Tag Archives: martial arts

#85 Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi: Bringing Jujitsu to the West

To compliment my recent article about bartitsu over on Tor.com, here’s a spotlight on Yukio Tani & Sadakazu Uyenishi.

Yukio Tani, demonstrating a flying armbar lock on William Bankier

In 1900, two young men took on an offer from Englishman Edward William Barton-Wright to take their art halfway across the globe, as two “Japanese wrestling” instructors at his Bartitsu Club. At 19 years-old when he arrived in England, Yukio Tani’s upbringing is unclear, but it is thought that he trained at Fusen-ryu dojo as well as Osaka’s “Handa School of Jiujitsu.” His fellow instructor, Sadakazu Uyenishi, was a year older and originally considered training for the military before deciding to go to England. He was knowledgeable not only in jujitsu, but also in rokushakubo and hanbo (types of staff fighting), horseback riding, sumo wrestling and kenjutsu (Japanese swordsmanship). Tani’s brother and another fighter named S. Yamamoto also arrived to teach at Barton-Wright’s school, but left after a year to return to Japan. Tani and Uyenishi ended up leaving a lasting mark upon England, being two of the first to bring jujitsu to Western Europe.
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Bartitsu: More Fashionable than Fisticuffs

“When we hear martial arts today, we hear Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan; we forget that the Western arts have also existed,” Professor Mark P. Donnelly, striking in his black vest and shirtsleeves, began his instructional seminar last Saturday in a New York midtown fighting studio. “It didn’t look anything like kung-fu and karate but it was certainly martial arts.”

What did Western martial arts look like? About 20 students ventured out in the excruciating heat to find out, particularly about bartitsu, an obscure Victorian martial art that’s been getting more pop culture attention lately. Most of the students that day were dressed in street clothes, though some sported vests, long skirts, or bloomers to fit the class theme. Despite two fans running and the AC on full, sweat had already broken out on many brows in the room. Still, we were ready for combat, Victorian-style.

Read the rest over on Tor.com

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Filed under Essays