“The Georgia Wonder Meets the Great Japanese Wrestler”
One of the new students in our dojo happens to be a professional magician of note. Last evening we had a discussion that touched upon a variety of different topics. The name of “The Georgia Wonder” came up. This refers to a diminutive woman named Lulu Hurst who performed amazing feats in vaudeville acts in the latter part of the 19th century. She had many imitators and a legion of researchers who attempted to debunk her show as nothing more than physical and mind tricks. My student sent me this link about Lulu Hurst that I thought our readers might find interesting.
One of the branches of aikido, popularly known as “Ki Aikido” established by Koichi Tohei, 10th dan, uses demonstrations of such things as the “unbendable arm” and the “unliftable posture” as part of the curriculum. These are learnable skills that involve focus the mind and body in specific ways. Is this “ki power” related to what Lulu was doing in her “magnetic act”?
Lulu Hurst, also known variously as the “Little Georgia Wonder” and as the “Georgia Magnet”, was a music hall sensation during the mid-late 19th century. Claiming to possess a supernatural power of electrical or magnetic force, but in fact skilfully exploiting subtle principles of physics, anatomy and the ideomotor effect, the apparently frail “Magnet” was often matched against heavyweight strongmen, boxers and wrestlers in carefully controlled “tests” using simple props such as pool cues, wooden chairs and umbrellas. The results were often both spectacular and amusing to the “Magnet’s” many fans.
Later, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright was to produce a written expose of the “magnetic act”, including many of the feats first popularised by Lulu Hurst.
There follows an account of one of the “Georgia Magnet’s” New York performances, pitting her skills against the strength of sumo wrestler Sorakichi Matsuda….