Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Jujutsu - Style over Substance

Controversy time.

I went to see a former instructor of mine who is a very dear friend. He is experiencing certain health problems. A unique clique had visited him on Saturday night which a bout of flu had prevented me from joining. When I visited aforementioned former instructor/vd friend, one of the first things he raised with me was the unique cliche's interest in the origins of the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong and my study that casts doubts over the transmitted story.

Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness (JDJMAF; Maggie de Jong and Paul Connolly (MdJ&PC)): 'The style of Ju Jutsu taught at Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness is based on Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Ju Jutsu whose origins can be traced back to 14th century Japan.'

Yes - Tsutsumi Hozan ryu (THR) is a martial tradition that can be traced back to 14th century Japan. Is the style of jujutsu taught by JDJMAF, and all those taught in schools derived from the original Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS), based on THR? Now that is a/another question.

Who cares? Obviously some people do because they are at odds to continue the association with THR. In fact, they appear to base the credibility of their teaching upon the association with the ancient martial tradition of THR. To MdJ&PC's credit, they do not appear to fall within that category as they reference the supposed historical links to THR only in passing.

What is the evidence supporting the proposition that the jujutsu taught by De Jong originated with THR? It consists entirely of De Jong's assertion that his instructors, the Saito brothers, told him that the jujutsu they were teaching him was that of THR. The same brothers whose first names De Jong never learnt.

When I raised this issue with an unnamed senior instructor with his own school now, his explanation for this anomaly referenced 'oral history'. Oral history - would you go into court to prove your case with 'he said he said'? Would that even meet the burden of proof for circumstantial evidence? How much credibility would you gain in historical circles with this sort of evidence and explanation?

Peter Clarke (Southern Cross Bujutsu), a senior, if not the senior, instructor with JDJ reflects the ambivalent nature of some with the link to THR. He is the founder of Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu Jujutsu (TJR):
The Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu Jujutsu system (TJR) is a modern martial art which traces its origins to Jan de Jong Jujutsu, the jujutsu of Minoru Mochizuki and Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu a system dating back to around late 1300 or early 1400 in Japan. ... Tracing back the history and development of martial arts systems is often difficult. ... Jan de Jong said that he started at the age of seven and graded 3rd Dan in 1939, just before leaving Indonesia for Holland. Whilst the background of his instructors is sketchy at best, he understood that their instructor was Maseo Tsutsumi.
Clarke, being a lawyer, specifically references the hear-say nature of the evidence supporting the link with THR.
Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu means Tsutsumi jujutsu from Australia. It acknowledges its foundation in Tsutsumi Hozan ryu and that its more recent genesis is from Australia with the contribution of Jan de Jong and his varied background in martial arts. TJR is not a traditional style and varies considerably from the traditional school of Tsutumi Hozan Ryu which reputedly continued in Tokyo Japan until the 1980s. Precisely what comprised Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu that was passed on by the Saito brothers to Jan de Jong remains a mystery and a source of some speculation.
Hmmm. TJR acknowledges its foundation in THR - or alleged foundation. TJR varies considerably from the traditional school of THR - a ryu which nobody has any detailed specifics on concerning what they actually taught. Precisely if what comprised THR was what the Saito brothers passed on to JDJ remains a mystery and a source of, now, a great deal of speculation.

If Clarke expresses some doubts, albeit inconsistently, with the historical origins of the jujutsu he is teaching, why then does he specifically and emphatically link his jujutsu style with those said-same historical origins? Now that is the more intersting question.

There is not a grading certificate in existance presented by JDJSDS that references THR. For the vast majority, excluding those presented to Clarke, Robert Hymus, and Connolly, they all refer to Tsutsumi Ryu Jujutsu. The latter refer to Jan de Jong Jujutsu, partly due to my petitioning supported by historical precedent for the changing of the reference to his own style of jujutsu.

Tsutsumi ryu is a completely seperate and different ryu to THR within the traditional Japanese martial arts schema. When I brought up this issue with certain senior instructors, who surprisingly were unaware of this anomoly, they suggested that Tsutsumi was an abbreviation of Tsutsumi Hozan. Was the explanation simply an example of shoehorning?

Karl Friday (in Legacies of the Sword) and Cameron Hurst (in Armed Martial Arts of Japan), two professional academics studying the martial traditions of Japan, explain that it was common for teachers to associate their schools to well-known martial traditions/schools for credibility purposes. This practice is not unheard of today, with respect to more than simply martial art schools. This fact, along with common sense, suggests adopting the auditing attitude of 'professional scepticism' (as discussed in a previous blog).

The most extreme example of associating with the historical origins of THR is Robert Hymus' Indian Ocean Dojo: 'The school teaches the strategies, tactics and techniques of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu'. There is absolutely no evidence to support this ascertain other than 'he said he said'.
It appears that the hereditary line of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu ended with Tsutsumi Masao's death, and as a comprehensive martial system the ryu effectively ceased to exist in Japan. The ryu continued to be practised outside of Japan by one of Tsutsumi Masao's students, Saito Sensei. Saito left Japan in the 1900s, and established a school of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu in central Java in the town of Semarang.
There is evidence to support the fact that the hereditary line of THR ended with Tsutsumi Masao's death, and that the comprehensive martial system and ryu effectively ceased to exist in Japan, and that Saito Sensei established a school in the town of Semarang, central Java, in the early 1900s. That is all the evidence supports. The fact that the school (including all those associated with the former JDJSDS) teaches the strategies, tactics and techniques of THR jujutsu is pure conjecture.
Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu is a complete system of heiho or martial strategy, involving a range of weapon arts that are integrated with unarmed tactics and techniques to provide a highly effective and adaptable system of fighting.
That statement is an obvious over extension of the capabilities of the jujutsu system taught by JDJ. Many of the weapons kata included within the JDJ grading system can be traced back to other martial arts systems. Traced back, if you're prepared to question and study like myself. Traced back, if you have no vested interested in preserving a historical link with an ancient martial tradition.

I have no agenda. Greg Palmer, an instructor and very dear departed friend wrote:
In 1658 Tsutsumi Yama Shironorakami Hozan broke away from the Takenouchi Ryu to begin the Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu, now usually referred to as the Tsutsumi Ryu. He did this in order to use the Reflex method of training and grading for his students.
This is reproduced on Hans de Jong's website (Hans de Jong Self Defence School). There is absolutely no evidence to support that contention. In fact, a unique feature of De Jong's teachings is the use of the 'reflex method', aka shinken shobu no kata. If it didn't come from THR, where it came from becomes a far more interesting question.

Style over substance. Form over function. For those of you simplistic thinking individuals, do not dismiss the issue. The origins of your methods matters.

The origins matter - sort of. Do you want to learn how to defend yourself by learning a system developed through the experience of combat or one that is developed by someone with no experience of combat? If you answer in the affirmative, do you want to know that person/styles combat experience to better assess the merits of that system (and to your particular circumstance; a qualification that is often overlooked).

This essay is in no way aimed at, nor accomplishes for other than those defensive inviduals, in diminishing De Jong's teachings. On the contrary. It enhances them. Jigoro Kano, found of Kano jujutsu, later Kodokan judo, did not hesitate in acknowledging the source of his insights. In fact, he specifically acknowledges the source of his insights that are included within his system. The evidence would suggest that De Jong developed his grading system to a large, if not entire, degree. Unfortunately, he seemed reluctant to take credit. Possibly because of the credibility link with historical origins and present practicalities. For me, I have far greater respect for De Jong if, as I suspect, he developed his entire system himself, based on his studies, experience, and research.

For those that appear to need to associate their teachings with a historical tradition, even though there is no evidence to support such association ...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 20 - Jan de Jong Self Defence School: Towards 2000

Jenny Armstrong wrote an article that was published in Blitz magazine circa 1999 titled: 'Jan de Jong Self Defence School: Towards 2000'. She provides, in my opinion, one of the best descriptions of Jan de Jong.
It is soon evident that while martial arts may be his (most-valuable) 'hobby', as he will describe it, a variety of topics hold an interest for him. He has a keen and probing mind, yet open to life's new experiences. Although in his seventies, Jan de Jong has an iron firm hand-shake and the mental engagement of a much younger person. His appearance is like that of a sturdy unquailable, colonial gentleman - wearing a button-up top in a life-essence red, his grey beard adds a distinguished frame to his face; his eyes are attentive and sharp.

Yet there is none of the pompousness that the word 'colonial' tends to evoke. Rather there is a tendency for laughter, a certain irreverence even, which makes him instantly likable.
Armstrong nailed it. She also writes that 'immediately on meeting him he is easy to talk to.' Too true. I recall a letter De Jong once showed me. It was written by a young mudansha ('one without a black belt';kyu-level practitioner) who had attended one of his seminars in Europe. The letter expressed the author's surprise and gratitude that De Jong had paid him personal attention during the seminar. De Jong paid mudansha and yudansha (black belt holder) the same amount of respect and attention.

De Jong had a way with people, but not in a manipulative or self-serving way. There wasn't a person on a grading day, the student or the guests they invited, that didn't feel special and appreciated. De Jong paid as much attention, if not more, to the guests the student had invited. The comments directed toward the student at the end of the grading were often for the benefit of the student's invited guests.
Other possible applications of jujutsu techniques fascinate him, as does any phenomena or new technique he feels may be added to jujutsu to make it stronger (he describes himself as a postage stamp collector, collecting new techniques).
De Jong's reference to himself as a 'postage stamp collector collecting new technique' can, I believe, be found in his grading system, if not the grading system itself, as I've argued in previous blogs.

