Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Eyes Were Opened

I've recently been engaged in a contemplation of what a black belt means. My Kojutsukan blog reflects that.

In considering this most important of questions, I remembered what Robert Hymus, a senior instructor of Jan de Jong's, used to related to us. He explained how his eyes were opened when he was studing the shodan (black belt) grading. What did he mean?

Let us ignore for the moment the mon grades which De Jong introduced at the beginning of his grading system. Let's focus on the grading system which is suppose to examine what the student has learnt.

What are the kyu grades comprised of? They are comprised of specified defences against specified attacks, albeit with the attacks in random order in order to more closely simulate an operational environment (shinken shobu no kata, aka reflex training/gradings).

At the completion of the kyu grades the student is a 'trained monkey.' They know 'tricks,' also known as specified defences against specified attacks.

The core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences.

Analytical thinking is the identification of differences. The kyu grades are an expression of analytical thinking. Hymus' eyes were opened because he was introduced to synthetical/systems/systemic thinking. He was introduced to thinking of these techniques/defences in terms of similarities in addition to differences. He was introduced to the idea that this jujutsu is a system and not simply a collection of techniques/defences.

It has been said that analytical thinking produces knowledge while systems/synthetical/systemic thinking produces understanding. The latter approach is often described as being the thing of genius. When you can see the 'patterns that connect.' Our world is in the mess it is at the moment due to analytical thinking. We are now beginning to appreciate the benefits and power of systems/synthetical/systemic thinking.

De Jong's kyu grades produce knowledge. His shodan grading were designed to produce understanding. This was the meaning behind his shodan grade. Even though the focus was on the two shinken shobu no kata/practical grades - more tricks - the true value of the shodan grade was in the theory and revision based examinations.

De Jong had an intuitive understanding of the difference. He introduced the mon system to introduce students to a systemic way of thinking about his jujutsu. This approach was lost on the students, in part because it was lost on the instructors. By explicitly understanding the difference between analytical thinking and synthetical thinking in relation to jujutsu, we can better instruct the students in the hidden wonders of De Jong's teachings.

I have recently developed a theory and revision grading. It is completely different to the two seperate gradings developed by De Jong. I now have a greater appreciation that I am continuing De Jong's work with regards to what he considered shodan to mean. It isn't a minimum proficiency as so many other martial arts suggest that the meaning of their shodan is, in which the student has qualified to become a student of their martial art. My approach is looking at the essence of the techniques, not in esoteric terms but in real terms. In this way, my shodan becomes a global shodan in which all techniques of all martial arts can be understood and studied. In this way, I am seeing further by standing on the shoulders of giants. Those giants being De Jong and Greg Palmer.

Embrace the mantra - the core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences - and reject analytical thinking in favour of systems/systemic thinking in understanding and studying Jan de Jong Jujutsu and any other martial art. You might also try studying injury science, biomechanics and physiology. Or, you might try reading my work which is designed to become a book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ave Atque Vale Paul Seaman

Unfortunately, this blog appears to becoming an obituary column.

Many things will be said about Paul Seaman as he was a distinguished high court judge. This post will be unique in that it will attempt to honour a part of Paul's life that is not associated with his contributions to the law.

Reading some of the obituaries, I see reference to the Honourable Paul Seaman QC. It is one of the rare instances when the title - Honourable - fits.

Paul engaged in private lessons with Jan de Jong for many years. He was motivated to undertake these lessons due to threats made against him during his career. He was to remain a friend of De Jong's from that day forward.

Another enduring friendship he made from jujutsu was with Greg Palmer. Greg came to instruct Paul, and Paul returned the favour by regularly beating him at golf. Unfortunately, all three gentleman, and I use that word advisedly, have now passed away.

Paul's training with De Jong forever left an impression on those who would later train with him. Even though he was an older gentleman and was not physically impressive, he had a hard edge to his technique.

I always remember a story he told me about how he came to do his articles to qualify as a lawyer. It must have been in the 1950s as he qualified in Australia in the early 1960s. He studied law after doing a stint in the UK Army. Upon graduation, Paul took out an advertisement in The Times, advertising that if you were not prepared to pay X then don't bother replying. Apparently he was inundated with offers. He chose to do articles with some obscure firm because they had a practitioner that Paul thought he could learn from.

Paul was the first person I ever heard refer to De Jong as 'master.' Neither put any credence to the use of titles, so it made it all the more special. To see a High Court judge addressing a man as 'master' naturally was something to behold, and to learn from. It demonstrated a humility that can only come from self confidence and self awareness.

Paul was the most intelligent person I have ever met. His mind was something to behold. It is a tragic irony that it was his mind that was to betray him and cause his death.

Paul has a reputation as being 'down to earth' and a man of the people. I recall a story about him where a lawyer was pontificating, as they are want to do, when asking a defendant in the dock a question. After a number of attempts at asking the same question, to which the defendant had no idea what the lawyer was trying to ask, Paul leaned down from the bench and explained, 'He's trying to ask, did you do it?'

I also recall in Greg's dojo, when Paul informed me that he had been diagnosed with Parkinsons. He was informing me of a horrible death sentence. The grace and dignity with which he informed me is now fully appreciated. There is a lot to admire about Paul.

Ave atque vale, hail and farewell, Paul.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ian Continues to Teach

Ian's son, Mike, provided a wonderful eulogy at Ian's funeral. He is a credit to his father in every way. Given my current interests, a couple of stories his son regaled the mourning masses with came to mind.

Mike told of the time when he held a party at his father's house and some male guests were throwing bottles at the wall of the house. Ian approached the lads and explained that he hoped that they had had a good time at the party but if they continued with their current actions, damage would ensue on their bodies. The lads decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

Mike also told of the time when his father stopped when being tailgated by some lads. Three lads got out of the car and approached Ian. Without Ian saying a word, the lads decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

How did Ian influence these testosterone fueled, societal motivated aggressive males who outnumbered this older man on each occasion?

Appraisal theory tells us that emotions (and subsequent behaviours) are evoked based on an unconscious, or conscious, assessment of our resources and abilities to deal with a threat. If we assess that our resources and abilities are sufficient to deal with a threat then we are confident and a particular emotion is evoked which is accompanied by a particular behaviour.

Was Ian confident in his resources and abilities to deal with the threat? In my unprofessional opinion, I would say that that was not a consideration.

I suspect that Ian had a resolve. A steely resolve. If this 'thing' was going to happen then he would engage in the process. There would have been no thought of outcome. He didn't weigh, consciously or unconsciously, whether or not he would prevail.

Confidence is a tricky thing. When you compare your resources and abilities to a threat, if the former outweighs the latter, you are confident which influences your actions. If your assessment falls short, you lack confidence and your actions reflect that lack of confidence. During a violent encounter, there is a constant reappraisal of your resources and abilities versus the threat. A steely resolve does not engage in that appraisal process.

There is another senior instructor at the school that was the Jan de Jong Self Defence School. He emphasises the 'warrior spirit' in both word and action. He is very proficient, physically strong and fast, and very aggressive. Who would I prefer to engage with, Ian or the unnamed senior instructor? The latter. Every day of the week. Why? Because I had a chance of defeating the unnamed senior instructor psychologically. That opportunity did not exist with Ian. Ian had a resolve. He didn't think about winning or losing, and therefore did not weigh resources and abilities against threats. He was going to engage to the best of his abilities, if he had to, and that was the end of the assessment process.

I believe this is the lesson you want to instill in your students. Forget confidence. Forget bravado. It's simply a steely resolve. Not to win or lose, but simply to engage with all of your resources and abilities. Let the outcome take care of itself.

... Interestingly enough, writing this post and reflecting on Ian's lesson is giving me the resolve to deal with a very intimidating issue that is currently having a major impact on my life. Thanks Lloydo. You continue to help me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ave Atque Vale Ian Lloyd

Ian Lloyd 2 November 1946 - 27 July 2012

Catullus 101
Through many peoples and many seas have I travelled

to thee, brother, and these wretched rites of death

I bring a last gift but can speak only to ashes

Since Fortune has taken you from me

Poor brother! stolen you away from me

leaving me only ancient custom to honour you

as it has been from generation to generation

Take from my hands these sad gifts covered in tears

Now and forever, brother, Hail and farewell (ave atque vale).
I prefer the modern translation of ave atque vale: I salute you ... and goodbye.

Ian first stepped onto the mats of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School in 1965.

He was the third longest serving member of the school. He is only preceded by Hans de Jong (officially 1955) and Paul Connolly (1964).

