Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 9.2 - Internationalisation Pt 2

Recall from the last blog that Jan de Jong conducted annual teaching tours of Europe from 1982 until ill-health prevented him from doing so in 1999. These tours would be for periods of six to twelve weeks and involved travelling to different cities/towns in different countries.

The first 'tour' I was a part of was in 1991. De Jong was invited to a three day seminar held in Aarlen, Germany which was put on by Herr Teichmann, a Dutch or German judoka who imported diamonds from South America. The final night had a door prize of a diamond. Many jujutsu masters from around the world were invited. A capoeira team from Brazil was invited and put on a demonstration on the final night. They were 'hard core'. I found out later that one of them was a police officer and participated in the illegal 'blood sports' in his home city.

Soke Fumon Tanaka and his daughter Midori were also honoured guests, along with a member of the Japanese royal family. On the final evening when the invited masters put on demonstrations, Midori demonstrated the use of a naginata and Tanaka demonstrated the use of the katana. The demonstrations went on until the early hours of the morning and Tanaka was one of, if not the last demonstration. He demonstrated cutting a thick bamboo pole representing the thickness of a person's neck. They tried to balance the bamboo pole but the airconditioning kept on blowing it over. Finally, Tanaka simply drew his katana and cut the bamboo pole as it was falling. He cut clean through with the two parts simply separating as they descended uninterrupted towards the floor. Quite something to see.

Our 'team' consisted of Peter and Debbie Clarke, Hans de Jong, Greg Palmer, myself, and of course De Jong. The above photograph is of Peter and Hans training the pencak silat which was part of our demonstration on the final night. We also demonstrated jujutsu and the use of various weapons including the unique use of a short stick or long torch. Peter demonstrated the use of a manrikigusari, a chain with weights on either end. Watching the video of the demonstration brings a smile to my face as the commentator on the night explains that this is a weapon used by the police in Australia (they don't).

One of the gradings in third dan in De Jong's jujutsu grading system is to demonstrate the use of the manrikigusari. Peter was training for third dan and as is his way, he makes the weapon he is training a part of him. I recall seeing him walking down the streets of Munich twirling his manrikigusari. He had it in his pocket as he went to board the plane back to Australia and put it into the tray along with his wallet etc when he went through the metal detector at the airport, then put it back into his pocket and boarded the plane. Different times. I recall arriving at Hamburg airport, or another German airport, and picking up a very large duffle bag loaded with weapons - swords, jos, tanbos, knives, replica guns, etc. I walked through the airport with the bag slung over my shoulder and was not approached once by any official. Different times.

I was the first from De Jong's school to conduct an international seminar independent of De Jong in 1993. I was living in London and was invited to conduct a two day seminar celebrating a milestone anniversary for Wim Mullens' school in Rotterdam. What made this seminar noteworthy was that I was graded first dan (shodan). No shodans conduct seminars in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter). Participants came from throughout Holland, and also Germany and Belgium and more than half were higher graded than me. Such was the reputation of De Jong that they would attend a seminar given by one of his instructors even though he was a lowly shodan.

When I attended the seminar in Aarlen in 1991, I was graded 1st kyu which in our school is represented by a black and white belt (white stripe running the length of the belt in the middle of the belt). Peter Clarke told me that the first thing I'd be asked would be what grade I was because nobody else uses this belt except judo which previously never awarded women a black belt, but a black and white belt. Peter was right. I didn't even make it out of the change rooms the first day I was there and I had to answer that question. It proved quite handy actually as they didn't know how to categorise me so I got to move freely between seminar classes.

Since De Jong's passing in 2003, the tradition of teaching in Europe is continued by his instructors. I believe Maggie de Jong and Paul Connolly taught in Europe one year. Greg Palmer taught in Sweden, Denmark, and Germany before he passed away, fulfilling a dream to teach internationally. He also taught in South Africa if I remember correctly. Peter Clarke and Hans de Jong, independently, conduct annual teaching tours now.

Les Periera wrote an article about the celebrations associated with De Jong's 50th year of teaching professionally titled 'Only doing what I enjoy doing' ( which was published in Australasian Fighting Arts. He wrote:
With Shihan de Jong's international reputation the Hay St dojo is almost a mecca for Ju-jitsuans around the world, with regular visitors from Switzerland, Denmark,Holland and England, as well as some Pencak Silat practitioners also from Switzerland.
Perth, Western Australia, has been described as the most isolated capital in the world, and yet, De Jong's reputation was such that many did indeed make the 'pilgrimage' to train under De Jong and his instructors. Periera missed out a few of the nationalities which have visited here, including, of course, many who've made the trek from the east coast to the west coast of Australia. One of the first groups to visit De Jong's dojo was a group of jujutsuka from Indonesia.

The photograph to the right accompanied the Periera article. It is a wonderful photo of a younger De Jong executing a painful technique on Ian Lloyd. Lloyd was a senior instructor for De Jong. He owned the Wednesday night classes at the dojo for more than two decades. His was the first class of jujutsu that I attended - April 1983. He has a relaxed style of teaching and would start of each class with a joke, while still in seiza of course. He travelled with De Jong (and others) when De Jong toured Indonesia in the 1980s.

The previous blog referred to the school in Aalborg, Denmark which De Jong taught at annually and the close relationship we have with that school and its instructors. Periera wrote in connection with De Jong's celebration:
Several presentations were made, including a statuette from Sensei Per Brix, of Denmark, for whom Shihan de Jong has held several seminars over the last three years. The presentation was made by Sensei Soeren Markussen, one of the senior Instructors at Sensei Brix's school, who spent three months in Australia training at the school.
I'll leave this part of De Jong's story with another quote from Periera's article:
An indication of Shihan de Jong's reputation and standing on the world stage may be gained from the number of telegrams and cards from wellwishers both interstate and overseas - Singapore, Japan, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Holland....

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