Armstrong wrote of my role as uke (receiver) to De Jong's tori (taker):
His explanation of the concept is enforced by demonstrations on his (apparently) hapless instructor John Coles. Fortunately, John is aware of the techniques and seemed to know what to expect (a rather painful demonstration of a wrist-lock had earlier given me a decent appreciation for his methods and I was happy for him to demonstrate on John and not me).
Recall Armstrong's reference to 'iron firm hand-shake'. A student of De Jong's in Holland during WWII, Kees van Deijk, also remembered De Jong's grip when he wrote to me in 2004: 'I knew Jan during the years 1944-1947. The first thing that struck me was that he was rather thin, but it appears that he was a strong person, in particular his hands/fingers.'

I recall the 'hapless instructor John Coles' tapping-off before De Jong could apply the joint-locking technique he was proposing to demonstrate for the participants of his European seminar one year. De Jong was a little annoyed and asked me not to tap-off before he had applied the lock. I informed him I was tapping-off because his grip was crushing my hand. For the record, he didn't ease up on either his grip nor his expectation that I wouldn't tap-off before he'd applied the lock.

I will always remember the last time I saw De Jong. I visited him at home about three weeks before he passed away on 5 April 2003. I was shocked to see the ravages that cancer had exacted upon this once vital man. He was skin and bone. We chatted, as we often did, and the conversation turned to jujutsu, as it often did. As soon as the conversation turned to jujutsu, he propped himself up into a sitting position on the couch he had been lying on. He thrust his emaciated arm in direction and instructed me to grab it. Feeling more than a little self conscious, I grasped his forearm. No sooner had I done so than he had adroitly disengaged my grip and applied a lock. I wasn’t surprised at the skill, that was a given, even under these circumstances. What I was astonished at was the strength of the grip of this man who was quite obviously being ravaged by this horrible disease. This was still the grip that could force me to tap-off from the pain of the grip alone. This was still the grip that Armstrong referred to as, and found it sufficiently memorable to remark upon, an 'iron firm hand-shake'. This was the same grip that Van Deijk remembered from more than 50 years previous, being applied by a 'rather thin [person], but it appeared that he was a strong person, in particular his hands/fingers.' His grip, for me, has come to represent his life force. Forever strong, and unreliant upon the physical limitations of the human body.

The last thing De Jong gave me was a series of photocopied images he'd pasted together to form a series of moves. He wanted me to study and demonstrate them at the pencak silat instructor's class. The last thing he asked me to do was to bring him what I'd written on my then proposed how-to book on his jujutsu because he wanted to contribute to it. His mind was still active, and he was still working on his martial arts right up until his death. His body may not have been up to the task, but that didn't stop him.

Through writing these blogs I've had the opportunity of studying the 'school of Jan de Jong'. This study has been revealing, and it has led me to a greater appreciation of De Jong's legacy. It provided the wonderful opportunity of making contact with students from De Jong's past, like Van Deijk and Harry Hartman. This led to their generous donation of their photographs taken during those times (including De Jong as a boy scout in pre-WWII Indonesia).

Writing these blogs provided me with the opportunity of discovering a copy of the Jan de Jong: the man, his school, and his ju jitsu system booklet that I wrote for De Jong, in which he wrote: 'Thanks for all your help! Jan de Jong OAM, 9th dan'. This booklet was a self-published affair and was sold by the De Jong organisation throughout Australia and Northern Europe. The content forms the base for much of the content on the Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness website, albeit unattributed.

I think I'll leave the story here. However, the story will be updated from time to time I'm sure. I'll sign off the Jan de Jong story with Van Deijk's words:
Now that I'm writing (typing) I see Jan before me (often with his smile), who gave me jujutsu lessons, which formed a part of my character in my life. I will never forget him!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 19 - What Does a Black Belt Mean?

The photograph to the right was taken in the mid-1990s of Maggie de Jong demonstrating a hojo jutsu (rope tying art) technique on me at a seminar given by Jan de Jong in Sweden. Firstly, it was the 1990s, so both Maggie and myself have aged somewhat. Secondly, the very blond hair of mine is explained by my desire to assimilate with my very dear Swedish friends, or, maybe I was bored one day in Helsingborg and was talked into a 'dye-job' by Maggie and a very cute blonde female Swedish hair stylist. As a footnote to this story, De Jong was not happy with my new look.

What does a black belt mean? The above photograph suggests it might be useful for tying someone up. Mr Miyagi, from the classic Karate Kid (and don't dismiss that movie) explains to Daniel that, 'In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants.' All very practical observations, but belts are also symbolic in the martial arts. Symbolic of status, proficiency, knowledge, ... mastery?

Recall from previous blogs that Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan judo, was the initiator of the black belt to signify ... something. When I was researching the development of the coloured belt system for the kyu grades, I came across these comments regarding the black belt from the International Judo Federation(IJF):
The ranking system in judo includes two types of ranks -kyu and dan grades. The dan grades are the more senior grades of judo, and are signified by the wearing of the black belt. High dan holders from 6th to 8th dan have the option of wearing a checkered red-and-white belt instead of their black belt; 9th and 10th dan holders have the option of wearing a red belt.

The kyu grades are signified by non-black belt colors. The original system of judo developed in Japan included 6 kyu ranks. In current-day judo around the world, however, each country is recognized to have its own ranking system, and its own promotion policies and criteria. ... The only common denominator across countries and organizations is that all beginners begin at white belt, and all dan holders wear a black belt. ...

While each country and organization has its own criteria and policies for the conferral of rank, there is a general consensus that the change from kyu to dan, that is, from 1st kyu to 1st dan, represents a qualitative development in the student. The student awarded the black belt has developed some degree of proficiency in the various techniques of judo. In particular, he or she will have developed one or several tokui waza [favourite technique], and will have demonstrated its effectiveness in competition against same rank opponents. More importantly, this student will have shown enough maturity, commitment, and fortitude to be a serious student of judo, having internalized some of the values and ethics of the educational system of judo. While the general public often believes that wearing a black belt means that one is an expert, in reality the awarding of the 1st degree black belt in judo signifies instead that the student is now truly ready to begin learning judo.
The acclaimed Neil Ohlenkamp expresses similar sentiments:
Professor Kano was an educator and used a hierarchy in setting learning objectives for Judo students, just as students typically pass from one grade to another in the public school system. The Judo rank system represents a progression of learning with a syllabus and a corresponding grade indicating an individual's level of proficiency. Earning a black belt is like graduating from high school or college. It indicates you have achieved a basic level of proficiency, learned the fundamental skills and can perform them in a functional manner, and you are now ready to pursue Judo on a more serious and advanced level as a professional or a person seeking an advanced degree would.
OK. According to the IJF, a student who attains a black belt is ready to begin learning judo. And according to Ohlenkamp, it indicates a basic level of proficiency and that the fundamental skills have been learnt and can be employed in a functional manner, and now the student is ready to pursue the study of judo. Does this describe the qualities of an expert that the IJF suggest the general public ascribes to the holder of a black belt?

What does a black belt mean? Is it the equivalent of a high school diploma as Ohlenkamp suggests, or is it the equivalent of an undergraduate degree? Should we be replacing the word is with should be? This also raises the question of what do higher black belts mean? Are they suppose to be the equivalent of post graduate degrees?

What does a black belt mean? Recall from previous blogs on the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system that shodan includes practical, revision, theory, teaching, first aid, and more gradings. Is this a belt/qualification that signifies a student is ready to begin learning, or, is this a grading that is designed to produce a teacher, or an expert.

In the latter part of his life, De Jong expressed the concerned that the quality of his instructors/black belts may not be appreciated because of the different perceptions of a black belt in the world. He was toying with the idea of including the grading requirements on the black belt certificates to advertise the extensive requirements to obtain a black belt under his grading system. Unfortunately I had to rain on his parade and, while I acknowledged the merit of what he was trying to do, I had to suggest that nobody actually looks at most martial arts grading certificates.

Is this just a theoretical discussion? Absolutely not! Those who have continued teaching after De Jong's demise have assumed a responsibility for what they teach, and their grading system. THEY have to answer the question, what does a black belt mean in their grading system. Most adopt what was handed down to them from De Jong (although I suspect it was also developed by De Jong). But some, or only one that I know of, Peter Clarke of his Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu, is looking critically at the grading system he inherited. Clarke is like an ice berg. He is a powerful force of nature, but dear God in heaven he moves slowly. Not physically, because I vividly remember seeing him move so fast with a particular technique in our instructor's class that it is embedded in my memory as a slow motion, flicker frame movement. Clarke is a lawyer by profession, so everything he does is considered, but then everything he does is considered. We've discussed the disproportionate length of time it takes to get a black belt in Jan de Jong jujutsu compared to most other martial arts. At the heart of the discussion, at the heart of the solution, is, what does a black belt mean.

