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Early Ju-jutsu: The Challenges  
by Graham Noble

In the early years of this century Japan had emerged as a major world power, and victories over China in 1895, and Russia in 1904/5, aroused international admiration for "the plucky little Jap." In addition, the early propagators of jujutsu in this country were fortunate in that their efforts to launch the art coincided with a vogue for physical culture and professional wrestling. This was, in fact, the golden age of professional wrestling, a period which lasted from about 1898 to 1913 and the retirement of the then world champion Frank Gotch.

I suspect that there has always been an element of flim flam in professional wrestling, but in those early days this was held in check and the major matches involving such champions as Hackenschmidt, Zbysko, Gotch, Gama, and Padoubny were straight, genuine contests for a monetary prize. We can probably mark Gotch's retirement as the time when the entertainment aspect took over completely and John F. Gilbey (Author of "Secret Fighting Arts of the World", "Way of the Warrior" and Western Boxing and World Wrestling." --Editor.) is probably correct when he states that there hasn't been a straight pro wrestling match in America since 1915. The same would apply to Britain and Europe.

George Hackenschmidt, the "Russian Lion", was the major figure in the turn-of-the-century professional wrestling world. Born in Estonia in 1878, Hackenschmidt was a tremendous natural athlete and strong man who, at an early age, was taken in hand by the famous authority on physical culture Doctor Von Krajewski, a St. Petersburg medical man. Hackenschmidt won the Russian Weight lifting Championship in 1898 but by then his interest in wrestling was beginning to take precedence over weight lifting. In the World Weight lifting Championships held in Vienna (1898) he took third place, and also won the wrestling tournament which took place at the same time. From then he embarked on a career as a professional wrestler, and the level of public interest in wrestling can be gauged by the list of tournaments he entered (and mostly won) during the next few years: in 1899, Finland and Paris; 1900: Moscow, Dresden, Chemitz, Budapest, Graz, Nurenberg and Paris; 1901: Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Stetin, Berlin, Moscow, Munich and Paris (130 entries!), 1902: Brussels, Liege, and Namur. In his book "The Way to Live" Hackenschmidt recalled the crowd reaction after he won the Budapest tournament:

"Never, while I live, will I forget what then took place. The whole audience rose like one man and thunders of applause echoed through the building. I was seized, carried shoulder high, and decked with flowers. For fully a quarter of an hour I was borne like a victorious general through the streets, kissed, embraced etc. etc."

Hackenschmidt came over to Britain in 1902, and after defeating our top men, established himself as the greatest wrestler of the day. After a couple of years he switched his wrestling from the Greco-Roman (actually French) style prevalent on the Continent--this is a restrictive form of wrestling in which no holds below the waist are allowed to the freer, more versatile catch-as-catch-can style. The early 1900s were a time of great enthusiasm for wrestling matches in England and Hackenschmidt's contests against such opponents as Pierri the Greek and Madrali "The Terrible Turk" created intense excitement. The sportswriter Norman Clark stated, "I do not think it any exaggeration to say that Hacken-schmidt's matches with Madrali and others at Olympia and the Albert Hall created popular excitement such as no form of athletic contest has ever surpassed in this country."

In between important matches George Hackenschmidt made a good living appearing on the music halls, and like the jujutsu men he would offer prizes to anyone who could stay 15 minutes with him without being pinned. When he first arrived in this country he appeared at the Tivoli and broke the box-office record. His fee was raised to £150 a week--a considerable sum eighty years ago! However, the Tivoli audiences soon lost interest in the way he simply overpowered his opponents in two or three minutes, and he had to learn to hold back and add a little showmanship in order not to lose any bookings. He did acquire considerable popularity through his music hall appearances.

