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  1. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/02/2006 6:04pm

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     Style: Bartitsu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Leopold McLaglen: Bullshido master of the early 1900s

    From the essay "Early Ju-jitsu: the Challenges" by Graham Noble. It's long, but stick around for the description of what happened when McLaglen issued an open challenge during a demo in South Africa.



    One of the early jujutsu self-defence books was "Ju-jitsu. A Manual of the Science" (1918), written by Leopold McLaglen. McLaglen is by no means an important figure in martial arts history but he was a colourful and interesting character in his own right. This is as good a reason as any to give a little information on the eccentric, self-titled "World's Ju-jitsu Champion"' I haven't carried out a great deal of research on Leopold McLaglen and have little information on his early history but it seems that much of his life was spent in the Army. At any rate he styled himself Captain, and authored two books on military subjects: "Bayonet Fighting for War"and "Infantry Pocket Book. A Concise Guide for Infantry Officers and NCOS." It was after he retired from the Army that he decided to embark on a career as a World's Jujutsu champion.

    Where did an army captain acquire his skill in jujutsu? According to McLaglen himself it was initially from a Japanese house guest when he was a boy. More likely he picked up his knowledge of the art in the early 1900s from students of, say, Tani or Uyenishi. Was he really the World's Champion? Hardly! He was not even a good jujutsu player. Rather, he was a consummate showman who could convince an ignorant public that he had fought and won important jujutsu contests all over the world. To many people whose knowledge of the Far East extended about as far as the exploits of Sax Rohmer's fiendish Dr Fu Manchu McLaglen's tales of defeating the Japanese Champion "before the Son of Heaven, the Mikado himself, and a seething crowd of his disappointed subjects" must have sounded thrilling and authentic.

    For the record--not that it means anything--McLaglen claimed to have defeated among others: "Professor T. H. Kanada (for the Jiu-jitsu Championship of the World); M. Tani and T. Hirai (celebrated Japanese Jiu-Jitsu Champions) at San Francisco; Henry de Raymond; also Professors Fukamuchi, (Los Angeles) Watanalu, Rondo, Yamagata (Minneapolis), Sako, Shimera (Toledo), Kande, Captain Tanaka and Lee Bly--also Professors Yamasaki and Toda (Calcutta) and others. These names do not mean anything to me and many, if not all, may be fictitious. But in a western world which had little contact with Japan, McLaglen could pass himself off as an expert, and indeed he did travel widely giving instruction in jujutsu throws and holds. His book contains testimonials from Army Regiments, Police Forces and schools throughout Australia, India, and the Far East: "...an extremely capable and careful instructor," "...a fine disciplinarian," "...eminently practical from a police point of view."

    McLaglen had clearly studied the art and in fact Jiu Jitsu. "A Manual of the Science" is not a bad book by the standards of the day. It includes techniques for "Jiu Jitsu contests in a 24 foot ring" (why a ring I do not know; as for a 24 foot ring, this was the standard size for bare-knuckle boxing under prize-ring rules--it had nothing to do with jujutsu or judo), throws and locks for police use, and methods of self-defence/unarmed combat for the Army and Navy. These last techniques, which naturally are rougher than the normal self defence methods, show a British Tommy dispatching a German soldier complete with 'Kaiser Bill' helmet. They represent one of the first examples of martial arts technique applied to unarmed combat for the services, and are a precursor of more famous systems such as those of the famous W.E. Fairbairn.

    In fact, there is the intriguing possibility that McLaglen may have had some influence in the formulation of Fairbairn's system. At any rate, Leopold McLaglen gave a 12-day course of instruction to one hundred officers and men of the Shanghai Police in 1914, a time when (I think) Fairbairn was serving in that force. Fairbairn had a long standing interest in self-defence--he was awarded a dan grade in judo in 1926--and if he did attend McLaglen's course it may have set him thinking about the application of jujutsu/judo techniques for everyday police and self-defence use. Certainly, Fairbairn was known for his introduction of self-defence techniques to the Shanghai Police and British Army, and one can't help noticing the similarity between the methods shown in Fairbairn's "Get Tough" and those of McLaglen's book, published over 20 years earlier.

