Friday, October 24, 2014

Direct relationship between the armed and the unarmed self-defence arts?

The Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness (an offshoot of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School) website explains: 'There is a direct relationship between the armed and the unarmed self-defence arts and these unique techniques will be explained and demonstrated during the course of the classes.'

They are not alone in suggesting there is a direct relationship between armed and unarmed self-defence arts. Aikido is an obvious example where some practitioners focus on the supposed direct relationship between armed and unarmed self-defence arts.

I'll refer to Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan (posthumously 10th Dan) who used to criticise those martial arts that suggested their tactics and techniques were based on the fighting tactics and techniques of animals. As he would say, we are not animals. We are not tigers, eagles, preying mantis , or any other animal. Even though we are related to monkeys, we are not monkeys. Monkeys cannot form a fist, we can, and studies have shown that the ability to form a fist is a distinct survival advantage over monkeys and apes. Why give away that survival advantage for a principal?

In like manner, our limbs are not weapons made of steel. They do not have the ability to cut, slice, or stab. Juxtaposed to that is that the sword does not have the ability to unbalance an opponent other than to directly oppose their force. Why would you base your self-defence tactics on techniques on a method that is clearly not representative of your resources?

The Jan de Jong Jujutsu grading system included a grading, Ken Tai Ichi no Kata. The kata of sword and body. It's supposed to demonstrate the similarities between sword techniques and unarmed techniques.

The explanation of the purpose of the kata is flawed.

The core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences. The kata should be demonstrating the similarities AND THE DIFFERENCES between armed and unarmed defences.

There are similarities between certain tactics and techniques but there are also differences, BECAUSE OUR UPPER LIMBS ARE NOT SWORDS.

A classic case in point is that it is very difficult to unbalance an opponent with a sword other than to directly oppose them. This resulted in some 'shoe-horning' by the instructors at the JDJSDS when they attempted to reconcile the physical unbalancing methods in the unarmed defences with those of the armed defences.

Only in the martial arts would this discussion ever arise.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I had cause to study the lineage of the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong recently.

Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu is supposedly the jujutsu taught by the Saito brothers who were Jan de Jong's original instructors.

Jan de Jong didn't start referring to THR until the mid 70s and every grading certificate of Jujutsu-kan and the Jan de Jong Self Defence School only refers to Tsutsumi Ryu, technically a completely different school to THR.

In 1999, Jan de Jong graded Peter Clarke 4th dan and referred to Jan de Jong Jujutsu for the first time on the certificate. Until his death all other certificates continued to refer to TR but those of the highest grades - Peter Clarke, Rob Hymus, Paul Connolly, and Greg Palmer - all referred to Jan de Jong Jujutsu.

After Jan de Jong's death, all the senior instructors went their own way.

Rob Hymus of Indian Ocean Dojo refers to THR. Hans de Jong of the Hans de Jong Self Defence School also refers to THR.

Peter Clarke of Southern Cross Bujutsu has a very good explanation of how he founded Jugo Tsutsumi Ryu on his website. Whether 'jugo' is actually translated as 'Australian' is a contentious issue according to various Japanese sources, however, it's saving grace is that it could be a clever rearrangement of 'goju' (hard-soft and referring to Goju Ryu karate) to 'jugo' (soft-hard) to emphasise the association with the philosophical construct that supposedly underlies jujutsu.

Greg Palmer also founded his own school and changed the name of the jujutsu he taught to Keikai Ryu which is supposed to translate to Gregory. Unfortunately the lineage of Jan de Jong to Greg Palmer and Keikai Ryu died with Greg. It may have died with him but it is not to be forgotten and forms part of the lineage that is the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong.

Most interesting of all is the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong Martial Arts and Fitness. The school's (not to be confused with school of thought or tradition) principal is Maggie de Jong with Paul Connolly being the 'seniour instructor' of the school. The JdJMAF website does not refer to a style of jujutsu by name but rather to the jujutsu taught by the school as being 'based' on THR. A no-name brand of jujutsu.

