Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 8.1 - Filling in the gaps

Recall from my previous blog that I was investigating certain details concerning Jan de Jong's gradings and his involvement with the Australian Ju Jitsu Association (AJJA). Brierley Bailey OAM (7th Dan), Secretary and Treasurer of the AJJA, was kind enough to contact me and fill in some of the gaps. Many thanks Brierley.

De Jong was awarded 4th and 6th Dan by the World Ju Jitsu Federation(WJJF). He was awarded 4th Dan in 1980 and 6th Dan in 1982. The WJJF obviously thought highly of him as Alan Campbell explains:
In February 2002, Alan visited Jan de Jong Self Defence School in Perth who was regarded as a highly respected member of the World Ju-jitsu Federation. Regrettably, Jan de Jong has since passed away but his Self Defence School will continue to be considered an honorary member of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation. Jan de Jong's efforts will always be recognised by the World Ju-Jitsu Federation, in particular his efforts in promoting martial arts within Australia.
Brierley explained that the AJJA did not award De Jong complimentary gradings as had been previously thought by some. He pointed out the AJJA was only formed in 1985. Brierley thought very highly of De Jong as his forward in the Jan de Jong Self Defence School's 1988-89 yearbook (Hakusho) suggests:
My first meeting with Sensei Jan de Jong was at a Victorian dojo in 1985. As I approached the dojo I wondered what I could expect from a man that I had only read about, a man with a worldwide repuation and amongst the finest in the Martial Arts. ...He greeted me with a warm welcome and I felt that we had known each other for years. Sensei de Jong has the uncanny ability to put a person at ease rather quickly. ...

I feel that it is his presence within the Australian Ju Jitsu Association that has brought Ju Jitsu together around this vast country of ours, and also moved Ju Jitsu in Australia forward in world circles.

Sensei de Jong I consider to be a humble man, a man who has set his direction in the best possible way, is always seeking ways of gaining more knowledge through the study of martial arts and also passing on knowledge to Ju Jitsuans who come in contact with him.
Brierley informed me it was the AJJA who awarded De Jong his 8th and 9th Dans in 1989 and 1996 respectively. Mystery solved! ... thanks to Brierley. De Jong had received many higher Dan grades from various individuals and organisations:
I have got several certificates for 10th Dan. The [xxxx] and [yyyy] Associations gave me a 9th Dan. They sent me a belt, it was very nice but I never wore the thing - only in the photographs.('Shihan Jan de Jong: Fifty years of teaching in Australia: 1952-2002' Australian Blitz, Robert Hymus)
I was present at a seminar in Europe when an uninvited '10th Dan' instructor took over the seminar. He awarded De Jong a 10th Dan at the end of the seminar. De Jong did not reject the grading, which is not to say that he accepted it. He was always careful to not cause others to 'lose face' in a very Indonesian/Japanese way. It is quite telling that the only higher grades that he acknowledged were those awarded to him by the WJJF and then the AJJA.

The photograph at the top of this blog is of De Jong performing a stick technique on his son, Hans de Jong. Hans was awarded a 6th Dan by the AJJA in the years since De Jong passed away. The higher grading is in recognisition of the depth of Hans' knowledge and experience. When you read the tributes on his school's website ( you will quickly see that he is following in his father's footsteps in more ways than just in terms of martial arts expertise.
I have always found Sensei Hans de Jong to be a true practitioner of the art of Ju Jitsu, his knowledge of the Art is remarkable. Sensei Hans de Jong has always been able to impart his knowledge, with a great degree of ease and has the uncanny ability to hold the attention of the lower grades through to the Dan grades in whatever he is demonstrating. This Sensei is a true gentleman of the Art and has the respect of myself and other long time Instructors. Brierley Bailey OAM.
His knowledge of the art, and the way he relates to students of all levels is uncanny. Hans' love for the martial arts is evident by his involvement spanning 50 years to date. He is very highly recommended by senior instructors both Nationally and Internationally. Hans is truly one of nature's gentlemen, and without doubt, one of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. John Beckman, AJJA President.
It is clear that he has learned from one of the greatest jujitsuka, his father Jan de Jong. Hans de Jong possess the true spirit of a martial artist which a very rare to find these days. We all know him as a warm, humorous and very skilled jujitsuka. Christian Hvidberg, 3 dan Mizo-no-kokoro ju-jitsu, Chief Instructor Aalborg selvforsvar og ju jitsu klub, Aalborg, Denmark.
Hans had the unique experience of training with his father and Yoshiaki Unno (see a previous blog) while Unno was involved with De Jong. In an interview with Blitz Magazine ('In the name of the father'), Hans explains that they trained with Unno from 7 until 9 every morning, 6 days a week for the 2 years he was involved with De Jong.

