Monday, November 30, 2015

Demo Bloopers 2

More memories. More bloopers.

Jan de Jong and I were preparing for a demonstration to be given at the end of a summer camp in Norway. He was going to demonstrate kusurigama techniques (see photo). We were practicing outside our hut one very cold morning (Australian ideas of summer and Norwegian ideas of summer are very different). I attacked with a downward strike with a katana (sword) and he ensnared said sword with the rope/chain and attack my neck with the blade of the kusurigama. I leaned away from said attack, to which De Jong admonished me and said that it didn't look good for the demonstration.

Fair enough. I attacked and didn't lean away despite all instincts for self-preservation. De Jong defended and attacked my neck ... blood started to trickle down my neck where De Jong had penetrated it with his weapon. 'THAT'S WHY I LEAN AWAY' I exclaimed. 'I thought you were going to lean away,' he explained.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Demo Bloopers

My previous post got me reminiscing. I remembered some of our demonstrations, and there were a lot of demonstrations, both domestically, nationally, and internationally.

I remember my first demonstration. Everybody was busy so myself and my training partner were to give the demonstration with Sensei Paul Connolly providing the initial guidance. He instructed us, orange belts at the time, to demonstrate unarmed defences against a bo (6'6" staff) ... even though we'd never used one before. Fair enough.

We'd trained jo and therefore could adapt to bo and did so quite well even if I do say so myself. I was attacking with the bo and my partner was defending. We'd gone through our routine and on the last attack-defence we both looked at each other ... nothing. We couldn't remember the attack or defence. We circled each other in the hope that one of us would remember, but nothing. In the end I just attacked with a roar and he defended with whatever.

Then there was the time that we were demonstrating nunchaku techniques at a Dutch festival in Perth where Shihan Jan de Jong was the patron. Our nunchaku techniques involve ensnaring to execute all manner of techniques rather than just striking. The very first defence ensnared my wrist and brought it back behind me to cause me to fall to the ground (a takedown technique). As the nunchaku passed my face, one end hit my nose and broke it.

I laid on the ground, snorted out blood clots from my nose, jumped up and attacked again to be once again dispatched with. This happened for the entire demo. I made sure that my attacks were directed so that I would not land on the blood clots I was snorting on the ground and that it would be fast and furious so that there was no time for blood to be seen on my face or uniform.

At the end of the demo, we bowed and walked towards our group, and then my nose cascaded with blood. We were arranged in front of the St John Ambulance display, and when they saw me walking towards them they stopped clapping and guided me into the ambulance for attention.

Then there was the time in Sweden where Sensei Maggie de Jong and I were going to demonstrate kenjutsu (sword art) techniques. When we were demonstrating, Maggie attacked and I defended. I was training third dan at that stage, Maggie was first dan. I was super fast, Maggie was not. I had defended well in advance of Maggie's attack resulting in her sword slicing through the top of my left pointer finger. There was so much blood that when I was at the toilet basin, the blood was coming out of the joints in the pipes. There is now permanent nerve damage to the top of that finger.

Lesson to learn from that experience. Speed is nothing, timing is everything.

There was also the time that Maggie and myself were practicing for a demo in Java, Indonesia at a motel. I got the slightest of grazes in the practice session. We gave the demo in a dried rice paddy field in the country, a scene that could have taken place in an Asian marital arts movie. A day later I had a high fever, sweating, and couldn't straighten my leg. Jan de Jong took one look at the red line running from my groin to my leg and drove me to a hospital in Semarang where I was diagnosed with blood poisoning. Apparently a day later would have been a day too late.

Then there was the Norway jujutsu summer camp. At the end of the week, all of the instructors at the camp were to put on demonstrations. Our team was comprised of Jan de Jong, Maggie, myself, and a Danish instructor who is a good friend of ours. I was to attack ... for everyone. As they announced who was to demonstrate it would be Jan de Jong and John Coles, Maggie de Jong and John Coles, Danish fellow and John Coles. Every group of defences, I was attacking. Maggie did this magnificent foot sweep with a jo that had me upside down and doing a 360 before landing on my head. Jan de Jong was demonstrating jo techniques and missed the initial catch but made up for it when he took me down and applied the jo to my throat ... damaging one of the cartilages in my throat. For six months there was this clicking sound in my throat when I swallowed.