Ian was one of the first jujutska to be awarded shodan by Shihan Jan de Jong in 1982. He was a very proficient jujutsu practitioner, but that proficiency pales into insignificance when you consider the man.

Ian holds the record, by far, for teaching the same class. He commenced teaching the Wednesday night class in 1979 and continued to do so until the restructuring of the school after Jan de Jong's passing in 2003. The third Wednesday in April, 1983 was my first class of jujutsu, and I was privileged to attend Ian's class for many years.

'I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university' - Albert Einstein. Einstein may as well as have been speaking for Ian. Ian treated one and all, young and old, male and female, from all walks of life in the same manner. Always, always with respect.

'Respect' is a word that is often bandied around these days. It is often demanded but the simple rule expressed by R.G. Risch seems to have been lost by many: 'Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you've got to give it.' Ian gave respect to one and all with no expectation of anything in return. You didn't have to earn Ian's respect, it was freely given. All you could do was lose it through your own demerit. And even then, Ian wouldn't hold it against you.

'Being humble means recognising that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others' - G.B. Hinckley. By definition, Ian was humble. He didn’t teach to gain status or to impress anyone. His teaching was not driven by ego. He didn’t teach for financial reward. He taught because he enjoyed it. He taught for his students, for his love of the art, and for his deep and abiding friendship with Jan de Jong.

'Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend' - A. Camus. Both Ian and Jan de Jong lived this credo. Jan de Jong didn't ask Ian to walk behind him, and Ian probably would not have followed; but they walked together side by side as true friends. No tribute to Ian would be complete without mention of his deep and abiding friendship with Jan de Jong.

Ian asked those he met to just walk beside him and be his friend. Many accepted that invitation. 'Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears' - John Lennon. In this case, Ian was far older than his 66 years and the calculation of his life reaches towards infinity.

Ian, ave atque vale, I salute you ... and goodbye.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Sensei Ross Taylor (right) is a highly respected aikidoka in Perth who has established his own aikido school. Sensei Taylor posted a message on Facebook yesterday commemorating the sixth anniversary of the passing of his instructor, Yoshiaki Unno.

Sensei Taylor's post gave me cause to consider the set of circumstances that had to come together in order for him to develop a passion for aikido which led to his founding of his school. It included colonialism, two wars, the force of nature, climate, language, politics, scarce resources, immigration, a dysfunctional relationship, and a 20 year old man who, in 1940, wanted to become a pilot.

The 20yo man was Jan de Jong and he lived in the Dutch colony of Indonesia pre-1940. In 1940 he travelled to Holland to fulfill his ambition of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately he got caught up in WWII, which fortunately meant he had to turn to teaching jujutsu in order to earn money and survive.

The end of WWII saw nature impose a harsher winter than normal on Holland. This winter came to be known as the 'Hunger Winter' because of the deprivations the occupation and the weather imposed on the Dutch.

In order to escape the deprivations of Holland at that time, De Jong returned to equatorial Indonesia. He returned to a nation which was violently struggling for independence.

After 10 years of war (WWII followed by the Indonesian War of Independence), De Jong decided to relocate to a more peaceful environment. His Hunger Winter experience disinclined him to consider the northern hemisphere, so the options were reduced to Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. Argentina was rejected on language grounds; South Africa was rejected on political grounds (apartheid); so through the process of elimination Australia was chosen. Perth was selected because of its proximity to Indonesia.

In Perth, De Jong started teaching work colleagues jujutsu during their breaks and after work which led to his founding of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School. This would eventually become his full-time occupation.

I have argued throughout this blog that De Jong developed his jujutsu system. He would tell us that the Dutch would think him insane because he would always run to his apartment during an air raid to retrieve his suitcase of martial arts books which he would take with him to the shelter. I now appreciate that this was in no way a collector's idiosyncrasy. These books were the source of his continued professional development. De Jong was the epitome of a life long commitment to continuous improvement.

In Perth, De Jong became involved with Phillipe Boiron who introduced him to Minoru Mochizuki's Yoseikan Budo. In 1969, aged 48, De Jong travelled to Japan to continue his professional development by training under Mochizuki.

Wishing to continue his professional development, De Jong petitioned Mochizuki to send an instructor to Perth to teach in his school. Mochizuki sent Yoshiaki Unno.

Unno teaching for De Jong was always going to end in tears. Unno held the grades of 7th dan aikido, 7th dan karate, 6th dan kobudo (weapons), 4th dan bojutsu and 2nd dan judo. He also taught kenjutsu. At that time, De Jong was only graded 3rd dan jujutsu and 1st dan aikido (in addition to his pencak silat qualification). The inevitable happened and Unno left the employ of De Jong to establish his own school.

One of Unno's many students was Ross Taylor who then went on to found his own school. Quite amazing. But I suppose it is just one amazing story of many associated with people's involvement in the martial arts.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rokkyu (6th kyu) Kiiro Obi (Yellow Belt)

Sensei Craig Mahar posted the following on YouTube. It is the majority of techniques included in yellow belt of the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system.

Kudos to

Kudos to Sensei Mahar. Not only for his efforts in publicly sharing the Jan de Jong jujutsu teachings with others, but also in his proficiency. He is a credit to himself, Sensei Hans de Jong, his instructor since the passing of Shihan Jan de Jong, and of course Shihan Jan de Jong.

Sensei Mahar was a student while I was a student at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School. He was always humble, proficient, and very, very fast. He suffered a debilitating injury when his knee was dislocated during a pre-shodan grading, but he obviously persisted. He has had his share of disappointments in life, but he continues to train, grade, and share his jujutsu with others. It is my conviction that he is exactly the sort of instructor that Shihan Jan de Jong would be very proud of.

Sensei Mahar has been graded sandan by Sensei Hans de Jong, the highest technical grade in the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system. This is a credit to both Sensei Hans de Jong and Sensei Mahar. Sensei Mahar for achieving that grading and Sensei Hans de Jong for continuing to encourage and advance people in the Jan de Jong jujutsu tradition.

Lets hope many more of these posts are made available to the public.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vale Soke Robert Clark 1946 - 2012

Another influential figure in the Western world of jujutsu has passed away.

Clark founded the World Ju-Jitsu Federation (WJJF) in 1976:
The World Ju-Jitsu Federation (WJJF) is a martial arts organisation based in the north-west of England. The Federation was founded in 1976 in Fazakerley, a suburb of Liverpool, where the Federation's headquarters are still located. It was established with the aim of promoting the study of jujitsu and to help organise, control and develop the art in the United Kingdom and later throughout the world. The WJJF currently operates in 17 countries.
Clark had a lot to do with the internationalisation of Jan de Jong. In 1978, Clark offered and De Jong accepted the position of Australian representative for the WJJF. Four years later, De Jong attended the WJJF conference accompanied by a team of his instructors. The team entered the demonstration competition and if I recall correctly they placed second. They did, however, impress, and De Jong's international reputation was established. This then led to many offers to teach in Europe and to an annual teaching tour of Europe where De Jong would be accompanied by instructors from his own school as well as those from other schools on occasion.

Clark visited Perth, Western Australia in the late 80s I think it was. The purpose of the visit to 'the most isolated capital in the world' was to visit De Jong and his school. I heard he took some of the instructor's classes while he was here. Even though I was instructing at the time, I was not attending the instructors class because I wasn't sufficiently graded (a practice I would now discourage).

Following Clark's visit, De Jong was offered and accepted the position of Vice President of the WJJF.

I recall an article I wrote for the Jan de Jong Self Defence School 1987 year book, entitled Hakusho, concerning the benefits of WJJF membership. I was writing about my experiences when doing the Australian rite of passage that is the backpacking tour of Europe.
Membership in the WJJF enabled me to train in Dojo's all over Europe. It was an excellent reference and provided me with an introduction to many new friends and experiences in the martial art sphere.

