Sunday 12 May 2024

JDJ Jujutsu Instructors Register

It should be noted that I never set out to create a register of Jan de Jong's (JDJ) jujutsu yudansha, ikkyu holders, and/or instructors. That only came about through a comment received on a previous post asking about a register in relation to a person not affiliated with the Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS) claiming that they were awarded yondan by JDJ.

Greg Palmer provided the yudansha register. I developed the ikkyu holder's register because ikkyu was the instructor's grading with JDJ's grading system (kyu system). When JDJ developed that system, there was no thought of a dan grading system (see previous link). The JDJ jujutsu instructors register arose out of the fact that many of JDJ's early instructors were not graded ikkyu, let alone shodan, and they were as good as, if not better than at times, those that followed with higher grades.

Here is something that just occurred to me. I have explained in previous posts that JDJ asked me to take over the Melville branch when I was only orange belt (sankyu (3rd kyu)) and after less than two years training even though there were many shodan, ikkyu, and nikyu students that were available. Through my research, I found that Peter Clarke, one of the three that JDJ promoted to rokudan , was also teaching after two years of training. What grade was Clarke when he was teaching at that time?

The following is the JDJ jujutsu instructors register that has been compiled todate. If you have any other instructors, not assistant instructors, who taught for JDJ at the JDJSDS, please forward their names to me to be included on the register.

1.      Peter Clarke

2.      Robert Hymas

3.      Paul Connolly

4.      Greg Palmer

5.      Ian Lloyd

6.      Robert Kirby

7.      Hans de Jong

8.      Debbie Clarke

9.      John Copley

10.  John Coles

11.  Peter Templeman

12.  Maggie de Jong

13.  Vass D'Esterre

14.  Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard

15.  Heidi Romundt

16.  Darryl Cook

17.  David Green

18.  Joe Fantasia

19.  Manfred ? (instructed Kirby)

20.  Tony Chiffings

21.  Rodney Miller

22.  Steve Moller

23.  Les Periera

24.  Craig Ma’ha

25.  Mike Rendell

26.  Terry Ginnane

27.  Paul Jones

28.  David Green

29.  Rodney Robinson

30.  Alan Robson

31.  Jason Stirbinskis

32.  Cyril Boutsis

33.  Michael Riessen

34.  Simon Blytheway

35.  George Clarke (first full-time instructor other than JDJHakusho 1988-89, JDJSDS, 1)

36.  Dennis Dunn

37.  David Palmer

In the above list: 37 instructors, excluding JDJ, 34 male, 3 female.

I have to mention Robert 'Rob' 'Kirbs' Kirby. His career in the police force deprived us of his continued instruction and he was in the unfortunate era were shodan was only being introduced. He never got to complete the shodan grading but is well worthy of that status and more.

He knew his 'stuff' and his Saturday classes were both enjoyable and challenging. He alone among the instructors knew how to train students and not just teach them. That probably came from his training with the Western Australian Police Force. Most, if not all, of the other instructors had very little training experience outside of the JDJSDS.

Kirby could make the training serious and lighthearted at the same time. His classes included laughter, exertion, and sweat. His class was the only one where I pushed myself so hard that I was at risk of throwing up, but I would have been there for the next class without a second thought.

Given my training regime, I trained extensively under every senior instructor in the JDJSDS during the 1980s, however, upon review of the above list, I did not train much if at all under John Copley. Copley was obviously a good teacher as numerous of his students went on to become instructors, ikkyu, and yudansha.

Copley taught at the Morley branch, which was the only dojo that JDJ bought outright. If only JDJ had bought 996 Hay Street, the hombu. Students today will never know the 'charm' of the 996 Hay Street hombu. To be fair, they will also not know the occ health and saftey threat they exposed to training at the 996 Hay Street hombu. No fire extinguishers in a fire trap (until I lobbied for them). Rain water cascading down over open fuse boxes. Dojos with an undulating surface rather than a smooth surface. ... ah, the good old days. :)

Of course, there was always the brothel across the road in those days, the Scarlet Garter.

Parking was always at a premium for the JDJSDS given that it was located in the CBD, albeit on the outer fringe of the CBD, and I used to park behind this building in the Scarlet Garter's parking. Interesting patronage to say the least. Not a lot of eye contact between parking patrons.

Someone from the Scarlet Gater came into the JDJSDS to ask for protection at one stage. A bouncer or some such. Not sure if anyone took up that offer. 

Anyway, when I compiled these registers, it is always a walk down memory lane. An era that will not be repeated and for which the current JDJ ryuha students are the poorer for.

Sunday 5 May 2024

JDJ Jujutsu Ikkyu Holders Register

It should be noted that I never set out to create a register of Jan de Jong's (JDJ) jujutsu yudansha, ikkyu holders, and/or instructors. That only came about through a comment received on a previous post asking about a register in relation to a person not affiliated with the Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS) claiming that they were awarded yondan by JDJ.

I had a register of yudansha that was created by Greg Palmer. I didn't have a register of ikkyu holders, however, I thought it was important as ikkyu was the instructor's grade in JDJ's original grading system, the kyu system

As the above kyu system link showed, JDJ developed the kyu system with no thought of any extension; no thought of a dan system. That grading was designed as a one-off grading system with instructors being graded ikkyu. I would put some of the ikkyu holders who were instructors up against any of subsequent dan graded instructors and would say they either matched or surpassed them in all respects.

Of course, the obvious question is, why didn't JDJ consider dan grades when he developed his original grading system? 

Was it because there was no mention of black belts in Tsutsumi Masao and Higashi Katsukuma's Die Selbstverteidigung (Jiu-Jitsu): nebst einem Anhange über Kuatsu (Wissenschaft der Wiederbelebung Verunglückter): mit 72 Abbildungen nach dem Leben (Self-defense (Jiu-Jitsu): along with an appendix on Kuatsu (science of resuscitation of casualties): with 72 illustrations based on life) published in Germany in 1906. All of the belts in JDJ's kyu system are included in Tsutsumi and Higashi's list, but there is no mention of black belts by Tsutsumi and Higashi as there is no mention of black belts in JDJ's original list of gradings.

