View Full Version : Faribairn

29th January 2001, 17:41
I'm trying to find written references to Fairbairn's martial arts training in Shanghai before he compiled his police approach, Defendu (I believe).

Hopefully somewhere it is documented, his teachers names, etc.

I found your review, October 2000 of L. Martin, Ease of Restraint: An Aid to Law Enforcement Officers (Britain: Self-published, 1992), 90 pages, about 450 B&W photographs. No ISBN. on your EJMAS site.

Although he was graded 2-dan in Kodokan judo, the famous hand-to-hand combat pioneer W.E. Fairbairn actually trained in Shinnoshin-do jujutsu. And this book describes Shinnoshin-do jujutsu as taught in Britain by L. Martin from 1949 to the early 1990s.

And from Mr. Hawkins:

The book has huge potential, as technically it is far superior to the majority of the self-defence books on the market. The author has extensive experience in jujutsu, studying the traditional style of Shin-no-Shindo Ryu, a style that originated as a police system in Osaka, Japan during the 1500s and was the first art practiced by W.E. Fairbairn of Shanghai Municipal Police and World War II combatives fame.

I'm curious if these references are quotes or found in the book or have they been added into the review by you folks to clarify things for us and to help us make historical connections?

I'm also curious as to why I have it in my mind that he trained in pa kua for awhile and, if he did, is there a reference to this training extant?


Joseph Svinth
29th January 2001, 20:06
Those quotes were added by Neil and myself for context.

Fairbairn's nidan grading has been verified through the Kodokan.

1-dan: 14 Dec 1926
2-dan: 18 Feb 1931

Pete Robins can probably put you in touch with additional folks in Britain who are researching Fairbairn and Sykes.

For Fairbairn's background in Chinese MA, start with RW Smith's "Martial Musings" and Allan Pittman's articles in JAMA.

You of course have seen the thread on WWII CQB at BladeForums. If you have access to them, see also Cassidy's articles in "Soldier of Fortune." Cassidy had another article called "The Fairbairn Manual of Knife Fighting" that appeared online in 1999 and then promptly disappeared from the Net.

The "North-China Herald" and the Shanghai Metropolitan Police records in the National Archives are primary sources for a lot of this, I'd guess. The North-China Herald is on microfilm, and so, I believe, are the SMP archives.

29th January 2001, 22:05

I haven't figured out JAMA yet, (Peter mentioned it) so I'll get onto the other refs.

Neil Hawkins
29th January 2001, 23:24

I'll have to check when I get home, but I believe there was a reference to Fairbairn and Shin-no-shindo Ryu in the history section of "Beginning Jiu-jutsu" by James Shortt, he is also a CQB instructor and has extensive experience in military combatives.

I'll look it up tonight.


Neil Yamamoto
29th January 2001, 23:37
I have the Fairbairn text from the net if anyone is interested. Email me if you are.

Joseph Svinth
30th January 2001, 06:38
Ted --

JAMA = *Journal of Asian Martial Arts*. Try Volume 6:2 (1997), "William E. Fairbairn: British pioneer in Asian martial arts". So far as I know, back issues are still available.

Directly, see also:

Cassidy, William L. "The Art of Silent Killing, WWII British Commando Style," *Soldier of Fortune*, July 1979

-----. "Fairbairn in Shanghai," *Soldier of Fortune*, September 1979

Indirectly, also see:

Martin, Brian G. *The Shanghai Green Gang: Politics and Organized Crime 1919-1937* (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996)

Sergeant, Harriet. *Shanghai: Collision Point of Cultures 1918-1939* (New York: Crown Publishers, 1990)

Wakeman, Fred Jr. *Policing Shanghai 1927-37* (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995; first edition 1955)

FWIW, living where you do, UBC is probably your best source of Asian newspapers on microfilm. Note that interlibrary loan might get them delivered to someplace closer to the house.

30th January 2001, 16:11
Wow, too cool,

thanks so much.

Joseph Svinth
31st January 2001, 09:09
When reading microfilm, bring a roll of dimes for the printer, and assume 1-2 hours per roll. If you can maintain a sustained rate of more than 4 rolls per day, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

Meanwhile, don't forget my good friend Google. Not all of these are directly relevant to Fairbairn and Sykes, but all are relevant to an understanding of the SMP.

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ealac/gradconf/abstracts96/24perversion.html ("Regulating Indecency: the Moral Role of the Shanghai Municipal Police, 1920-1940")

[Edited by Joseph Svinth on 01-31-2001 at 04:35 AM]

31st January 2001, 16:51
Good grief!!

My google got a couple of your EJMAS refs and that was about it...

Ahh, that which separates the pro from the dilitante.