Armed with my WJJF membership and association with O Sensei de Jong, I approached various Dojos throughout Europe. A common theme I encountered was unstinting generosity and friendship. A warm welcome was awaiting me at each Dojo and offers of accommodation, meal, drinks, training, etc were always generously given. When I departed I always did so with small mementos from the clubs and more importantly memories of their friendship and hospitality.
Mr Bertolletti in Milan, Italy, president of the WJJF and publisher of Martial Art magazines including Banzai took time out of his busy timetable to welcome me and make me feel at home. The impracticality of his gift of aftershave became apparent when it leaked all through my backpack. For a while I had the best smelling backpack, clothes, shoes, toothbrush, etc. I still believe he was not suggesting anything about my appearance by this gift.
Clark is a very important part of the De Jong story. The WJJF sought to promote and improve jujutsu through an international organisation that operates in 17 countries. In doing so they also promoted De Jong which led to his much loved annual teaching tours of Europe. I'm sure De Jong would be passing on his condolences if he were alive today.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ju-Jutsu-Kan Profile

I've been going through some of the paperwork that Peter Canavan and Geoff Emery so generously gave me. They were students and instructors for Jan de Jong before my instructors time. I came across this wonderful piece of history written by the club.

Ju-Jutsu-Kan Profile.

The original name of De Jong's school was jujutsu-kan. Kodokan is the name of Jigoro Kano's judo school. Ko meaning to study, do the way, and kan the place - so it translates to the place to study the way. De Jong simply went for jujutsu-kan, presumably meaning the school of jujutsu.
The Ju-Jutsu-Kan was first formed in 1951 with just a handful of students. After some time the club moved to the Swan River Rowing Club, where the membership then rose to approximately 60 members. In 1961 we were fortunate to obtain more central premises in Hay Street, which also had the advantage of being available throughout the week. The number of members increased in three years to 260 and we soon outgrew those clubrooms.

In 1964, we moved to the present building [(996 Hay Street)], where we have about five times the previous area. Of course, with much better training facilities and greater mat-area more and more people were anxious to joining the club, and in July, 1965 the 500 mark was reached.

Jan de Jong: Studied jujutsu under the Saito brothers. Commenced professional teaching in 1941 in Europe. After the war he opened a schools in Djakarta and Semarang. Came to Perth in 1951 and has been teaching here ever since.

George Clarke: Recently appointed full time instructor, he joined the club in the early days. George was also a part time instructor at the Cottesloe Youth Club.

Margaret de Jong: Has been secretary of the club since 1957 and an instructor for some years.

Bob Russell-Browne: First started jujutsu in Sydney. Bob joined the club a few years ago, and has been teaching for some time.
The author of this document is not recorded.

History is important because it builds a strong culture. Culture is about telling stories around the campfire. I only heard about the instructors before my instructors mainly through Greg Palmer. It's important that we remember those who came before and instructed the senior instructors of De Jong who went on to form their own schools. They were also their instructors.

Note the number of students. Very impressive by any standards. The number exceed 1,000 in the 1970s, but that can be partly attributed to being in the right place at the right time. That was when the Bruce Lee/martial arts phenmenon took of in the movies. But 500 hundred pre martial arts boom has to speak volumes for De Jong and his Ju-Jutsu-Kan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Suwariwaza no Kata aka Kime no Kata

Jan de Jong's jujutsu shodan grading includes suwariwaza no kata. This is a kata of five defences where both tori and uke are in seiza. I am currently using suwariwaza no kata as a learning tool.

Suwariwaza no kata is judo's kime no kata, or at least the first five techniques of that kata. This is a fact that was never disclosed within the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, probably because the only person who was aware of it was De Jong himself. When I discovered this fact while studying Jigoro Kano's Kodokan Judo (1986) and brought it to my instructors' attention, (a) it was largely ignored, and (b) it was suggested by some that this was Tsutsumi's contribution to Kano's judo. The latter suggestion, I would suggest, is an example of shoehorning.

The fact that the instructors did not know this kata was judo's kime no kata highlights a paradoxical difference between De Jong and his senior instructors. De Jong was constantly studying other systems and martial arts. He incorporated this research into his own style of jujutsu. His instructors on the other hand did not look without, they only looked within. De Jong was the source of all knowledge. If De Jong made an error, it was passed down religiously.

The not looking without by the instructors is highlighted in that every year the same question would be debated in the instructors class. It remained unresolved at the time of De Jong's death. Which leg do you throw back in the fifth technique when throwing uke? The definitive answer was there all along, however, not once was Kano's book, or any judo reference for that matter, consulted.

An understanding of the biomechancis of balance would also have answered the question. Throwing one leg back reduces tori's base of support to one knee. If the left leg is thrown back while trying to throw uke over the left shoulder, tori's weight has to be transferred over the right knee to remain balanced. This weight transference works against the technique.

There is a question that was never asked, and it should have been. The first technique involves uke holding tori's hands down on their thighs.

We were taught to unbalance uke by sliding the hands off the thighs and pulling slightly to either side of tori's body. 'Divide and conquer' as the unbalancing was referred to when standing and both wrists were grabbed by uke. Tori rises to their knees and kicks uke. Why does tori kick uke? To unbalance uke. But isn't uke unbalanced by the divide-and-conquer unbalancing?

I used to divide tactics into three phases: bodymovement (taisabaki), unbalancing (kuzushi), and technique (waza). This division is based on De Jong's division seen in the mon grades he developed. The use of these terms has proven to be a little confusing, so now I refer to: evasion phase, facilitation phase, and execution phase.

Strikes and kicks are often used to facilitate the execution of a technique. It is often referred to as 'mental unbalancing' as compared to physical unbalancing. If you physically unbalance uke using divide-and-conquer, you don't need to mentally unbalance them with the kick, and vice versa.

We always had trouble getting the kick in after we'd unbalanced uke. The reason we had trouble is because you are not suppose to physically unbalance uke. That simply results in uke leaning forward and obstructing the kick. All those doing this kata in any of the schools teaching De Jong's jujutsu - do not physically unbalance uke when executing this technique.

This highlights an important issue. If you see a strike or kick being used to facilitate the execution of a technique, and you see physical unbalancing method being used as well, ask why. It may be that the strike or kick is being used to facilitate the physical unbalancing, but I cannot think of an instance where physical unbalancing methods are used to facilitate a strike or kick to facilitate the execution of a technique.

It should be noted that aikido teaches a similar technique but uses physical unbalancing rather than a kick to facilitate the execution of the technique. This is more akin to what we do when standing, a defence included in yellow belt.

The second technique is a punch to the stomach which tori evades by raising one knee and pivoting to the side. At the same time they execute a brushing block and a strike. Was an evasive bodymovement used to evade the attack? Yes. It was nagashi taisbaki, or flowing bodymovment. If a bodymovement was used to evade the attack, what is the purpose of the brushing block? This should always be your question when a bodymovement is used to evade an attack and a block is also used. You don't need the block to stop from getting hit or kicked, the bodymovement took care of that. So what is the brushing block used for? The same question can be raised with regards to many standing techniques where a bodymovment is used to evade the attack and a brushing block is also used. What is the purpose of the brushing block?

Our brushing blocks were sometimes referred to as deflection blocks. I asked a student training this technique to explain it to me and he referred to a deflection block - and that is exactly what he used. He was accurate in his description, but inaccurate in actually executing the technique. A deflection changes the direction of a strike or kick. If you've evaded the strike or kick using a bodymovement, why do you then change the direction of the strike, in this case pushing it away from you when you then want to bring it back to apply the stomach-set-arm-breaking technique?

The third technique involves a strike to the forehead and no evasive bodymovement is used. A block is used to change the direction of the strike. We were always taught that it was also to physically unbalance uke. However, a kick is also used to facilitate the execution of the technique. We can immediately see, given the above rule, that their is a problem here. The unbalancing with the hand was always problematic as it physically unbalanced uke backward and then they were brought forward onto their stomach. The answer lies in the fact that the block is not used to unbalance.

You could use the block to unbalance. Aikido does. But then the kick is not used and the technique is usually executed to uke's rear rather than their front, although, it can be executed to their front using a robuse (arm rowing), which is a feature of Mochizuki's Yoseikan aikido. The latter technique and the influence of Mochizuki's teachings on De Jong might possibly explain why the block was thought to be unbalancing uke - but why then use the kick?

To recap, divide tactics into phases. My division is evasion, facilitation, and execution. If a bodymovement is used to evade an attack and a block is also used, ask what the purpose of the block is If a bodymovement is not used to evade an attack, a block has to be used to stop or change the direction of the attack. If both a strike or kick and physical unbalancing methods are used to facilitate the execution of a technique, ask why both methods are used.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The White Mouse

In previous blogs I've been telling the story of the Dutch 'girl with the red hair'. An inspirational female Dutch resistance fighter. We in Australia have our own Hannie Schaft. She is Nancy Wake.

Wake died in August of last year. She died as Australia's most decorated WWII heroine. She died in England, not Australia. The newspaper article today suggests 'Australia pays tribute to Nancy Wake' (; too little, too late.