After Yukio Tani's successes against other wrestlers, a challenge to the great Hackenschmidt must have seemed a natural progression. Still, the hand of Tani's manager, William Bankier can be seen in all this. Bankier himself was a well known strongman who appeared under the name Appollo, and in the strongman world of that era challenges always seemed to be flying about in the pages of the sporting papers and physical culture journals. Bankier in particular seemed to have a bee in his bonnet about Eugen Sandow, the most famous of all the old time strongmen. For instance (The Glasgow Evening Times, March 6, 1899):

"Sir--I hereby challenge Sandow to a contest of strength for £100 a side, for which I send £5 now to show I mean business: the contest to consist of weightlifting from the ground, 6 feats each. If Mr. Sandow refuses to meet me on these terms I hereby challenge him to an all round athletic contest consisting of weightlifing, wrestling, running a one mile race, and jumping with 561bs. weights, for £100 a side, the winner of three events to be adjudged the conqueror. This is no bombastic challenge, but simply a desire to prove to the public that there are better athletes in Britain than ever came from Germany. I hope to hear from Sandow by return. --Yours strongly, Appollo, The Scottish Hercules."

Like most other strongman challenges, this came to nothing. No matter. What is relevant is that challenges were a feature of the day, used to stir up interest, and just as part of a rivalry to secure bookings and be billed as "The World's Strongest Man" (numerous), "The World Champion Wrestler", "The World Champion Club Swinger" or even "The World's Champion Jujitsuist". Tani and Bankier's challenge to Hackenschmidt may thus have been a publicity ploy but the evidence indicates that it was a seriously thought out matter. At any rate, £100 was deposited by William Bankier with "The Sporting Life" to try and secure a match, and at the conclusion of Hackenschmidt's match with "The Terrible Greek" (Antonio Pierri) both Bankier and Tani jumped the stage and repeated the challenge in front of a crowd of 3,000 people.

Throughout all this George Hackenschmidt just kept 'mum'. He was making his way as the top man in the game and Yukio Tani was something he could do without. Hacken-schmidt probably never believed for a moment that Tani could beat him in any form of contest, but he knew nothing of jujutsu and there was always the off-chance, no matter how slight, that "the Jolly little Jap" could apply one of his fiendish Oriental tricks and win the contest. Evidently this was a risk Hackenschmidt was not prepared to take. Maybe he never took it seriously and felt that if he just kept ignoring him Tani would go away--which, after a while, he did. So a match which was eagerly anticipated by all lovers of manly sports came to nothing. This was all over eighty years ago, and is no longer of any importance except to martial arts historians.

We can speculate about the possible outcome of a Tani vs. Hackenschmidt contest but at this stage I don't think anyone's opinion would be worth very much. At first sight it is hard to imagine a 9 stone (126 lbs.) man, however skilled, beating a 15 stone (210 lbs.) wrestling champion--and Hackenschmidt was a real powerhouse. The report of his match with the American champion Tom Jenkins (New York, May 1905) stated that "Jenkins was handled like a pigmy in the hands of a giant. Hackenschmidt broke holds as if they were me clutchings of a child." Yet William Bankier knew the sporting and physical culture world inside out and if he made the challenge he must have felt that Tani could bring it off. Evidently Bankier believed that Tani's technique and knowledge of leverage would nullify Hackenschmidt's tremendous advantages in size and strength. William Bankier had trained with Tani, and although a strong man himself, could never get the better of the Japanese. In his book "Ju-jitsu: What it Really is", Bankier noted that Tani always kept tricks up his sleeve and had never taught the full extent of his knowledge.

On one occasion the two men bet "a sumptuous dinner" on whether or not Bankier could last 15 minutes with Tani in a contest. "The match came off at once," wrote Bankier, "and sad to relate, after all my practice he beat me in exactly three minutes with a hold that I had never seen him use. It was then that I found out that he keeps a good deal of knowledge in reserve for emergencies." Of course, the Hackenschmidt-- Tani contest was to have been under jujutsu rules--with which Hackenschmidt was totally unfamiliar. In the book he wrote six years later, "The Complete Science of Wrestling", Hackenschmidt recommended the study of jujutsu trips and throws for all wrestlers. In 1903--4 however, when Tani issued the challenge Hackenschmidt had no knowledge of ju-jutsu technique and in fact he was still wrestling mainly in the Greco-Roman style, a form which requires great strength and endurance but is necessarily limited in technique. (Hackenschmidt only fully switched to the catch-as-catch can style with his 1905 contest against Tom Jenkins). Hackenschmidt in fact did offer to wrestle Tani in the Greco-Roman style--but that was ridiculous.