A logical extension of this argument which is suggested above is, what do the gradings past shodan actually mean. If, as the IJF and Ohlenkamp suggest, shodan is the beginning of one's learning experience, then it's obvious ... sort of. You should question, what is each and every grading contributing to my knowledge base or proficiency. And I don't exempt De Jong, or his instructors that have followed on to head their own schools. What does each and every grade from shodan onwards contribute to the knowledge base or proficiency of the student? I have to confront this question as I am in the position of grading the prospective sixth person to complete the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system - Jamie Francis. We both, initially, wanted him to go through all of the gradings that I and the other four sandans went through. However, as I critically examine these gradings, I ask myself, and wonder, what is this grading adding to his knowledge base or proficiency. In turn, this causes me to reflect on the entire grading system.

This blog is intended to encourage the reader to reflect on what a black belt means to them. It's not meant to take anything away from the endeavours or achievements of those aspiring and tirelessly training towards their black belt. It's simply meant to encourage the reader to critically evaluate what their black belt means, and what other people's black belts mean, and to not ascribe any preconceived notions to those who are wearing black belts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 18 - Logo

A big part of the Jan de Jong story is his logo. His logo was based on an ex libris he commissioned during WWII. An Ex libris, or bookplate, is a small graphic label or print that is glued to the inside cover of a book with the purpose of identifying its owner. The Latin phrase 'Ex libris ...', means 'the books of...', and is usually followed by the name of the owner of the book. The designer De Jong commissioned to design his ex libris was Wim Zwiers. In researching this blog, and yes, I do research these blogs, I came across this explanation of why an ex libris is made:
Ex-libris have been a constant tradition for over five hundred years. They are a challenge to an artist to produce a small graphic art work for a friend, for a customer or for himself with a special purpose: identifying the owner of a book. Pasting a beautiful ex-libris in one's books not only discourages theft and reminds borrowers that a book must be returned, but is also a way of paying tribute to the book, which despite modern communication technology remains a primary vehicle for the transmission of knowledge and a constant source of pleasure and interest. As an object of collection, ex-libris are a wonderful way of acquiring, with time and patience and without being a millionaire, a small-format art museum which reflect the artist's skills and the collector's taste.
The theme or image of De Jong's ex libris speaks volumes. It is a graphic representation of his original jujutsu instructors, and reflects his love of, and identification with, the art of jujutsu. The image is based on a photo taken of his original instructors, the Saito brothers.

Zwiers was born in 1922, and would have been in his late teens when De Jong commissioned his ex libris. He went on to become a teacher of fine arts after WWII and is a respected artist utilising many mediums. There are so many stories like this associated with De Jong. Zwiers reconnected with De Jong through an amazing coincidence. They had not had any contact with each other since WWII, but, for whatever reason, in the mid 1990s, Zwiers was visiting Perth, 'the most isolated capital in the world'. He was on a train and saw a van through the window. The van had the ex libris image he'd designed 50 years ago on it, along with a phone number. He phoned the number, and, he and De Jong were reconnected nearly 50 years after their initial meeting, and half a world apart. De Jong would always try and visit Zwiers each year he visited Europe to conduct his seminars. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Zwiers. He showed me how he created his copper engraved ex libris. He engraves them into a copper plate, backwards, and uses a hand cranked press to print off a limited edition.

The image above of De Jong's ex libris was taken from the ex libris Harry Hartman generously sent me. The fact that the ex libris are printed in a limited edition, by necessity, tells me the esteem with which De Jong held Hartman.

Zwiers is an amazing character. He looks like your traditional grandfather, albeit your traditional Dutch grandfather. But five minutes with him will tell you he is different. He is a true artist in that he has a different view of the world, but, he doesn't have to dress or act different to advertise his different perspective. He lives in this great old house, with a basement that is built into a dyke. The art on the wall of his main living room, a two story affair without the second story, was split 50:50 between his art and those that had been gifted to him by fellow artists when his wife passed away. Those artists had drawn, painted, etc their expressions of grief for a fellow artist. Amazing! And his art ... he told me the story behind many of the pieces he'd chosen to hang on his wall, the art was incredible, but the stories even more so. Obviously, I am a fan ... and I'm proud to say that I have a piece of his work taking pride of place in my home.

De Jong used his ex libris-based logo for his school from when he first started teaching in the early 1940s until 2002. He used it on his badges, as the badge that Hartman sent me shows.

He used it on the membership cards as Hartman's membership card shows from the 1950s when De Jong first started teaching in Australia.

He used it on his badges which signified his gradings rather than belts (see previous blog).

Hartmen sent me a photo where I think that De Jong is attempting to replicate the original Saito photograph.

Given I'm a business/strategy professional, I find it interesting that the new management of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School rebranded the school with a new name and identifying logo. It is now called Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness and thier website explains that this change was introduced in 2002 to reflect a new direction. The new direction is not expanded upon. Possibly, the new direction is reflected in the new name, Martial Arts Fitness. De Jong was only ever interested in the practicality of what he taught; fitness only facilitated the practical. I recall De Jong questioning the idea of going to the gym to become better at what you were doing. His opinion was, do what you do, and you'll become fit doing what you do by doing what you do.

It is most definitely a coincidence that the new logo is very similar to the woolblend logo; which symbolises a blend between 50% wool and synthetics. Having said that, is this an unintentional symbol of the new direction that the new management of De Jong school has taken? A blend between self defence and fitness.

Why would you change your logo when your logo has equity? Would you consider changing the Coca Cola logo? You would, if you were persuing a new direction. Putting some distance between yourself and your origins. While De Jong was present at the 2002 meeting, I would suggest that he supported rather than initiated the new direction and the symbols thereof. I recall the many discussions I had with him concerning succession planing. I'm a business/strategy professional, so of course I talked to him about succession planning. He wasn't interested. The way he saw it, what happened after he passed, happened. He lived for the moment. As I've discussed with Hartman, that's not a perspective that is uncommon for those who have experienced war.

'Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.' That to me was De Jong, and it reflects his perspective on succession planning. He wasn't in the game to be followed; to inflate his ego. If you ever had the privilege of talking to De Jong or his former students/instructors, you'll find friendship is the concept that most often comes up. All of the old guys I've had the privilege of speaking to, focus on the relationships, the experiences, and not the quality of the instruction. This reinforces my argument that culture is the key to a successful martial arts school.

It seems appropriate that when De Jong died, the 996 Hay Street dojo was demolished. The name of his school, and his logo/symbol, his ex libris Saito brothers logo/symbol, was replaced. He wanted those who came after him, did so uniquely. He was not in the business of creating clones or librarians; he was in the business of creating teachers of a unique school of thought. But it also seems appropriate that his son, Hans de Jong, went on to use a very similar name and the symbol/logo of his father's school. After all, Hans is probably the longest serving student of his father having commenced training with him in 1955.

Jan de Jong Pt 17 - Kyu Grades & Coloured Belts

Harry Hartman's photographs and other memorabilia arrived. It is an amazing contribution to the Jan de Jong history and the history of his school of thought. I asked Harry to review my blog with the view to confirming I'd not gotten anything wrong, and, that it didn't contain anything he was uncomfortable with. Harry emailed me and, very satisfyingly, told me he was very happy with the blog and was going to refer his family to it. Thank you Harry, and, the photographs suggest you were a very capable and enthusiastic practitioner of the art. The photograph to the right is a wonderful photo of training at Edgehill Street, Scarborough. Harry is the person at the front applying the technique to the opponent on the ground. It is interesting that the technique being applied in the standing couple to the right was very much later included in the third dan practical grading.

As I'm finding, the school of Jan de Jong is becoming a classic case study for the evolution of the Japanese martial arts in the 20th century.

The previous blog included an image of Harry's 1954-55 membership card that refers to only four gradings - red, yellow, white, and green; in that order (see right).

His 1958 membership card increased the number of gradings to red, yellow, white, green, and, orange, purple, and black and white (see right). Were these new gradings De Jong developed? Or is this an administrative thing where the additional gradings existed but were not included on the 1954 membership card?

Where this discussion becomes interesting is when the history of the coloured kyu belts is included in the analysis. Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, is often attributed with the introduction of coloured belts to judo, and thereafter the rest of the martial arts world. Incorrect. Kano introduced the kyu/dan system in the 1880s, and he introduced the black belt for the dan grades. The white belt was used for all the kyu grades. From Neil Ohlenkamp (
Mikonosuke Kawaishi is generally regarded as the first to introduce various colored belts in Europe in 1935 when he started to teach Judo in Paris. He felt that western students would show greater progress if they had a visible system of many colored belts recognizing achievement and providing regular incentives. This system included white, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple belts before the traditional brown and black belts.
1935! De Jong is still training with the Saito brothers in Semarang, Indonesia. He commenced training with the Saito's in 1928, so, the Saito's have been in Indonesia for a number of years prior to 1928. The Saito's and De Jong would, in all likelihood, never have been exposed to the coloured belt system ... until De Jong does a little training in Holland during the WWII years. He then becomes relatively isolated when he returns to Indonesia before he emigrates to the 'most isolated capital in the world', Perth, Western Australia in 1952. Then within a year a coloured belt kyu grading system appears.

De Jong was a voracious collector of martial arts books. He would tell the story that in the air raids on Rotterdam, Holland, during WWII, he would be considered mad because the only possessions he'd take into the air raid shelter was his suit case of martial arts books. Having said that, these books would have been very few and very limited.

