English suffragette Edith Maragret Garrud (1872-1971) was a professional jiu jitsu instructor, writer, fight choreographer, and leader of the “Bodyguard”, an elite all-woman fighting group that protected members of Emmeline Pankhurst’s group, the Woman’s Political Suffrage Union (WPSU).
In 1899, Garrud and her husband, a boxing and wrestling instructor, were introduced to the martial art of jiu-jitsu by Edward William Barton-Wright, the very first jiu jitsu teacher in Europe. By 1908, she and her husband took over Sadakazu Uyenishi’s Golden Square School in London when the famed instructor wanted to return to his native Japan. Garrud taught the classes for women and children. She and her husband did popular exhibitions of the art and wrote articles about it for newspapers and magazines. Garrund choreographed fight scenes for a play and had a film role.
In 1908, she also started teaching suffragettes how to defend themselves against police. The term “suffrajitsu” came into use. By 1913, after the police continually arrested, jailed, released, and arrested leaders of the British suffrage movement over and over again, Garrund stepped into form the “Bodyguard” team. This team not only had several hand-to-hand fights with the police department, they also helped suffragettes escape through the use of subterfuge and decoys. Once the police thought they had arrested Emmeline Pankhurst and when they lifted her veil it was another woman--a decoy. The real Pankhurst had escaped arrest.
Here are some short vintage films of women using Jiu Jitsu as defense
“Hints to the Ladies on Jiu-Jitsu (1926)
“The Weaker Sex” (1933)
Women Self Defense (1947)