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Police Jiu-Jitsu

The information below is based on a lecture given by Capt. Leopold McLaglen, and written about in the Japan Times of March 24, 1914.

Capt. McLaglen was a British professional wrestler who arrived in Shanghai in 1914. What is interesting about the article is that there is much inaccurate information on JuJutsu itself, as well as in the section on katsu. How much of the text was simply a product of a lack of knowledge at the time vs. the showmanship and promotions of a professional wrestler is an unanswered question to this day.

In the beginning of the article, we read that "...Capt. Leopold McLaglen, Jiujitsu champion of the world...", held letters of support from officers of the British army who had "their first lessons after they had reached fifty years of age". The Capt. goes on to state that JuJutsu "...teaches us that the small and apparently weak must not be despised". JuJutsu is the remedy to this. These words were from an army captain and professional wrestler who stood 6'6" and weighed 226 lbs. Despite his size, he emphasized that proper technique was more important than strength. According to Capt. McLaglen, "The rudiments of jiujitsu can be absorbed in eight lessons, but of course he must practice assiduously". Each lesson is one hour in length.

Included in the study of "police jiujitsu" is kiai-jutsu, and saimin-jutsu, or hypnosis, which enables an exponent to put a subject to sleep by the mere pressure of the hands". However, prior to learning saimin-jutsu, "...the pupil must have become proficient in katsu, which is undoubtedly one of the most ancient and perfect systems of restoration".


Capt. McLaglen wrote: "I can stop the heart beating and restore it to its normal condition by katsu. It is interesting to note that many soldiers in warfare receive a bullet through their bodies and die, not because the wound was vital, but from shock. A man in such case could be restored to life...". Time and other factors are elaborated upon.

What of the Capt.'s background? He stated that he began to study JuJutsu at the age of 12, from a Japanese man his uncle, a gentleman attached to the British Legation in Tokyo, brought back to England with him. This person taught the lanky, bullied Leopold the art. At the age of 19, when the unnamed Japanese left, young Leopold was "able to defeat his master". He goes on to state he defeated three of the best men in Japan, who were engaged by President Theodore Roosevelt to teach the American police JuJutsu. Further exploits and victories are noted.

While the absolute truth to all Capt. McLaglen's claims are unimportant, what is of interest is that there was a Police JuJutsu (not simply martial arts in general) being taught in those early days of the twentieth century, outside of Japan. Further, there was the introduction of the short course, an 8 lesson, one hour per lesson course. This may well be one of the first formally structured taiho-jutsu type courses recorded.

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