When shodan, and then nidan and sandan were subsequently developed, ikkyu came to be thought of as an 'assistant instructor's' grading. That belittles the previous ikkyu holders who were the instructors of the school. They deserve more respect from the post-1980s generations than to be considered 'assistant instructors.' That is why I have developed a JDJ ikkyu holder register.

Based on my analysis of the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system that has been explored in these posts, an interesting proposition has been put forward by a reader who was a former instructor who was graded ikkyu. One that is well worth considering. Does JDJ ikkyu = Saito sandan?


Are the JDJ ikkyu holders the equivalent of JDJ's original instructors, the Saitos, sandan? Are they the equivalent of JDJ at sandan under the Saitos?

The idea behind this is that when JDJ developed his kyu system which was designed as a standalone one-off grading system, that was all he knew from the Saitos. That was his sandan, plus whatever else he picked up in his limited training in Europe during WWII. That is not an unreasonable assumption.

The following are the JDJ ikkyu holders whose names I have been able to ascertain todate. Thank you to the readers who have contributed to the compilation of this list.

The names are presented in no particular order. Those included in this register of JDJ ikkyu holders did not go on to grade shodan. Those that did are shown separately in the JDJ yudansha register. There are 34 in all, with 30 males and 4 females.

The first to be awarded ikkyu were Alan Robson and Rodney Miller according to the JDJSDS Hakusho (1986, 20).

JDJ Ikkyu Holders

1. Margaret de Jong (front right of JDJ)

2. Vass D'Esterre (back second left)

3. Robert Kirby

4. Peter Canavan

5. Rodney Miller

6. Dennis Dunn

7. Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard

8. John Poulton (front left)

9. David Palmer

10. David Green

11. Michael Boland

12. Heidi Romundt

13. Steve Moller

14. Gerald Woods

15. Adrienne Barlow

16. Alan Robson

17. Ross Allanson

18. Paul Lang (?)

19. Michael Simpson

20. Glenny Savy

21. Ian Thomason

22. Paul Amyes

23. Marcus Seabrook

24. David Skender

25. Peter Hegarty

26. Mick Rendall

27. Don Berryman

28. Jean Roebuck

29. Dean Cahill

30. Warren Holdway

31. Harry ? (trained with Rendall and Cahill)

32. Craig Ma’ha

33. Jason Stirbinskis

34. Dale Elsdon

A number of the above went on to become yudansha under Hans de Jong in his Hans de Jong Self Defence School ryuha following JDJ's death in April, 2003.

If you know of anyone missing from the above list, please forward their name to me for inclusion.

Sunday 28 April 2024

JDJ Jujutsu Yudansha Register

You will recall from the previous post that a commentor to that post referred to a register of Jan de Jong (JDJ) senior grades. That inspired me to develop such a register.

My intention is to develop a register of JDJ jujutsu yudansha, ikkyu holders, and instructors. Ultimately, the register will be a permanent feature of this blog located on the right border (if I can remember how to do that again).

Greg Palmer developed a register of JDJ jujutsu yudansha which is presented below with comments:


Robert Hymas (1981)

Peter Clarke (1981)

John Copley (1981)

Ian Lloyd

Tony Chiffings

Debbie Clarke

Paul Connolly

Greg Palmer

Hans de Jong

Steve Moller

John Martyr

Jim Downing

Bob Bruscher

John Coles

Darryl Cook

Justin Palandri

Janet Lake

Peter Templeman

Maggie de Jong

Cyril Boutis

Jamie Francis

Only the dates of the first to be awarded shodan have been included in the above list.

If we take as a beginning date when JDJ commenced teaching in Perth, 1952, JDJ awarded 21 shodans in 51 years of teaching before his passing in 2003. The first, 29 years after he started teaching in Perth.

Males: 18; Females: 3.


Peter Clarke (1991)

Robert Hymas (1992)

Paul Connolly (1992)

Greg Palmer (1996)

John Coles (1999)

Males: 5; Females: 0.

Time between shodan and nidan: Clarke 10yrs, Hymas 11yrs, Connolly 10yrs, Palmer 12yrs, Coles 7yrs.

This puts the available nidan gradings in the late 1980s.

Given the above, is my 7yrs more indicative of the average time to successfully complete the nidan gradings? The answer to that question is compromised in that I was working full-time as an instructor at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School from 1995 to 2000 inclusive.


Peter Clarke (1999)

Robert Hymas (1999)

Paul Connolly (1999)

Greg Palmer (2000)

John Coles (2000)

Males 5; Females 0.

Time between nidan and sandan: Clarke 8yrs, Hymas and Connolly 7yrs, Palmer 4yrs, Coles 1yr.

The timing for the first four may have been impacted in that JDJ was developing the sandan grades, however, my 1yr from nidan to sandan ... 12 parts to the sandan grading as we've seen in previous posts to this blog on the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system. And Greg and I were not training all that intensively. A couple of nights a week at his home dojo at best. The gradings are not easy (see previous blog posts) and no standards were compromised.


Peter Clarke (1999)

Greg Palmer (2002)

Clarke was promoted to yondan immediately upon completion of sandan.

Robert Hymas and Paul Connolly were promoted directly to godan from sandan.


Peter Clarke (Nov 2002)

Robert Hymas (Nov 2002)

Paul Connolly (Nov 2002)

Time between yondan or sandan as applicable: Clarke 3yrs, Hymas and Connolly 3yrs.


Peter Clarke (Mar 2003)

Robert Hymas (Mar 2003)

Paul Connolly (Mar 2003)

Time between godan and rokudan: five months.

JDJ passed away 5th April 2003.