    I mentioned the well known South African wrestler, Tromp Van Diggellen earlier in referring to his friendly spar with Yukio Tani (Part One: F.A.I. No. 42). As it happened, Van Diggellen's tracks also crossed those of Leopold McLaglen and his reminiscences throw an interesting light on the real strength of "The Great Leopold" and the format of his stage appearances. In 1913, to the accompaniment of much newspaper publicity, McLaglen arrived in South Africa to carry out a music hall tour. Van Diggellen, a wrestler of known ability, agreed to assist him in the demonstrations, and, initially at least, he was rather impressed by the six and a half foot "World Champion" describing him as "not the type of adventurous manhood that one could easily brush aside. Not only did he have a magnetic personality but his aplomb was something truly stupendous." Anyway, the two men went along to the Standard Theatre in Johannesburg to go through a rehearsal and the much smaller Van Diggellen quickly realized an amazing thing--he could handle the supposed World's Champion easily! Moreover, McLaglen was unable to apply any of his holds or locks unless Van Diggellen cooperated. As Tromp wrote:

    "To my astonishment I found that the 'World Champion of Jiu-jitsu' could not put me out unless I quitted. This was something quite foreign to me. I was used to wrestling without pulling the punches, as the boxers have it, and here I found that if I used my utmost endeavours and my strength I was going to spoil the show, for after all, Leopold's whole demonstration was supposed to show that jiu-jitsu was a means of defence that would overcome any form of attack."

    Still, this was show business rather than competitive sport or martial art, and the two men worked out a routine that would demonstrate Leopold McLaglen's skill. Evidently Van Diggellen did not take it too seriously since he also helped to work out a showpiece whereby McLaglen would illustrate his amazing skill at paralysing the nerve centres of the human body. Van Diggellen was a noted muscle control expert, and as he assumed different positions, McLaglen would press a supposed nerve center. Immediately Tromp would contract the relevant muscle, causing it to jump and become rigid. He would stand there as if paralysed until McLaglen released the hold.

    Of course, it was all nonsense--but it made a good show! "During our act the next night the big crowd responded magnificently" wrote Tromp. "The stunt was undoubtedly a winner. I was glad I had invented the idea, for the pressure was all "bunk", and it could not influence the muscular control at all. "Leopold the Great" was quite a hero when he showed how powerless my muscles became through his vast knowledge of "nerve centers" As I usually had my back to the audience which this was going on, I did my part with a broad grin on my face."

    McLaglen's act followed a standard format. It would open with Tromp Van Diggellen, dressed as a tramp, attacking "a fashionably dressed young lady" After being thrown all over the place the tramp would run cowering into the wings. After this there would be an appearance by McLaglen's wife who was known as "The Georgia Magnet" Her act consisted of challenging anyone in the audience to try and lift her off the ground. "The Magnet" weighed only 110 Ib. and as far as I know no-one ever succeeded. (Van Diggellen tried but couldn't budge her an inch). Her act thus preceded Aikido's "unliftable body" by several decades. The highlight of the show had now arrived. Leopold McLaglen would give a short talk on the science of jujutsu. He would "paralyze" Tromp Van Diggellen and then engage him in contest, disabling him easily with jujutsu throws and holds. Things went well for the first couple of nights, so well in fact that on the third night McLaglen grew overconfident and stepped to the front of the stage. "Ladies and Gentlemen" he began, "to show you one of the amazing things that can be done, I will undertake to put any man who will come onto the stage to sleep in 5 seconds by merely applying pressure to the carotid artery in the neck."
    Van Diggellen described what happened next:

    "There was a dead silence. Nobody seemed to have the least desire to be put to sleep. Then suddenly, a sturdy man of middle height rose up in the stalls and, shaking his fist at the gigantic Leopold, called out: 'You can't do that stuff to me, I'm damn sure!' As he came forward to mount the short stairs onto the stage I noticed that he looked almost boyish. He had fair hair and a ruddy complexion that spoke of fitness, and the way he walked showed that he was angry, and I sensed that he was tough.

    "A couple of friends followed him onto the stage. This thing had evidently been planned by a resolute man who knew his own abilities. He had not come up merely to be put to sleep, but to have a show down with Leopold who, although almost double his weight and with a "World's Title" had not intimidated him in the least. Thunder was in the air, my partner was going to be called upon to "do his stuff."

