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Women in Martial Arts: Edith Garrud

Today jui jitsu is a fairly commonly used term, most people understand that it is a form of martial arts. At Crabapple Martial Arts Academy we teach Shintoyoshin Kai Jiu Jitsu specifically in our dojo. However, this basic understanding was not common during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. At that time jui jitsu was just beginning to be introduced to England. Edith Garrud was one of the reasons why it is now a common term.

Edith Garrud

The name Edith Garrud might be familiar to some people today due to the 2020 movie Enola Holmes. What some people do not know is that she was a real person. While the story of Enola Holmes is a work of fiction it had some truth to it. Though not black, Edith Garrud was a suffragette in 1900 Britten who ran a jiu jitsu dojo in London. She was even smaller than the movie showed, being 4’11” in real life, and, compared to her most famous opponents, very short. She is most known for going up against members of the police who were required to be at least 5’10” at the time.

Edith Garrud, professional jujitsu instructor demonstrating moves

Jui Jitsu Journey

At age 27 Edith and her husband were introduced to the art of jui jitsu by an Englishman who was trying to bring the art to London from Japan. Her instruction started at the first Japanese martial arts school in Europe. She continued learning from the Japanese master Sadakazu Uyenishi when he opened his own school. Eventually, when he returned to Japan she and her husband took over the dojo before she opened her own a year later in 1909.

Edith Garrud was a martial arts instructor in the early 1900’s Britten. She was a teacher of Jui Jitsu who had a main focus of teaching women and children to defend themselves. Garrud was undoubtedly a pioneer for British women of the time. She was the first British woman to teach jui jitsu. One of the first female martial arts instructors in the Western World.

She did famous demonstrations of the art of jui jitsu, including stage self-defense scenarios as suffrage theatre performances that used costumes and props. Often her husband would play a police officer for these demonstrations. Along with this she would invite members of the audience to come up and test themselves against her. Additionally, on one memorable occasion, a policeman at a demonstration called her “a little dot of a woman”. After which he ended up being thrown and landing on the back of his head, thoroughly beaten.



During her time teaching she joined the Women’s Freedom League in support of women’s suffrage. From there she started teaching members of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) privately to help them protect themselves from assaults to break up protests. She put great emphasis to those she taught that the goal is to protect themselves and not to attack others.

In an essay for Votes for Women

“It is the Japanese fine art of jujutsu or self-defense that has proved more than a match for mere brute force, and is, therefore, not only a good accomplishment, but a necessary safeguard for the woman who has to defend herself through life . . . . physical force seems the only thing in which women have not demonstrated their equality to men, and whilst we are waiting for the evolution which is slowly taking place and bringing about that equality, we might just as well take time by the forelock and use science, otherwise ju-jitsu.”

News clip showing drawn demonstrations of jiu jitsu titled "The newest suffragette terror"

The Bodyguard

From this, she later trained a group of suffragettes in hand-to-hand to become a group known as The WSPU’s Bodyguard. The Bodyguards had one duty, protect their leader from the police after being released under the Cat and Mouse Act.

Garrud taught the group jui jitsu and tricks to outsmart their opponents. They used tactics such as decoys and barbed wire set up to trip police coming onto the stage. Between these things, they were able to help keep Pankhurst out of jail for much longer than anyone at the time would have guessed.


Edith Margerate Garrud was a beloved teacher in her time and is still remembered today. There is a plaque outside of the house she used to live in that commemorates her and the lasting effect she had on women’s right to vote. Edith Garrud died in 1971 at the age of 99.

Edith Garrud 1872-1971 The suffragette that knew jiu-jitsu lived here


For more Women in Martial Arts check out these posts!

Women in Martial Arts: Onna-musha

Women in Martial Arts: Sarah Mayer

Women in Martial Arts: Wing Chun

For more about modern jiu jitsu check out our post about its history and Crabapple Martial Arts Academy has been selected the nation’s #1 martial arts schools for SIX YEARS IN A ROW by the American Budokai International!

Founded in 2013 by Mr. C. Matthew White is a 5th-degree Black Belt in Karate and 6th-degree Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu, and Master Instructor. Crabapple Martial Arts Academy has Karate lessons for pre-school children to elementary kids ages 4 and up. These classes are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need – specialized for each age group – for school excellence and later success in life.

Crabapple Martial Arts Adult Karate training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program. This is for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at or call directly at 770-645-0930. You can also visit our website at

About C. Matthew White, Renshi:  Matt is a fifth-degree black belt in a traditional Japanese and Okinawan Martial Arts – Shuri Ryu Karatedo. He is also a sixth-degree black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu – Shintoyoshin Kai Jiu Jitsu. He is a master instructor with the title of Renshi, which means Scholar in Japanese.  Matt has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Physiology. He has been training and teaching martial arts for over 27 years. He has owned Crabapple Martial Arts Academy since 2013. Renshi White is a motivational speaker and educator, and teaches seminars in bullying, business, and martial arts training.

Crabapple Martial Arts Academy Headquarters is in Alpharetta, Georgia at 12315 Crabapple Road., Suite 124, Alpharetta GA 30004. You can locate the Chief Instructor, Sensei Robert Reed there or directly at (770) 645-0930.


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