Neil Hawkins
31st January 2001, 21:33
As always Ted, ask and you shall recieve, and recieve, and recieve! That's why an article I suggested to Joe a few months ago looks like a book now! :D

Anyway, I could not find the reference I was looking for but what I do know is...

Fairbairn was beaten up quite badly in Shanghai, he awoke in hospital with a note beside him advertising a Jiu Jitsu school. (This story has been related in two or three seperate texts that I have seen, most notably Martial Musings by Bob Smith, the date isn't listed but it was possibly around 1915)

He began training under Okada Sensei, who was a Shin-no-shindo Ryu (sometimes seen as shinnoshindo ryu) practicioner now aligned with Kano and the kodokan. He graded to second Dan, and travelled to Japan where he trained with Y. Yamashita at the Kodokan.

He attained his 1st Dan in 1926, and his 2nd in 1931.

It is not unreasonable to believe that Okada, I have not been able to find any other details about him, was a Shin-no-shindo instructor who gave grades in Judo. Instructors in my own style of Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu taught our system in conjunction with Judo until the 1930's, their grades ratified by the Kodokan.

Fairbairn also trained with Cai Jingdong, another elusive character who was supposedly an instructor at the Imperial Palace. It is thought that he started training with Cai after he started Judo, but there would have been a number of instructors available to the Shanghai Police and so he may have started training as early as 1907 when he joined the force.

His first book was published in 1925, so he had a firm grasp of fighting by then.

Hope this helps.



2nd February 2001, 08:01
If anyone tracks down the two Cassidy articles I would really like a copy.

More Stuff:
Fairbairn’s Shodan and Nidan certs. are reproduced in Scientific Self-Defense as are his Sankyu cert. (awarded Jan. 1919) and his entrance cert. (Dec. 8, 1918 guaranteed by Tamehachi Ogushi).

There is also a note on page ix to the effect that he had made a scientific study of:
“Japanese Jui-jitsu” and the claim he is the first foreigner living outside of Japan to be awarded a Black Belt Degree by the Kodokan.
Chinese “boxing” from Tsai Ching Tung (aged 83 [in 1931] former instructor to retainers of late Dowager Empress at the Imperial Palace, Peking.

Also of interest on Fairbairn in Shanghai is “The First Commando Knives” by Yeaton, Yeaton, and Applegate 1996 Phillips Pubs. NJ
“Quick or Dead” Cassidy 1978 Paladin that includes a bibliography of all Cassidy (should we call him Butch for his tendency to disappear and reappear) could find by Fairbairn.

[Edited by Walker on 02-02-2001 at 03:07 AM]

47th ronin
3rd February 2001, 02:09
Alan Pittman's article in JAMA would seem to put the beating in Shanghai around 1907. There is a picture of Fairbairn and Okada, posted as 1908. It also mentions Fairbairn studied with Okada for 3-1/2 years. Assuming this is right, his training would have stopped around 1910-1911.

Again, Pittman states Fairbairn started stuying at the Kodokan in 1918.

Each question about Fairbairn seems to raise another question. Is a Kodokan certificate signed only by the head instructor? If not, is his teachers name listed? Would he have tested under Jigoro Kano? If Okada was aligned with the Kodokan, are there any other students that anyone knows of who were graded in Judo? With certificates signed by Kano? Were all Kodokan certificates signed by Kano at that time? I think I have asked more than enough questions for one post, I'll stop now:)

Joseph Svinth
3rd February 2001, 04:06
On the old certificates I've seen, hanko were used to officiate the promotion. While these seals were doubtless kept under close scrutiny, I would be shocked to learn that they were the personal seals of any individual.

At least during the 1930s, testing at the Kodokan was not normally conducted by Kano himself, and it was considered quite an honor just to get your picture taken with him.

For shodan/nidan, there were monthly testings and anyone who wanted could come to Tokyo to participate. Read R.W. Smith's "Martial Musings" and you will see how this was done ca. 1960; read Jim Yoshida's book and you will see how this was done ca. 1941. There isn't much difference in the processes, so probably it was similar ca. 1930.

The Kodokan enrollment books have a note for Fairbairn saying: Nationality: English, Club: Shanghai. Name, date of rank, club, and nationality. In this the forms are not much different from census records: they tell you grandpa was there, but that's about all they tell you about grandpa.

During the 1930s, Shanghai policemen received higher dan-grade at the Kodokan than Fairbairn. The fellow mentioned at the Budokwai link I gave above reached 3-dan in Tokyo, for example, while Paddy O'Neill made it to 4-dan. If interested in following up, standard genealogical research should be possible. Note, however, that it is no easier documenting someone else's grandpa than it is documenting your own.

