“Physical Culture and Self Defense” by Fitzsimmons (1901)

Our indefatigable friend Kirk Lawson recently finished transcribing another martial classic. This one was on my list, but he saved me the trouble with this faithful reproduction. Here’s his description:


As with all other retranscribed antique manuals that I republish, the text is available for free. You can download it at no charge. The treeware version is at “cost.”

Born June 4, 1862, Robert Fitzsimmons began boxing first as an amateur n Australia, defeating four men in his debut. He quickly transitioned to professional, and in the late 19th Century met and defeated numerous well known champions of the day including Dempsey, Maher, Hall, Creedon, Corbett, Ruhlin, Sharkey, ‘and others of like note.’ retaining and defending the Heavy-Weight title until June 9, 1899.

In retired life, Fitzsimmons taught Boxing, Self-Defense, and Physical Fitness, then known as “Physical Culture.” In 1901, he published his Fitness and Boxing manual titled “Physical Culture and Self Defense” which included material from earlier articles he had written.

This book is a faithful transcription by Kirk Lawson of the original text. Special attention has been given to recreating the look and feel of the original document, including similar fonts, the preservation of spelling, hyphenation, and intentionally blank pages.

You can get the book at: http://www.lulu.com/content/1921948

While you’re there, check out Kirk’s other offerings:

Len Lanius: American JJ Pioneer

Len Lanius

Longtime Cincinnati resident Leonard (“Len”) Lanius, born around 1865, claims he was the lightweight champion wrestler of the world at one point.

That would have been around 1890 and I have verified that he did at least referee a match in 1894. In fact, the loser of the bout gave Lanius some lip, whereupon Lanius promptly removed his coat to take care of business. Police interference prevented it from going any farther.

Once, while speaking about the Gotch-Hackenschmidt bouts, Lanius noted that “it was the invasion of the Jap wrestlers around that time that put me to work on perfecting a style of defense to check their attack. Their methods were quite baffling.” That, of course, led to his publication of American Jiu Jitsu: The New Art of Self Defense in 1922.

His career is quite varied. As a boy, he went to Cincinnati and shined shoes and and sold papers for a living, his father having died of consumption before Len was born. He took up wrestling at around 12-13 or so as a sickly lad who had been told he might not reach twenty (didn’t they all start sickly when they’re sell books?), but the wrestling cured him and he became a champ, boasting he once went seventy matches without a fall.

He traveled with the circus and on the vaudeville circuit, then later retired from wrestling and joined the sports staff at the Cincinnati Post. He also coached for several years at the Ohio Military Institute in Cincinnati. He occasionally spoke on the radio about wrestling for WLW. By 1921 Lanius had entered the field of optometry and was still going strong, visiting out of state optometric conventions in 1933. (He was president of a Cleveland optical factory in ’33). But his early passion was chickens (so to speak).

According to census data, he was the proprietor of an optical store by January 1920 and had a wife, looks like her name was Minnie, some 9 years younger than he. He wasliving in Cincinnati, and he had a 23 year-old married son, Ralph D. Lanius, who managed his optical store.

In March of 1921 Lanius demonstrated to the members of the Rotary club his “Yankee Jiu Jitsu” at the Park Hotel. The Rotarians particularly enjoyed when he boosted his demonstration partner (Dr. Otis G. Morse) over his head. You know those crazy Rotarians.

On June 9, 1921, Lanius gave an exhibition of his version of jujutsu at the Busy Bee cafeteria during the Kiwanis club program. He was one of the principal features! This was the opening of the Christen Kenton club and there were over 100 attendees. That’s a lot of Kiwanis.

But it was during his early circus/vaudeville traveling days that a bachelor friend gave Lanius two hens and told him to fatten them up and then invite him to dinner. That was the beginning of a beautiful man-poultry partnership, and by 1917 Lanius was known all over Ohio for his poultry passions. In fact, he was the president of the Ohio branch of the American Poultry Association for three years, as well as a licensed poultry judge. The papers would even run his photograph whenever his fairground lectures were advertised.

By 1912 he owned the College Hill Poultry farm in Cincinnati and by 1917 he also owned the G.E. Conkey Co. of Cleveland. It appears that there wasn’t hardly a single fair or poultry meeting at which Lanius failed to lecture, although the 1917 lectures were mainly ominous warnings of the grave shortage of either poultry or eggs that loomed on the horizon due to the cold season causing a grain shortage. Luckily the country appeared to survive the hen/egg catastrophe. In case anyone is wondering, he sold layers, including White Leghorns, Buff Leghorns, White Wyandottes, D.C. Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons.

All facetiousness aside, I bet the guy could spin some tales or he wouldn’t have been invited to speak at all those events. Too bad nothing really survives but his book. Speaking of which, I scanned a copy almost exactly three years ago and passed it around. I see there is now a version floating around on the web. I don’t know if it’s the one I set free, but if you do a little Googling, you should be able to find a place to download it.