At any rate, because of Tani's experience with wrestlers and Hackenschmidt's unfamiliarity with jujutsu, a Tani victory could not be ruled out. That would have been a sensation but although the controversy ran for a year or so, it eventually ran out of steam and the whole affair was soon forgotten. A parallel might be drawn with a contest held in Paris a couple of years later between a jujutsu man and a Russian wrestler. France did not have any resident Japanese instructors at this time, and jujutsu was introduced by two Frenchmen who had studied at Tani's "Japanese School of Ju-Jitsu" in Oxford St., London. The two men were Jean Joseph Renaud and Guy de Montgrilhard, who went under the name Re-Nie had added techniques of ju-jutsu to his knowledge of wrestling and felt confident of accepting any challenges that might come his way. His match against the wrestler Dubois (October 26, 1905) created quite a stir in sporting circles, and Re-Nie was so proud of his victory that he included a report of the bout in his book "Les Secrets du Jiu-Jitsu", (Editions Paclot, Paris, 1905). "Les Secrets du Jiu-Jitsu" is now almost unobtainable. However Claude Thibault, in his history of French judo, "Un Million de Judokas", reprinted the relevant section of Re-Nie's book, and we give a translation here as a matter of historical interest.

"Let us introduce the two champions. "Master George Dubois is a well known figure in Paris. He is both a formidable boxer and a first class fencer. Born in 1865 he weighs a little over 165 1bs. and stands 5'-7" tall. He is therefore a serious adversary for Re-Nie especially when one considers that the latter weighs only 138 Ibs. and is only 5'-5" tall. He is 36 years old.
"The match took place on the 26th October at Courbevoie in front of a crowd of 500 people, coming mainly from the sporting world. M. Manaud, who organized the contest, was also the referee.
"At half-past two, the two adversaries entered the arena... The combat would not stop until one or the other was beaten.

"On the command 'Begin, Monsieurs!' the two contestants, who had taken up opposite corners of the ring, moved towards each other quite rapidly, then stopped two yards from each other, keeping their guard for several seconds.
"It was George Dubois who attacked first with a low kick. It was quickly evaded by Re-Nie who immediately leaped on his opponent and seized him round the waist. By a knee stroke placed under the right thigh, while with his left hand he squeezed the back muscles of Dubois, he swung the latter over. Dubois fell heavily on his back.
"Re-Nie followed him down and, held by the throat, was able to seize the right hand of Dubois. Then, turning himself over onto his back, he passed a leg over Dubois' neck to squeeze the carotid artery. This done, he pulled violently against the arm-joint of his adversary; this hold, which can dislocate the arm, provoked such a pain that Dubois, after having tried to resist for a fraction of a second, let out a terrible cry and gave in.

"He had been defeated by one of the terrible locks of Jiu Jitsu, the "Ude-shighi". The contest lasted 26 seconds, and the actual fighting only six seconds.
"When George Dubois was delivered from this terrible hold, which Re-Nie relaxed as soon as he heard Dubois cry out, he stood up and shook the hand of the Ju-jitsu Champion. Everyone crowded round the two combatants.
" 'I would have liked to have done better', said Dubois, 'but it was impossible for me to escape from the hold. If I had continued my arm would have been broken like a straw.' "

According to Thibault, Re-Nie followed this with other victories over wrestlers. Success must have gone to his head because he then challenged the Greco-Roman style wrestling champion Nan Padoubny of Russia. Padoubny outweighed Re-Nie by 1001bs. and was a real iron man. It was a ludicrous challenge and Re-Nie was defeated. Thibault wrote that "Beaten, the pioneer of ju-jitsu in France rapidly lost the confidence of enthusiasts," and he seems to have faded from the scene shortly after. After quoting the details of these early contests. Thibault poses a question: What was the real strength off Jean Joseph-Renaud and Re-Nie? He answers as follows:

