Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Jujutsu - Style over Substance

Controversy time.

I went to see a former instructor of mine who is a very dear friend. He is experiencing certain health problems. A unique clique had visited him on Saturday night which a bout of flu had prevented me from joining. When I visited aforementioned former instructor/vd friend, one of the first things he raised with me was the unique cliche's interest in the origins of the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong and my study that casts doubts over the transmitted story.

Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness (JDJMAF; Maggie de Jong and Paul Connolly (MdJ&PC)): 'The style of Ju Jutsu taught at Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness is based on Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu Ju Jutsu whose origins can be traced back to 14th century Japan.'

Yes - Tsutsumi Hozan ryu (THR) is a martial tradition that can be traced back to 14th century Japan. Is the style of jujutsu taught by JDJMAF, and all those taught in schools derived from the original Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS), based on THR? Now that is a/another question.

Who cares? Obviously some people do because they are at odds to continue the association with THR. In fact, they appear to base the credibility of their teaching upon the association with the ancient martial tradition of THR. To MdJ&PC's credit, they do not appear to fall within that category as they reference the supposed historical links to THR only in passing.

What is the evidence supporting the proposition that the jujutsu taught by De Jong originated with THR? It consists entirely of De Jong's assertion that his instructors, the Saito brothers, told him that the jujutsu they were teaching him was that of THR. The same brothers whose first names De Jong never learnt.

When I raised this issue with an unnamed senior instructor with his own school now, his explanation for this anomaly referenced 'oral history'. Oral history - would you go into court to prove your case with 'he said he said'? Would that even meet the burden of proof for circumstantial evidence? How much credibility would you gain in historical circles with this sort of evidence and explanation?

Peter Clarke (Southern Cross Bujutsu), a senior, if not the senior, instructor with JDJ reflects the ambivalent nature of some with the link to THR. He is the founder of Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu Jujutsu (TJR):
The Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu Jujutsu system (TJR) is a modern martial art which traces its origins to Jan de Jong Jujutsu, the jujutsu of Minoru Mochizuki and Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu a system dating back to around late 1300 or early 1400 in Japan. ... Tracing back the history and development of martial arts systems is often difficult. ... Jan de Jong said that he started at the age of seven and graded 3rd Dan in 1939, just before leaving Indonesia for Holland. Whilst the background of his instructors is sketchy at best, he understood that their instructor was Maseo Tsutsumi.
Clarke, being a lawyer, specifically references the hear-say nature of the evidence supporting the link with THR.
Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu means Tsutsumi jujutsu from Australia. It acknowledges its foundation in Tsutsumi Hozan ryu and that its more recent genesis is from Australia with the contribution of Jan de Jong and his varied background in martial arts. TJR is not a traditional style and varies considerably from the traditional school of Tsutumi Hozan Ryu which reputedly continued in Tokyo Japan until the 1980s. Precisely what comprised Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu that was passed on by the Saito brothers to Jan de Jong remains a mystery and a source of some speculation.
Hmmm. TJR acknowledges its foundation in THR - or alleged foundation. TJR varies considerably from the traditional school of THR - a ryu which nobody has any detailed specifics on concerning what they actually taught. Precisely if what comprised THR was what the Saito brothers passed on to JDJ remains a mystery and a source of, now, a great deal of speculation.

If Clarke expresses some doubts, albeit inconsistently, with the historical origins of the jujutsu he is teaching, why then does he specifically and emphatically link his jujutsu style with those said-same historical origins? Now that is the more intersting question.

There is not a grading certificate in existance presented by JDJSDS that references THR. For the vast majority, excluding those presented to Clarke, Robert Hymus, and Connolly, they all refer to Tsutsumi Ryu Jujutsu. The latter refer to Jan de Jong Jujutsu, partly due to my petitioning supported by historical precedent for the changing of the reference to his own style of jujutsu.

Tsutsumi ryu is a completely seperate and different ryu to THR within the traditional Japanese martial arts schema. When I brought up this issue with certain senior instructors, who surprisingly were unaware of this anomoly, they suggested that Tsutsumi was an abbreviation of Tsutsumi Hozan. Was the explanation simply an example of shoehorning?

Karl Friday (in Legacies of the Sword) and Cameron Hurst (in Armed Martial Arts of Japan), two professional academics studying the martial traditions of Japan, explain that it was common for teachers to associate their schools to well-known martial traditions/schools for credibility purposes. This practice is not unheard of today, with respect to more than simply martial art schools. This fact, along with common sense, suggests adopting the auditing attitude of 'professional scepticism' (as discussed in a previous blog).