In her biography, Peter Fitzsimmons writes that she wanted to leave Australia and spend her remaining years in Britain or France.
'I only want one room,' she told her second biographer at their first meeting, 'a bathroom and a small kitchen, anywhere over there. The people of Port Macquarie have been wonderful to me, as have most individual Australians I've met, but I just feel the need to go to where I am appreciated.'

An example of the 'appreciation' she receives in France is that when she is wearing the rossette of her Officer de Legion d'Honneur, all the gendarmes salute her, and even stop the traffic so she may cross the road. The Australian Government recently made contact to see if she would accept having her achievements acknowledged by their awarding her an Australian medal, but she knocked them back outright.

'No,' she says flatly. 'The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts. The think is if they gave me a medal now, it wouldn't be given with love so I don't want anything from them.'
As well as the Legion d'Honneur, Wake was awarded Britain's George Medal and the US Medal of Freedom. But despite the international recognition, it took 60 years for Australia to honour her service, awarding her the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today described Ms Wake as a person of exceptional courage whose action saved hundreds of lives. 'Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and resourcefulness whose daring exploits saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel and helped bring the Nazi occupation of France to an end,' Ms Gillard said. 'Today our nation honours a truly remarkable individual whose selfless valour and tenacity will never be forgotten. Nancy Wake will remain an abiding inspiration to generations of Australians.'
It took the Australian government sixty years to 'pay tribute' to our most decorated service woman. Nancy Wake may have had a point. Once again the representative of the people, the government, failed to represent the people in a sincere fashion.

In reference to her ability to elude capture, the Gestapo called Wake the 'White Mouse.' By 1943, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

'A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I'd pass their (German) posts and wink and say, "Do you want to search me?" God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.'
On the night of 29–30 April 1944 she was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, 'I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,' to which she replied, 'Don’t give me that French shit.'
She was often less than welcomed by the partisans when she first made contact, as they could not believe that they had been sent 'une femme'; they simply refused to treat her with respect. She decided to teach them respect. She would engage the partisan leaders in drinking contests, and when she was the 'last man' left standing at dawn - and she always was - they would look at her with new eyes.
One evening Wake was dining with friends in the reopened British Officers Club in Paris when she got into a blue - not for the first or last time - with an uppity waiter. This waiter thought he had won the confrontation by saying he would much prefer to serve the Germans than the likes of her and her noisy friends.

She reflected on this for perhaps half a second before leaping to her feet and knocking him senseless with a right hook. As she recounted, as soon as another alarmed waiter rushed to his fallen colleague with a glass of brandy, she grabbed it, drained it in two seconds, said 'Merci', and walked on out the door. That was Nancy Wake.
Nancy Wake was the Australian that we Australians like to think we are.

She became instrumental in recruiting more members and making the maquis groups into a formidable force, roughly 7,500 strong. She also led attacks on German installations and the local Gestapo HQ in Montlu├žon.

At one point Wake discovered that her men were protecting a girl that was a German spy. They did not have the heart to kill her in cold blood, but Wake did. She said after that it was war, and she had no regrets about the incident.

From April 1944 to the liberation of France, her 7,000 maquisards fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while taking only 100 themselves. Her French companions, especially Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit, amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid.

During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. 'They'd taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it - whack - and it killed him all right. I was really surprised.'
On another occasion, to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Wake rode a bicycle for more than 500 miles (800 km) through several German checkpoints. During a German attack on another maquis group, Wake, along with two American officers, took command of a section whose leader had been killed. She directed the use of suppressive fire which facilitated the group's withdrawal without further losses.
Wake was particularly proud of her marathon ride: 'I got back and they said "how are you?" I cried. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't sit down. I couldn't do anything. I just cried.'
'She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts. Then, she is like five men,' one French colleague said of her
Women, take note.

In 2001, Wake left Australia for the last time and emigrated to London. She became a resident at the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, near Piccadilly, formerly a British and American forces club during the war. She had been introduced to her first 'bloody good drink' there by the general manager at the time, Louis Burdet. He had also worked for the Resistance in Marseilles. In the mornings she would usually be found in the hotel bar, sipping her first gin and tonic of the day. She was welcomed at the hotel, celebrating her 90th birthday there, where the hotel owners absorbed most of the costs of her stay. In 2003, Wake chose to move to the Royal Star and Garter Home for Disabled Ex-Service Men and Women in Richmond, London, where she remained until her death.
THE ashes of World War II resistance fighter Nancy Wake will be scattered over the French land she parachuted into to fight Nazis in 1944.
That says it all, doesn't it.

The heroine in Sebastian Faulks's 1999 novel Charlotte Gray is said to be based on Nancy Wake. Fittingly, the role in the movie of the novel was played by the brilliant Australian actor Cate Blanchett. She tells the story of the locals in France being involved in the movie, and how the older locals who had experienced the invasion during WWII where in tears when they saw the movie tanks and soldiers crossing the bridge into their town.

I am in awe of the people who resisted during WWII. These stories inform of a time in which Jan de Jong, a 21 year old 'boy' also resisted. Risking torture, injury, and death, for a greater good. I compare these people to us of today, none too favourably I have to confess.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shin Gi Tai: Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit - Jan de Jong's Passing

Mike Clarke published Shin Gi Tai: Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit in 2011. It contains the following passage associated with Jan de Jong's passing, which I will comment on.
Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a master of jujutsu; his name was Jan de Jong.
Followers of the last couple of postings will be left in no doubt with regards to the esteem with which Clarke held De Jong.
He died in April 2003, and in many respects his death was nothing unusual. He was in this eighties and had lived through many difficult and challenging times. Fighting against the German occupation forces in his native Holland during the Second World War, as a youthful member of the Dutch Resistance Movement, gave him a particular slant on life and the best way to live it.
Readers of this blog will be acquainted with De Jong's WWII experience. As to the 'best way to live', I would suggest his experience gave him a way to live life, not necessarily the best way to live life. Does a sexual assault victim/survivor's experience give them a perspective that enables them to determine the best way to live life? It gives them a particular perspective on how to live a life, that is all. De Jong's compulsion to eat everything that was put in front of him born of near starvation during the Hunger Winter in 1945 in Holland could never be described as the best way to live. There are many paths, as the over used axiom goes.
When De Jong was diagnosed with a terminal condition, it came as a shock to everyone who knew him, especially his family. As you might expect, people close to him grew more and more sad as his health declined, and he entered hospital to receive what comfort the medical world could offer.
I'm not sure how much of a shock it came to everyone who knew him. I cannot say for sure how his family felt as I was estranged with them by that time. De Jong only entered hospital in the last few/couple of days before he passed away. Did people grow more and more sad as his health declined. I cannot speak for anyone else. All I can do is speak for myself. Someone who loved De Jong, who thought of him as more than the head instructor of a tradition/school in which he was emotionally invested. I thought of him as a very dear friend. Our relationship transended the Australian ultimate relationship of mateship. Was I sad as his health declined? Not really. You see, De Jong really did teach philosophy without being preachy or pious about it. He taught pragmatism; by whatever Eastern philosophical name you care to attribute to it. We all die, not everyone lives. De Jong lived, now he was going to die.
But for the man himself there was no sense of sadness, only acceptance.
Reinforcing my previous statement. Not once in all the times I saw him did he ever even utter a regretful or sorrowful word.
He spoke of having a wonderful life and of being blessed by his wife, his children, and his many long-time students, some of whom had trained with him for well over thirty years.
He didn't speak of those things to me, not when he was terminal and in his home. De Jong did the 'Tuesdays with Morrie' experience with me when I would take him to dinner and/or the movies and we'd sit in my car outside his house when I'd taken him home. Otherwise, De Jong was always, always looking to the future. The last time I saw him, three week before he passed away, he was giving me instructions on what I needed to work on to demonstrate to the pencak silat instructors class, and he wanted to contribute to the how-to book I was writing on the jujutsu that he taught. Reflection was not a very big feature of De Jong's, unless it was to inform the future.