PS: Why did JDJ stop at rokudan? Why did he rush to rokudan for Clarke, Hymas, and Connolly? Is it because he had learned post the development of his grading system to ikkyu and shodan that many/most other Japanese martial arts grading systems complete their 'technical' grades at rokudan and then honorary grades are only issued after rokudan? This and other related propositions will be explored in future posts.

PPS: Added to the shodan list is Micheal Rendell thanks to a reader. That makes 22 shodans in 51 years, and 19 males, 3 females.

Thursday 25 April 2024

JDJ Registries: Yudansha, Ikkyu holders, and Instructors

A comment from Anonymous was published on the previous blog post: 'Is there a registry of senior grades awarded by JDJ? There are people around claiming they were awarded 4th dans by him ('

That got me thinking.

I have a registry of jujutsu dan grades awarded by Jan de Jong (JDJ) that was prepared by Greg Palmer. I would like to develop a registry of jujutsu ikkyu grades and JDJ jujutsu instructors, two separate registries.

The ikkyu grade registry would include those who were awarded ikkyu by JDJ but did not go on to grade shodan. The instructor registry would be those that instructed for JDJ as instructors and not assistant instructors. I will eventually publish all three registries. I'll start.

Before I start, I have come to realise that I have been remiss in my, what I now realise is an incomplete understanding of the 'JDJ tradition.' I have been focused on the JDJ jujutsu tradition, however, there is also the JDJ aikido tradition and the JDJ pencak silat tradition. They are also relevant and significant, and just as innovative, and just as controversial, as his jujutsu tradition. 

Even though I was graded shodan in aikido by JDJ and assisted him in redeveloping his aikido grading system, and I graded highly in his pencak silat and was included in his pencak silat instructor's class after introducing JDJ to a new 'type' of pencak silat that he then went on to teach and include in his grading system, it is jujutsu where I was most highly graded and experienced. If anyone wants to start off a JDJ aikido or pencak silat tradition series, I'll be more than happy to post it on this blog. In the meantime, JDJ's jujutsu tradition: 

JDJ Ikkyu Holders:

Margaret de Jong

Vass D'Esterre

Robert Kirby

Peter Canavan

Rodney Miller

Dennis Dunn

Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard

John Poulton

David Palmer

David Green

Michael Boland

Heidi Romundt

Steve Moller

David Green

Gerald Woods

Adrienne Barlow

Alan Robson

Ross Allanson

JDJ Jujutsu Instructors

Peter Clarke

Robert Hymas

Paul Connolly

Greg Palmer

Ian Lloyd

Robert Kirby

Hans de Jong

Debbie Clarke

John Copley

John Coles

Peter Templeman

Maggie de Jong

Vass D'Esterre

Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard

Heidi Romundt

Darryl Cook

David Green

Joe Fantasia

Manfred (?)

Tony Chiffings

Rodney Miller

Please, dear readers, contribute to these lists if you can. 

Btw, this gathering of names is an attempt at preserving and strengthening the JDJ culture which will enhance the prospects of that culture and the current JDJ ryuha surviving. This idea of 'JDJ culture' will be the subject of a future blog post.

Monday 22 April 2024

The Jan de Jong Jujutsu Grading System: How Long to Get a Black Belt, Sensei and Senpai, and Missing Instructors

I share these blog posts on Facebook (FB). Comments are often posted on those FB posts, which is frustrating because those comments are often valuable contributions to the body of knowledge and understanding about Jan de Jong (JDJ) and his tradition that is being developed and shared in this blog. 

In posting comments on FB, the questions and insights that arise from those comments are often lost to posterity, consequently, the lessons that come from the 'rise and fall' of the JDJ tradition are lost to posterity. 

Please, dear readers, post comments on this blog so that they may be preserved for posterity and initiate further discussion, not just about the JDJ tradition itself, but also about other martial arts, self defence, and close combat systems.

There were two main themes in the comments received (primarily on FB) in response to the previous blog post: (1) how long it takes to grade shodan, and (2) that I'd missed some names of JDJ's instructors. These issues will be explored below.

How long to grade shodan?

In the previous post, I wrote: 'A relatively common question that is asked is: how long does it take to get a black belt in JDJ's grading system? The commonly conceived wisdom is 10 years. Where did that number come from?'

Working on this post, the above comment has to be qualified. It is about how long does it take the average student doing the average amount of training to get a black belt in JDJ's jujutsu grading system.

There are three people who were awarded shodan by JDJ within the abovementioned 10-year timeframe: Robert Hymas, Peter Clarke, and myself. 

Hymas was not an average student doing the average amount of training because he worked fulltime at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS) during that period. 

I was not an average student doing the average amount of training because I commenced training by attending two lessons a day, six days a week, and engaging in a lot of extra training (see post). Some might suggest that I was single minded, however, that is not true because I also completed higher academic and professional qualifications during that period while I was working in professional environments. 

That leaves Peter Clarke. Is he the only average student doing the average amount of training that was awarded shodan within 10 years? Did he engage in the average amount of training? He definitely did not engage in the same amount of training that I did, however, he was also not single minded as he rose to become the managing partner of a leading law firm in Perth. Did his success come from him being an above-average student?

Writing the above paragraph, I realised that Peter Clarke's history has flown under the radar. His achievements are noted, but his training history is not known. When rereading his bio on the Southern Cross Bujutsu webpage (see previous link), I realised that he too, like myself, started teaching for JDJ within two years of commencing training (see below). 

The following are some of the FB comments in relation to the original time-frame issue: 

If the 25 grades to Shodan in the JdJ era are to be completed in that 10 years, that's a grading every 4 months. Attending 2 classes a week would equate to 40 hours preparation and assumes you do nothing else but grading material every class, which as we know is not going to happen. I'm guessing that 10 years actually requires just as much "extra" work to stop it blowing out to 25.

I respect that commentor and their reasoning behind their comment, and they are not wrong with regards to the numbers, but what also has to be remembered is that those numbers are averages. Four months for rokkyu (6th kyu) with 30 attack-defence combinations in the reflex grading and four months for shodan (1st dan) with 140 attack-defence combinations in the original shodan grading, and now four months for part one and then part two with approximately 70 attack-defence combinations in each part.