The most extreme example of associating with the historical origins of THR is Robert Hymus' Indian Ocean Dojo: 'The school teaches the strategies, tactics and techniques of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu'. There is absolutely no evidence to support this ascertain other than 'he said he said'.
It appears that the hereditary line of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu ended with Tsutsumi Masao's death, and as a comprehensive martial system the ryu effectively ceased to exist in Japan. The ryu continued to be practised outside of Japan by one of Tsutsumi Masao's students, Saito Sensei. Saito left Japan in the 1900s, and established a school of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu in central Java in the town of Semarang.
There is evidence to support the fact that the hereditary line of THR ended with Tsutsumi Masao's death, and that the comprehensive martial system and ryu effectively ceased to exist in Japan, and that Saito Sensei established a school in the town of Semarang, central Java, in the early 1900s. That is all the evidence supports. The fact that the school (including all those associated with the former JDJSDS) teaches the strategies, tactics and techniques of THR jujutsu is pure conjecture.
Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu is a complete system of heiho or martial strategy, involving a range of weapon arts that are integrated with unarmed tactics and techniques to provide a highly effective and adaptable system of fighting.
That statement is an obvious over extension of the capabilities of the jujutsu system taught by JDJ. Many of the weapons kata included within the JDJ grading system can be traced back to other martial arts systems. Traced back, if you're prepared to question and study like myself. Traced back, if you have no vested interested in preserving a historical link with an ancient martial tradition.

I have no agenda. Greg Palmer, an instructor and very dear departed friend wrote:
In 1658 Tsutsumi Yama Shironorakami Hozan broke away from the Takenouchi Ryu to begin the Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu, now usually referred to as the Tsutsumi Ryu. He did this in order to use the Reflex method of training and grading for his students.
This is reproduced on Hans de Jong's website (Hans de Jong Self Defence School). There is absolutely no evidence to support that contention. In fact, a unique feature of De Jong's teachings is the use of the 'reflex method', aka shinken shobu no kata. If it didn't come from THR, where it came from becomes a far more interesting question.

Style over substance. Form over function. For those of you simplistic thinking individuals, do not dismiss the issue. The origins of your methods matters.

The origins matter - sort of. Do you want to learn how to defend yourself by learning a system developed through the experience of combat or one that is developed by someone with no experience of combat? If you answer in the affirmative, do you want to know that person/styles combat experience to better assess the merits of that system (and to your particular circumstance; a qualification that is often overlooked).

This essay is in no way aimed at, nor accomplishes for other than those defensive inviduals, in diminishing De Jong's teachings. On the contrary. It enhances them. Jigoro Kano, found of Kano jujutsu, later Kodokan judo, did not hesitate in acknowledging the source of his insights. In fact, he specifically acknowledges the source of his insights that are included within his system. The evidence would suggest that De Jong developed his grading system to a large, if not entire, degree. Unfortunately, he seemed reluctant to take credit. Possibly because of the credibility link with historical origins and present practicalities. For me, I have far greater respect for De Jong if, as I suspect, he developed his entire system himself, based on his studies, experience, and research.

For those that appear to need to associate their teachings with a historical tradition, even though there is no evidence to support such association ...

1 comment:

  1. This is a great subject and touches on some important matters - can you speak of the evidence linking Tsutsumi Masao to Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu, other than his name was Tsutsumi, quite a common name - for example he is not listed in the lineage shown in the BRD.

    I have aquired a copy of your often referred to work Jan De Jong the man his school his jujitsu system - you yourslef attempt to espouse this link, unsuccessfully. What helped change your mind?

    I wonder if de Jong actually made this link between tsutsumi hozan ryu and tsutsumi masao himself if if other would be historians did it for him?

    I agree - the notion that the ryuso of tsutsumi hozan ryu left takenouchi ryu to persue a certain modern method of training for his students is rediculous and shows a lack of understaning of koryu jujutsu.

    There is one important note to raise here, that of transperancy - if some teahcers still claim to teach tsutsumi hozan ryu, people are being mislead. Real koryu jujutsu is a cultural asset and the few teachers in Australia whom are quallified to teach it would have spent a long time persuing this knowledge.

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