"The former described his training in a book he wrote in 1912 ('La Defense dans la Rue', Editions Lafitte, Paris): 'I studied with Japanese masters at the Oxford St. school for two summers, that is two periods of three months each, each day and sometimes twice a day.' Such a training would today probably be rewarded with a green belt, a blue belt at most for a particularly gifted student. Re-Nie was more advanced than Jean Joseph-Renaud, but his small build made him vulnerable. Taking into account the standards the day, he could have at most been worth a brown belt!

Thus, harking back to the proposed Tani vs. Hackenschmidt match, Re-Nie's defeat by Padoubny does not provide any kind of form-line, since he was several levels below Tani as a jujutsu man. Besides, one can argue and argue, but no one knows who will win between two good men until they actually meet. Just to round out this little survey of early jujitsu vs. wrestling matches, I include a report on the bout between the American wrestler, George Bothner and the ju-iutsu exponent Katsukuma Higashi. Bothner, a lightweight, was regarded as the most scientific wrestler of the day. Higashi was the author (with Irving Hancock) of the well known book "The Complete Kano Jiu-jitsu." The report is from the New York Times of April 7, 1905, and is somewhat biased towards Bothner.

"Jiu-Jitsu Beaten By Yankee Wrestler. American Lightweight Champion Bothner Downs Higashi in three straight falls. Spectators pack Grand Central Palace to see first demonstration of two methods. "

"Jiu-Jitsu versus the American style of wrestling was the novel entertainment provided last night for 3,000 to 4,000 spectators in the Grand Central Palace, Lexington Avenue.
"K. Higashi, who is one of the most expert Jiujitsu exponents in this country met George Bothner, who has held the lightweight wrestling championship for several years and has recently been appointed wrestling instructor at Princeton University. Each man was to wrestle according to his own methods but certain conditions had been agreed upon by both competitors, which to the spectators really favoured the Jap, as his rules were accepted by Bothner, an addition to other demands that were made before the men came on to the mat.

"The result was disappointing, that is to those who hoped to see something unusual in the famed jiu-jitsu. Bothner got the first fall in the quick time of 14:33 (minutes and seconds) and the second in 1:31:18. The conditions called for the best three falls out of five, but it was long after midnight before the third bout was called. Bothner won this and the match in 12 minutes.
"Each of the men wore the Japanese wrestling costume consisting of short jackets like kimonos with a belt around the waist. This the announcer stated was agreed to by Bothner in order to bring about the match. Charles Harvey also gave the spectators an inkling that all was not serene among the exponents of the two methods by adding that the Japanese wrestler had refused at the last minute to go on unless flying falls were allowed. This evoked some hisses, and a cry arose, 'He's afraid to go on.'
"The announcer added that he did not think this was so, but in the wide difference of rules there had been much trouble in arranging everything satisfactorily.

"A small bodyguard of Japanese came out with Higashi, and a number of their countrymen was in the crowd, one spectator remarking that there were almost enough to take Port Arthur, (a reference to the Russian-Japanese War). "As the men faced each other Higashi got a savage hold around Bothner's neck, holding the ends of his jacket closely together and trying to get what appeared to be a desperate neck hold. It was a choking hold, but Bothner was wary and although he was pulled to the floor he succeeded in pulling the loose part of his jacket away so as to give the Jap less opportunity of strangling him. Higashi held Bothner firmly to the mat and at times almost pulling him over on top of his head. It was a game struggle although there was little activity in it, the Jap cooly chewing gum all the while and looking for a chance to pick Bothner up by the belt and hurl him over on his back.
"Bothner at last got the opportunity for which he had been looking. In a twinkling he turned upon the Jap, caught him about the leg, and by a half crotch and half Nelson hold threw the Japanese expert cleanly upon his back. Before the crowd knew what happened the referee ordered the men up and gave the fall to Bothner. The suddenness of the fall and Bothner's lightning-like work aroused the crowd to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. Hats were thrown high in the air and for five minutes the deafening cheers prevented the announcer from making himself heard.