In order to achieve the 10-year timeframe for shodan, one would have to be successfully completing the earlier, less arduous gradings at a faster rate than one every four (actually 4.8) months so that there would be more time to complete the more arduous gradings in ikkyu and shodan.

Debbie Clarke: 'I certainly never mentioned 10 years as a time frame even for Shodan. More likely 15- 20 years!!'

I mention Debbie by name because she is a very important person in the JDJ tradition. One who I respect highly and who is worthy of that respect. If she speaks, we should listen.

A short biography of Deb's can be viewed on this page on the Southern Cross Bujutsu website; the school that she founded when JDJ was still alive and with his blessing. As impressive as that biography is, it still does not do her justice.

When initially drafting this post, I started to elaborate on Deb's bio with an emphasis on her time with JDJ, however, it soon became an essay in itself because she achieved so much and was responsible for so much. She was a trailblazer in many respects. I will only elaborate on the shodan issue in this post.

Deb commenced training in 1966. She failed a kyu grade but came back to become the first female to be awarded shodan in 1982 by JDJ. She is the only person to undertake and successfully complete the shodan 140 attack-defence combination shinken shobu no kata reflex. She was one of the first shodans that JDJ graded and more than held her own with the male recipients. 

Deb is not naturally talented, as she would readily admit, but she is a study in resilience and hard work. There is far more than the above in Deb's life, and it is all a study in resilience and mental strength.

She once told me a story about how she, as a young nurse, was attacked from behind in a parkland and all she thought was that her defence was taking longer than she thought it would. And remember, she wasn't a black belt then ... and young (to paraphrase the book and movie title, We Were Soldiers ... and Young.' 

For Deb, shodan within the JDJ jujutsu grading system is more like '15-20 years!!' rather than the suggested 10 years. As I said above, if she speaks, we should listen, however, that timeframe is also a guesstimate, which the abovementioned calculations suggest.

The following is part of a private message received in relation to my abovementioned FB post and as such I will not disclose the message sender's name, instead referring to them as X.

X: BTW, I was am (sic) instructor with jdj for more than 15yrs. I think your blog should explain the significance of black and white grading which jdj himself referred to me as X Sensei. 10 years grading shodan is the exception not the reality.

There are a number of issues that X raises in their message.

First, given that JDJ passed away on 5th April, 2003, 21 years ago (I cannot believe that it has been that long ago), X could not technically have been an instructor with JDJ. Being an instructor with a JDJ ryuha is not the same as being an instructor with JDJ in many respects, not the least of which is that one does not get the benefits of JDJ's instruction and culture as an instructor. The culture in all of the JDJ ryuha is very different to that in the original JDJ ryu.

Second, X suggested that my blog should explain the significance of black and white grading in the JDJ jujutsu grading system. 

Previous posts in this series of posts regarding the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system has repeatedly explained that ikkyu, black and white belt, was the original instructor's grading. Ikkyu formed the basis for all of the dan (black belt) grades that were developed after it. It has also been noted that prior to the first dan grades being awarded in 1981, all of the instructors at the JDJSDS were ikkyu holders, with the exception of JDJ, and there were very impressive instructors among that cohort.

By the by, I believe that JDJ ikkyu holders are deserving of at least a shodan (a black belt) given a comparative analysis with other martial arts and their grading systems, which is wholly supported by this study of the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system.  

The role of the ikkyu gradings needs to be reassessed given the development of the dan grades independent from the kyu grades and without a systems thinking approach being adopted.

Third, X suggests that JDJ referred to him as X sensei. This led me to consider the meaning of sensei and its relationship with senpai:

In Japanese martial arts, as well as in broader Japanese culture, the term "senpai" (先輩) refers to someone who is a senior or elder in a specific context, typically indicating someone who has more experience or has been in a particular group, school, or organization longer than the speaker or the person referred to as "kohai" (後輩), who would be the junior or younger member. The senpai-kohai relationship is deeply rooted in Japanese social and educational systems, emphasizing respect, hierarchy, and mentorship.

In the context of martial arts, a senpai is not just a senior student in terms of time spent in the dojo (training hall) but also someone who has attained a higher level of skill, understanding, and perhaps rank. Senpai are expected to lead by example, offer guidance, and help kohai learn the discipline, techniques, and etiquette of the martial art being practiced. This role is pivotal in maintaining the traditional values of respect, discipline, and the master-apprentice relationship in the dojo.

The term "sensei" (先生), on the other hand, refers to a teacher or master and is a title of great respect. In martial arts, a sensei is someone who has mastered the art to a significant degree and is responsible for teaching and guiding all students in the dojo. The sensei imparts not just techniques but also the philosophy, ethics, and deeper understanding of the martial art.

The relationship between senpai, kohai, and sensei is hierarchical but also deeply interpersonal and rooted in mutual respect and the pursuit of knowledge and skill. Senpai serves as an intermediary between the kohai and the sensei, embodying the teachings and philosophy of the sensei while also being more accessible to the kohai for guidance and support. This structure ensures that knowledge and traditions are passed down effectively and that the culture of the dojo is preserved and respected.

Thus, in Japanese martial arts, the concepts of senpai and sensei are integral to the learning environment, ensuring that teachings are transmitted with respect for tradition and with care for personal growth and community cohesion.

As far as I am aware, and I could be wrong, X was awarded ikkyu under JDJ but only assisted other instructors/sensei and was never responsible for their own class(es) in the JDJSDS while JDJ was alive. Even though ikkyu was the original instructor's grading and is designed to produce instructors as well as practitioners, does assisting a sensei entitle the ikkyu holder to be referred to as sensei? Or would it be more appropriate to refer to them as senpai?

