seconds the Suffragette had thrown the policeman.

Five minutes later, when he once more condescended to stand upright, the puzzled policeman again carefully regarded Mrs. Garrud. Contemplatively he scratched his head. “If that had happened on the pavement instead of these mats the police force would be one man short at this moment,” he said. “That fall would have cracked my skull.”

Another policeman awaited his turn. Lighter in build than the other, but more alert and more athletic in every way, the second man had the further advantage of a sound knowledge of the secrets of jiu-jitsu. “Now I shall have to do something really decent,” said the Suffragette. ”That last bout was just child’s play. I’ll enjoy this much better.”

For a full minute they played for an opening. At first the man tried for a catch-as-catch-can hold, but the woman was too wary. Just as the policeman’s arms seemed to have locked about her she would slip away, and, clutching his wrists, attempt to pull him after her as she ran backwards to gain the impetus for the stomach fall which proved the first man’s downfall.

At last the man’s superior strength and great advantage in weight commenced to tell. Desperately she tried for a side-hold, and then the end came. Just failing to effect the grip, the woman was at the man’s mercy. High in the air he swung her and then down upon the mat she went. But even as she fell she made for a wristhold, missing it by an inch. Two taps on the floor as a signal that she was defeated and the woman rose smilingly for another bout.

The first position taught by Mrs. Garrud to her Suffragette pupils is the “trip.” After the theory had been carefully explained, the two women gripped each other firmly by the upper arms. They swayed a little, and then Mrs. Garrud pressed her opponent backwards a few steps, but out went the pupil’s foot against her shin, and down went the teacher. Lying as she fell, Mrs. Garrud explained the next positions — how to safeguard the face from being struck when bending over a fallen combatant to pin her to the ground, then how to pin both hands to the ground. This was repeated several times and another new “lock” added, which effectually quieted the instructress.

“I do not often teach more than two new features each day,” said Mrs. Garrud. “They are so apt to confuse them unless they practise very diligently. To master the art thoroughly requires about thirty-six lessons, but, of course, people can become efficient in less than a dozen.” As these combatants retired a girl came forward — it would be neither fair nor sportsmanlike to divulge her identity —who is nearing the completion of her course. Judging from the light-hearted and easy way in which she threw a man over her head half a dozen times, the London police force may well shake in their shoes at the prospect of what the future may hold.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookDigg thisShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *