The Rise of the 'Jujitsu-Suffragettes' - Martial Arts in fin-de-siècle Great Britain
19 May 2016, London
This lecture by Dr Emelyne Godfrey will explore the blossoming of martial arts in Great Britain at the turn of the 20th century, investigating the Victorian obsession for self-defence, the appeal of the ‘exotic East’, and gender as a social and cultural construct.
Starting with the mid-Victorian garotting panics, Dr Godfrey will show how a fear of violent street crime was entangled with a fascination with Indian thuggee and how in response, civilians manufactured gruesome weapons. By the end of the 19th century, the use of violent forms of self-defence had become unfashionable and Japanese martial arts were considered to be the ideal, minimally aggressive way to fend off attackers. Experts from Japan taught politicians, the public and police alike the art of jujitsu and women sensationally took up jujitsu in the campaign for women’s suffrage. A century later, martial arts with an Edwardian twist are again in vogue.