It has to be said, however, De Jong was very proud of his instructors. His jujutsu dan grades were and are oriented towards producing instructors, not necessarily practitioners. His dan grades are about 'training the trainer'. He spoke often of how proud he was of his instructors and their ability and knowledge to instruct.
He laughed and joked and made light of the finality of the event about to take place, and when it came, he stepped away from this world lightly as a butterfly lifting from a leaf.
Clarke nailed it with the laughing, joking, and making light of his shifting off this mortal coil, but the rest of the description is his own literary expansion. For me, it does not tend to be reflective of De Jong. He was a restless soul. If there is another existence after this, De Jong would not have drifted into it. Forget the butterfly, and despite machismo-oriented, he was no hawk, but he would have been some busy bird constantly flying about building something. He would have emerged from with existance with a desire to be active and to build.
He not only lived well, but he had the great personal courage to die well. He was aware of what was happening and faced it clearly, calmly, and with great dignity. As strange as it might seem to some, his example of being 'present' at his own death displayed a level of almost unimaginable gallantry that I find truly inspirational.
Now THAT is a sentiment I can stand behind. I'll buy that t-shirt. His final act in this world was an inspirational act. He lived, and died, by example.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Budo Masters: Paths to a Far Mountain

Michael Clarke published Budo Masters: Paths to a Far Mountain in 2000.

The publisher's note describes Budo Masters as being about some of the teachers who fashioned not only the scenes of martial arts which were being played out all over the world during the days of Roaring Silence (another of Clarke's books), and whose influence, now somewhat diminished by the passage of time, still continues to play a part in the present martial arts world.

Clarke provides the following description of Budo Masters on his blog:

Budo Masters is a series of nine interviews, just some I have conducted with notable sensei from different martial arts and backgrounds over the years. From Judo - Robin O'Tani, from Aikido - Seiichi Sugano, from Jututsu - Jan de Jong, from Kung fu - Tei Seiryu; and finally from karate there are interviews with Shoshin Nagamine, Eiichi Miyazato, Hirokazu Kanazawa and Tatsuo Suzuki, and Shigeru Kimura. Many of these men are no longer with us and so their words and opinions are even more worthy of consideration and preservation.
Too true, too true. That is the reason for this blog site. To preserve for posterity and to share the De Jong story.

De Jong is the only Caucasian budo master included in Budo Masters.

Much of the chapter on Jan de Jong is based on the Fighting Arts International article which was the subject of the previous blog.
With over sixty years of martial arts training behind him, that knowledge is extensive, as is his personal library of books and video tapes. I noticed also, for it was hard not to do so, that he still retains his enthusiasm; not only for jujutsu, but also for silat, and other martial arts.
De Jong's study, where you would most often find him when he was at home, was lined floor to ceiling with shelves filled with books. The magazines were stored in the adjoining room, and special books were kept in his bedroom. Seated in that room talking to De Jong, you felt embraced by this martial arts knowledge.

Dr Suess: 'Be awesome! Be a book nut!' De Jong was awesome.

Dr Suess: 'Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget than to remember me and cry.' A sentiment that echoes De Jong.

Clarke's observation concerning De Jong's enthusiasm for jujutsu and silat is accurate. The last time I saw De Jong, three weeks prior to his passing, he ended up demonstrating certain techniques he'd been thinking about, and gave me a sequence of silat moves he wanted me to study and demonstrate in the silat instructor's class. The last thing he said to me was that he was looking forward to seeing the work I'd done on the how-to book on his jujutsu. Being an elderly man, he would sometimes fall asleep while at the table talking, however, when the discussion turned to martial arts, he was always wide awake.

When describing aspects of the jujutsu methods he teaches, he refers to six types of blocks. He also refers to unbalancing methods which includes four types from four different hand grabs. Given the focus on theory to inform practice in the school, the six types of blocks were often referred to as unbalancing methods from moving attacks.

When unbalancing is considered from a biomechanical perspective, it's easy to see that three of the six types of blocks do not physically unbalance an opponent. When this anomaly was raised by myself with senior instructors, certain explanations were provided that attempted to fit practice with theory. These explanations were wrong. These explanations were (a) an exercise in shoehorning, and (b) a misunderstanding of the purpose of classifying blocks. The classification came out of De Jong's silat and was not a classification of unbalancing methods from moving attacks. This serves as a salutary tale where theory is used but does not inform practice; where it is misapplied.
The civilian population lived in fear of their lives, and even a trip to buy food could end in disaster. With no other obvious way open to him to make money, De Jong sensei started teaching jujutsu. After the first year he decided to open his own school and within a few months he had over 300 students enrolled. He never asked the Germans what they thought about this.
I recall De Jong making that comment on many occassions about not asking the Germans what they thought about his teaching jujutsu.

He told me of a time when he and a few friends were walking together and they were approached by some German soldiers. The soldiers were selecting a certain number of Dutch civilians to be executed in reprisal for a Resistance action. Two of the group were selected for execution, obviously not De Jong. When it is your time ... There was no reason the soldiers chose the other two and not De Jong. He showed me a newspaper clipping of the notice in which the execution of the ten people was announced, and for their various 'crimes.'
Back in 1955 I had ten students, but no mats to train on. One day I was demonstrating what we call a 'bridge fall' when both my legs crashed through the floor boards. That's when I definitely decided to get mats!
For a long time I taught only jujutsu. I did have a small number of students to whom I taught silat, but I did this only to maintain my own level of training. Nevertheless, I wasn't too keen to teach silat to westerners at that time. What I did was to wait and see if someone could apply himself really well to jujutsu. I looked to see if I could find people with really good character and attitude. If I found one I would ask him if he would like to study silat.
Each year he receives many requests from jujutsuka around the world by letter, fax and email. The demand is so high that De Jong sensei annually leaves Perth and embarks on a teaching tour around the world. Then he also teaches in other places in Australia, and given the size of the country this involves as much travelling as would a tour of Europe.
Clarke over extends his argument. De Jong's teaching tours were of Europe and not the world. I discussed this with De Jong after attending a number of seminars conducted by Wally Jay in London. Jay conducted world tours; De Jong conducted European tours. De Jong was the equal of Jay in every way. In fact I found, after analysing their seminars in preparation for my own to be presented in Rotterdam, Holland, that they used the same seminar technique to motivate the interest of the attendees, even though they didn't recognise the technique themselves.

Jay used a 'principle' (small circle theory); De Jong adopted a systems approach to understanding and studying his tactics, although he didn't understand he adopted a systems approach and the power of that approach. When I convinced him to adopt that approach in his seminars in southern Sweden one year, the level of interest in De Jong's teachings by instructors was unprecedented.

The difference between Jay and De Jong that explains why the former conducted world tours and the latter only European tours lays in the fact that the former published two books and the latter published none. Jay's two books, it has to be said, are nothing special, but they are publications nonetheless. They promote Jay and his teachings and lend credibility to those teachings. I tried to convince De Jong to publish any how-to book, but he always declined. He said that if they had a book they wouldn't need him. No matter how hard I tried to convince him that the exact opposite would be the case, he wouldn't be convinced.

Dr Suess: 'Oh, the places you'll go. The things you will see!' ... if only you'd have listened to me :).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Michael Clarke and Jan de Jong

Michael Clarke (not the Australian cricket captain) is a noted karateka and a published author. He's had articles published in magazines both in Australian and abroad, and has published a number of books, all to do with the martial arts.

Clarke writes a very informative and interesting blog titled Shinseidokan Dojo (

Remembering the past, but heading for the future - a conversation with jujitsu master Jan de Jong, 8th dan. Australasian Fighting Arts. 1991. 14(6): 11-16.
By anyone's standards Sensei Jan de Jong ... is an impressive man. Not because of his physical build or an overly forceful character, but because of his presence. he is an easy man to relax with and this is due, in part, to his age ... and the fact that he goes out of his way to make you feel welcome.
De Jong describes how he met Rienier Hulsk in Holland in 1940 which started his lifelong jujutsu teaching career.
At that time I was graded 3rd dan by my Sensei, Mr Saito, who lived back in Java. I really needed the money and so that's how I started teaching. Then after a year I decided I would open my own school and within a couple of months I had about 300 students!
Regarding the war:
De Jong: it's not a time I really like to talk about. Because war is such a stupid thing and it turns people into creatures that do the most horrible things to other human beings.
De Jong describes his response to a question posed by his pencak silat teacher, Suhadi:
'Why do you want to do silat? You're a white boy; you should be doing tennis or something like that.' I told him that it was my heart that wants to do silat. I had always been very interested in Indonesian art and the culture, and to me this was a part of that.
De Jong on training silat in Indonesia in late 1940s:
To me it was playing. Things then were not like it is now. You did not have the strict discipline that there is in martial arts classes today. But you know, I think that sometimes you can take discipline too far. For instance, I had a couple of English guys training with me once and they said how nice it was that they could actually talk to me. I asked them what they meant by that, and they told me that in England they could not talk to the Shihan directly unless he spoke to them. Now that's ridiculous, I think. In all the time I was in Japan training I never had rules like that to contend with. I think that's taking things too far.
I actually experienced this when I trained in England, and saw it evident in some instructors on various seminars we presented at in Europe. Not only were you not suppose to talk to the instructor on the mats, but also in the dojo generally, and even outside the dojo. I kid you not.