I was suppose to have two groups of defences to demonstrate with the Danish chappy attacking. Jan de Jong some how forgot those groups and so nobody got to see if I could actually defend myself or not. Insult to injury I'd say.

The generation before me also had their stories. A demo at the WACA had one female student have a knife plunged into her leg but carried on as if nothing had happened. Another person, who will remain nameless but who is a police officer, was handcuffed by Jan de Jong only for them to find that they had forgotten to bring the key along with them. This police officer jujutska was taken home handcuffed.


Oh God, the memories come flooding back. De Jong would demonstrate the use of the short stick, a baton, where it is initially held in a concealed position. A use of the baton from that position is to flick it to the attackers groin when they are attacking. For the first and only time in my jujutsu life, I wore a groin guard on that European tour. De Jong flicked and it made contact with my groin guard with an audible noise. I reacted with a bit of a flinch and the audience went 'ooo ahh'. De Jong, ever the showman, warmed to this idea and the hits got progressively harder with the same audience reaction. One day in Holland, I attacked, De Jong flicked, no audible noise ... other than my groans as I lay on the ground with my knees around my ears grabbing my groin. I had forgotten to wear the groin guard. De Jong stood over me and said, 'You forgot to wear your protection today man.' No shit Sherlock.

And there was the same time at the same dojo where De Jong was explaining his lesson in Dutch and looked at me for an attack that he had just described. I DON'T SPEAK DUTCH. He was looking insistent and not wishing to embarrass him, I attacked ... with whatever attack I chose. The next thing I knew I was on the flat of my back with De Jong standing over me asking me why I attacked like that. 'BECAUSE I DON'T SPEAK DUTCH.' He laughed and explained to the audience, in Dutch, what had just happened and they all laughed as well. Very funny.

We did many demos, there were many people that did many demos, and I'm sure they all have their own stories. So many stories.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Hilary Swank Moment

Hilary Swank was a guest at this year's Melbourne Cup, the 'race that stops a nation.' She also stars in the fourth of the The Karate Kid franchise - The Next Karate Kid - which was on television just recently.

In that movie, Mr Miyagi was teaching her karate and included an exercise where she was blind folded and had to avoid swinging bags. She then used that skill in a fight when the opponent blinded her by throwing mud into her eyes.

I had my Hilary Swank moment with my Mr Miyagi, Sensei Greg Palmer.

I was training with two partners after class one night. I was blind-folded and had to defend against attacks which my two partners initiated. It has to be said that punching and kicking attacks were prohibited.

Greg was watching and after a while asked me, blind-folded, and my two partners to walk around the dojo in a random fashion. Greg then instructed us to stop and asked me to point to where my two partners were ... by name.

Intuition time. So I tried to feel something, see something in my mind, ... nothing. I had absolutely no idea. Stupid bloody exercise, but I pointed when each name was called out nonetheless. When I took my blind-fold off, I found that I had pointed directly at Marcus (my regular training partner) and I was five degrees off the other person (now known as the other person).

I was astounded.

We performed the exercise again, and once again I tried to feel or see something in my mind, but nothing. But each time, without fail, I pointed directly at Marcus and was five degrees off the other guy.

Towards the end, as we were walking in random patterns around the mats, I turned and Greg asked why I turned. I said that there was a wall in front of me. Sure enough, there was a wall in front of me.

The final time, we walked randomly around the dojo before Greg instructed us to stop. He asked me to point to Marcus. I did. He asked me to point to the other guy. I did. He then asked me to point to the nearest wall. I did. And then he asked me to estimate the distance between me and those three objects. I did.

I was spot on with Marcus. Five degrees and a short distance off with the other guy. And spot on with the wall.

I never questioned it. Never tried to understand it. And I never repeated it again in case it didn't work again.

That was my Hilary Swank moment with my own Mr Miyagi, Sensei Greg Palmer.