Pat Harringon in Principles of Jujitsu describes the lineage of Australian jujutsu. She has the successor of Jan de Jong and THR as being Graham Dunn. Graham was a devotee of Jan de Jong's teachings and his association with Jan de Jong influenced his teachings and his style of jujutsu, however, you'd need a dotted line at best to include his teachings with the lineage of the jujutsu that Jan de Jong taught. Harrington is guilty of poor research, a not uncommon feature of the martial arts literature.

What about Jan de Jong Jujutsu or Jan de Jong Ryu? It would appear it had it's moment in the sun for a twinkling of an eye. Even though Jan de Jong considered that he'd changed what he'd learnt so much that it was no longer THR, it would appear that THR possesses more currency than JdJR.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jan de Jong's Bastard Child

I've had occassion to study Ken Tai Ichi no Kata which is a part of De Jong's grading system. The following demonstration was posted on YouTube and the participants are students of Hans de Jong, the son of Jan de Jong.

There is also a demonstration that has been posted of the original Ken Tai Ichi no Kata by Mochizuki's school.

The core of all learning is the identification of similarities and differences. There is much to learn from the comparision of the two kata. One of the things that came out of my exploration is the identification of Jan de Jong's bastard child.

This kata and much else is taken directly from Mochizuki's Yoseikan Budo, however, De Jong until 1999 and all of the offshoot schools still identify with Tsutsumi Hozan ryu. In the 1950s, De Jong only had the first four kyu gradings in his grading system. If there is any Tsutsumi Hozan ryu influence in the jujutsu taught by De Jong it would be contained in those grades. Thereafter, his grading system was significantly influenced by his time with Minoru Mochizuki in Japan and through his involvement with one of his instructors, Yoshiaki Unno, who he sponsored to come to Australia and who he and his son trained with each morning for a few years.

What style of jujutsu did De Jong teach and by extension what style of jujutsu do the schools that succeeded him teach?

Even if a case could be made that De Jong learnt Tsutsumi Hozan ryu jujutsu by his original instructors, the Saito brothers, that tradition has long since been changed beyond recognition by the influence of Mochizuki's teachings. However, technically you cannot say they are teaching Yoseikan Budo because De Jong was never graded in Yoseikan Budo. The jujutsu that De Jong taught and that all his instructors teach is the bastard child of the different influences that shaped the school of Jan de Jong.

In 1999, De Jong graded Sensei Peter Clarke (now of Southern Cross Bujutsu)fourth dan and the certificate referred for the first time to 'Jan de Jong Jujutsu.' It is interesting that while everyone identifies with Tsutsumi Hozan ryu jujutsu, not one of De Jong's certificates awarded to students refers to that system. Instead, they all refer to Tsutsumi ryu, an entirely different school. The reference by De Jong to his self-named style of jujutsu was the result of my campaign over many years, however, the four main instructors who have succeeded De Jong refuse to identify with Jan de Jong Jujutsu.

The identification with Tsutsumi Hozan ryu does a grave disservice to De Jong's life work. His legacy is kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word written with two characters meaning ‘to change’ and ‘for the better’ and has come to mean ‘continuous improvement’ in business circles.

De Jong continually tried to improve his knowledge and his jujutsu system. He didn't collect books for the sake of them. They were his professional development in an age and environment when professional development through personal contact was not available to him. In his fifties he ventured over to Japan to continue his professional develepmont with Mochizuki and even further by sponsoring one of his instructors, Unno, to come to Australia so he could learn from him.

All the schools that were derived from De Jong's - Jan de Jong's Martial Arts and Fitness, Southern Cross Bujutsu, Indian Ocean Dojo, and Hans de Jong Self Defence School - all continue to identify with the legend/myth that is the Tsutsumi Hozan ryu origins. Jan de Jong worked his entire life right up until his passing developing a body of work and rather than some spurious link to the past, his efforts should be acknowledged and celebrated.

I am proud to say that I teach the bastard child that is Jan de Jong jujutsu.