The Suffragette Who Knew Jiu-Jitsu: Edith Garrud


by James Eke

Edith Garrud won’t leave my mind.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast on her, stop reading and listen to Warrior’s Way Podcast episode 36.

Go ahead, I’ll still be here when you return.


Oh, you’re back. Thanks for listening (leave a review!). Hopefully you got something out of it. I know I did.

Edith to me is the best of what the martial arts and a good martial arts instructor is all about.

Imagine being her. You train in this little-known thing called Jiu-Jitsu, have been taught by some of the true cream of the crop Jiu-Jitsu black belts that the art has, folks who have had their skills amplified by training collectively with the genius that was Jigoro Kano who wanted to see Jiu-Jitsu not just improve but become something amazing. Eventually Kano would found a new offshoot of Jiu-Jitsu the world now knows as Judo. Others, like Mitsuyo Maeda would eventually travel to Brazil and help lay the foundation for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Edith however, took the lessons she learned and decided to give it to those who needed it the most – women being beaten and killed in the UK for wanting nothing more than to be allowed to vote and be seen as a useful part of society.

She taught these women in secret so that they could protect themselves as well as the leadership of the Suffragette movement.

My teacher Dan Inosanto has long reminded us that a fighter doesn’t necessarily bring anything to the world while an instructor builds community and empowers people. A good instructor changes lives.

Edith Garrud understood this. 

She empowered the lives of the women she taught. 

For them this wasn’t some fantasy or pastime, this was Jiu-Jitsu learned to defend themselves against bigger and stronger people who wanted to put them down, keep them down and never allow them to rise. 

Hopefully history and more importantly, the future, will remember the work done by Edith Garrud.

There aren’t many like her.

Truth is, we need more of people like her.

Are you like her?

Do you help the people around you to become more?

Do you help others?

Do you train even when it is easier not to?

Do you lead others to aspire for more?

Those of us who train in Jiu-Jitsu do so on the shoulders of the great people who have come before us — people like Edith Garrud. 

Next time you choose not to go to class, the next time you don’t help someone out, the next time you put yourself first, think of Edith Garrud. Think of her and those women, not really all so long ago who not only loved Jiu-Jitsu but were forced to train in secret. Women who trained knowing that they likely would have to use the skills they were developing against people who wanted them to just go away and be silent. 

The next time you are anything other than everything Jiu-Jitsu and training is about, think about Edith and what she would say. Or better yet, ask yourself what Edith Garrud would do.


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