This is pure conjecture, albeit based on logic and reason. De Jong may have been exposed to the kyu coloured belt system, but only superficially. He develops his own kyu coloured belt system in Australia in 1952 without a full understanding of the coloured belt system. Hence, the inclusion of the white belt mid-way through his grading system. When I say belt, I mean symbol as they didn't use belts in the 1950s. They used badges. The image to the right is of Harry's red and yellow badges. I'm not sure how white embroidery on a white badge affixed to a white uniform would have worked. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who graded white belt/badge and received a white badge just to see how it worked. Seems a little inconsidered from a purely practical point of view.

Most use white belt for the complete novice. After a bit of research, I found some actually use it for the sixth kyu belt. If so, what does one wear when starting out and before the first grading? Kawaishi's purple belt seems to be the least adopted colour. The six kyus come from Kano, and De Jong followed suit. If you adopt Kawaishi's coloured system and take out purple, you're left with white which then becomes an actual grade.

De Jong later changed his kyu grade colours to yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, and black and white. It has been suggested that Kawaishi's system went from light to dark symbolising a progression from novice to experienced. De Jong, like many others, do not appear to adopt the same progression to the same degree. I am so intrigued as to the motive behind De Jong's choice of colours. You hear so much nonsence associated with the colours of the belts these days. Much of it is 'shoe-horning'; making something fit.

Why does De Jong's jujustu system have a black and white belt? It is a black belt with a white stripe running the length of the belt. Judo used this belt for women yudansha (black belts). Is the inclusion of this belt because De Jong did not know it was used by the Kodokan only for women? A senior instructor in my time would explain that black and white signified black but without becoming an instructor. The black grades included instructor type of grades (theory grades) which turned the fighter into an instructor. Maybe it is a considered decision by De Jong, or maybe it is an example of shoe-horning by the senior instructor.

I asked Harry about the gradings he did. He provided the following response: 'At the exams the students got on the mat and did not know what attack was coming. Sometimes it was surprising and we had lots of laughs.' I haven't pressed him todate to explain further. What I'm hearing though is (a) the shinken shobu no kata (see previous blogs) method is being employed, and (b) there are no specific techniques included in these early gradings. This then starts to lend weight to the suggestion that De Jong developed the entire grading system.

When I referred to this as being a case study; there are those that need what they are teaching to be a direct transmission from the warriors of the past. They were warriors. They were not necessarily teachers. And they didn't have the benefit of modern teaching methods. Instead of suggesting otherwise, as possibly De Jong did himself at times, I think his prestige is enhanced immeasurably if the entire grading system is a product of his own design.

This is a moving feast. I'm to have dinner with an instructor who was my instructors' instructor. He's going to give me a complete set of the grading sheets that existed before my grading sheets. I'm also going to be discussing these issues with Hans de Jong as he commenced training in 1955 and would be a living history resource, albeit untapped.

Do you have a detailed history of your school or style? Has anyone actually studied your school or style, or are 'stories' passed down from generation to generation with no real study of the subject matter? I appear to be the first to do so with respect to the school of Jan de Jong.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jan de Jong pt 16

This blog was initially established to inform the public of my work on the science behind the tactics and techniques of the martial arts, and to hopefully generate some interest in my work. For the past couple of months, that mission has deviated a little with the story of Jan de Jong and his school of thought. This blog was also a means by which to improve my writing skills: 'If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot' (Stephan King). A pleasant, albeit unintended, consequence of this blog is that a former student of De Jong's from the 1950s has contacted me and provided me with tales and photos of his time with him. He has given his kind and generous permission for me to share these with you.

Jan was a good teacher very enthusiastic, and always explaining the meaning of what he was teaching.

Harry Hartman trained with De Jong from 1954 to 1958. He emigrated to Australia from Holland in 1954, and was put in contact with De Jong by another Dutch immigrant. He returned to Holland in 1958 and lost contact with De Jong shortly thereafter. Nearly 50 years later, here he is fondly reminiscing with me about his time with De Jong. He kept photographs, his membership booklet, and various badges all these years. Harry contacted me after seeing the photo to the right that was including in a previous blog. He corrected me (thank you Harry) in that the photograph was taken at the Edgehill Street, Scarborough dojo and not the 870 Hay Street, Perth dojo. Harry is the person on the right executing the technique; De Jong is centre back.

Dear John, I met Jan deJong in 1954. He than lived at 17 Edgehill Street. We used to practice in the 'sleepout' of the house wich was a long and narrow space with a brick wall on one side and timber and hardboard on the other. Every Monday at 8pm we had class with the team of students. After lessons we were invited into the house to drink ice tea. Jan's wife used to make our suits and belts by hand and on the sewing machine. With our team we gave various demonstrations all over Perth. Some of the photographs made at City Beach were used to show between pictures in theatres like 'The Ambassadors' to promote our school. I remember the 'sleepout' in Edgehill Street where photographs were taken, came loose from the main building due to the bumps made by the students thrown on the mat. Later Jan moved to the suburb Innaloo and the school to the Swan River Rowing Club where we had plenty of space. Training nights: Mon.- Wed.- 8pm.
Hans de Jong started jujutsu in 1955. He told me of students being thrown over balconies and partially through walls at the 'sleepout dojo'. Not only were the uniforms and belts handmade, so was the mat, as you will see in the photographs. Harry's reference to theatres concerns advertising at cinemas between movies to promote the school (Ju-Jutsu-Kan), in provincial Perth where everything associated with the school had to be handmade by his wife. De Jong was a true trail blazer.

While Harry talks of belts, they were not used as symbols of rank. In these days, at Ju-Jutsu-Kan, they used badges. There were only four grades - red, yellow, white, and green - as Harry's grading record to the right shows. Later on, and I don't know when, the Jan de Jong jujutsu kyu system was yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black and white, black. Then the mon system was introduced at the front end of the kyu system, with the final mon grading being red. White as an actual grade? White belt is usually used as a belt for someone who is an absolute novice and has not undergone any grades. This becomes interesting when you understand when the kyu/dan system was introduced by Jigoro Kano and when the coloured belt system was introduced for the kyu grades, often incorrectly attributed to Kano. I'll explore this issue in my next blog.

I tried to find out if De Jong was using the shinken shobu no kata format back in those days. Harry wrote that no grading sheets were available and expanded with the following:
On training sessions it went as follows. Jan asked for instance: 'what would you do if somebody attacked you diving head forward to your stomach. He than showed us what to do. We,Jan and I,entered the mat and I had to perform the attack and Jan showed step by step what to do. Then every student in turn did the attack and defence until all knew how to perform. This was the procedure of all the different throws and locks and grips. At the exams the students got on the mat and did not know what attack was coming. Sometimes it was surprising and we had lots of laughs.
Only 10 students trained at the sleepout dojo, all of them male. Females joined the class when the dojo was relocated to the Swan River Rowing Club, and the class expanded. Harry remembers the time De Jong put both feet through the floor into the river when landing in a bridefall (demonstrated in the photo to the right taken at the 'sleepout' dojo); and he remembers the subsequent discussion concerning the advisability of using mats.

Harry was 19 when he emigrated to Perth and joined De Jong's school. He lived in Rotterdam during WWII, as did De Jong, and shared some of his experiences of this terrible time with me, as did De Jong. Their first-hand stories bring a poignancy to what would otherwise be a history lesson or the setting of a movie or a novel. They both remember the 'Hunger Winter' (see blog concerning De Jong's war years) when 20,000 Dutch died from starvation and exposure in the last few months of the war. Harry wrote, 'You'll never forget'. De Jong didn't.

The photo to the right is included just because its a wonderful photo. It looks like Harry is now on the recieving end of what looks like a painful technique. Note his face is firmly planted against the wall of the sleepout dojo. Harry is generously sending me the originals of all the photos and his other memorabilia to me. Thank you Harry for sharing your tales and memorabilia with me.

Jan de Jong Pt 15 - Grades - Attracting or Weeding Out Students

I received the following comment on my blog concerning the Jan de Jong jutsu dan grades:
Interesting, and extensive. I'm most interested in the fact that you needed to develop a deeper understanding, essentially 'on your own'. This truly separates those who just go through the motions and who practice by rote. From your experiences, do you think the extensive grading systems and curriculum attracted students to study long term or did it weed out many, like you said, "by attrition". How many long term students would normally be found training? Interesting stuff.

Firstly, thank you for reading my blogs 'Journeyman'. Secondly, this comment really got me thinking.

The previous blogs demonstrate that the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system is indeed, extensive. Black and white belt/first kyu is base camp at Everest that is the dan grades. Did the extensiveness of the grading system attract or dissuade students from studying long term? After much thought, I honestly cannot answer that question. Maybe there were those who were put off by the length of the grading system. If there were, I didn't know them. I can only share my experience with you.

I was accused of chasing gradings and chasing belts in my first few years with the Jan de Jong Self Defence School. Why not? From the time I enrolled at the Jan de school, I graded every time gradings were held; that is, every three months. As soon as I'd successfully completed one grading, I'd go to the counter, buy my new belt, and ask for the next grading sheet. As others were leaving the school that day, I'd be sitting on a bench reading my next grading.

But my focus was never on getting a particular grade or belt. My focus was on the grading I was doing. I saw the gradings as a directed form of learning. For whatever reason, when I first enrolled at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, I attended two lessons a day, six days a week, and then did more training outside the classes. I wanted to learn and I wanted to improve. I was a real Pavlov dog in that I could see myself improving every time I stepped onto the mats, and that was like crack cocaine to me. I vividly recall the time I suddenly realised I was going to get a black belt. It never occurred to me that I would, and it definitely was not my goal. My instructors had black belts, not me.