"An intermission was taken and when the men came on the mat again the crowd looked for some fast work by Bothner. In this they were disappointed. Jiu-jitsu signally failed to win any favour, for to the chagrin of the spectators the Japanese competitor failed to employ any other hold save the jacket hold around the neck. This he kept up repeatedly and for the greater part of the bout he had Bothner on his knees. The Jap was more cautious himself, and failed to take any chances. For over an hour the men struggled, occasionally rising to their feet, only to fall back into the old positions. The crowd grew weary. The men were well matched, there was no doubt about that, but the far famed jiu-jitsu was totally lacking in its spectacular features.

"At last something happened. By a quick throw the Jap hurled Bothner over his shoulders. He and his judge (Irving Hancock) appealed to the referee for a flying fall. Judge O'Brien claimed that both shoulders did not touch and the referee upheld him. This aroused the ire of Higashi and for several minutes it looked as though he would not go back on the mat. Pandemonium reigned. Hisses were mingled with cheers and it took the united efforts of several Japanese sympathizers to prevail on Higashi to go on again. Then the referee said that if no fall was made in 20 minutes he would call the bout a draw.
"Some livelier work ensued, but Higashi stuck to his same tactics of pulling Bothner to the mat by the ends of the latter's jacket. This jacket clearly bothered Bothner, as he is unaccustomed to its use. He also had proper wrestling regard for the Jap, and made no wild efforts to throw him. After ten minutes of hard work the Jap got another flying fall but it was not so clearly done as the previous one. Although claimed by Higashi, the spectators were unanimous in the opinion that both shoulders did not touch.

"Higashi again succeeded in throwing Bothner over on the mat and promptly claimed this fall. Bothner wriggled out of a bad position but it was plain that he was not thrown according to American ideas of wresting. Two minutes later Bothner threw Higashi fairly by a half-nelson, getting the decision in 1:31:18 from the start of the bout. Higashi's judge was visibly put out over the decisions and said: 'We claim three falls tonight by the rules of jiu-jitsu. These rules Bothner agreed to live up to but the referee and his judge say no. We have tried to play fair and go on with the bouts, but by the laws of jiu-jitsu Higashi has clearly won.'
"Bothner won his third and final bout in twelve minutes. "

Writing about this contest in his recently published book "Western Boxing and Wrestling", John F. Gilbey takes the view that the reports do not ring true. Furthermore, if the bout was 'straight' then Higashi cannot have been much of a judoka. My own opinion is that the New York Times report rings true enough. If two contestants were going to fake a bout then it is unlikely they would spend an hour more or less immobile, as they did before the second fall. As for Katsukuma Higashi's ability in judo/jujutsu, I haven't carried out any research in this direction and would not hazard an opinion. However, Higashi did have reason to complain about the results. It appears that he was able to throw Bothner onto his back three times and under judo rules these may have constituted good falls. If "flying falls"--presumably falls in which the opponent's back touches the mat momentarily--were allowed, then these should have been scored. From the American point of view, however, a fall only occurred when the opponent's shoulders were pinned to the mat, and clean throws did not in themselves constitute a valid score. All credit to George Bothner, though. He was obliged to wrestle with a jacket and yet still managed to pin his opponent the required three times and win the match. Thus he came away with a popular, if rather tainted, victory.

In the Britain of the early 1900s, jujutsu was something fresh and original. Not only were many of its techniques new but the principles it introduced--of balance, leverage, and using an opponent's strength against him--threw a fresh light on combat methods. Jujutsu was also immediately seen to have an application for self-defence and many of the early books on the art were written as self-defence texts. We might almost say that this is where interest in self-defence as a subject in itself, begins. Previously, "the noble art of self-defence" referred to boxing. If attempts were made to adapt boxing for use in the street it was by the addition of a couple of basic throws such as the cross-buttock or back-heel.

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: " 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!