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.

2 comments:

  1. John.

    I remember Bob Clark and Dick Morris very well. I trained at their dojos in 1975 in London (WJJF was then being promoted)but while they had enthusiasm, (driven, largely I believe by financial gain) in abundance, they lacked technical ability and a humility on the mat. The latter not to be confused with lack of confidence.

    Arrogance is a beast that has no place in a dojo, and least of all from people who acquired self nominated specious titles like "Professor" and "Soke" in months.

    It was me who made the JJK : WJJF introduction - a decision I've often regretted.

    When asked for a comparison of the WJJF teaching / mat time to my own instruction at JJK, all I could think of (and still do) is..."why would you want a boiled egg when you could have Caviar?"

    Anyway...what do I know, It's now history, and the wheel still keeps turning.

    Zak

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    1. Zak. Thank you so much. You've provided a unique contribution to the history of JDJ's story. I never knew that you were the agent for the introduction of JDJ to WJJF and Clarke. Don't feel bad in any way. This led to the internationalisation of JDJ and which he loved more than anything else. Indirectly, you provided him with a great sense of accomplishment and joy. ... even though he physically threw you out of an all night bridge game when you purposefully threw out losing cards when partnering him. :)

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