I have a confession to make. The only reason I completed second and third dan was because Greg Palmer (pictured above), one of my instructors who was also a mentor and eventually a good friend, had a long held dream to complete the grading system. The other instructors progressing through the second and third dan grades did not include him in their journey, so, in what I still consider to be one of the best achievements in my life, I trained with him so he could realise that dream. In the process, I became only the fifth person to complete Jan de Jong's jujutsu grading system.

Numbers can be misleading. Why were there only 21 people graded shodan by De Jong? Was this a deliberate weeding out process? I'd suggest not. Part of the answer lies with the extensiveness of the system. Life and other activities compete for the years that are required to obtain a black belt from De Jong. But another factor may have been, as I have been arguing, that he had to develop his dan grades, and given his relative isolation he didn't have too much to reference to assist him.

Numbers can be misleading. It became a bit of folklore that it takes a minimum of 10 years to get a black belt in De Jong's jujutsu. Rob Hymus did it in seven. But then he was working as an instructor at the school full-time, and, this was when the shodan gradings were first introduced. I was on track to match Hymus' achievement, even though I had to grade three more grades (mon grades) than he did. I wasn't working at the school full-time but my training schedule bordered on the fanatical. Then the Australian right of passage that is backpacking through Europe and my professional career intervened. I graded shodan in just under 10 years. But the length of time others took to achieve their black belt is distorted by the fact there were no black belt gradings at that time. Others simply trained for decades without bothering to do gradings as the training at the school was never focused solely on gradings.

'Weeding out'. It has been suggested, half-joking half-not, that De Jong scheduled the jujutsu instructors class on Friday nights to test the commitment of his instructors. Friday night is socialising/drinks night in Australian working society. Other than that, there was no attempt to weed anyone out. De Jong, I would suggest, did not include gradings to deliberately lengthen the grading process. He did not have some artificially high standard to be attained in order to weed anyone out (even though some of the senior instructors did try and impose them at times; a story for another time). It is my opinion that De Jong developed a grading system that he thought provided his students with knowledge, particularly at the mon and dan levels. The challenge for the instructors now teaching is, I'd suggest, can we modify the grading system so the same knowledge and the same standard is achieved but in less time.

Returning to the original question, I don't know what influence the extensiveness of the grading system had on the long term study by students. I suspect for those who did study long term, it had no influence one way or another. The others, if there were others, I never knew them. What I do know however, is, if you study the gradings rather than merely complete them, there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 14 - The Mon Grades

Jan de Jong introduced the mon system at the front end of his grading system in 1978. I am of the opinion that this is the pinnacle of the Jan de Jong school of thought.

In an article written by Mike Clarke for Australasian Fighting Arts in 1991, De Jong provides the following answer to Clarke's question, 'Do you think that was a good idea, to change the system to suit the students?':

Yes. I know what you're saying, but you know you can learn all the time. And if the results are better one way than the other, why carry on in a way that gives poorer results? I'll give you an example. In 1978 a Major Greg Mawkes MBE asked me if I would go and teach the army self-defence. I said okay and soon afterwards found myself teaching members of the SAS and the Commandos. Shortly after I had started to to do this the Major and I had a discussion about things. He told me that he thought the method of fighting was really good and he was pleased with that. But he said the men were having some difficulty understanding it all. I said this was the usual way of things and that my students were the same. He then explained the army did not have unlimited time to spend on this and that what he needed was quick results.

So it was at this point I had to think things through and see what I could come up with. I looked at the usual way the army taught things and decided I would alter the way I was teaching and come more in line with the army way of doing things. Well, do you know, the people started to pick things up much faster then before, and they could do the techniques much better than before! So I had a talk with my instructors and said I thought that we should change things so that we were teaching everyone like this. And at that time we changed the way we taught the students. The techniques were the same, it was only the method of teaching them that was different. And since then things have been much better.
This answer speaks volumes for De Jong on so many levels.

Prior to the introduction of the mon grades, the first gradings were the kyu grades (see a previous blog). The kyu grades are specified defences against specified attacks, albeit graded in shinken shobu no kata format (see previous blogs). The mon gradings consist of eight grades. Students 12 years and under start at first mon, 13-15 years start at 3rd mon, and over 15 years at 9th kyu. The reference to kyu in the mon system reflects De Jong's conceptualisation that mons are for children and kyus are for adults, however, the ninth to seventh kyu grades are part of the mon system and adopt the mon format. Lets look at the final grading of the mon system, seventh kyu, as an example of this format.

Breakfalls (Ukemi Waza) - demonstrate specified breakfalls.
Wakai no Kata - demonstrate a kata De Jong designed to introduce punching, kicking, and blocking at this level.
Throwing techniques (Nage Waza) - demonstrate specified throwing techniques from specified attacks.
Bodymovements (Taisabaki) - demonstrate specified bodymovements.
Unbalancing (Kuzushi) - demonstrate specified unbalancing techniques from specified attacks.
Locking techniques (Kansetsu Waza) - demonstrate specified joint-locking or joint techniques from unspecified attacks.
Basic blocks and attacks (Uke and Atemi) - demonstrate specified blocks and punches from specified attacks.
Reflex (Shinken Shobu no Kata) - see previous blogs.

I'll speak from a jujutsu perspective, although, many of the observations are applicable to most other martial arts. A review of the jujutsu literature will quickly reveal that the art is taught as defences against attacks. As tricks, which is in fact how H. Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi describe each of their defences in The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu.

Gerry Carr, in Biomechanics for Coaches, advises breaking down sport skills into phases. This reduces the possibility (probability) of the student being overwhelmed by the complexity and speed of the skill they are trying to learn, and makes it much easier to look for errors in their performance. He suggests that many skills can be broken down into the following four phases: (1) Preparatory movement (set up) and mental set, (2) windup, (3) force-producing movements, and (4) follow-through (or recovery).

Masatoshi Nakayama, in the classic Dynamic Karate, is a rare example of a martial artist dividing his skills into phases. When discussing the height of stances, he explains that 'the form of a particular stance is different in the ready position from its form at the time a technique is applied. The form of the stance immediately after the technique has been applied again differs from the preceding two. There is a delicate change at each stage, although the form looks almost the same.' Interestingly, for me at least, this reflects the injury science division of the injury production process by William Haddon into pre-event/pre-injury, event/injury, and post-event/post-injury phases. This is included in my book on the application of injury science and pain to the martial arts tactics and techniques.

Jigoro Kano, of course, is very well known for his division of judo throwing skills into kuzushi-tsukuri-kake, unbalancing-fitting in-execution. Tadao Otaki and Donn F. Draeger, in Judo: Formal Techniques, suggest this division is not only used for throwing techniques but also for techniques used in 'grappling situations'. However, I've never seen it used outside of throwing techniques.

What is De Jong's division of his jujutsu's skills? Based on the mon grades it is taisabaki-kuzushi-waza, bodymovement-unbalancing-technique. He had difficulty in separating the three, particularly when I discussed this division with him when writing Jan de Jong: the man, his school, and his ju jitsu system for him. But they can be divided into these three tactical components for analytical purposes (I refer to them as tactics as the technique is the end part of the tactic). Even De Jong did not fully appreciate the insights he'd achieved and the power of those insights.

We were teaching in Sweden one year and De Jong asked me what he should teach. I said bodymovments. He was very much opposed to the idea based on the grounds that the seminar participants would be bored with this 'mundane' exercise. I argued my case, and as a reflection of De Jong, he did teach bodymovements (albeit at the speed of light). At the end of the seminar we ended up with approximately ten instructors/black belt students requesting private lessons. Not in any of the techniques we'd taught, but in the bodymovements. They could see the uniqueness of this approach and the power of the division of tactics.

Another example of the utility of this approach. When living in London I attended Richard De Bordes pencak silat classes. Their pencak silat was very, very different (and highly recommended) to what I'd seen at De Jong's school. They didn't break their skills into phases of any description, however, I did. Even though they don't use the same bodymovements, nor unbalancing to any great extent, I could still apply this analytical approach to understand and study tactics taught in a relatively foreign martial art. I may not have been immediately proficient, but I knew what I was trying to do. I could practice the component parts of the tactic.

As a full-time instructor working at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, I was engaged to teach more private lessons than any other instructor in the school. My approach in analysing and teaching techniques/tactics was taisabaki-kuzushi-waza. As Carr suggests, 'errors occurring during an early phase of a skill are bound to affect all the phases that follow. So when something goes wrong at the end of a skill, examine not only the last phase but also earlier phases to see if the root of the problem lies there.' I found that the vast majority of the corrections of a private lesson student's technique lie in the bodymovement. Fix the bodymovement and the unbalancing and technique took care of themselves. I suppose the students paid for my understanding of this methodology as much as they did in my expertise in executing these techniques.

Based on my study of the martial arts tactics and techniques, among other 'scientific' concepts and theories, for my book, I now divide the tactics of any martial art into kamae-taisabaki-kuzushi-waza, ready position-bodymovement-unbalancing-technique. This is a method of analysing the tactics, even when the tactic may not incorporate an element.

