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.
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.
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).
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.