The Suffragette who knew Jujitsu

Cartoon of Edith Garrud from

Edith Margaret Garrud was a martial arts instructor and suffragette who was born in 1872 in Bath. 5 years later she moved with her family to Wales. In the 1890s she married the physical culture instructor William Garrud. They moved to London where he worked in several universities teaching physical culture. She and William in 1899 met the first Jujitsu teacher in Europe Edward Barton Wright who introduced them to it. A few years later they both became pupils at a jujitsu school in Soho.  When the owner of the school left England in 1908 William became the new owner and manager of it. Edith also took over teaching the women’s and children’s classes.

It was about the same time she became involved with the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) booked her and her husband in for a jujitsu demonstration. However he became ill and so she went to the meeting alone. Emmeline Pankhurst encouraged her to speak about jujitsu instead of just doing a demonstration. This was because normally it was her did the demonstration and William who spoke about it. This led to her teaching self-defence classes to the suffragettes.  

In 1913 the Cat and Mouse Act became law. This was where suffragettes who had been force fed were released from prison but when they had recovered were captured again so they could finish their sentence. The WSPU responded by creating a thirty member all female protection unit called the Bodyguard. They were established to protect fugitive suffragettes from re-arrest. Edith trained them to use Indian clubs to fight back against the police’s truncheons and also to use jujitsu on them. These lessons took place in secret locations so they could avoid attention from the police.

In 1914 the suffrage campaign was called off so women could help with the war effort. After this Edith and her husband continued to work teaching self-defence and jujitsu classes. In 1925 they retired and sold their school. After this Edith’s life was quite quiet but on her 94th birthday there was an article about her in the Woman Magazine. Edith died 5 years later at the age of 99 in 1971.


Edith Margaret Garrud(18th October 2018),retrieved from

Williams Rachel, (25th June 2012), Edith Garrud, Women, the Guardian, retrieved from

Edith Garrud, (3.5.18), retrieved from


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