But breaking down a skill into phases is just analytical thinking. De Jong uniquely went beyond analytical thinking. Systems thinking has been described as the art of seeing the forest and the trees. According to Russell Ackoff, one of the founding fathers of the systems thinking movement, the difference between analytical and systems thinking is not that one analyses and the other doesn’t, but rather that systems thinking combines analysis with synthesis: analysis, taking things apart, and synthesis, putting things together and understanding how they work together. The fundamental assumption on which the systemic thinking concept is based is that everything is systemic. Everything interacts with (affects and is affected by) the things around it. This is not unlike the worldview adopted by many eastern philosophies.

De Jong broke his tactics down into their analytical elements in the mon grades. He would then teach exercises where the different elements were mixed. Different bodymovements were used with an unbalancing method to execute a technique. Different unbalancing methods were used with a bodymovement to execute a technique. Different techniques were executed using a bodymovement and unbalancing method. De Jong's 'thinking' evolved into systems thinking that was reflected in his mon grades.

One (nameless) instructor who now has is own school has dispensed with the mon grades. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. The mon grades have a degree of circularity that was influenced by Minoru Mochizuki's teachings. The kyu grades are more linear and direct, possibly reflecting the Saito brother's original approach. I would argue in favour of not going back to teaching 'tricks' but rather to embrace the systems thinking approach that De Jong adopted, even though he was unaware of it. It has to be said, the De Jong grading system is not seamless. The mon grades prepare the student for the dan grades more than they do the kyu grades. Having said that, they provide the student with the analytical and systems mindset to understand and study the 'tricks' in the kyu grades.

I've found a lot can be learnt from studing De Jong's grading system than simply studying the gradings. Even before I discovered the concept of systems thinking, I knew there was a more holistic approach being taught by De Jong. He wasn't just teaching a martial art, he was teaching a martial arts system. As Ackoff said: 'System is more than just a concept. It is an intellectual way of life, a worldview, a concept of the nature of reality and how to investigate it – a weltanschauung.'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 13 - The Dan Grades

The photograph to the right was taken circa 2000. From left to right are Peter Clarke, Jan de Jong, Robert Hymus, and Paul Connolly. I may be wrong but I think the photograph was taken around the time of their completion of sandan (third dan), the final technical grading in De Jong's jujutsu grading system. Like my MBA (Master of Business Administration), I'd characterise De Jong's grading system, particularly the dan (black belt) grades, as a 'war of attrition' rather than as being particularly difficult.

Hymus can rightfully be said to be the first shodan De Jong graded in his jujutsu. He was awarded this grade in the very late 1970s. De Jong emigrated to Australia in 1952 and it was more than 20 years before he graded anyone shodan. Why so long? Given the calibre of Tony Chiffings, Warwick Jaggard, Peter Canavan, and other instructors, it could not have been because of the lack of commitment or proficiency.

De Jong visited Europe for the first time since WWII in the late 70s. While there he had the opportunity of visiting various jujutsu schools and comparing the standard of his mudansha (kyu grade holder) instructors with the European yudansha (dan grade holder) instructors. In 1978 he accepted the position of Australian representative for the World Ju Jitsu Federation (WJJF). In 1982 he would return to Europe with a team of his instructors to attend and compete in a WJJF seminar and teach at various other European schools. Is the timing of the awarding of dan grades coincidental? Please don't get me wrong, these instructors are world standard. What I am suggesting is that maybe De Jong wasn't aware they were world standard because he'd been teaching in what has been described as the 'most isolated capital in the world', and without the benefit of the 'information highway'. He had no basis for comparison.

Why weren't the previous instructors graded shodan? I'm of the growing opinion that a major part of the reason may be because he didn't have any dan grades, at least any of significance. A contentious opinion, and one I am prepared to be corrected on. Is it a coincidence that the dan grades, which have more than a 'wiff' of Minoru Mochizuki's teachings, were taught for the first time just after Yoshiaki Unno (see a previous blog) had trained with, and taught for, De Jong for two years? This influence becomes even more evident when he developed and introduced the mon grades (see next blog).

De Jong was justifiably proud of his instructors. He's quoted in a number of articles expressing his pride in connection with the compliments he received domestically, nationally, and internationally about their quality. In the last few years of his life he toyed with the idea of listing the gradings that were required to be completed to be awarded a dan grade to indicate what is required to become a yudansha in his school.

Shodan (1st dan) - 9 parts: revision, practical part 1 and 2, kentai ichi no kata (kata of sword body agreement) and suwari waza no kata (kata kneeling down), shiai (contest), oral theory and terminology, history essay, teaching, and examining.

Nidan (2nd dan) - 9 parts: revision, demonstration, practical, hantachi waza no kata (kata one standing one kneeling) and kentai ichi no kata, defences with short stick and defences against jo (short staff), pressure points, shiai, oral theory, essay on topic approved by De Jong.

Sandan (3rd dan) - 12 parts: revision, demonstration, taisabaki no kata (kata of bodymovements), theory grading with sacrifice throws and takedown techniques, kodachi no kata (kata of short sword), hoju jutsu (art of tying), arresting techniques, searching and handcuffing, jo and tobitanbo (jumping stick), manriki-gusari (weighted chain), shiai, and project assigned by De Jong.

Mochizuki's teachings influence can be seen most evidently in the kentai ichi no kata which is also taught by Mochizuki. However, De Jong would not appear to have simply adopted it wholesale. No. It appears he used it as a template and modified it based on his own experience and purposes. The suwari waza no kata is seen in Kodokan Judo. When I raised this issue with some of the senior instructors (not De Jong), the suggestion was that maybe this was one of the contributions to Jigoro Kano's teachings provided by Tsutsumi Hozan ryu (the jujutsu style De Jong's instructors told him they were teaching). A member of the Tsutsumi family is credited with assisting in the development of Kano's teachings. That is a possible explanation. Another is that De Jong adopted it and included it within his grading system to fulfil a particular requirement of his.

There appears to be some gradings that are repeated. They are not. The revision gradings and certain others are not a simple exercise of demonstrating things previously done. No. The candidate has to demonstrate their understanding of principles, tactics, and techniques, and 'flesh out' the outlined grading. For instance, the taisabaki no kata requires the candidate to demonstrate a specified number of variations of the five basic bodymovements taught within the system. Up until this grading only the five basic bodymovements had been specifically identified within the grading system.

These dan grades definetly have a focus on knowledge and understanding, and not just proficiency. There is a major element in these gradings to produce high quality, world class instructors. Not everyone would become, or wants to become, an instructor. De Jong recognised this, along with the extensive requirements of the grading system, and was toying with the idea of having two different 'types' of black belts. One complete and one a modified version for those who would not teach. He didn't resolve the problems associated with implementing this idea before he died.

These gradings formed the basis for the dan grading system developed for and used by the Australian Ju Jitsu Association (AJJA). I confess I do not know if this system is still being employed by the AJJA, but, the format or content of the dan grades, and not the specific tactics and techniques of De Jong's jujutsu, formed the base for the AJJA dan grading system. I know there are other schools/systems in Australia and Europe that have 'improved' their dan grading systems by referring to De Jong's.

According to Greg Palmer, there are only 21 people who have been graded shodan in De Jong's jujutsu. The first, Hymus, and the last Jamie Francis. Both instructors are now principals of their own schools. It is Francis' (and my) intention that he will be No. 6 to have completed sandan within the De Jong jujutsu grading system.

The more I study De Jong's grading system - study it as opposed to simply grading it - I see the hand of 'intelligent design' by De Jong. Not just modifying his teachers' grading system, but developing it totally, or at least a major portion of it. If so, it is a grand achievement as he didn't have a lot of other grading systems to refer to. I would suggest it is one of De Jong's most outstanding legacies if, and only if, he had the type of hand in developing it as I have suggested.

Jan de Jong Pt 12 - The Kyu Grades

Recall from recent blogs that Jan de Jong's jujutsu grading system can be broken down into three sub systems - the mon system, kyu system, and dan system. Also recall that the kyu gradings were all that were available until the mid to late 70s. This blog will look at the kyu grades.

The kyu grades consist of six grades commencing at 6th kyu (yellow belt) and ending with 1st kyu (black and white belt). Sixth to 3rd kyu only have one grading whereas 2nd kyu has two parts and 1st kyu has seven parts. The 6th to 3rd kyu gradings use the shinken shobu no kata format as described in earlier blogs, with approximately 30 techniques apiece. Third kyu includes an additional section where five specified throwing and joint-locking techniques are required to be executed against a single handed strangle and double handed strangle separately. Additional pressure is added in that the attacks are continuous and executed by two attackers.

Second kyu is made up of two parts, one of which is shinken shobu no kata consisting of 31 techniques. In addition, it also has a section where 10 techniques have to be executed while blind folded (random attacks), four renko waza (changing techniques) demonstrated, and five joint-locking techniques demonstrated following a shoulder throw and a hand wheel separately conducted in the same format as described in the last section above.

There is evidence of 'intelligent design' when these shinken shobu no kata gradings are analysed. For instance, the tomoe nage (whirl throw or more commonly stomach throw) illustrated in the photograph above is first introduced in 6th kyu against a two handed strangle from the front. There is no follow up technique required and the candidate simple throws the attacker away. That is the first and last time they do not retain control of the attacker after the throw and apply a follow up techique (usually a joint-locking technique). In 4th kyu the defender continues to roll and finishes on top of the thrown attacker, and applies an arm lock. It is then included as one of the techniques required to be executed under pressure against a single handed and double handed strangle in 3rd kyu. In 2nd kyu a 'what-if' arises in that the defender sidesteps the initial technique and a side stomach throw is executed, and another what-if scenario is included in 1st kyu.