We often liked to think we were immune to this way of thinking. Generally that was true, but not always. I recall a senior instructor instructing me not to question De Jong during an instructor's class. De Jong taught us very well. If what he was teaching went against the principles he taught us, I suggest it is disrespectful not to question the teaching.

De Jong demonstrating his lifelong love of food in his description of Perth when he emigrated in 1952:
Perth was not a big, modern city it is now. In fact, in many ways it was a backward place. ... Do you know I could not even get a Chinese meal in Perth at that time? Nor could I get an Indonesian meal either. There were three Italian restaurants and that was it!
De Jong explains that he originally didn't teach silat to the general public. Attendance to closed-door training sessions was by invitation only, and only after De Jong had determined the prospective student was of 'good character and attitude.' In the mid sixties there was a large demand for karate instruction, so he relented and advertised classes in the newspaper:
To my surprise, on the day of the classes there were queues of people all the way down the road. Many of the top karate people in Perth started with me around that time. Brian Mackie - who is with Goju Kai now - he stared with me at that time. Also Denis Purvis got to yellow belt in jujutsu before he left me and went his own way.
Mackie is director and chief instructor of the IKGA in Australia, 7th Dan Kyoshi Shihan, and has been teaching at the Karate Academy of Japan in Perth since 1966. Purvis went on to form the Denis Purvis Karate Academy. There was also Branco Bratich who is now Chief Instructor for Yoseikan Ryu Karate Australia.

De Jong explains how he changed the Indonesian way of teaching to fit the Australian culture. Clarke asks if De Jong thought it was a good idea to change the system to suit the students.
Yes, I know what you're saying, but you know you can learn all the time. And if the results are better one way than the other, why carry on in a way that gives poorer results? I'll give you an example. In 1978 a Major Greg Mawkes MBE asked me if I would go and teach the army self-defence. I said okay and soon afterwards found myself teaching members of the SAS and the Commandoes. Shortly after I had started to do this the Major and I had a discussion about things. He told me that he thought the method of fighting was really good and he was pleased with that. But he said the men were having some difficulty understanding it all. I said this was the usual way of things and that my students were the same. He then explained the army did not have unlimited time to spend on this and that what he needed was quick results.

So it was at that point I had to think things through and see what I cold come up with. I looked at the usual way the army taught things and decided I would alter the way I was teaching and come more in line with the army way of doing things. Well, do you know, the people started to pick things up much faster than before, and they could do the techniques much better than before! So I had a talk with my Instructors and said I thought that we should change things so that we were teaching everyone like this. And at that time we changed the way we taught the students. The techniques were still the same, it was only the method of teaching them that was different. And since then things have been much better.

A bit on Mawkes (not included in Clarke's article):
Major Mawkes (Retd) served in the Regular Army for 22½ years including two tours of Vietnam with 1 SAS Squadron. He was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to SAS in the 1982 New Year’s Honours list, specifically for establishing Australia’s military counter-terrorist capability.
De Jong's explanation is very telling. It shows that he was results oriented; results being defined in practical terms. It shows his leadership style was often consultative. It also shows his never ending quest for finding better ways to teach.

What's not included in the explanation is the influence of Mochizuki's Yoseikan in De Jong's army-inspired new way of teaching. What was this new way of teaching? As we've seen above, De Jong was not a fan for an 'army style' discipline way of teaching. No, what it was was to divide a tactic into phases in order to be able to better teach, learn, and analyse it. A very readable book on this approach is Gerry Carr's Sport Mechancis for Coaches. This division into phases can be seen in Mochizuki's Nihonden Jujutsu. You can check for yourself. A copy of this book is available for sale on ebay, for US$4,000.

The next few blogs will be devoted to Clarke's works on De Jong.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Truus Oversteegen - 16yo female Resistance fighter

Truus Oversteegen was involved with Hannie Schaft, the girl with the red hair, in the Dutch Resistance during WWII which I wrote about in my last blog. Truus was only 16 when she joined Hannie in their Resistance activities. The picture to the right is a rare photograph of Hannie and Truus in action. Hannie is on the right after she dyed her hair black and took to wearing fake glasses to avoid being identified as 'the girl with the red hair'; Truus is on the left dressed as a man so they could pretend to be a couple while they waited for their next target.

Not a lot is written about Truus. The girl with the red hair has books published, movies produced, streets and squares named after her, foundations established in her honour, and even a planet named after her. What about 16yo Truus? I decided to see what I could find out about the 16yo Truus who used to assassinate collaborators, traitors, and German secret police from a bicycle.
Hannie was 19, Truus was 16 and Freddie only 14 at the beginning of the war. Truus became the leader when they worked together because Hannie was a bit dreamy, according to Truus, and Freddie was still too young.
They have aptly been referred to as 'three children in Resistance'. 16 and Truus is leading a 19yo and 14yo in assassinations and sabotage, among other things.

Truus and Freddie thought Hannie was a German infiltrator when they first met. Truus and Freddie responded very coolly. The director of the emergency hospital felt that there was tension and gave them her room so the girls could talk seriously there. Hannie introduced herself as Miss de Wit and said she was sent by the French. 16yo Truus and 14yo Freddie had their guns ready and asked Hannie to explain as they didn't believer her story. 19yo Hannie also had her gun ready to shoot. There was a lengthy silence, and when it became unbearable, Truus suddenly began to laugh uncontrollably. The girls saw how stupid the situation was and then began to laugh 'scandalously'. Hannie put her gun on the table so Truus and Freddie knew it was all right. From then on, Hannie, Truus and Freddie were good friends and they worked together in the Resistance.
Truus recalls some of these actions together. One of them was the liquidation of the collaborator Ko Langendijk. Hannie shot this man from the back seat of Truus' bicycle. A bit further on they went into a pub. Truus showed her gun to the customers and indicated that, if the Germans would ask, they should say they had been there for hours. After putting on a bit of tarty make-up, 'a bit posh', they sat at a table acting drunk. Passing Germans were not impressed by these two 'cuddly' ladies and, after a brief check, left them alone.
The following is a link to an interview with Truus. In it she (a) talks about how she always carried a gun, (b) how she killed a Nazi on the spur of the moment (see the interview for the motivation), and (c) how the Dutch general population helped protect her when she committed acts of resistance. She was a child when she engaged in these acts, and she now talks about them looking like a grandmother. Reconciliation between the person and the actions continues to elude me.

Riding on her bicycle and shooting at the enemy, Truus killed more Germans than she later wished to remember. Through Hannie, Truus became acquainted with a group that transported Jewish children to hiding places. ... In 1944, a Jewish child was riding pillion with Truus. They were just passing German soldiers when a British airplane flew overhead and opened fire on them. When Truus turned around, she saw that the child had been killed, but she had to continue. Steering the bicycle with one hand and holding the dead child in the other, she continued peddling until she arrived at a farm where she buried the child.

On another occasion, Truus dressed up in the uniform of a German woman soldier, entered a concentration camp with false papers and took out a seven-year-old Jewish boy. When she passed the guard, she lifted her arm and said 'Heil Hitler.' The boy kept quiet and to maintain the charade Truus slapped the child and ordered him to say 'Heil Hitler' too. The boy saluted and was saved.

By the end of the war, the Germans were offering 50,000 guilders for her capture, but she managed to stay out of their hands, having a total of 53 addresses across the Netherlands where she could safely go into hiding at any time. After the liberation, Truus had a nervous breakdown, caused partly by the fact that Hannie had been arrested and shot shortly before the liberation, and in part by the suffering of Jewish children that she had witnessed. She married Mr. Menger, a Resistance worker, and they had four children. Truus became a professional artist and painted children's faces for many years, images from the dreams that haunted her. Truus was offered decorations by Eisenhower, underground movements in Western Europe, and partisan organizations in the east. She turned them all down.
When Hannie was arrested, Truus attempted an audacious rescue attempt by dressing as a nurse and trying to convince the Nazis that Hannnie was need for some medical procedure.
Because Truus came from a communistic background she was first denied to make a sculpture of Hannie Schaft in Haarlem. Finally she could because she had won, anonymously, the contest of designing a sculpture. She had been Hannie’s close friend, had worked together with her in the resistance group, had lived in Haarlem and is a sculptor. She is very famous now. She has made some of the great war memorials in the Netherlands, in South Africa, and all over the world, she gives speeches at schools all over the world and wrote a book: "Not then, not now, not ever", about her war experiences. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands bestowed the honour of a decoration on Truus, despite her refuse of recognition because she doesn’t feel like she is a hero.
Apparently Truus had submitted five proposals under different names. She is said to have said that if she didn't win she was going to emigrate.