In a previous post, I explain how JDJ asked me to take over the Melville branch from Paul Connolly after 1.5 years training and while only sankyu (3rd kyu; orange belt). Thus, after 1.5 years training and only sankyu, I was a sensei, without having undergone the ikkyu instructor's grade nor having assisted any sensei of any description in the JDJSDS. However, when I came to be an assistant to JDJ in his senior class at the JDJSDS, even when I was shodannidan, and eventually sandan, is it appropriate to refer to me in that capacity as senpai?

And lastly, X's '10 years grading shodan is the exception not the reality.' The three 'exceptions' are Robert Hymas, Peter Clarke, and myself, as discussed above.

The Issue with the Timing of Shodan
What is the issue with the timing to be awarded shodan in the JDJ jujutsu grading system? As it turns out, there are many issues.

If it takes 15-25 years for the average student who trains the average amount of time to be awarded shodan, is that reasonable? How long does it take to achieve a black belt in jujutsu/Japanese martial arts/martial arts in general? This is what my newfound authority (ChatGPT) has to say on the subject:

The time it takes to achieve a black belt in Japanese martial arts varies widely depending on several factors including the specific martial art, the dojo, the frequency of training, the curriculum, and the individual's dedication and ability. However, here are some general timelines for a few popular Japanese martial arts:

Karate: Typically, it takes about 4 to 6 years to reach black belt level. This timeframe can be shorter or longer based on the factors mentioned above. Some styles may require consistent training multiple times per week.

Judo: Generally, it takes around 3 to 6 years to earn a black belt in Judo. Again, this depends on the frequency and intensity of practice, as well as the dojo's specific requirements.

Aikido: Aikido often takes a bit longer, with many students taking anywhere from 4 to 7 years to reach a black belt. Aikido emphasizes continuous improvement and mastery of techniques, which can extend the time required.

Kendo: For Kendo, the path to black belt usually takes about 3 to 5 years. Progression in Kendo is also highly dependent on regular practice and competition performance.

Iaido: Similar to Kendo, achieving a black belt in Iaido generally takes about 3 to 5 years of dedicated practice.

It's important to note that in many Japanese martial arts, receiving a black belt does not signify mastery but rather a deep understanding of the basics and the beginning of a deeper study into the art. Also, different schools and organizations might have varying standards and requirements, so it's a good idea to check with the specific dojo or martial arts organization for their particular timelines and expectations.

A Google search will support ChatGPT's information. What this shows is that JDJ's 10 years, let alone 15-25 years is way beyond the norm.

This raises the question; does the length of time that it takes to gain a black belt in the JDJ jujutsu grading system reflect the quality of the award, or does it reflect the haphazard nature of the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system? Can we produce the same quality, or even better quality, yudansha in far less time by understanding the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system and reshaping said system? I am, of course, arguing in the affirmative.

In this way, JDJ laid the groundwork; it is up to those who follow in his footsteps to improve on JDJ's work. Are any of those teaching in JDJ ryuha living up to that potential?

Names Missing off the Instructors' List
In the previous post, I shared a question that arose out of my exploration of the development of the JDJ jujutsu grading system:

This exploration also makes me think: is shodan reflective of the 'level' of the likes of John Copley, Ian Lloyd, Tony Chiffings, Debbie Clarke, Hans de Jong, Darryl Cook, Justin Palandri, Steve Moller? Is ikkyu reflective of the 'level' of the likes of Robert Kirby, Vass D'Esterre (deceased), Peter Canavan, Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard, John Polton, Emma Glasson (nee Wouts), Gerald Wouts, Keith 'Keef' Hickey, Dave Palmer, Rodney Miller? All were instructors for JDJ at one time or another. Technically, under the JDJ grading system, yes, but is that an accurate reflection of their abilities, knowledge, and understanding, in particular when you consider what the nidan and sandan grades contribute to the yudansha's abilities, knowledge, understanding, and teaching abilities, and of course when the JDJ grading system is compared to that of many/most other martial arts grading systems.

After the above analysis, I have to amend the above comment. Not all who were listed were 'instructors' per se. Some assisted instructors, some did not assist nor instruct at all.

The point I was trying to make was, are the shodan and ikkyu levels reflective of the 'levels' of the mentioned JDJ jujutsuka? Would the shodan's be higher graded in all other jujutsu grading systems, and should those who hold ikkyu grades in the JDJSDS be more highly graded in the JDJ tradition?

X (see above) contacted me to include himself among the above, however, as I stated above, while they may have been awarded ikkyu and assisted instructors under JDJ, I'm not sure that they actually taught their own classes under JDJ.

A comment received and published on the previous post: 'A few names missing off that instructor list. Janet, Peter T, Heidi, Jamie F and think there were a couple of others whose names escape me.'

Janet Lake was awarded shodan under JDJ but I'm not sure if she ever taught under JDJ. She did go on to establish her own school (JDJ ryuha).

Peter Templeman also was awarded shodan under JDJ and did teach under JDJ. He had his own branch and was very popular with his students. He took a great interest in his students and was very invested in their grading performances, in a good way. He was very supportive of them, and they did him and his teaching proud at the gradings.

Heidi Romundt was awarded ikkyu under JDJ and did teach her own class. She was teaching at Hillary's at the same time as Hans de Jong and myself. 

Jamie Francis was the last person to be awarded shodan under JDJ. I do not believe that he taught for JDJ but he may have assisted other instructors at the JDJSDS. He later went on to establish his own school (JDJ ryuha) in the Margaret River region before relocating overseas.

I have a list of JDJ yudansha, courtesy of Greg Palmer, however, I do not have a list of holders of ikkyu that JDJ awarded. If readers would send in names and hopefully dates, I could compile a list of JDJ ikkyu holders. 

I do know of an earlier list of ikkyu who were JDJ instructors in 1974 before the shodan grading was developed and introduced: Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard, Rod Miller (later shodan), Alan Robson, Adrienne Barlow, and Ross Allanson. Adrienne would appear to be the first female ikkyu.

I believe that the female disembarking the moving Vespar scooter driven by Margaret de Jong along with JDJ is Adrienne when demonstrating ukemi waza at the Royal Show way back when.

