Professor Bill Rankin

Aka Bara

“The Gentle Man of Ju Jitsu”

1914 – 2006

Prof. W. Rankin was a 10th Dan in Ju Jitsu with 78 years experience, starting serious training in 1928, he has always refused to be interviewed, prefering his anonymity.

This article was compiled with his permission, by Prof. Andy Manwaring who was one of his personal students, from years of conversations about his background and training, which evolved into his own style Lan-Kin-Fa Ju Jitsu. Lan-Kin-Fa includes pressure point & nerve centres, close quarters combat (including many small joint locks), as well as the conventional Ju-Jitsu techniques. In my years of training in Ju-Jitsu, no one has shown me the depth of knowledge that he has, in the working of Ju-
Jitsu techniques and the anatomy of the body.

Prof. Bill Rankin with Prof. Andy Manwaring

Bill started his Ju-Jitsu training in 1928, at the age of 14, under his father who was a student of Yukio Tani, one of the first Ju-Jitsu Masters to bring the Art to the UK. His training started in their back garden, with a Gi made from an old rain coat and a mat that was a canvas tarpaulin laid over some loose turned soil, which of course compacted over time.

At this time the only place in the UK where Bill could further his training was in London, which meant him travelling there every other weekend to continue his training, but it did enable Bill to train under some of the greatest Ju-Jitsu Masters outside of Japan, such as the aforementioned Yukio Tani, Prof. S. K. Uyenishi and Prof. Gunji Koizumi, the latter was the founder of the Budokwai in 1918, the London Judo/Budo Headquarters. Koizumi was to European Judo what Kano (the founder of Judo) was to World Judo, and like Kano he was also a Ju-Jitsu Master, often giving Ju-Jitsu demonstrations at Judo Tournaments.

The training was very strict, with often only one or two techniques taught in a whole weekend. The grading’s were also strict with Bill falling his first through one foot being out of place in a stance and the break falls for his yellow belt were to be done on a cobble stone street.

Bi gained his Shodan (1st Dan) in 1938, but something got in the way of him getting his Nidan (2nd Dan), it was the Second World War, with him already a member of the local Territorial Army Artillery unit, Bill was soon enlisted, but it was infantry soldiers that were needed, so Bill was sent to the Border Regiment for basic training. Unarmed combst was part of the training, during which one of the instructors spotted his experience and put him in for an Unarmed combat course. It was while on this course Bill happened to makes a fool out of the Sergeant Instructor, who had claimed his restraining hold was escape proof, little did he know the capabilities of one of his students. The Sergeant sent Bill to see one of the officers, who decided to test him out, with a pick axe handle, after which the course instructors decided not to let him retum to his unit, instead they took him back with them to the then Special service, soon to be the Commandos, where he was assigned to 4 Commando, the Commandos training unit, where he taught Unarmed combat and Physical Training.

Bill took part in one combat mission with the Commandos, into Norway, before travelling to India, training the troops aboard the ship on the way over. In India Bill was attached to the Indian Army Physical Training Corp, as an Instructor. It was also while in India Bill had the opportunity to train in Tai Chi, including visiting a monastery in Nepal where he learnt meditation and took part in the monk training, a trip that took three weeks traveling there and three weeks back.

After the war Bill went onto gain his 2nd Dan and continued his Ju-jitsu training, as well as gaining a 2nd Dan in Okinawan Karate, 4th Dan in Judo, 3rd Dan in Aikido, instructing Tai Chi and trained as an acupuncturist.

Bill accepting his award on Hearts of Gold

Bill never charged for his teaching and in 1989 he was presented an award on Esther Rantzen’s “Hearts of Gold’ TV show, for his time spent teaching local nurses and pensioners self defence. It was while on this show he was also had his 9th Dan Ju-Jitsu recognised by the AMA. In 1994, while on one of his many visits to the United States, he was awarded his 10th Dan Ju-Jitsu by Prof. Wally Jay 10th Dan, Founder of Small Circle Ju-Jitsu, and his Panel. He was also been inducted as a member of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council.

Prof. Rankin never promoted himself and hence was currently better known in some of the USA than he was in the UK.

He passed away at the age of 91 years old, he had been training in Ju-Jitsu for over 77 years and right up till the end he was still training some weeks at our local club as well as on a few courses a year. This Article is not aimed at promoting Prof. Rankin, just to give him some recognition for his years of dedication to Martial Arts.