This progression can be seen to be common in these gradings. Simple execution of the technique followed by follow up techniques (usually joint-locking techniques) in later gradings and then what-if scenarios.

The second part of 2nd kyu is referred to as kime no kata (kata of agreement). It is a kata only in the sense that it is demonstration. Three different versions of each ukemi waza (breakfalling techniques), three different versions of kuzushi (unbalancing) from hand holds are required to demonstrated. Five of the basic nine joint-locking techniques are to be demonstrated against two attackers who attack at random with any applicable attack. Then Isutsu no Kata (Kata of Five) is required to be demonstrated. This kata is a true kata. The 'five' refers to the five basic taisabaki (bodymovements). Each of the bodymovements are demonstrated with a technique being executed from an 'inside' and 'outside' position relative to the attackers attacking limb.

In this grading we get a hint of Minoru Mochizuki's influence on De Jong. The unbalancing from the four basic hand holds are not seen until this grading. However, they are seen in Mochizuki's teachings. The bodymovements and techniques in Itsutsu no Kata are also seen in Mochizuki's teachings, although Mochizuki only includes one technique for o irimi senkai (major outer rotation) whereas De Jong completes the balance and includes two. These can all be seen in Mochizuki's Nihonden Jujutsu translated as 'Traditional Japanese Jujutsu'. I do not know when this grading was introduced, however, I am going to be given a complete set of the gradings by a senior instructor who was instructing at the school in the 60s and 70s, and I have been invited to discuss this grading and the development of the black and white gradings which he tantalisingly suggested he and his fellows put down on paper.

Second kyu also includes Wakai no Kata (New Kata) which De Jong developed himself. It is a one person kata designed to introduce more punching, blocking, and kicking skills to the student. The influence of pencak silat is evident in some of the moves which evade and set one up for a kick or other technique in such a smart way. I do marvel at pencak silat at times and they way their methods are designed to evade and position for an attack.

First kyu is an instructors grading. Part 1, kime no kata, is a revision grade where over 85 techniques are required to be demonstrated, all of which are taken from the previous grades. Part 2, shinken shobo no kata - >55 techniques, along with blindfold defences, and free fighting against two attackers. Part 3 is a grading designed by Greg Palmer and introduced by De Jong. First to 3rd dan include sword gradings, however, the basics of sword work (drawing, cutting, sheathing, etc) were never examined. As a logical progression, these basics are taught and examined prior to the student engaging in later sword gradings. This logical progression was obvious to Palmer who was a qualified teacher by profession. Part 4 is broken into two parts; the first being an oral history examination and the second an oral terminology examination on the Japanese terminology used in previous gradings. Part 5 is an oral examination of the technical aspects of the techniques taught to 5th kyu. Part 6 is a teaching examination where De Jong assesses the candidates teaching ability in a class of students up to 5th kyu. The final part is obtaining a first aid certificate. It has been suggested that the kime no kata now in 2nd kyu was originally in 1st kyu and was moved to introduce this 'systems approach' at an earlier stage.

When I came to form a view that Mochizuki's teachings significantly influenced De Jong's teachings, and that his mon and dan gradings systems reflected that, I questioned a couple of techniques in 6th kyu that utilised a circular unbalancing from a hand hold. This circular unbalancing is a feature of the unbalancing methods demonstrated in kime no kata in 2nd kyu. De Jong explained he'd replaced two original techniques with new techniques in an effort to introduce this type of, and emphasis on, unbalancing at an earlier stage in his grading system. Remember, this was prior to the mon system being introduced.

Firstly, the two replaced techniques involved disgengagement and not unbalancing. Secondly, these techniques made up a set of three that demonstrated a tactical imperative. The attack is with both hands holding the forearm of a defender, in a manner which would be common when attempting to prevent someone from drawing a sword. The original defences were simple disengagements which repositioned the defender to the right, left, or away from the front of the attacker. The set are beautiful and elegent as it takes into account any tactical situation imposed by a second attacker, surroundings, or different intent. In latter years, De Jong and Palmer were developing this tactical positioning approach to a greater degree.

The kyu gradings, as I hope I've demonstrated, reflect 'intelligent design' with logic and progression (which only becomes obvious when the grading system itself is studied). The 2nd kyu kime no kata introduces the 'systems approach' that comes to form De Jong's school of thought (see a previous blog). The 1st grading attends to both the practical fighting skills as well as starting to shape instructors. As focussed on in previous blogs, a requirement of the grading specifically addresses the duty of care issue that should be one of the highest priorities (but sadly is not in many instances) of all martial arts instructors. With Mochizuki's influence beginning to seep through (if my conclusions are correct), De Jong is seen to not simply be copying someone else to add content, but cherry picking 'things' to develop his instructors and his school of thought.

PS: Most of the above information is contained within Jan de Jong: the man, his school, and his ju jitsu system which may or may not be available through the now renamed Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 11 - His Grading System Pt 3

Recall from part two of the blogs dedicated to Jan de Jong's jujutsu grading system that his system can be divided into three parts: the mon system, kyu system, and dan system. They are not only system divisions, but, I argue, also evolutionary divisions in the development of the 'school of Jan de Jong' (see previous blog on the concept of 'school' discussed in the context of the school of Jan de Jong).

De Jong only graded students in the kyu system until the late 1970s. Apart from De Jong, all the instructors were either purple belt (2nd kyu) or black and white belt (1st kyu). He graded Piet Hesselink 1st dan during WWII, but in what is unclear. He did not grade anyone 1st dan in Perth until Robert Hymus in the late 1970s.

Why didn't De Jong grade any of the other instructors in his school 1st dan prior to Hymus? It definitely wasn't because they were not of sufficient ability. Hymus and Greg Palmer often referred to the ability of their instructors. Hymus would motivate/chastise us based on the technical excellence and efforts of his instructors. I've had the good fortune to train with some of these instructors - Warwick (Zak) Jaggard, Tony Chiffings, and Peter Canavan - and they are as good as Hymus and Palmer (and De Jong) suggested. Given my current interest in being the unoffical historian of the 'school of Jan de Jong' (until someone else would like to assume the role), I've taken the opportunity of exploring these resources when I can. Zak visited the 'land of Oz' in the mid 90s and attended an instructors class for the first time in 20 odd years. Apart from being extremely sore the next day (and impressing those who were currently training), I asked Zak if what we were doing was the same as when he was training. He said it was, apart from this 'circular shit'. A recent conversation with Hymus suggests that he has devolved De Jong's teachings to a more 'direct approach' which presumably means he has turned away from this 'circular shit'.

There are a number of people from the pre-dan days that are a little bitter and a little disillusioned. They put in as much work and were as good, if not better (according to many), as those in later years who were awarded dan grades. These jujutsuka were not even given the opportunity of attempting dan grades. Why? Various theories abound as to De Jong's motives. Economic imperative is a frequently espoused explanation. De Jong didn't want to grade anyone black because they might leave and set up their own school in competition to his, which was his livelihood after all. Some suggest it was in connection with keeping the 'secrets' of the school secret as they were contained in the dan grades. That he didn't want to relinquish his monopoly of the 'knowledge well'.

These theories/explanations do not reconcile with the man I knew as De Jong. And remember, I'm a qualified accountant, so I am big on reconciliations. After much research, analysis, and deliberation, I propose an alternate theory. De Jong didn't grade anyone black because ... he didn't have any dan grades.

This, I am sure, will be controversial. I've already received criticism from some about my chronicling of De Jong's life and work, but this is the first time I'm referring to any criticism of De Jong, and, I am looking at a 'sacred cow' - the grading system.

Some need for what we do, including the grading system, to be predominantly handed down from at the very least the Saito brothers, if not the Tsutsumi family. This need is not unprecedented as so many in the martial arts need to associate their teachings with those of the past to gain credibility and/or authority. What I'm suggesting is that we don't need this link. In fact, what I'm suggesting is that one of De Jong's greatest achievements, one of his greatest legacies, is his grading system. It is a thing to celebrate, to study, and not simply something to be taken for granted (as it is).

De Jong's kyu grading system is only remarkable in that it uses the shinken shobu no kata method. What we refer to as the 'reflex' method. The use of shinken shobu no kata is a major 'point of differentiation' with other schools/systems. Most gradings/teachings are demonstration (technique or kata) based and/or randori (free fighting, sparring) based. Shinken shobu no kata combines elements of both. The kyu gradings contain specified defences against specified attacks, hence the kata element. However, where the uniqueness comes in, where the 'reality based' element comes in that so many emphasise these days, is that the attacks are randomly presented. This is the randori element.

During the grading, the student stands with their back to the examiner(s). The chief examiner signals an attack which is then executed. The candidate must defend themselves against the attack. Minimum, the candidate must defend themselves. If the candidate defends themselves with the required response, marks are awarded based on technical merit. If the candidate defends them self with another defence, the attack will come again. If the candidate fails to defend them self, they fail that 'question'.