    "The crowd seemed to know this sturdy challenger and began yelling, 'Get stuck into him Robbie!' I sensed trouble, and how right I was. Robbie Roberts, whose name had been shouted up to me by the conductor of the Orchestra, started to peel off his jacket. While his arms were still imprisoned in the sleeves, McLaglen, to my utter amazement, stepped forward and struck him in the face. I was horrified, and Robbie Roberts went raving mad. In a second his coat had been flung onto the stage and he did exactly what the screaming audience expected of him. That middleweight with the bloom of school-boyhood on his face, tore into my big stage partner like a tornado. Never in a boxing ring have I seen such a furious attack.

    "McLaglen was forced back against the scenery. It seemed to me that he was lifted clean off his feet by the tremendous blows that were thudding into his mid-section. Now he was facing something beyond his abilities to cope with, and seemed incapable of applying any of his art. Suddenly "Leopold the Mighty" retreated up the stone stairway leading to our dressing rooms. As he ran he yelled 'Help Tromp! He's hit me low!' "By now the curtain had been rung down on the frightful pandemonium which went on in the auditorium. The show had come to an end. Tearing up the stairs I rushed in on Leopold. 'You've not been hit low, I saw every move,' I yelled at him. 'I'm sending for a doctor.' After he had been duly examined the doctor told us that there was no sign of him having been hit low or fouled in any way That was all I needed and I told "Leopold the Great" that I positively refused to appear with him again."

    A formal contest between McLaglen and Roberts was arranged but on the appointed night McLaglen absolutely refused to get into the ring. There was nearly a riot and the audience had to be given their money back. After this whole fiasco, Tromp Van Diggellen lost contact with Leopold McLaglen--until thirty five years later when McLaglen turned up at his office in Cape Town. What he had been doing in the meantime I do not know, but no doubt much of this period was spent touring the world demonstrating his knowledge of jujutsu. And as interest in unarmed combat revived with the Second World War, two more works by McLaglen were published: "Capt. Leopold McLaglen's Modernised Jiu Jitsu Lessons" (Sydney, 1939), and "Unarmed Attack and Defence for Commandos, Home Guards and Civilians," (London, 1942).

    The Leopold McLaglen who visited Van Diggellen in 1948 was only a shell of his former self. An invalid, he was accompanied everywhere by his doctor. Part of his tongue was gone and he told Van Diggellen that he had been captured by the Japanese and tortured--or maybe that was just another of his tall stories. The two went fishing a few times before McLaglen left for Nairobi where, not long afterwards, Van Diggellen heard that he had died. Even though aware of Leopold McLaglen's real abilities, Tromp Van Diggellen looked back at their times together with affection. I too, in the course of reading about this eccentric character, could not help forming a liking for him, if only for his sense of style and brazen effrontery. When he presented himself as a philosopher of human life, as in "The Creed of Captain Leopold McLaglen", the effect was pure schmaltz:

    "...Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them... If my friends have alabaster boxes laid away, full of fragrant perfumes of sympathy and affection, which they intend to break over my dead body, I would rather they bring them out in my weary and troubled hours and open them that I may be refreshed and cheered by them while I need them... etc. etc. etc."

    Though McLaglen had acquired a knowledge of jujutsu, he lacked the temperament and natural sense of combat necessary for true expertise. He had an interest in the art but it seems that for him jujutsu was primarily a means of demonstrating the amazing phenomenon that was "Leopold the Mighty." No, he was not a World Champion, nor even a genuine expert--but no one could ever accuse him of being dull!
  2. Teryan is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/02/2006 6:41pm


     Style: BJJ/ Judo/ MT

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Looks like a lot of good work but....

    tl;dr

    Is their a shoter 'I have a life' version?
  3. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/02/2006 7:26pm

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     Style: Bartitsu

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I just thought it was cool to find so many classic Bullshido elements in one package, taking place around 1913.

    To precis, McLaglen was an English soldier (he claimed the rank of Captain) who promoted himself as the World Jujitsu Champion during the early 1900s. He travelled around the world doing demos and wrote several books on self defence, etc.

    In South Africa he teamed up with legitimate wrestler and strongmen named Tromp van Diggellen, who was surprized to discover that McLaglen's jujitsu didn't actually work. Van Diggellen figured "well, that's showbiz" and went along with the act, faking being paralyzed during McLaglen's nerve pressure demos and playing the bad guy in a couple of skits.

