Judo: The Japanese Method

Women in Judo

When jūjutsu was introduced to Britain at the turn of the 20th century, it was actively promoted to women. Based on techniques where the opponent’s weight is used against them, it was considered an excellent way for women to defend themselves.

Women like Emily Watts and Edith Garrud became pioneers, learning directly from the Japanese masters and teaching other women. In 1906 Watts wrote The Fine Art of Jujutsu, one of the earliest books on technique in the English language. Garrud became a jūjutsu instructor to the Women's Social and Political Union, better known as the suffragettes.

During the 1930s Sarah Mayer (1896-1957), who had been training at the Budokwai, travelled to Tokyo and was given unprecedented access to the elite male enclaves of the Kōdōkan, not only practising with the men, but bathing with them too! She became the first Western woman to be awarded the honour of black belt.

However, it was not until 1992 that female jūdoka first competed for medals at the Olympic Games.

Click on the images below to find out more or visit the exhibition gallery by clicking on the link to the right.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR WOMEN IN JUDO

  • 'It is Quite Impossible to Adequately Conceal Oneself in a Bucket: Women and the Japanese Martial Arts in the Early 20th Century' by Dr Amanda Callan-Spenn, Biographer and historian, 29th September 2021

  • Victorian Self-Defence by Dr Emelyne Godfrey

  • Sarah Mayer's letters from Japan by Dr Amanda Callan-Spenn


Women in Judo