Other ikkyu that I am aware of are Margaret de Jong (JDJ's wife), Vass D'Esterre, John Poulton, Paul Seaman, David Palmer, Peter Hegarty, Peter Canavan, Robert Kirby, David Green, Michael Boland (?), Dennis Dunn, ... Emma Wouts (nee Glasson), Gerald Wouts, Keith Hickey, although I'd need confirmation because I wasn't at the JDJSDS then.     

Monday 25 March 2024

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Jan de Jong Jujutsu Grading System to Sandan?

The recent series of posts have explored the development of the Jan de Jong (JDJ) jujutsu grading system.

JDJ had three grading systems at his school, the Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS): jujutsu, aikido, and pencak silat. For the sake of not repeating for the sake of technical specificity, the following will refer to JDJ's jujutsu grading system as JDJ's grading system.

Within those posts, we saw that the technical grades within the JDJ grading system finish at sandan (3rd dan). All higher grades are honorary. 

The idea that the technical grades in JDJ's grading system finish at sandan is based on JDJ's reported experience with his original instructors, the Saito brothers. The narrative is that the technical grades finish at sandan in the Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu grading system that the Saito brothers taught, and that JDJ completed them and was awarded sandan by the Saito brothers in 1939 (Jan de Jong: the man, his school and his ju jitsu system, Jan de Jong Self Defence School, 1997 (JDJ book)).

The adult technical grades in JDJ's final grading system commence with 9th kyu (of the mon system) and finish with sandan. From nikyu (2nd kyu) to sandan, there are multiple parts to the gradings, as the recent series of posts explain and explore.

The total number of gradings and their individual parts from 9th kyu to sandan is 46. Forty-six gradings for an adult to complete the technical grades in JDJ's grading system. 

JDJ recognised that his grading system was far more extensive and comprehensive than any other going around and wanted to acknowledge the efforts of his successful students by including a list of the parts of the gradings on their certificates. I pointed out that the list would only be included on the back of the certificate, which nobody would see, and that in and out of the martial arts, a black belt is perceived as being a black belt no matter the grading system from which it came from. 

A relatively common question that is asked is: how long does it take to get a black belt in JDJ's grading system? The commonly conceived wisdom is 10 years. Where did that number come from?

This post explores the question of, how long does it take to complete the technical grades in JDJ's grading system and to subsequently be awarded sandan?

There are five people who have completed the technical grades in JDJ's grading system and been awarded sandan by JDJ (and those five are also the only ones to have completed nidan (2nd dan) under JDJ): Peter Clarke, Robert Hymas, Paul Connolly, Greg Palmer, and myself, however, there is also JDJ under the Saito brothers.

According to the JDJ book, JDJ commenced training in 1928 and was awarded sandan in 1939 = 12 years. He started training at the age of seven, which makes him 18-19 when he was awarded sandan under the Saito brothers. That timeline raises many questions, which thankfully are beyond the scope of this post.

The following training commencement dates are taken from the JDJ book. The date of the awarding of sandan is taken from Greg Palmer's records:

What can be made of those numbers?

You will recall from a previous post that the original JDJ grading system was the kyu system. The shodan grading was developed so that JDJ could have some black belt instructors accompany him to Europe to advance his European teaching ambitions. I don't know the date of the introduction of the shodan grading(s), but it has to have been in the very late 70s.

Clarke and Hymas were awarded shodan in 1981, Connolly in 1982, and Palmer in 1984. The latter two's numbers are distorted because there was no shodan to grade during their earlier years. Hymas' numbers are distorted because he was working full-time as an instructor at the JDJSDS at that time.

Clarke's numbers would probably be the most representative of the first four given that he commenced training not long before the shodan gradings were introduced and he didn't work full-time at the JDJSDS. What makes his achievement even more remarkable is the fact that he was a partner in a leading law firm in the city at the time, and as such was time poor, however, he and Hymas (and possibly Connolly) did the shodan shinken shobu no kata as a demonstration whereas all those that followed had to perform it in true reflex fashion (see this post regarding this issue).

In addition, none of the first four had to go through the mon grades as those grades were introduced when they were instructors (who then went on to teach the mon grades that they had not undertaken). 

So, I might be the most indicative of the five sandans that were graded under JDJ given that I went through the mon system and shodan shinken no kata reflex style, and the nidan and sandan gradings were developed before I was a qualifying candidate. 

My Shodan

I commenced training on the third Wednesday in April 1983 in Ian Lloyd's class and was awarded shodan in February 1993 - a little shy of 10 years. That would appear to support the commonly conceived wisdom of a minimum of 10 years to be awarded shodan. Or does it?

When I commenced training, I started off by attending two lessons a day, six days a week, and engaging in a lot of extra training (see this post). That is 12+ hours a week, 48+ hours a month, and based on a 45-week year, 540+ hours a year. Most people start off, and often continue with, one or two lessons a week and maybe a little extra training. That is 1-2+ hours a week, 4-8+ hours a month, and based on a 45-week year, 45-90+ hours a year. 

A ludicrous calculation based on the above, but if we say that it takes 540 hours training a year to be awarded shodan in 10 years, then the average person training 90 hours a year can expect to be awarded shodan in 60 years. :)

There were other factors in my 10-year shodan qualification. 

During that time, I engaged in what was then an Australian rite of passage in backpacking in Europe for a year. I also completed the Chartered Accountants 'professional year,' which was actually 18 months, where candidates do not see the light of day for that period of time, and completed the Securities Institute of Australia graduate diploma in which I was awarded State Dux, which was another 18-month commitment. That had to have slowed down my progress to shodan.

What is obvious is that I, along with the other four sandans, am not an indicative example of the time it takes to be awarded shodan in the JDJ jujutsu grading system.

My Nidan
I was awarded nidan in December 1998, five years after I was awarded shodan. I had to reflect on those years as training and undergoing the nidan grades does not stand out in my memory. As it turns out, I was a little busy at the time.

