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Western Tigers in Old Shanghai - Rusher

Western Tigers in Old Shanghai - Rusher

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Published by kilogulf59
Accounts of the Occidentals on the Shanghai Municipal Force by Jack Rusher.

For more information on this subject go to the following:
Integrated Close Combat Forum http://iccf.freeforums.org

Creative Commons license: CC0 1.0 Universal: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/legalcode
Accounts of the Occidentals on the Shanghai Municipal Force by Jack Rusher.

For more information on this subject go to the following:
Integrated Close Combat Forum http://iccf.freeforums.org

Creative Commons license: CC0 1.0 Universal: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/legalcode

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Published by: kilogulf59 on Mar 03, 2014
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03/03/2014

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Western Tigers in Old Shanghai
Jack Rusher
What follows is a bit of martial arts history research that could just as easily belong in the JMA or WMA forums, but I'm putting it here because most of the action takes place in the old Shanghai International Settlement (SIS).
Shanghai
Shanghai was partitioned from the mid-nineteenth century into multiple foreign-controlled sub-sectors. The SIS was the part controlled by American and British interests from 1854
1943. It was a crowded dockside section of the city with well over one million inhabitants (including 30K Japanese) that, like other colonial concessions, became an extremely violent, criminally active place. The Shanghai Municipal Police
 a force of ~6,000
 was tasked with maintaining order over this sprawling, opium-fueled disaster. The SMP was an international force with members from all over the world, though most of the commanding officers were British and most of the front-line foot soldiers were Chinese. Oddly, traffic wardens were mainly Sikhs.
W.E. Fairbairn
 Much has already been written about W.E. Fairbairn, more or less the inventor of modern combatives, who served as chief close quarters combat (CQC) instructor for the SMP (and, later, trained soldiers for WWII), so I'll summarize quickly: Fairbairn was an English soldier who joined the SMP in 1907, received a terrible beating at the hands of a Chinese gang, then devoted himself to martial study in order to avoid a repeat of that experience. He took Judo lessons with an instructor called Okano, a newaza specialist who had came to Judo from Takenouchi Ryu and Fusen Ryu. Fairbairn also traveled to Japan to train at the Kodokan, ultimately receiving his 2nd degree black belt in February 1931. All of his certificates are signed by Jigoro Kano. He also trained Chinese Boxing with Cui Zhendong, the instructor to the retainers of the Empress Dowager. Cui was a bagua student of Yin Fu, the primary student of the system's founder, Dong Haichuan. Cui's bagua is called wuji baguazhang, and featured
 in addition to the usual focus on palm strikes
 an usual emphasis on the claw hand shape during palm change movements. One sees this reflected in Fairbairn's books, where the palm to the chin/claw to the eyes combo is featured quite prominently. Oddly, given his diverse background, Fairbairn dedicated his book All In Fighting (1942) to Cui Zhendong (which he spelled Tsai Ching Tung), calling him a man of "terrifying prowess."
 
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The SMP was, in addition to a law enforcement organization, the first line of military defence against Chinese uprisings. By the mid-20s, large riots were becoming a significant problem in Shanghai, which led Fairbairn to create the "Reserve Unit" (a.k.a. the Riot Squad)
 the world's first SWAT unit. Those training sequences that involve shooting popup targets in dark buildings? They invented those too. There are plenty of books about Fairbairn and the SMP. The above is really only meant as an introduction so I can write a bit about three officers who served in the Reserve Unit. These fellows are like gifts from early 20th century history, so perfectly molded are they to fascinate those of us interested in the history of modern martial arts.
O'Neill, Poole and Robinson
 Gentleman and Warrior, a W.E. Fairbairn biography, mentions that "besides Fairbairn there were three other SMP officers in particular, who also found great fascination and practical use in training with the Chinese officers. They were Dermot (Pat) O'Neill, Jack Poole and J. Robinson. These three were great pals, working, socialising and training together," and that "Robinson had been a catch-as-catch-can wrestler," "Poole had been a useful professional boxer winning 67 out of 69 fights, and had been at one time sparring partner for the Italian heavyweight Primo Camera." Jack Poole's son, Mick Poole, confirms this: "My father, P.J. (Jack) Poole, Pat (Dermot) O'Neill and James were best friends all through their time in the Shanghai Municipal Police, and shared a house for most of that time."
 
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In Robert Smith's Martial Musings he quotes a letter from Donn Draeger dated Feb 16, 1966: "[ O'Neill ] is currently a rokudan by Kodokan and is a contemporary of T.P. Leggett. O'Neil began his judo in Shanghai during the early 30's. As he progressed he gained a reputation of being an aggressive fighter and willing to take on anyone. In Japan, as a godan he had the good fortune to study katame-waza with Ushijima Sensei, the teacher of the famed Masahiko Kimura and perhaps the best katame teacher in japan." What? A pro boxer, a catch wrestler and a judoka living and training together in the 20's and 30's while working for the SMP and crosstraining Chinese boxing? Why is there not an awesome action movie about these three? But wait, it gets better. They all studied Judo with the aforementioned Okano of Takenouchi Ryu and Fusen Ryu as well as Professor Yamada of the Japanese Consulate-General, and traveled to Japan to train and compete there. Here's a clipping from the North China Herald, May 15, 1935:
 about how the three of them defeated the Yokohama Police force at an impromptu tournament. It also mentions that O'Neill was the only foreign non-resident of Japan to receive his 3rd degree black belt at that time. In the end, the least accomplished judoka of the three, Jack Poole (the former pro boxer), received his 3rd dan from Mifune at the Kodokan; O'Neill his 5th dan; Robinson his 7th dan.
 Mick Poole goes on to say that his father, in addition to his career as a pro boxer, had been a fencer for the British Army. Jim Robinson, who was from Wigan, had practiced both his region's traditional wrestling and a kicking game called 'Greensleeves' that was somewhere between Savate and Purring (they wore steel-toed wooden shoes). Paddy O'Neill had grown up boxing in Cork, Ireland, until he ran away to the Far East. They were also on the SMP Rugby team. [ Weird aside: Jack Poole's identity was stolen by a fraudulent Aikidoka who made use of the other Poole's 3rd dan registration to forward his own agenda. There are ample sites debunking his claims for any interested. The real Poole taught CQC in Malaysia, then returned the UK and remained active in the Judo scene there after the war. ] Courtesy of a long thread on JudoForum, we have some more information about Jim Robinson. He was born 12 January 1902 in Wigan, Lancashire, England. We hear from some who knew him that "Mr Robinson and the others were students of Tatsukuma Ushijima famed Kodokan Grappling instructor and also Sensei to Judo legend Mas Kimura. Mr Robinson specialized in Ouchi Gari and O Soto Gari and from what I was told was a pretty good boxer as well."

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