Back in 1969, a 17-year-old Danish girl named Jyette was making waves as she went on a long solo hike with her dog Lassie in Denmark. The feat would be impressive (and, yes, a bit risky) in today’s world as well, but 60 years ago, a pursuit like this was even more radical.
An interview with Jyette first made the rounds in 2017 when it was shared by Danish website DR. Over the past few days, though, the interview has since resurfaced and gone viral… and not just because it’s both vintage and inspirational.
In the interview, Jyette explains her parents’ feelings on her solo journey and reveals that she got a letter from the chief of police officially stating that she was allowed to take the trek. Then, the interview takes a humorous turn when the reporter asks if she’s taken precautions to stay safe on the road. It’s then that Jyette reveals that she’s learned some jiu-jitsu for self-defense purposes.
With a fast, simple trip, Jyette sent the reporter tumbling backward into a ditch.
Amazingly, DR managed to track Jyette down all these years later. Now 68 years old, she’s a retired primary school teacher and said that while on her trek all those years ago, she either offered work in exchange for a place to stay the night or relied on the kindness of strangers who opened their homes to her. However, she sometimes had to sleep on the ground when accommodation wasn’t available.
The funny moment in the interview had been discussed beforehand, so the reporter at least knew that his subject might be demonstrating her jiu-jitsu on him.
“…Before they started filming, the journalist said that he had heard that I could [do self-defense]. I could, too. I had been [doing] that for some winters. But then he asked me if I thought I could get him down the ditch at the end of the interview. And there I answered obliquely yes,” Jyette told the DR in her native Danish. “I could also get you down, because you have to understand that jiu-jitsu is very much about getting people out of balance. If you stand well-grounded with spread legs, it is difficult to move. But if I can get you out of a secure position, then I can actually just breathe at you, then you fall.”
Still, planned or not, the result still took the TV Avisen reporter, Claus Jacobsen (now 80 years old) off guard.
“I wanted to demonstrate my abilities, so at the end of the interview I just grabbed as hard as I could,” said Jyette. “It was a grown man. But then a very, very bruised man came out of the ditch afterwards — and it was as if it was not planned.”
Jacobsen told the DR that he remembers Jyette, describing her as “a strong young woman who knew what she wanted.” And he definitely remembers his tumble into the ditch.
“It was something of a flight I got there. Even though I had planned it myself, I was quite startled. But I just knew it would work well in the feature, and it did, after all. Fortunately, I did not fight so much,” he said.
Thankfully, Jyette didn’t require her jiu-jitsu skills for the rest of her trip, which went smoothly and safely. Her plans of writing a book about the experience never materialized, but thankfully, the world now has this video to ensure that one of the highlights of her journey is forever immortalized.