Did I train for nidan for those five years with the same intensity as described above?  No, however, I was working full-time as an instructor at the JDJSDS from mid-90s to 2000. 

To counter that, I also engaged in the UWA (University of Western Australia) Master of Business Administration (MBA), an elite, time-intensive, business course, in the mid-90s. I worked full-time while studying the MBA full-time (nobody does that), and at that time it was an 18-month course rather than the 12-month course as most MBAs are these days. And now that I remember it, I also lived and worked in London for between nine months and a year shortly after grading shodan.

Completing the nine parts of the nidan grading would probably have taken me more like two years or more likely less. 

I had to go back over the nidan gradings to remember them as I said above, they do not stand out in my memory. In doing so, I remember that I did those grades with Greg Palmer. 

Greg had a long-held ambition/dream to complete JDJ's grading system. He initially started training with Clarke, Hymas, and Connolly, however, they quickly left him behind because they were in a race to the finish line. Greg approached me to help him realise his ambition/dream. I had no ambition to be awarded shodan, let alone nidan and sandan, but Greg being Greg would not allow me to help him in realising his ambition/dream unless I graded too. 

Looking back on the records, Greg had already graded nidan by the time we started working on my nidan. I had to be graded nidan before Greg would consider training for sandan, in Greg's eyes. In all honesty, I was happy to remain shodan but would still train with Greg for him to realise his ambition/dream, and I said/argued as much. Nonetheless, Greg taught me what needed to be taught to be awarded nidan before we started preparing for sandan.

The nidan grading and its component parts are discussed in this linked post. The following are comments on some of those parts.

Part 2 Ju Jitsu no Jitsuen: 'Arrange a demonstration using up to eight lower grades to show some aspect of jujutsu. Twenty minutes of explanation type demonstration and ten minutes of fast action are required to be shown.' Given that this grading is intended to examine a candidate's knowledge and ability to arrange a demonstration that informs the public what jujutsu is and in particular what Jan de Jong jujutsu is, I convinced JDJ to judge me on a 'real' demonstration that I had arranged for an open day at Wesley College.

How long did it take to prepare? Not long. If you know your stuff, know your students, and choose skilled and trained students, it doesn't require much training at all. By that stage, I had been part of and organised more demonstrations locally, nationally, and internationally than I can remember.

Part 3 Shinken Shobu no Kata: 'Reflex grading.' You will recall from the above 'nine parts' link that the number of attack-defence combination in nidan was reduced from 140 in shodan to 52 in nidan. Given that I was highly trained and highly proficient, and the attack-defence combinations are all just variations on a theme from previous gradings, not a lot of training was required to master the attack-defence combinations in this grading. 

Part 7 Shiai: 'Free fight with tanto vs tanto.' A group of us attempted this grading together. If I recall, the group included myself, Debbie Clarke, Ian Lloyd, and Hans de Jong. Maybe John Martyr.

How long does it take to train this grading? Given that knife fighting was not taught at the JDJSDS and given that no instructions were provided as to what is sought and graded in this grading, as long or as short as the candidate wants. My training consisted of a little training with the fellow candidates in order to determine their abilities and tactics, and then to devise tactics to defeat them. I didn't train those tactics, however, I successfully employed them.

Part 8 Jutsuri no Kata: 'Oral examination conducted with at least two other candidates, discussing the technical aspects on any technique selected by Shihan Jan de Jong.' No 'training' necessary in order to attempt this grading. No 'training' necessary in my case given that my mentor was Greg Palmer, who JDJ acknowledged as having the best technical knowledge of the techniques and tactics taught at the JDJSDS, and because of my natural and learned analytical nature and capabilities.

Part 9 Ju Jitsu Rekishi: 'Candidates are required to submit an essay with no less than 3000 words on a topic to be approved by Shihan Jan de Jong.' JDJ credited me with this part of the grading based on the international franchise proposal that I had prepared for him after accompanying him to Jakarta, Indonesia to meet with a Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur who was prepared to fully fund the start-up. A lost opportunity if ever there was one.

I imagine that JDJ would have likewise credited Clarke with this part of the grading given his many contributions to JDJ's efforts over the years, including developing the AJJA dan grading system and their competition format, and providing a comprehensive explanation of both for AJJA consumption. Greg could have been credited with this part of the grading for his development ken no michi grading that was introduced by JDJ into his ikkyu grading. It would be interesting to know what Hymas and Connolly did to satisfy the requirements of this part of the nidan grading.

My Sandan
I completed nidan in December 1998 and sandan in May 2000, approximately 16 months to successfully complete 12 gradings - the fastest ever (Clarke 8yrs, Hymas and Connolly 7yrs, Palmer 4yrs).

The above linked '12 gradings' post explores and discusses the parts that make up the sandan grading. The following are some comments on some of those parts.

Part 1 Kime no Kata: 'Explain the theory and answer questions on demonstrated techniques.' The demonstrated techniques are simply variations on a theme, so no real training is required, and if anyone is going to successfully answer theory questions raised on those techniques, it was Greg and myself. In fact, I explained in the sandan post that Greg was disappointed when JDJ didn't ask us any questions and confronted him about it. JDJ said he knew that we knew the theory about the techniques.

Part 2 Ju Jitsu no Jitsuen: 'Arrange a ten-minute demonstration on a topic given by Shihan Jan de Jong using only yudansha. Twenty minutes preparation time will be allowed.' No training possible for this grading.

I cannot remember what my topic was, however, I do remember that JDJ and some others being kind enough to suggest that my demonstration was the best presented out of all five sandans. If memory serves, Connolly's subject was 'ground techniques.' I would suggest that JDJ was taking the opportunity to explore 'ground techniques' at the time as this was about the time of the emergence of so-called Brazilian jiu-jitsu and their emphasis on 'ground techniques.' We have techniques to defend while on the ground, however, it cannot be said that we teach 'ground techniques' as it came to be understood.

