Monday, September 5, 2011

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.

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