During the early 1900s Georges Dubois had received attention for his exploits as a highly accomplished Savate – French boxing instructor, professor of fencing and dueling along with being an instructor in Defense dans la Rue.
For a period of time mixed competitions pairing dissimilar fighting arts against one another had become increasing popular in France, especially Paris. The notion that Savate, which was characterized by operating within specific combat distances, could overcome any number of contingencies was a common misconception supported by its most respected professors.
This belief, probably fueled by French pride more than anything else, would prove to be Dubois undoing.
On October 26, 1905 a large group of Parisian aristocracy met at the French suburb of Courbevoie to attend what would become a highly publicized contest between Jiu-jitsu exponent Ernest Regnier and Georges Dubois representing Savate-French boxing.
The encounter lasted less than sixty seconds, and was described unceremoniously by the ‘Decatur Daily Herald’ as- “the limit of freak matches”. Dubois took the initiative by attacking with what some newspapers report as a low kick, others as a chest kick. Needless to say the kick failed to stop Regnie who managed to avoid it and grasp Dubois around the waist prior to throwing him to the ground and applying the arm bar referred to as juji gatame. Dubois had learnt a major lesson in defeat and that is, individual systems dominated in the specific range they were designed to operate in.
As a result of this match, and many others to be contested, newspapers around the globe fueled the debate to whether one method was superior to the other- the results always proved inconclusive.
Joseph Renaud viewed his opinions on the matter-
“One question the reader may have in mind is this: what is the best- French boxing, English boxing or Jiu- Jitsu?
The answer is very simple these different methods apply to different situations, sometimes you will have to use one, sometimes the other. The distance where you are from the adversary will indicate the things you employ.
Don’t be impressed by the mixed matches that are often organized. Last year in Paris, and also in the country, we observed Jiu- Jitsu against free style boxing, French boxing against English boxing, English boxing against Jiu Jitsu, and we nearly had saber against the epee. When will we see bayonet against the lasso or the club against the axe?”
Dubois would eventually write his own manual on the subject of Defense dans la Rue. Printed in 1918 and entitled “Comment Se Défendre” his manual covers a wide scope of subjects relating to personal defense including- pre-conflict skills, improvised weapons, unarmed combat against single and multiple adversaries, the use of Savate kicking, strikes at the corps a corps distance and the more practical elements of Jiu-jitsu.
Additional subjects covered within “Comment Se Défender” include defense on the ground, 1st aid, house fires, situations involving a runaway horse, confronting burglars, entering a house in the process of being burgled, fires in the theatre, epee, affaires of honor and preparations for a duel.
The Defense dans la Rue Home page highly recommends the following link to the on-line version of Dubois’s manual – Comments Se Défendre.