Self-Defense for Women
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Source - Issue 97 - Spring - 2019 - Click for Contents

Issue 97 Spring 2019
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The writer Joanna Bourke introduces a selection of images demonstrating self defence for women. These pictures were chosen following a period of research into ‘how to’ photographs in the Getty Images Archive and from other collections Getty Images represents.

Thanks to Brian Doherty and Melanie Hough at the Getty Images archive for their help with this portfolio. And to Bob Thomas at Popperfoto for making the Beldam originals available as part of the research.

Photographs made for the book The Fine Art of Jujutsu (see below), published in 1906. The photographs show the author Emily Watts demonstrating her techniques with different sparring partners and on her own. In these photographs she is pictured with Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford who also provided the location, the grass tennis courts at Woburn Abbey (visible in the background). As well as being a Duchess, Mary Russell was a supporter of the suffragettes and in later life became a long distance aviator. She died in 1937, aged 71, when her aircraft disappeared over the North Sea.

The book was a collaboration between Watts and the photographer George Beldam who took ‘three or four hundred’ photographs of which 141 were included. Beldam played cricket to a high level, for the MCC and Middlesex, between 1900 and 1907 (ie. at the time these pictures were made) and pioneered a form of ‘action photography’ in which he photographed cricketers from close range apparently in the middle of a game. These resulted in the books Great Batsman: Their Methods at a Glance (1905) and Great Bowlers and Fielders: their Methods at a Glance (1907). Watts expressed her gratitude to Beldam in the introduction to the book, "Whatever merit there may be in this book belongs so obviously to the photographs that I cannot sufficiently thank Mr. Beldam for the generous way in which he has collaborated with me..." She also emphasised the novel ability of the photographs to freeze action, "I feel that it is almost necessary to apologise for my ferocious expression in many of the photographs, but when one enters into any sort of sport in dead earnest, the camera catches and fixes expressions that are mere flashes in reality, and which are hardly noticed by an onlooker. At my special request they have been left untouched and unsoftened in any way, so that from beginning to end reality should be the keynote... To the eye of the expert there will be some faults, but personally I do not think this detracts from the value of the photographs; on the contrary, considering the rapidity with which they were taken, the faults add the touch of reality and movement, that have been in all other photographs on the subject so painfully wanting."

These images are reproduced from the original glass plate negatives in the Beldam collection held by the picture library Popperfoto.

A ‘Lesson In the Art of Womanly Self-Defense’ - Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York 
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A ‘Lesson In the Art of Womanly Self-Defense’ - Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York 
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A ‘Lesson In the Art of Womanly Self-Defense’ - Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York 
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‘Policewomen practice Jiu Jitsu. Photo shows Mrs. Hamilton, who is in charge of the class, giving instructions in how to handle the women annoyers. After they get their muscles hardened a little more the policewomen think they will be able to make arrests without the aid of accompanying masculine detectives.’ - Bettmann, 22 March, 1924 
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Gaby Deslys and S.K. Eida perform ‘the Ju-Jitsu waltz’ at the Gaiety - Image: Bassano Ltd., Property of ullstein bild 
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Gaby Deslys and S.K. Eida perform ‘the Ju-Jitsu waltz’ at the Gaiety - Image: Bassano Ltd., Property of ullstein bild 
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‘If you want to earn some time throw a policeman! By courtesy of Mrs. Gerrud, the wellknown Suffragette and practiser of ju-jitsu, we are able to show how an ultra-militant Suffragette skilled in the art of Japanese wrestling might dispose of a policeman did she so wish.’ - The Sketch, 6 July, 1910 
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Boston woman sleeping with umbrella at hand for self-protection during strangling scare - Photography by Art Rickerby, The LIFE Picture Collection, 1963 
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‘A small, battery-powered self-protection device developed by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is worn on the wrist and can be easily activated to drive off an attacker with an electric shock.’ - Photography by Franklin Howard, BIPs, 1981 
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First position of the Shimoku defence showing the thrower in the act of gripping the opponent’s right ankle 
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Second position of the Shimoku defence showing how the thrower pushes back with the right arm while lifting and pulling forward opponent’s foot with the left hand 
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Detail of first position of Ushiro eri showing the swing round with all the weight on the left leg 
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Detail of the second position of Ushiro eri showing how the right leg is brought forward preparatory to the trip 
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Detail of the third position of Ushiro eri showing what the position should be after the kick back and the wrench of the hand from the collar 
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The Duchess of Bedford demonstrates the Hizaguruma 
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The second position of the Kugenuki 
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The second position of the Kugenuki
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Third position of the Kugenuki showing the easy position of the thrower in the final collapse 
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Detail of the first position for the Utte defence 
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Detail of the third position for the Utte defence showing how the opponent should be thrown well to the left 
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First position of exercise for falling 
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First position of exercise for falling
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Second position of exercise for falling 
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Second position of exercise for falling
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Third position of exercise for falling – note that both legs shoot straight out after the leap into the air 
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Second position of second exercise for falling 
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‘Self defence classes for women at the YWCA, Kerry Lawrence (instructor) with Margaret Lumb (65) during the defence classes.’ - Photos by Kenneth Stevens of Fairfax Media, 31 March, 1987. 
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‘Self defence classes for women at the YWCA, Kerry Lawrence (instructor) with Margaret Lumb (65) during the defence classes.’ - Photos by Kenneth Stevens of Fairfax Media, 31 March, 1987. 
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‘Keys fanned through fingers can inflict injury. Valerie Goodman of Rape Crisis Centre shows self-defence technique’ - Photography by Frank Lennon for the Toronto Star, 21/09/1978 
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‘Debbie Mason practices a yell: self-defense class helps women realize their strengths and self-esteem’ - Photography by Lyn Alweis of the Denver Post, October 1981 
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