Edith Garrud and Jujitsuffragettes

Tony Wolf, the author of the two volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium, has also written a related book called Edith Garrud: the Suffragette who knew jujutsu. He is currently developing a work of multimedia fiction inspired by the Suffragette Bodyguard stories.

Suffragette Bodyguards

This week, Tony’s article on the Bartitsu.org website focuses on The Amazons of Edwardian London; martial arts-trained Suffragette Bodyguards. Go read the full article in which this secret group of 25 athletic women acted as security for the protests to get women the vote in England.

I think it’s important to realize that these protests were not so different from today. It’s easy to read accounts like these as if they’re fiction or that people were very different 100 years ago. Remember that these women literally fought for their rights.

Women in the Bartitsu Compendium

There are several articles within Volume 1 of the Bartitsu Compendium that amplify these stories.

London Women of the Upper Tendon Are Learning Protection Against Ruffians (Stevens Point Daily Journal, Stevens Point, WI. 24 December, 1903)

This short article with a famous illustration of defense with parasol, informs us that due to recent rise in “hooliganism”, Mme. Vigny has been teaching self-defense to women using her husband Pierre Vigny’s methods.

Damsel v. Desperado by Edith Garrud (Health & Strength Magazine, 8 April, 1911.)

A lovely tale by Ms. Garrud herself, about an attack by a man “unworthy of that exalted title”. In the attempted robbery, “but she is one too many for him.”

This polemic is followed by:

Ju-Jutsu as a Husband-Tamer: A Suffragette Play with a Moral

An overview of a choreographed sketch shown at Garrud’s school, which ends with the husband vowing never to get drunk again. The reason is because he’s no match for her fighting skills after a few drinks. The article contains several examples of jujitsu throws and holds with pictures.

The Gymnasiums of London: Par X. –Pierre Vigny’s by J. St. A. Jewell (Health & Strength, May 1904, pp 173-177)

This longer article is a description by an enthusiast of the exhibitions Pierre Vigny did with Miss Sanderson (Mme. Vigny) using fencing foils, duelling-sword (small sword) and walking-stick.


Our next Introduction to Bartitsu: Fight Like Sherlock Holmes Jujitsuffragettes is coming up in two days: 28 July, 2012. The civic-minded gentleman and lady should have their personal protection up to scratch.


devonboorman Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.