Yep, that’s the one I scanned a few years ago, same signed dedication as my book. I can’t believe no one ever bothered cleaning it up, especially since I provided it in MS Word. Anyway, you can download a copy here, but be warned, I never intended for it to be released to the public in that state, I was just doing a quick scan for friends.

If you have any further information on old Len, please shoot me an email.

Some of the references used:

Charleston Daily Mail 5-23-1933
Coshocton Tribune 3-15-1921
Indianapolis Star 2-9-1912, 9-1-1917, 10-5-1918.
Lanius, Len. American Jiu Jitsu: The New Art of Self Defense (1920)
Lincoln Daily Eagle 4-26-1917
Marion Daily Star 4-5-1921, 4-5-1921, 6-9-1941
U.S. Census, Cincinnati, OH, Ward 26, Hamilton County (1-20-1920)

Carnival of Martial Arts #5 is on the March!

Go check it out at Mokuren Dojo where Pat was kind enough to host it this month. He did a special theme issue on “Warriors of Peace and Justice” and received a nice response.

There are many quality posts, but here are a few that caught my eye:

Patrick Parker included an older Nonviolent self defense that matched this month’s theme. I love the photo he links to, check it out!

Chris also hopped into the wayback machine to post his thoughts on Conflict Resolution: A Casualty of Non-Violent Martial Arts. Pretty amusing in that he immediately takes a shot at any art that doesn’t free spar as being “inadvertently harmless.” I found myself nodding my head in agreement at first, but then I began to think of exceptions, such as some forms of silat, combatives, etc.

Dave Shevitz posted on Jury Duty and Ki Tests, which I thought was an interesting look into the deliberation room through an aiki filter.

I found some common ground with Eric Frey this time after reading his How to Spot a Punch Coming a Mile Away post. I once had an excellent boxe-francaise instructor that I finally had to agree to disagree with because I simply refused to focus on my opponent eyes when kickboxing.

The next Carnival (#6) will be hosted by Black Belt Mama so be sure and get your submittal in by February 23. Submit your post here

Jujutsu Suffragettes

The day before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday seems an opportune time to recall the suffragettes now that the U.S. has a woman and an African-American as top contenders for the presidency. [FN1]. It is incredible to think that only 80 or so years ago women in the U.S. and U.K. did not enjoy the same voting rights as men. I quite literally cannot imagine that anyone in either country today thinks the same, and yet it was so recent that some of our older population undoubtedly can recall living in that period.

The right to vote was hard-fought, in some cases quite literally with fists and weapons. Here are a couple photos from “Black Friday.” On November 18, 1910, in response to the Prime Minister quashing a women’s voter bill, 300 suffragettes marched on the House of Commons. In a public relations disaster for the government, police were caught on film assaulting unarmed women attempting to march past. Here are some images from that day (click for larger size):

Black Friday1Black Friday2

Militant suffragettes eventually upped the physical level of their own campaigns and smashed shop windows, burned and even bombed on occasion. When caught and imprisoned, they went on hunger strikes which led to forced feeding through nasal tubes, yet another government public relations disaster.

Edith Garrud, wife of William Garrud, taught jujutsu to the Woman’s Social and Political Union “bodyguard” and used her school as a hideout when the heat was on from the police. William Garrud was well-known as a health and strength and self-defense instructor and owned his own gymnasium before he became associated with the Tani/Miyake school in London in the early 1900s. After Edith and William were divorced (or perhaps before, during, and after), William also taught jujutsu to his paramours.

The following is one of my favorite illustrations, and followed quickly on the heels of the publication of a series of photographs showing Edith Garrud tossing around a police officer:

The Suffragette That Knew Jiu-Jitsu

I didn’t write much here because others have written better and at length on the subject, so see:

Damsel v. Desperado

The Evolution of Women’s Judo 1900-1945

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

Tony Wolf’s article, “Edith Garrud’s Dojo” in the Bartitsu Compendium.

There is also a brief militant suffragette section with illustrations at the University of Glasgow Special Collections Women’s Suffrage page, which saved me scanning a hardcopy of the illustration above.

FN1. I know there has been discussion of who has been the most disadvantaged, women or African-Americans, but I’m trying to avoid that in this context. For that, Steven Barnes for one has brought up the discussion on his blog here and here. As far as voting, African-Americans technically gained the right in the U.S. in 1870 with the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Women received the right only in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. On the other hand, African-Americans were often disenfranchised based on (mainly southern) state laws requiring poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character,” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” So the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s may be a better point to begin counting. Even now, gerrymandering is still regularly fought in court and if you were a black voter in Florida during the 2000 election you might be wondering how much things have really changed in the last forty years.