Damsel v. Desperado

By Edith Garrud

From Health & Strength, July 23, 1910, 101-102

Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, December 1999

In proportion as the Suffragettes increase in number and in power, so also do the JU-JUTSUFFRAGETTES. (I believe it was Health & Strength who first coined that latter phrase.) The daily papers, by their witticisms, smart or otherwise, at the expense of the Suffragette who goes in for ju-jutsu in order that she may foil her supposed natural enemy, the man in blue [e.g., police constables attempting to stop violent women's rights demonstrations], has certainly helped to popularise that mode of self-defence we owe to the Japanese amongst our women, whether they clamour for the vote or not.

Of course, you know quite well the man in blue has nothing to do with the case. Woman is exposed to many perils nowadays, because so many who call themselves men are not worthy of that exalted title, and it is her duty to learn how to defend herself, because ju-jutsu has over and over again been proved to be the most effective means, in moments of emergency, for repelling the attack of a ruffian; because it is easy to learn, and because it is, quite apart from its combative value, a splendid exercise; it is the very thing for women as well as men to take up thoroughly.

You constantly read in the papers reports of dastardly attacks on helpless women by thieves and ruffians. A woman who knows ju-jutsu, even though she may not be physically strong, even though she may not have even an umbrella or parasol, is not helpless. I will show you in a series of pictures how easily she may get the better of an assailant. I know many women personally who have tried the tricks I shall explain to you and come out on top. They have brought great burly cowards nearly twice their size to their feet and made them howl for mercy.


Here then, is my little story.

A lady, who is quite on the petite side, is returning home along a lonely country road. It is growing dark, but the lady saunters carelessly, enjoying the fragrant, health-giving summer breezes, and dangling over her arm her satchel containing her money -- several pounds in silver, a diamond ring, and various other little treasures that possess perhaps only a sentimental value. [FN1]

She is humming a tune, and though she knows the nearest human habitation is about a mile away, she doesn't worry.

Suddenly, from behind a hedge, a rascally hooligan rushes forward. He is powerful, he is unscrupulous, he is a thief. He has cast avaricious eyes upon that satchel, which he has reason to believe contains valuables. Anyhow, he means to try his luck.

But not so fast, my friend; not so fast! It is not so easy as it seems. You have encountered a woman of resource, a woman who knows a thing or two. You expected her to scream and run away; but no, instead of that she seizes the outstretched wrist of the would-be thief, throwing all her weight on the elbow, and wrenches the arm so severely that he is compelled to leave go. [FN2]

She turns to walk away, but the ruffian makes a dash at her to pull her back. He throws his arm round her neck. He means to garrote her in fact, but she is one too many for him. She seizes his arm, as you see in Fig. 2, and pitches him right overhead.

He is getting furious now, and, quickly rising, he makes a frantic effort to overpower this little woman. He manages to get one hand on the throat, and tries to put her out of action by choking her and threatening to punch her in the face. (Fig. 3.) But she quickly grasping his wrist and hand with both her own -- (Fig. 4) -- and turns round, then pulling sharply in order to get a straight arm, and throw all her weight on the man's shoulder. Now she has him fixed. He cannot move, he dares not move, for if he does his shoulder or elbow, or both, may be dislocated. Believing that he has had enough by now and that she has shown him what she can do, she gives him a severe twinge that makes him fairly squeal, and throws him off as a "thing" beneath contempt.

A moment afterwards she has reason to regret her magnanimity, for she has to deal with a villain who will stick at nothing. He draws his clasp-knife and makes a rush at her. Again she is equal to the occasion. Knowing that it is dangerous to wait for a knife attack, she rushes in bravely to meet it, guarding with the left arm, thus catching her opponent's arm before it descends. [FN3] By this means she has brought on a lock with the right hand by thrusting it under and then over the ruffian's arm.
She knows now what sort of a desperado she has had to deal with, and determines that he shan't get off scot-free this time. Having put him down and made him drop his knife, she catches hold of his foot before he has had time even to attempt to kick. Then by twisting the toe and heel she turns him on to his chest, obtaining a lock by doubling one leg into the other. No matter how he tries, he can't possibly use either of his legs now. But his hands are free, and he reaches round and hits out savagely. Instantly the arm that would have done such damage is grabbed and pressed up his back. Then, kneeling on him, she seizes his neck-cloth [necktie] and twists his head back. If he struggles now he'll choke, for she has literally tied him in a knot. Her only regret is that she was not wearing a sash or a veil. She could then have caught him round the neck and tied the neck and legs together, and left him there until help arrived. Anyhow, he has had enough; he recognises that a weak little woman, who has courage and presence of mind and a knowledge of ju-jutsu, is more than a match for a dastardly ruffian such as he. Besides, the village constable is coming along, accompanied by three stalwart farm labourers. They'll be equal to this "knotty problem" on the ground there, I think; in fact, they'll very soon convey him to the village police station.

Of course you know quite well that the "villain" in the pictures is not a villain at all, but only, as the children say, "pretending." He and I posed specially for Health & Strength, and I feel sure that I have proved to you that ju-jutsu is as useful for women as for men; or should I say for men as for women?
The story has, for obvious reasons, been prolonged, though every one of the holds and locks I have described would soon have put the victim hors de combat.

The two illustrations in the headpiece demonstrate one way in which ju-jutsu may be found useful to quite young girls.

It will certainly enable them to repel the unwelcome advances of an impudent stranger. My villain, you see, is now an "impudent stranger." But the plucky little girl promptly makes a fool of him. She catches hold of his hand and twists it back, and if he doesn't apologise for his rudeness, she can take him right to the ground, and so get a lock on him.

Footnotes: Click your back button to return to the text.

FN1. The reference is to British currency then worth about US $10 rather than troy. The woman in question is middle class or higher.

FN2.  The accompanying illustrations shows a well-dressed woman applying a wrist-lock to a well-dressed man standing directly in front of her.

FN3. The illustration shows an overhand attack.

JNC Dec 1999.