Even though I had the likes of Clarke, Hymas, and Greg included in my demonstration, Connolly was not included, the difficult part was in catering for their limitations as they were not the most athletic of jujutsuka.

Part 3 Taisabaki no Kata: 'Prepare a kata to show the different variations of the body movements.' In reality, no training is required. It should be expected at this level that the required kata could be developed on the spot let alone using a similar/the same format as the previous grading.

Part 4 Sutemi no Kata and Taoshiwaza no Kata: demonstrate 20 sacrifice throws and 20 takedown techniques and answer theory questions thereon. The training for the sacrifice throws only needed to be brushed up because they had been taught and trained throughout the grading/training experience, beginning with tomoe nage in 6th kyu, yellow belt.

There were new takedown techniques included in the grading, although technically 25 percent are throws based on my biomechanical distinction between throws and takedowns in my as yet unpublished The Science Behind All Fighting Techniques, but again, most are simply variations on a theme. It is interesting that a JDJ ryuha has omitted this part of this part of this part of their syllabus, probably because the head of that ryuha did not grade beyond shodan and was unfamiliar with the techniques and their variations.

Part 5 Kodachi no Kata: 'Demonstration of kodachi (wakizashi) techniques against katana.' The techniques are relatively simple so not a lot of training is required to be grading-ready.

Part 6 Hojo Jutsu: 'Demonstrate use of rope to tie up an opponent.' As explained in a previous post, the demonstration is not from an attack but simply tying up (gift wrapping) a compliant uke. Greg had studied and taught these techniques to Clarke, Hymas, and Connolly before they graded this part of the sandan grading without him, however, I too was a beneficiary of Greg's knowledge and expertise in this regard. Much to Greg's and my surprise, I quickly mastered the techniques. I'm not the most 'handy' of people.

Part 7 Taiho Jutsu: 'Demonstrate various arresting techniques from standing and sitting positions.' The techniques are variations on a theme and there are only six of them. Enough said.

Part 8 Toshu Kakuto Jutsu: 'Demonstrate searching and hand cuffing techniques.' As explained in the previous post on the nidan grading, these techniques are taken straight from Col. Rex Applegate's Kill or Get Killed, and they are not complicated.

Part 11 Shiai: 'Free fight with tanbo vs tanto.' As with all the shiai gradings in the JDJ jujutsu grading system, there is no training of fighting with the weapons used, very little training re tactics, and no information provided as to what is being graded. Consequently, no real training is required to successfully complete this part of the grading. 

Part 12 Ju Jitsu Keikaku: 'Candidates are assigned a project by Shihan Jan de Jong which will be of benefit for the students of the dojo, ryu or ju jitsu.' JDJ credited me with this part with the writing of the JDJ book. There are numerous contributions that Clarke and Palmer could be credited with to satisfy the requirements of this part of the grading (see above), and again, it would be interesting to know what Hymas and Connolly did to satisfy the requirements of this part of the grading.

Historical Records
With regards to the comments for nidan part 9 and sandan part 12, all of the essays and projects required in the dan grades (including shodan) would have been included in JDJ's records. Those records were inherited by Margaret de Jong (JDJ's wife), Maggie de Jong (JDJ's daughter), and presumably Paul Connolly (Maggie's eventual husband). It would appear that no use has been made of those records to date, not publicly at least. Have those efforts and records been consigned to oblivion? If so, that would be a shame.

How long does it take to complete the technical grades of the Jan de Jong grading system? I have been asked that question and this post explored the issue in order to provide an answer. 

It would be interesting to ask the same question of the other three living graduates who graded sandan under JDJ and who now are responsible for technical aspect of separate JDJ ryuha (in two out of the three cases, not necessarily being the principal of the school). What would their answer be? What is their answer in their modified/changed grading systems of their JDJ ryuha?

The above exploration suggests that it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide an authoritative answer to the question as to how long it takes to get sandan in the JDJ grading system. What I can say, based on the above exploration, and a great deal of resultant reflection, is that most of the work to undertake nidan and sandan is done in grading shodan in the JDJ jujutsu grading system. The work to complete shodan commences in ikkyu, which is the original instructor's grading.

The above graph has been used in a number of previous posts. It shows the number of attack-defence combinations in the shinken shobu no kata gradings from rokkyu to sandan. It could also be representative of the degree of difficulty for each grading level, which is reflected in the amount of time required to successfully complete those grades. In such a case, the ikkyu level would rise significantly as it was the original instructor's grade. What this illustrates is that ikkyu and shodan are the top of the mountain in JDJ's grading system, and it's all downhill after that. This then begs the question: why were there not more nidans and sandans in JDJ's school?

There is another aspect of the above exploration with regards to what is required to grade sandan, if not ikkyu and  shodan itself, in the JDJ grading system, and that is intelligence. Proficiency alone is not enough.

This exploration also makes me think: is shodan reflective of the 'level' of the likes of John Copley, Ian Lloyd, Tony Chiffings, Debbie Clarke, Hans de Jong, Darryl Cook, Justin Palandri, Steve Moller? Is ikkyu reflective of the 'level' of the likes of Robert Kirby, Vass D'Esterre (deceased), Peter Canavan, Warwick 'Zak' Jaggard, John Polton, Emma Glasson (nee Wouts), Gerald Wouts, Keith 'Keef' Hickey, Dave Palmer, Rodney Miller? All were instructors for JDJ at one time or another. Technically, under the JDJ grading system, yes, but is that an accurate reflection of their abilities, knowledge, and understanding, in particular when you consider what the nidan and sandan grades contribute to the yudansha's abilities, knowledge, understanding, and teaching abilities, and of course when the JDJ grading system is compared to that of many/most other martial arts grading systems.

This series continues with either an exploration of how to improve JDJ's grading system, which would involve significantly reducing the time to grade dan grades and become instructors without sacrificing standards, in fact, while increasing standards, or, comparing historic grading sheets that have come into my possessionto the final grading sheets within the JDJ grading system.