Monday, April 24, 2006

American Wrestling vs. Jujitsu

"American Wrestling vs. Jujitsu" is an old article from the Journal of Combative Sport. I mean really old - "This article originally appeared in the May 1905 issue of The Cosmopolitan." This is an interviewer's attempt to compare and contrast the Japanese art of Jujitsu with the American form of wrestling being taught at the time. I am sure that there was a great deal of mystery about any of the "Oriental" arts at that time. You may remember that this was during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, and during this time, the Empire of Japan was just coming out of fuedalism and was being forced to open itself up to the West. The mysterious arts were only becoming known by rumor and via famous exponents like President Roosevelt himself (Judo).

This reprinted interview is of "H. F. Leonard, Instructor in Wrestling at the New York Athletic Club, and K. Higashi, Instructor of Jujitsu." and their conclusions are:

"I say with emphasis and without qualification that I have been unable to find anything in jujitsu which is not known to Western wrestling. So far as I can see, jujitsu is nothing more than an Oriental form of wrestling. It is a boast of the exploiters of jujitsu that through it any weakling could render helpless even a well-trained athlete, and that, too, without inflicting any injury whatever upon the victim. It would be an entertaining day in my life indeed were I to see such a feat accomplished." – Statement by Mr. Leonard after exhibition by Mr. Higashi.

"American wrestlers are strong – much stronger than any of us pretend to be in muscular strength. After all, however, wrestling is wrestling. Against jujitsu it is mere child’s-play. I have met a number of Western wrestlers, and they are as helpless as babes against the art of jujitsu. And no one versed in the art of jujitsu is mad enough to expect anything else." – Statement by Mr. Higashi after exhibition by Mr. Leonard.
No doubt, they've both got points, but it's both interesting and sad that these statements could've still been made today and are typical of the myths that surround the old style versus stlyist arguments that still go on today (in other words, which is the superior style, or is it the fighter). Read it all. Hilarious, entertaining, and informative.

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