Now, all that said, Messrs. Cassidy, Pittman, Smith and the rest do not have all the answers. Nor do I. So continuing to ask the questions of us isn't going to turn up anything more exciting than speculation. To learn more about Fairbairn in Shanghai, one must go beyond what is already known, and venture into the wilds of original research...

3rd February 2001, 04:42

If you go to EJMAS and click on the Journal of Non-Lethal Combatives you will see portions of a pamphlet series by Captain Allan C. Smith, Regular U.S. Army, reproduced by joe Svinth. In this series Smith claims that he attained his 1st dan at the Kodokan in 1918, making him at least one foreigner receiving his Shodan, before Fairbairn.


Joseph Svinth
3rd February 2001, 05:16
On April 3, 1913, in an interview published in Japan Times, Jigoro Kano said:

"Who was the first foreigner to study judo at my gymnasium in Tokyo? Well, so far as I can recollect now, I think the late Mr. [F.W.] Eastlake -- professor of English, you know -- was the first foreigner who asked me to teach him judo. It was I think, in 1885. Then a retired British Major, named Hughes, came to study at my gymnasium. As for their work, they studied the principles rather than the practical side of the art.

"At present, there are three foreign students in my institution who come regularly to practice. They are Mr. [D. T.] Weed, an English [sic -- he had US citizenship] gentleman, Mr. [E.J.] Harrison, of the Japan Advertiser, and Mr. [W.E.] Steers, an English gentleman. Perhaps Mr. Steers is the most earnest foreign student I ever had… he came to Japan for the sole purpose of studying judo. In consideration of his adventure and sincerity, I have been conducting his training myself.

D.T. Weed had an American father and a Japanese mother, and lived in Japan his whole life. He became a professor of English, as I recall, but in 1913 he was ranked 2-dan.

E.J. Harrison is of course well-known. He left Japan ranked 3-dan.

Steers first went to Japan in 1903. There he met E.J. Harrison, and with Harrison he trained in jujutsu until returning to London in 1904. Once back home he quickly joined S.K. Uyenishi’s judo club at Golden Square in Soho, and after Uyenishi left Europe the ever-enthusiastic Steers built a house that included a judo dojo. In 1911, Steers sold his house and went to Tokyo to enroll at the Kodokan, where he earned his 1-dan in 1912.

Steers was in his fifties when he started judo, so his most important contributions to British judo were administrative rather than technical. For example, he was the Budokwai’s first Honorary Secretary. Furthermore, people he got to join the club included E.J. Harrison and E.H. Nelson, the man who had previously organized Uyenishi’s Text Book of Ju-Jutsu as Practised in Japan (London: Link House, 1905). Finally, it was through his efforts that Gunji Koizumi, the Budokwai’s founder, was introduced to Jigoro Kano in 1920.

Sambo pioneer B. S. Oshchepkov started studying at a Russian Orthodox school in Japan in 1911. He earned his 1-dan in 1912 and 2-dan in 1913.

According to the frontispiece of his book reproduced at EJMAS: "Presentation of the Black Belt to Captain Allan Smith at the Kodokwan (Central Jujitsu College), Tokyo, Japan, January 9, 1916. From a painting by a Japanese artist." (Note that when the Scottish judoka George Kerr wore his kilt to the Kodokan 44 years later, the Japanese kept trying to see what was underneath, and afterwards Kerr swore not to do that again.)

Anyway, at least five people who were not of Japanese ethnicity preceded Fairbairn at the Kodokan. (If we include Americans and Canadians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry, of course the numbers get ridiculous.)

As for near contemporaries, in 1922, a Norwegian diplomat named Lauritz Grønvold started judo at the Kodokan. On leaving Japan six years later, Grønvold received his black belt at a ceremony attended by the Emperor, making him the first (and perhaps only) European to be so honored. Also, in 1930, Shanghai Municipal Police constable Dermot "Paddy" O'Neill got his 1-dan in Tokyo.

Neil Hawkins
4th February 2001, 04:32
What about A.J Ross (later DR A.J. Ross)? Wasn't he with Harrison at the Kodokan? I thought he was there in the very early 1900's and graded 1st Dan.


Joseph Svinth
4th February 2001, 05:35
According to RW Smith's "Martial Musings," pp. 76-77, Ross went to Japan in 1901, at which time he was aged 8. He was coached in judo by Harrison, and received 1-dan grading before leaving for England to study medicine. The date of departure and the grading authorities are not given, but presumably this would have been before WWI. Anyway, Ross subsequently emigrated to Australia, and introduced judo there in 1928.

So yes, he also predates Fairbairn. (As presumably, do any Austrians and Germans graded in judo while living in Japanese prisoner of war camps during WWI. See the discussion between Robert Reinberger and myself in "Jujutsu".)

[Edited by Joseph Svinth on 02-04-2001 at 12:40 AM]