    Then during one show in South Africa, McLaglen challenged anyone in the audience to resist his carotid artery pressure technique. A big guy stood up and took the challenge. McLaglen, for some reason, decided to try to sucker-punch the guy as he was taking off his jacket. The guy ripped into him and McLaglen ran offstage calling for van Diggellen to help him. He then refused to enter the ring when a formal match between him and the aggrieved audience member was set up. Van Diggellen was pretty disgusted and broke his association with McLaglen.
  4. HwangJangLee is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/02/2006 8:19pm


     

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    heh, at least he got justice, but i wish he would of got the **** beat out of himself earler
  5. Cdnronin is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/02/2006 8:20pm


     Style: judo, parenting

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Leo's brother was a boxer for a short time. Shortly after Jack Johnson won the title from Tommy Burns, he fought Vic McGlaglen. Vic was beaten so badly, he quit boxing and took up acting, having better luck,winning the best actor Oscar in 1935.

    I have been told by a very reputable source that Vic also drew the pictures for a WWI British unarmed combat manual, the same pictures re-appearing in the 1941 Canadian manual.

    Oddly enough, I was thinking about this guy earlier today, having a Leo Mclagen book in my bathroom(works as good as bran fiber :new_shock ).
  6. Cdnronin is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/03/2006 11:56am


     Style: judo, parenting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_McLaglan_1202.htm

    An excellent companion piece to Graham Noble's work, complete with some worthy footnotes. Definitely a pioneer in Bullshido.
  7. Ender is offline
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    Not Enough Weight

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    Posted On:
    2/03/2006 5:39pm

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     Style: BJJ, Wrestling

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Excellent research...I'd be willing to bet that McLaglen's era was fairly rife with Bullshido proponents, given that at the time the "mysteries of the Orient" were very much in vogue, but still inacessible to most, making fraud that much harder to diagnose.
    "Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to perform one more action with certainty."
    -Yamamoto Tsunetomo
  8. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/03/2006 6:10pm

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     Style: Bartitsu

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Ender
    Excellent research...I'd be willing to bet that McLaglen's era was fairly rife with Bullshido proponents, given that at the time the "mysteries of the Orient" were very much in vogue, but still inacessible to most, making fraud that much harder to diagnose.
    The first generation of jiujitsu instructors in England (E.W. Barton-Wright, Yukio Tani, Sadakazu Uyenishi, et al) faced a lot of skepticism when they were just doing demos, but to their credit, they did almost immediately begin competing in open wrestling tournaments. The Japanese instructors did very well in these competitions while Barton-Wright, although he reportedly defeated a number of challengers in succession at one event in London, was more interested in developing his "Bartitsu" art as an eclectic self defense system than in competing.

    Tani and Uyenishi were fond of demonstrating the "bamboo trick", a circus stunt in which a bamboo pole was pressed into or across the throat, but they got called on the showbiz physics of the trick and seem to have dropped it pretty quickly.

    By the time their students became instructors and the art was beginning to be spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world, you do get some Bullshido mixed in with the real deal. McLaglen was an extreme example, but there were also Joe Gardiner and Florence LeMar, a husband and wife team who toured music hall/variety stages in New Zealand and Australia at the same time that McLaglen was in South Africa. Joe had learned the basics of jiujitsu in England and worked as a professional wrestler. They ended up publishing a book - "the Life and Adventures of Miss Florence LeMar, the World's famous Ju-jitsu Girl" - which combined some basic jj instruction with a bunch of tall tales about how Florence had used her jujitsu to defeat villains in exotic locations like London and New York. It's a fun read but I reckon there's a lot of "artistic licence" in the stories she tells.
    Last edited by DdlR; 2/03/2006 6:33pm at .
  9. Cdnronin is offline

    Ghost of Kawaishi

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 2:01pm


     Style: judo, parenting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I have a copy of Leo's Jiu Jitsu for Girls in the mail to me. This 1922 classic should be good for a hoot, hopefully with pictures(nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of saucy girls.
  10. Rhamma is offline

    Not over zealous, but just zealous enough. 病気の粗悪品

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    Posted On:
    3/01/2006 2:17pm


     Style: Okinawan Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    good story, reminds me of Dillman
    People often tell me that I fail to see the gravity of the situation.
    I see the gravity, and I say...

    Step right up folks and watch me defy gravity!
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