The Resistance group Hannie and Truus belonged to was a Communist group. Consequently, following the end of WWII and the engagement in the Cold War, Hannie's memory became a political football. In the 1950s, Hannie's commentary service was banned. Communists and former Resistance fighters gathered to march anyway. They were met with tanks and riot police. Truus remembers:
We saw the tanks from afar and strengthened by the words 'continue to walk comrades, they know we are unarmed.' Slowly we approached the armoured vehicle. The gun on top of the tank moved towards us. All of a sudden a rage came over me. I let go of the floral wreath I was carrying and walked towards the tank. Tears running down my face. I shouted 'Are you really going to shoot on us boy?' I have fought five years for your liberation and you want to fire at us?' Some arrests were made but no shots were fired.
We tend to think that VE Day was the end of WWII. It was not for many.

Truus named her eldest daughter Hannie after her murdered comrade and friend. The daughter is the head of the Hannie Schaft Foundation. Truus established an orphanage in Soweto, South Africa for mentally and physically handicapped children. She said these children really needed our help.

Apparently Truus' Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever is available in English. I cannot locate a copy. If anyone could send me a copy I'd be very grateful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Het meisje met het rode haar: The girl with the red hair

I came across the story of 'Hannie' Schaft when researching the WWII experience of Jan de Jong. An inspirational story that sheds further light on the war years of De Jong.

Jannetje Johanna (Jo) Schaft, was a Dutch resistance fighter whose code name in the Dutch resistance was Hannie. She was born 16 September 1920, died 17 April 1945, aged 24. What were you doing in your 20s? Who were you in your 20s? If you think you are 'hard core' or 'tough', Hannie was the real deal (De Jong was roughly the same age, in the same situation).

Hannie was born in Haarlem, the capital city of the Dutch province of Northern Holland. She was a shy child, perhaps because she was teased by schoolmates for her reddish hair and freckles. Her parents were over protective possibly due to the death of her older sister.

Hannie was a law student at the University of Amsterdam when Holland was invaded by Nazi Germany. Hannie's sense of justice was offended by the laws enacted by the invaders, so, she became involved in small acts of resistance. She went to swimming pools to steal ID cards for Jewish friends, the Jewish ID cards being marked with a 'J' signifying Jew.

In the spring of 1943, the Germans enacted a law requiring all university students to sign a loyalty declaration to Nazi Germany, promising, among other things, to spend a certain amount of time working in Germany after graduation. Hannie, along with 80% of Dutch university students, refused to sign.

Hannie left university and returned home and joined a Resistance organisation called Raad van Verzet (the Council of Resistance), or RVV.

Women were always in demand in RVV as couriers because women were less likely to be stopped and searched as their male counterparts. Hannie wanted to do more. She wanted to fight with weapons.

The RVV agreed to Hannies 'request'. Her first assignment was to assassinate a particular target thought to be a traitor. Hannie fired the gun, only to hear the click on an empty chamber followed by another. The target turned, and introduced himself. It had been a test which Hannie had passed, but she was furious.

Hannie teamed up with sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegan, 16 and 14 at the beginning of the war. 16 and 14! What were you doing when you were 16 or 14? What are your children doing when they are 16 or 14?

The team engaged in sabotage, and assassinations of Dutch Nazis, Dutch collaborators, and German secret police. They would ride on their bicycles with the passenger being the assassin; 'drive-bys' on a bicycle.

Hannie, Truus, and Freddie, had no qualms about assassinating the abovementioned targets. But when they were instructed to kidnap the children of a Nazi official, they refused. If the plan failed, they'd have to kill the children: 'We are no Hitlerites', Hannie said to Truus and Freddie as they walked away, 'Resistance fighters don't murder children'.

Hannie became recognised because of her red hair being spotted at certain assassinations. She took up a new name, dyed her red hair, and took to wearing fake glasses. Truus would dress as a male and they would pretend to embrace waiting for a target, before Hannie would disengage and assassinate the target.

21 March 1945, Hannie was stopped at a checkpoint and searched. They found underground newspapers, and a pistol, in her handbag. She was arrested, and after being detained for a while, her auburn roots started to show through. The Nazis had captured the girl with the red hair. She was interrogated, tortured, and placed in solitary confinement.

On 17 April 1945, three weeks before the liberation of Holland, Hannie was taken to the sanddunes near Bloemendaal. A German SS officer took a shot and only grazed her temple. 'I can shoot better than that' cried Hannie. ... 'I can shoot better than that' this 24yo conservatively brought up woman shouted to her executioner. I don't know about you, but that is an image I cannot erase from my mind.

A Dutch NSB agent then killed her with a machine gun. She was buried in a shallow grave in the sand dunes. After the war, the bodies of more than 400 resisters were found in those sand dunes, all men and one woman - Hannie Schaft.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Jiu Jitsu Photo Album of Hans van der Stok

Over the years I've been in contact with Johan Smits who is researching jujutsu in Holland from 1900 to 1945. He recently published The Jiu Jitsu Photo Album of Hans van der Stok: Dutch Resistance Fighter and Secret Agent.
Hans, an ardent practitioner of jiu jitsu, had escaped from occupied Holland to England, trained as a secret service agent, and returned to Holland to join the Dutch resistance. While resisting the occupation of his homeland he was captured, imprisoned and eventually executed.
Smits explains that the photo album was given as a gift by the mother of a student (van der Stok) to his jujutsu instructor, 'a well known jujutsu master, Johan van der Bruggen.'

This book can be purchased through Amazon (

The Dutch Resistance Museum 'tells the story of the Dutch people in Word War II. How did Dutch people respond to the Nazi occupation? Who resisted? Why, and how?' They explain:
Taking photographs was restricted during the German occupation. Many subjects were considered undesirable by the Nazis. ... Thankfully, all these restrictions didn’t stop a number of photographers recording wartime conditions. Many of the photographs taken by professional photographers became familiar images after the war, but the pictures taken by amateurs generally disappeared into family albums stored away in cupboards.
The museum was established in 1985. It was relocated to its present premises in 1999, the same year that Jan de Jong visited Europe for the last time. I'm sure he would have been interested in visiting the museum.

The New Netherlands Institute have this to say about the Dutch resistance in Hans Koning's biography:
Koning was educated at the University of Amsterdam from 1939 to 1941, ... While at the University of Amsterdam, he joined the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, but the resistance was infiltrated by the Nazis to such a degree, that it was extremely dangerous to be part of it.
Recall from the post on Jan de Jong's war years, reference to Englandspiel, the 'England game'. Englandspiel was the infiltration of the Dutch resistance by the Nazis. They operated captured transmitters and reported to London from 1942 until 1 April, 1944, All Fools Day, when the sarcastic message was sent to Mssrs Blunt, Bingham & Co. advising them that their 'sole agent' in occupied Holland was signing off after their 'long and successful cooperation'.

Operation Englandspiel delivered more than 50 Allied agents straight into the arms of the Gestapo of which only eight survived. 4,000 messages had been exchanged with London, 350 resistance workers had been arrested, and 350 containers of supplies were dropped to the waiting enemy.

This is a photograph of a memorial erected in Holland to those who perished as a result of Englandspiel. It reads:
They jumped into their death for our freedom
1942 -1944
In grateful memory of the 54 Dutch agents and all those that fell during their intelligence missions.

Towards the end of 1943, two agents escaped from a Dutch prison and made their way back to England to warn SOE that what they believed to be a strong Dutch resistance was in fact a fiction. Giskes (pictured right, the officer in charge of Englandspiel, had sent a message to England warning SOE that the two agents had been turned and were in fact double agents. The agents were promptly imprisoned when they arrived in England.

Was Hans van der Stok one of the victims of Engandspiel?

