Edith Margaret Garrud was one of the first female professional martial arts instructors in the Western world. She trained the Bodyguard unit of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in jujutsu self-defence techniques.
Garrud was in born Bath, Somerset and later moved to Wales. She met and married William Garrud, a physical instructor specializing in gymnastics, boxing and wrestling. Together they moved to London, where they were introduced to jujutsu and became members of the Sadakazu Uyenishi’s school of jujutsu in Golden Square, Soho. Garrud and her husband ended up taking over the teaching of the school when Uyenishi left, and she appeared in a short film Ju-jutsu Downs the Footpads.
In 1908, Garrud began teaching private classes members of the suffragette movement. Five years later, the introduction of the Cat and Mouse Act and the possibility that release suffragettes could be re-arrested led the WSPU to institute a protection unit, a thirty-member, all-women unit referred to as “the Bodyguard”, the “Jiujitsuffragettes” and the “Amazons”, to protect fugitive suffragettes from re-arrest. Garrud trained the Bodyguard unit in jujutsu in a series of secret locations to escape the detection of the police. The Bodyguard unit were able to successfully stage escapes and rescues using tactics like decoys and disguises to evade the police.
The Bodyguard unit was disbanded at the onset of WWI when suffrage actions were suspended to support the British Government during the war. Edith and William Garrud continued to work as self-defence instructors until their retirement in 1925.