Shinken shobu no kata is not just used as a grading method. It also used as a training method. Brazilian jiu-jitsu refer to 'drills' in which they train techniques, and then they rely on randori to train a person for combat. Jan de Jong jutsu uses 'drills' but then rely on shinken shobu no kata to train a person for combat. Each class usually ends with shinken shobu no kata, except that unlike a grading, no defence is specified against any specified attack. This method is also used in many different ways to train the student. It is modified by specifying an attack but requiring the student to respond with only one specified response. Alternatively, the response is specified but the attack is chosen at random. This is not unlike the story told in The Fighting Spirit of Japan were the jujutsuka/judoka would go into the red light district to confront individual yokuza and limit themselves to only one technique.

Major Greg Mawkes MBE (retired) had this to say on this method of training when working with De Jong to develop a close combat system, including training system, for the Australian Army including the SAS (Special Air Service Regiment):
What was created during the months of early morning starts and hard work is a system of unarmed combat that has Tsutsumi ju jitsu as its cornerstone. The reflex method of training and testing is particularly appropriate to the instinctive reactions that must be developed in unarmed combat exponents. (Jan de Jong: the man, his school, and his ju jitsu system)
Given the limited attention span that most of us are suppose to have in this electronic/world wide web age, and given what I consider to be one of De Jong's major legacies, this subject will be continued in future blogs.

Jan de Jong Pt 11 - His Grading System Pt 2

My first blog on the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system has received a record number of pageviews. It seems his grading system is of interest, so I'll continue on with this series.

The photograph to the right is of the late Greg Palmer executing a mukae daoshi (meeting takedown) on the 'hapless John Coles' (as I was referred to in one published article interviewing Jan de Jong) during his second dan demonstration grading (see below). As an aside, this same technique is referred to as irimi nage (entering throw) within aikido circles and those that follow their terminology. It is performed differently in most cases in these instances. I argue in my book Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts that De Jong's and Mochizuki/Yoseikan's mukae daoshi (meeting takedown) is in fact a throw and the aikido and related parties irimi nage (entering throw) is in fact a takedown. Ironic, isn't it.

The Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system can be divided into three parts. This, as will be seen, also reflects the three stages of the development of his jujutsu grading system. The three parts are the mon grades, kyu grades, and dan grades.

Mon Grades
Grade (Belt)
1st Mon (Yellow and White)
2nd Mon (Blue and White)
3rd Mon (Green and White)
4th Mon (Orange and White)
5th Mon (Purple and White)
9th Kyu (Brown and White)
8th Kyu (Red and White)
7th Kyu (Red)

These are the entry level gradings that De Jong introduced in 1978. Students under 12 years of age commence at 1st mon; 12-15 years of age at 3rd mon; and over 15 years of age at 9th kyu. De Jong obviously differentiated the 'adult' grades from the children's grades by referring to the latter as mon and the former as kyu. Nonetheless, all the grades follow the same format and are designed to introduce the students to the fundamentals of his jujutsu and his systems thinking approach to understanding and studying his jujutsu.

Kyu Grades
Grade (Belt)
6th Kyu (Yellow)
5th Kyu (Blue)
4th Kyu (Green)
3rd Kyu (Orange)
2nd Kyu (Purple)
1st Kyu (Black and White)

As will be explained in further detail in a later blog, this was the original grading system prior to the introduction of the dan grades. 2nd kyu/purple belt consists of two parts - a revision part and a practical part.

At the heart of Jan de Jong jujutsu training methods is shinken shobu no kata. This is a unique method of training (and grading) which is, in my opinion, one of the most significant points of differentiation between Jan de Jong jujutsu and other martial arts. Shinken shobu means sword spirit, or earnest or serious competition. It is not a kata in the traditional sense of the word. It is a blend of randori and kata, free practice and pattern practice. Major Greg Mawkes makes special mention of this training method in connection with his endeavours to develop a close combat system for the Australian Army and SAS. From 6th to 3rd kyu gradings are all shinken shobu no kata format. The practical grading in 2nd kyu likewise adopts this format.

A black and white belt is a little confusing for many. Women used to be awarded a black and white belt instead of a black belt in Kodokan judo. I don't know of anyone else who uses a black and white belt within their grading system. I was warned by Peter Clarke that I would be questioned as to my grade when I wore my black and white belt to the first seminar I attended in Europe. Sure enough, I didn't even make it out of the change rooms without being questioned what grade it represented. It suited me because the seminar organisers didn't know how to classify me so I was free to attend all classes for dan and lower grades.

The 1st kyu/black and white grade is the first serious hill the student encounters. Seven separate gradings: (1) revision; (2) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (3)demonstration of sword basics and kata; (4) oral examination of history of jujutsu and briefly of other martial arts, as well as Japanese terminology used in 1st mon to 3rd kyu grades and weapons used within the Japanese martial arts; (5) oral examination on technical aspects of any technique in 1st mon to 3rd kyu grades; (6) examination on ability to teach grades from 1st mon to 3rd kyu; and (7) first aid certificate.

My blogs of recent times concerning injury and injury science highlights my view that there should not be an instructor of martial arts, self defence, close combat, or whatever other term you want to use, that does not have at least a first aid certificate. That, in my opinion, is a gross breach of a moral, if not legal, duty of care (which is discussed in my book on injury science and the martial arts).

Dan Grades
1st Dan consists of nine separate grades: (1) revision; (2) and (3) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (4) suwari waza no kata (kata with partner while both are kneeling) and kentai ichi no kata (kata demonstrating sword techniques and their unarmed applications); (5) shiai (free fight; unarmed vs knife, unarmed vs short stick, then swap roles); (6) oral examination of technical aspects in all grades up to and including 1st kyu, and, oral examination of Japanese terminology used in these gradings and that used for Japanese martial arts weapons; (7) essay on the history of jujutsu and one aspect of jujutsu; (8) examination of ability to teach all grades to 1st kyu; and (9) regulated period of time assisting grading students.

I remember one training partner, Gerald Woods, a warm, friendly, and very funny person. When I discussed the essay requirements with him, it came as a bit of a shock to him that the essay was suppose to be in two parts, one history and the other one aspect of jujutsu. He had written his entire essay, meeting the minimum required length, on the history of jujutsu. He rationalised his approach in that he had written the first half of the essay on the history of jujutsu, as required, and the second half on one aspect of jujutsu which he selected to be the history of jujutsu.

2nd Dan consists of nine separate grades; (1) revision; (2) arrange a demonstration using eight lower grades to demonstrate our jujutsu to the public with 20 minutes explanation type and 10 minutes fast action (see photo above); (3) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (4) hantachi waza no kata (kata with one kneeling and one standing) and kentai ichi no kata (see 1st dan although different techniques); (5) demonstration of defences with tanbo (short stick) and separately unarmed against jo (short staff); (6) demonstration of knowledge of pressure points; (7) shiai (knife vs knife); (8) oral examination conducted with at least two other candidates discussing technical aspects of any technique selected by De Jong; and (9) essay on a topic approved by De Jong.

My essay in satisfaction of the last requirement of 2nd dan was a plan on how to take advantage of the Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur's opportunity and franchise Jan de Jong jujutsu world-wide (see the Indonesian trip blog).

3rd dan consists of 12 separate grades: (1) revision; (2) arrange a 10 minute demonstration using only yudansha (black belts) on a topic given by De Jong with only 20 minutes preparation; (3) taisabaki no kata (kata of bodymovements); (4) demonstration of 20 sacrifice throws and 20 takedown techniques and answer any questions raised by De Jong; (5) kodachi no kata (kata with short sword); (6) hojo jutsu (demonstration of use of rope to tie up an opponent); (7) demonstration of arresting techniques when the subject is sitting or standing; (8) demonstration of searching and handcuffing techniques; (9) demonstration of tobitanbo (jumping stick; and the size of a large baton) and jo against various attacks; (10) demonstration of use of manrikigusari (chain with weights on either end); (11) shiai (short stick vs knife, and then change roles); and (12) complete a project assigned by De Jong.

De Jong credited me with the last requirement of the 3rd dan gradings with my writing the booklet: Jan de Jong: The man, his school and his ju jitsu system. Prior to the writing and printing of this booklet, De Jong (or his family) would compile a small folder of information for distribution at his national and international seminars. This printed booklet provided a professional looking document which contained information on his history and grading system, among other things. It proved highly successful, demonstrating the demand for De Jong related information, as it has been sold throughout Western Europe, Australia, and in various Asian countries. I fondly recall that De Jong was so happy with this booklet that he pulled over to the side of the autobahn (or motorway, I can't remember if he was in Europe or the UK) to phone me and thank me, and tell me how happy he was with the finished product.

With regards to the fourth grading in 3rd dan, I wish De Jong was still alive so I could bring my theories and concepts regarding throwing techniques and takedown techniques to the table. Based on my biomechanical classification of these types of techniques, I would challenge at least 25% of the techniques classified as takedown techniques within that grading and reclassify them as throwing techniques. This grading (and another in 1st dan) demonstrates that there is a difference between the two types of techniques, that it is important enough to include in gradings, but that the difference or distinction is not understood. It's telling that the most obvious theoretical question to raise in this grading is, 'what is the difference between a throw and a takedown', and that is the one question that was never asked of the five people who attempted the grading and completed the technical grading system.

All higher gradings are honorary in the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system, based on age and contribution to the school or jujutsu. Further aspects of the grading system will be discussed in future blogs.