University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-553
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Early online date18 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2019


Studies relating to female participation in sport are increasing, and there is an emerging body of work regarding women in the martial arts. Seeking to continue the work of Emelyne Godfrey, Wendy Rouse, and others, this article explores the lives of three Englishwomen, Phoebe Roberts, Edith Garrud, and Sarah Mayer, operating in the early twentieth-century. Chosen primarily for their innovative promotion of the discipline, these women shared a love of judo, jujutsu, and Japanese martial arts, and although this was manifest in different ways, they are linked both temporally and through their associations with others. Through an indepth study concerning the physical and cultural aspects of each of their lives, the Japanese martial arts can be seen as a form of defence for women, as a tool of empowerment and political propaganda, and even as a means of garnering international celebrity. Focused on the lives of women outside the competitive sporting arena, the article touches upon a wide range of topics from the Music Hall era, to the fight for female suffrage as well as Anglo-Japanese relations in the inter-war period.


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