Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Early Challenge Matches: East vs West

Below is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the Dragon Times.You can click here to read the whole thing.

...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!

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