Smits is correct when he writes that Hans van der Stok's story fully deserves to be told, as I do concerning Jan de Jong's.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Anyone who was ever involved with Jan de Jong for any length of time has a story to tell about him. He was that sort of character. I asked Harry Hartman, a former student that has featured quite often in previous blogs, if he had any stories about De Jong, and if he'd be OK with me sharing them. He did, and he is.
Any story I share with you about Jan you can use and share with whoever you like.

I remember me attacking Jan with a sword and I holding back, afraid to slice his skull. He just stepped aside and said: 'the meaning is to hit me,not to wave it [the sword] like a flag.' The same story when we used a bludgeon.'Don't hold back,the thing is made for hitting' Jan himself never held back.
That most definitely sounds like De Jong.

I remember seeing him in his 70s or maybe 80s, demonstrating kusurigama (sickle and chain) defences against a katana (sword). The katana was wielded by Robert Hymus, a senior instructor of De Jong's who was very 'warrior-like' in his approach to martial arts. What you saw was this 'old guy' with an inferior weapon 'stalking' a fitter, younger, aggressive, trained warrior armed with a sword, who was slowly retreating through the sheer will that was De Jong.

Hymus tells the tale of a session he had with De Jong when preparing for the knife vs unarmed free fighting shodan grading. He, the younger, fitter, aggressive, trained warrior was armed with the knife; and De Jong was unarmed. Straight out of the blocks, De Jong kicks Hymus' hand and the knife ricochets off the ceiling. Hymus is confounded: 'You've always instructed us never to kick when confronted with a knife. Why did you do that?' De Jong explains: 'Because I could.'

De Jong and myself were doing some training for a demonstration at a Norway summer camp (though their idea of summer and mine are quite different). He was armed with the kusurigama, and this time I was the katana wielding adversary. I'd attack with a downwards strike, which he would sidestep while ensnaring the blade with the chain and attacking the side of my neck with the sickle. I'd lean to the side a little, which De Jong was unhappy about. He explained that it didn't look good. So, using sheer willpower to overcome my sense of self preservation, I attacked and did not lean to the side. I then felt a trickle of blood running down my neck. 'That's why I lean to the side', I exclaimed. 'That time I thought you were going to lean to the side', De Jong explained.

Oh, and who can forget De Jong's massages? De Jong is a qualified physiotherapist. In my formative training years, an inexperienced student took me across his bended knee so that my back went from convex to concave in milliseconds. De Jong took me into the instructors changeroom which had a massage table. 'Dear God in heaven', I thought, 'what have I ever done to you to deserve this.' His massage could be legally classified as assault. However, he might of thought he was one hell of a masseuse because when he asked if the injury is feeling better I'm quite sure that 100% of his 'patent's' would have enthusiastically replied in the affirmative (simply to avoid any further punishment).
The way he threw you on the mat!! One day we did a demo at an institution for juvenile delinquents. Outside the building on the grass we demonstrated some throws and locks. Some smartaleck reckoned he could free himself out of a certain lock and make a counter attack, so Jan invited him to try. Can you imagine what happened?
Hymus tells the story when De Jong went to instruct the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) that the troopers were not all that convinced about this 'old guy' telling them what to do. So, the very first trooper looked to put this old guy in his place, much to his personal distress. Needless to say, respect was paid following that painful demonstration.
Once we did a demo in a dancehall.Jan asked me to attack him [any attack] So I dived [with a yell] forward aming for his legs,the next thing that happened I landed between chairs and tables.I still remembered that the other day.
We were conducting a seminar in Holland once and De Jong was explaining something to the participants - in Dutch. I don't speak Dutch. He then turned and faced me to demonstrate a technique that he had been talking to the participants about - in Dutch. I had no idea what attack he wanted, let alone what defence he was going to demonstrate. He gestured his impatience, so, I figured, what the hell. I rushed forward with a high punch, and promptly found myself on my back looking up at De Jong, who asked: 'Why did you try and hit me?' 'Because I don't speak Dutch', I explained. He then laughed and shared the story with the seminar participants, who also laughed at my expense. This is part and parcel of being an uke, so I'm told.

De Jong was never aloof. I recall a seminar in Aalborg, Denmark, where one particular instructor was celebrating some milestone. The head instructor approached De Jong for his help in a particular tradition. De Jong 'decided' to teach handcuffing techniques in the next session, with the aforementioned instructor being accepted as the willing volunteer. When De Jong had handcuffed the aforementioned instructor, he stepped aside while the other instructors took the handcuffed instructor outside and pelted him with pepper. Some strange Danish tradition, so I'm told.

Much like the Gammel Dansk (Old Danish) tradition. Gammel Dansk is a Danish alcoholic beverage. Our host informed us that a Danish tradition is to start the day with a shot of Gammel Dansk. I hate spirits. So, I knocked the shot back in one take, and my displeasure was evident in my face - much to our host's amusement. He then informed me/us that I had to have another shot otherwise I would be walking around in circles because only one leg had been filled. I can see a certain logic in the argument, but ...

I always loved the story about De Jong grading Peter Clarke his wakizashi grading for third dan. Now Peter is the consummate martial artist. At the end of the grading, De Jong congratulates Peter for passing the grading, but, he explained he had to fail him for the first technique because it wasn't the right defence. Peter was confused: 'What do you mean? That's the defence you taught us.' 'Yes, I know,' said De Jong, 'but I taught you the wrong technique.' ... De Jong could afford to do those sorts of things in gradings because it was never ever a question of whether a candidate would pass with his instructors, it was only a matter of by how much.

If anyone has a story to share and wouldn't mind sharing it with the world, please write to me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blocking Techniques - Response to Comments

The following are extracts to the blog I posted on blocking techniques. The first:
Interesting exploration of blocking/evading/facilitating etc. A traditional "block" can be all of these things, or I guess none of them depending on how you look at it. I'm always interested to find out more about how Jan De Jong taught.
Firstly, thank you for letting me know you found my essay interesting. Secondly, exploring 'how you look at it' is revealing. Two former senior students of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School have approached me to take them through to shodan. I read something recently which expresses my view of shodan:
What is the amount of time an average student takes to get black belt? Answer: Average students don't get black belts.
The Jan de Jong Self Defence School jujutsu grading sheets for shodan refers to it as an 'Instructor's Grade'. That is the way shodan was explained to me by some of the senior instructors. First kyu (black and white) was a fighter's grade, and shodan was an instructor's grade. That may be overstating the case in the former, but a review of the grades in shodan will definitely confirm the latter.

My aim is that anyone who is graded shodan by me is a world-class instructor. This entails 'standing on the shoulder's of giants.' De Jong produced very good instructors; my challenge is to do even better. The way I intend to do this is by going beyond Jan de Jong jujutsu, going beyond the martial arts, to reference biomechanics, psychology, physiology, etc. to produce even better instructors.

Returning to 'how you look at it'; a quality instructor should be able to identify and explain the purpose of each and every movement in a technique, in a defence. Many, many instructors can tell you how to do a technique or defence, where they fall down is in explaining the 'why' of the 'how'. And we have to go beyond 'shoehorning' and 'this is the way we did it'.
The 'soft' blocks are often used to position either the attackers arm/leg or your own to facilitate the next movement in the defense cycle.

It was certainly my understanding of why we used empty or brushing blocks on certain techniques, yes the sabaki 'protected' you from being struck, but the hand position facilitated the defensive technique, be it lock or throw (takedown? have you answered that question yet!).
Congratulations 'Aus-Samurai'. It appears that you might be a student of the school or one of its derivatives. It also appears that you have thought about the function of certain blocks beyond the explanation given by certain instructors; often summed up in, 'this is how we did it.'

Absolutely! The soft blocks purpose are not to block, rather, they are to position a body limb in order to execute another movement. That seems such a simple explanation, but it is often not considered because we are considering a 'block'. In Jan de Jong jujutsu, and in many martial arts, the concept of a block needs to be reconceptualised. How do you reconceptulise a block; ask, 'what is its function?'

I'd agree with your explanation concerning a brushing block, but an empty block? An empty block is no block at all. An empty block is a bob and weave in boxing parlance. A bodymovement is used to evade the attack, but since there is no block, by definition the hands are not positioned to facilitate a defensive technique. The 'empty block' category of blocks is a catch-all category. When no block is used for any purpose.

Ah, now you appear to ask the question concerning the difference between a throw and a takedown. A distinction I initially campaigned on. Fair enough. I've moved way beyond that now so, the next blog will explore the distinction between throws and takedowns, and given this blog is dedicated to Jan de Jong and his jujutsu, it'll use the distinction used within the teachings as a case study.

Thank you for you comments.