Monday, August 1, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 1 - The School of Jan de Jong

I've received numerous requests to write about Jan de Jong to which I am now acquiescing. I will basically serialise the chapter I drafted for my originally conceived book on the tactics and techniques of Jan de Jong jujutsu with certain modifications.

What is the ‘school of Jan de Jong’?

'School,' when used in this sense, refers to a school of thought or a continuing tradition, like the 'school of Rembrandt' for instance. When used in this context, The Macquarie Concise Dictionary defines 'school' as, 'a body of scholars, artists, writers, etc. who have been taught by the same master, or who are united by a similarity of method, style [and/or] principle.' Hence, the 'school of Jan de Jong' refers to the school of thought concerning martial arts which can be attributed to Jan de Jong and those who follow his teachings.

With regards to the Japanese martial arts schools, I will defer to the work of Karl Friday. Friday is associate professor of Japanese history at the University of Georgia and he holds the menkyo kaiden license and is a certified shihan in Kashima-Shinryu. His book Legacies of the Sword is one of the most authoritative English-language books on the Japanese martial arts ever written. This book should be required reading for anyone attempting to understand the Japanese martial arts. He has this to say with regards to martial art ryuha (school):
Martial art ryuha ... have historically tended to practice total transmission, in which students certified as having mastered the school's kabala are given 'possession' of it. ... such former students normally left their masters to open their own schools, teaching on their own authority; masters retained no residual control over former students or students of students. Each new graduate was free to modify his master's teachings as he saw fit, adding personal insights and/or techniques and ideas gleaned from other teachers. It was common practice for such graduates to change even the names of their styles, in effect founding new ryuha and independent branches of ryuha in each generation.
Friday presents a case study by analysing the history, philosophy, and pedagogical dynamics of Kashima Shinryu to lay the foundation for a broader understanding of what the classical bugei (martial arts) are, what they were, and what they mean to those who practice them. His explanation of the historical pattern of the development of martial arts schools definitely explains the evolution of the school of Jan de Jong following his death in 2003.

According to De Jong, he started teaching in Perth, Western Australia in 1952, the year he emigrated to Australia from Indonesia. In 1955 he named his school Ju Jutsu Kan which was changed to Jan de Jong's Self Defence School (JDJSDS) in 1973.

The style of jujutsu which De Jong taught is often referred to as Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. However the JDJSDS grading certificates only refer to Tsutsumi Ryu and discussions with previous generations of instructors only refer to Tsutsumi Ryu. It appears to be quite late in the piece that De Jong started to refer to Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu.

The Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system includes technical grades up to and including third dan. Higher grades are honorary and awarded at the discretion of De Jong. There are only five people who have completed all the technical grades under De Jong. Peter Clarke was the first in 1998 and was immediately awarded fourth dan. The grading certificate referred to Jan de Jong Jujutsu for the first time. It would appear that De Jong was acquiescing to the lobby to change the name of the style of jujutsu he taught to reflect his contributions. However, he only did so on certain higher grade certificates.

Clarke was followed by Rob Hymus, Paul Connolly, Greg Palmer, and myself. These four instructors were my instructors and I am the only 'student' who has completed the technical grades under De Jong.

Greg Palmer is pictured above receiving his third dan grading certificate. Just prior to De Jong's death he was awarded fourth dan. He went on to establish his own school which he named Keikai, apparently the Japanese equivalent of his name. He also changed the name of the jujutsu he taught to Keikai jujutsu. Unfortunately Greg passed away in 2008.

Debbie Clarke, wife of Peter, established Southern Cross Bujutsu a few years before De Jong's death. Peter joined his wife after De Jong's death and became the technical director of the school. He refers to his jujutsu as Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu jujutsu. Peter, along with Hymus and Connolly, was awarded sixth dan by De Jong just prior to his death. Peter is a very proficient and thoughtful practitioner and I am led to believe, based on discussions with him, that he has made some significant changes to the jujutsu he is now teaching.

De Jong's school was taken over by his daughter, Maggie de Jong (first dan), following his death. Connolly, her partner, assumed technical control. They changed the name of the school to Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness and they advertise they teach Tsustumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. Hymus established Indian Ocean Dojo which he advertises as teaching Tsutusmi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. Hans de Jong, De Jong's son, established Hans de Jong Self Defence School and likewise teaches jujutsu he refers to as Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. All of these schools are based in Perth, Western Australia.

One of De Jong's students/instructors, Jamie Francis, established South West Self Defence School teaching Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu in the south west of Western Australia. He has built up quite a respectable following with over 80 students. He graded up to second dan with De Jong and half way through third dan with Palmer. I've agreed to continue his journey and teach and grade him the remainder of third dan. When completed, he will be only the sixth person to have completed the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system.

I have succumed to the requests to teach and am teaching a small number of higher graded students/instructors. Given my obsessive nature, I do not want to commence teaching until my book(s) have been completed. I've also received requests to teach in Europe and the United States. Again, these requests have been put on hold until I complete my book(s). I consistently refer to the jujutsu I learnt and teach as Jan de Jong jujutsu reflecting what I believe to be the school of Jan de Jong.

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