By Roberto Pedreira
October 19, 2020
"Do you want
the power to easily defeat any human aggressor under any
circumstances?" Hell, yeah, what American adolescent male wouldn't want
that. The power can be yours. All you have to do is learn some "closely
guarded secrets." Fortunately they aren't that closely guard.
Anyone, literally, can possess them for mere pennies a day.
Does that sound
like an ad for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu? It should because it is, at least it was
back in 1998. In its defense, the Gracie family needed to pay the rent and
ads like this were the way everyone sold their VHS tapes and books.
(Actually the most successful ads were even more ludicrous, suggesting that
their target demographic was 13 year old English speaking boys who were
interested in pressure points and delayed death touches. See any
martial arts magazine from the 1990s for examples.)
But just as the
Gracie family didn't invent jiu-jitsu (As Rorion explained, "it's the
same jiu-jitsu and judo you do" (see here),
they also didn't invent jiu-jitsu mail-order, learn-at-home, marketing. It
had all been done before. The history of jiu-jitsu mail-order marketing is
amply described in Craze 2. As one would expect in a country with
high literacy rates and many mass circulation periodicals, mail-order
marketing flourished in America.
But not only in
America. In Japan too, the so-called home of jiu-jitsu. In Japan beginning
in 1907, Japanese adolescent country-boys could easily and quickly learn the
arcane and secret arts of Shintō
by joining an exclusive society that anyone could join, called the Teikoku-Shōbukai
was a hodgepodge of six different styles of jūjutsu
(respectively written ²z¬, ³;O¬;
N|¬; kS¬; áÁü¬;
as everyone knows, was the style that Jigorō
was certified in and originally taught in his "Kōdōkan."
for joining this exclusive secret society and learning its esoteric
mysteries were not many. In fact there was only one: Send money. (The same
requirements for learning the jealously guarded secrets of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
by mail.) Anyone with money was welcome to join, but most who did were young
country boys. The business was profitable and lasted until roughly
1921 when the fad petered out. It then converted into a nutritional
The company was
established by a family (two brothers
actually, named Noguchi Seihachirō
and Noguchi Kiyoshi (ìû³ªY and
Roberto will not go
into great detail about the story because it is sufficiently and succinctly
told by Yabu Kōtarō
in "Socio-historical study on the correspondence education of martial
arts: Focusing on the sales strategy of the Teikoku Shōbukai from the
late Meiji to Taisho eras." @It
is available free
of charge Here.
Closely Guarded Secrets of
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, "Order Now, Free Bonus".
(c) 2020, Roberto Pedreira. All rights