Recall from the last post that Jan de Jong, his wife and daughter (Maggie), and myself travelled to Java, Indonesia in 1995 to meet with a Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur to discuss a possible franchise opportunity. De Jong took this opportunity to nostalgically tour the country of his birth and to visit various Javanese martial artists. It really was the most amazing of experiences. Among the many highlights was a visit to the world heritage listed Buddhist temple, the Borobudur (see photograph right). It is the most amazing structure with the most amazing history (see http://www.unescoworldheritagesites.com/borobudur.htm).
I'm not sure how it was arranged, but De Jong was the honoured guest at a jujutsu event held in the Javanese countryside. It was like a scene from an Asian martial arts movie. We arrived in SUVs to find Javanese jujutsuka in pristine white gis standing in military precision, row upon row, in the very hot tropical sun. The location was in a dried paddy field bordered on three sides by rice paddies, tended by a local farmer in his conical hat leading a row of geese with a long stick and a rag hanging off it. He didn't seem to pay much attention to this odd scene of white-gi clad martial artists in the middle of his rice fields. The paddy field had coloured banners planted around its borders, and the mountains in the distance shimmered in the heat haze.
The Javanese put on a demonstration before a ceremony was held to award a number of them higher dan grades. De Jong was the honoured guest overseeing the ceremony and participated in congratulating the awardees. We then put on a demonstration.
Our demonstration 'team' consisted of De Jong, Maggie, and myself. Guess who did all the attacking? The attendees loved it. So did the villagers who sat on the outskirts, and the youngsters were enjoying themselves but were also so respectful. The gentleman to the right of De Jong in the above photo was known as 'the Tiger'. He had a moustache and was missing his front teeth, but he had a smile that could only enlarge. He was the 'sergeant major' who stood in front when the jujutsuka were on parade and directed them. De Jong used him to demonstrate a particular technique/trick/principle in which he disengaged the Tiger's strangle using the thumb and pointer finger of both hands, and with no force. The Tiger loved it! He proceeded to chase De Jong around the field, his smile getting wider, attempting to strangle De Jong to which he responded by disengaging the Tiger's hands with no effort whatsoever.
Our demonstration was met with enthusiastic encores which De Jong happily satisfied. Why not? He was not the one being flung to what was fast becoming a muddy surface, or having painful locks applied to various joints of his body by the consummate martial artist, or being on the receiving end of various weapons-based techniques.
A couple of days later, we were in a bungalow in the hills above Semarang. We were going to ride horses up some mountain-side to some temple and watch the sun rise. Apparently it's a wonderful experience. 'Apparently', because that morning De Jong found me profusely sweating and unable to straighten my leg. He took one look at me, and my fever, and the red line running the length of my leg up to my groin, and diagnosed me with blood poisoning. Maggie and I had done a little practice in our motel room prior to the paddy field demonstration and I had slightly grazed my leg. Voila: muddy field + tropics + soft Westerner = blood poisoning + fever + a possibly fatal outcome.
De Jong immediately took me to the local hospital. As it turns out, it was the hospital where De Jong practiced physiotherapy when he returned to Indonesia from Europe after WWII (see previous blogs). It was also the hospital Hans de Jong was born. The room I was treated in turned out to be the room De Jong practiced in. I had my antibiotic injection within five minutes of arrival, but De Jong did not emerge for another 30 or 40 minutes. He got talking to the doctor who, as it turned out, knew the doctor De Jong practiced with and who had only retired a couple of years ago.