The jujutsu taught by Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan was referred to as Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu (THR) jujutsu. De Jong began the internationalisation of his teachings in the early 1980s when he started conducting seminars throughout Western Europe and Australia.
De Jong’s jujutsu grading syllabus is one of, if not the most extensive martial arts grading syllabuses I have ever seen. The aim of the yudansha (black belt) portion of his jujutsu grading syllabus is not only to develop proficient (world-class) practitioners but also to produce proficient (world-class) instructors. To this end, the yudansha grades contain numerous parts that are specifically aimed at producing said proficient (world-class) jujutsu instructors.
Towards the end of his life, De Jong often discussed his ideas of developing two yudansha streams with me. He was never impulsive when it came to developing or changing his grading systems (he also developed aikido and pencak silat grading systems) and he used me as a sounding board for the development of his ideas about a dual-streamed yudansha grading syllabus. De Jong passed away (April 2003) before he could realise his ideas in this regard.
The impetus for De Jong’s dual-stream syllabus was the fact that certain individuals would never teach nor want to teach the jujutsu that they were so proficient in. Why subject those jujutsuka to the instructor-oriented gradings when they would never teach jujutsu? Why deny them the opportunity of grading shodan (1st Dan) if they did not have the opportunity to assist instructing classes (one of the grading requirements)?
Sensei Daniel Newcombe 5th Dan Tsustumi Hozan Ryu Jujutsu and 1st Dan Shotokan Karate (see right) is the driving force behind Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu International (THRI). Newcombe was introduced to De Jong’s jujutsu in 1986 and has been teaching THR jujutsu since 1996 and continues to train under De Jong’s son, Shihan Hans de Jong 8th Dan. Following Jan De Jong’s passing, Newcombe established Colosseum Martial Arts, of which he is the principal, and then THRI.
THRI was established in 2015 by Newcombe and Sensei Wim Mallens (see below), Principal Tadashii-do Karate ne Jiu Jitsu based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with Hans de Jong being appointed Patron of the organisation. Mallens has a long association with the De Jong family being the first to host a De Jong seminar in Holland when De Jong was denied that opportunity because he did not belong to any Dutch judo or jujutsu organisation. Mallens continued to host De Jong seminars annually for two decades.
THRI is a non-profit organisation formed to provide a forum and framework for the preservation of the original THR jujutsu system, techniques, method of instruction and standard of Jan de Jong and Hans de Jong. Other goals of THRI are to restructure and modernise the original THR gradings, standardise teaching practices for greater consistency in practitioner and instructor standards, provide pathways for clubs and Instructions to affiliate with THRI and introduce the grading and assessment framework within their own teachings.
In this way, Newcombe and Mallens are realising De Jong’s vision and are extending it further.
Another initiative introduced by Newcombe within the THRI syllabus is the separation of the weapons grades in the yudansha grades into a separate stream. In this way, those not engaged in the THRI jujutsu grading stream can obtain training and qualifications in the use of various weapons.
Newcombe has also tackled a dilemma that De Jong grappled with without coming to a resolution before he passed away. That dilemma was the transitioning of jujutsu yudansha in other systems into the THR (now THRI) system without compromising the high standards associated with THR/THRI. Newcombe has developed a bridging course that culminates in the awarding of a THRI shodan grade. Higher THRI yudansha grades are contingent on completing the instructor-stream grades which ensures that the candidate is familiar with the rest of the THRI syllabus.
The Science Behind All Fighting Techniques
Gracie and Gracie in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (2001) suggest that by the time a student attains a black belt their knowledge and skill are of the highest class and that their depth of knowledge makes them a fully qualified teacher. Further, they suggest that ‘rather than merely knowing how to perform the moves, the black belt is expected to know why a given move works. That is, he [or she] understands the biomechanical principles that underlie the move’ (emphasis in the original). While the expectation that black belts are expected to know why a given move works in addition to how to perform the move is laudable, it is definitely not realised if the martial arts literature is anything to go by.
De Jong’s original instructor-oriented gradings which THRI has isolated in a separate stream of gradings is a greater step towards realising Gracie and Gracie’s expectations that yudansha are qualified teachers, however, they can still be improved upon in order to realise Gracie and Gracie’s expectation that yudansha know the why in addition to the how of jujutsu techniques.
I am very excited by Newcombe’s THRI grading syllabus approach as it demonstrates the utility of the science that I have developed for a book that I have tentatively titled, The Science Behind All Fighting Techniques. The theory that I have developed provides the biomechanical (and other) understanding of all techniques taught by all fighting activities and relates it to practice in a meaningful way.