Recall from my previous blog that the AJJA logo is based on a photograph taken of three of De Jong's instructors. Brierley explained that De Jong had given permission to use this photograph as the AJJA logo. This would appear to be following the same process De Jong used to develop the logo for his own school. He used one of the photographs of the Saito brothers (see a previous blog) which Wim Zwiers, a well known Dutch artist, turned into an ex-libras which in turn became the logo of his school until shortly before he passed away. That same logo is now being used, fittingly, by Hans for his school, the Hans de Jong Self Defence School.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 8 - The Political Years

Jan de Jong returned to Europe with his family for a holiday in 1978. While he was there he took the opportunity to make contact with various jujutsu instructors. The European jujutsu community were quick to embrace and court him. He was appointed the Australian representative for the World Ju Jitsu Federation (WJJF)the same year. He would go on to be appointed Vice President of the WJJF in 1991. Alan Campbell, National Coach for WJJF, has this to say on the WJJF Australia website:
In February 2002, Alan visited Jan de Jong Self Defence School in Perth who was regarded as a highly respected member of the World Ju-jitsu Federation. Regrettably, Jan de Jong has since passed away but his Self Defence School will continue to be considered an honorary member of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation. Jan de Jong's efforts will always be recognised by the World Ju-Jitsu Federation, in particular his efforts in promoting martial arts within Australia.
In 1985, through General Eddie Nalapraya of the Indonesian Army, the man responsible for the promotion of pencak silat on behalf of the Indonesian Government, De Jong was appointed the Australian representative for the International Pencak Silat Federation. Nalapraya was one of the founding members of this organisation which goes by the acronym PERSILAT reflecting the Indonesian spelling of the organisation's name. He was appointed President of PERSILAT. In Violence and the State in Suharto's Indonesia (Benedict R. O'G. Anderson ed.), Nalapraya is described as being one of the first commanders of President Suharto's private security detail, holding high staff positions in the Jakarta District Military Command during the 1970s, and serving as Vice-Governor of Jakarta in the 1980s. He is also described as a 'long-time martial arts enthusiast'. In 2010, Nalapraya was one of ten people awarded the prestigious Mahaputra medals of honor for their services for the nation, presented by President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono. He was awarded the Mahaputra Pratama for his services associated with PERSILAT.

The Australian Ju Jitsu Association (AJJA) was formed in 1985. One of the founding members was De Jong whose office was Director of Coaching. The logo of the AJJA is reproduced at the top of this blog. It is based on a photograph of Mike Boland executing a wrist twist on Hans De Jong and a side kick to Greg Palmer, all of whom were instructors for De Jong at the time. Jan de Jong: The man, his school, and his ju jitsu system, written under the direction of De Jong reports him being appointed President and National Coach for the AJJA in 1987. I'm in the process of confirming this along with the dates.

Brierley Bailey OAM, National Secretary of the AJJA, credits the presence of De Jong within the AJJA as having brought jujutsu together around Australia and moving it forward in world circles.

Whilst associated with the AJJA, De Jong developed a competition format to satisfy the growing desire for competition by some members of the organisation. He was not a fan of competition to any large degree so the competition was based on a kata-type format which he thought would also promote better technique. De Jong, with the assistance of Peter Clarke, developed a Dan grading system for the AJJA. When I say 'assistance', Clarke was probably mostly responsible for these gradings. The aim of this grading system was to facilitate continued learning opportunities and advancement for those wishing to do so, through a credible grading system. The grading system was very clever as it did not impose De Jong's 'style of jujutsu' onto the AJJA schools. What it did do was test their tactics and techniques using particular formats as well as introduce a systemic way of thinking about their jujutsu. A systems thinking approach is a defining feature of De Jong's jujutsu (for those who think about it rather than just 'do' it). This grading approach which De Jong and Clarke developed and which was adopted by the AJJA formed the basis for my business plan to franchise the Jan de Jong Self Defence School in response to a request by an Indonesian-Chinese entrepreneur which will be discussed in a future blog.

De Jong had been awarded 3rd dan by his original instructors (the Saito brothers) in 1939 aged 18. This was the final technical grading and all higher gradings were based on, among other things, age. De Jong had a long way to go before he would have been eligible for any honary grades. Subsequently, he was awarded the equivalent of 6th degree black belt in pencak silat when studying the art in Indonesia (see previous blogs). He was awarded 1st dan in Yoseikan aikido and Shotokan karate while he was studying under Minoru Mochizuki (see previous blogs).

De Jong celebrated 50 years of teaching in Australia in 2002. In an article written by Rob Hymus (a senior instructor of De Jong's) in relation to this milestone ('Shihan Jan de Jong: Fifty years of teaching in Austrlaia: 1952-2002', Australasian Blitz), De Jong had this to say concerning his gradings:
I came here as a 3rd dan and much, much later on people thought 3rd dan was not high enough. In the early 1980s I went to England and people asked why I was a 3rd dan? I said I had been a 3rd dan for 40 years! [(Hymas informs the reader of the age restrictions discussed above)] ... There was nobody else that was a high dan grade, but now everybody is a high dan grade. One fellow in England even said that his pupils had made him a high grade because he was teaching all the time, so they just made him a 6th dan! When I returned to England my instructors and I gave a demonstration at the WJJF conference in London in 1982. There were a lot of different jujutsu styles present and we came second in a demonstration competition. After that the WJJF awarded me a 6th dan. So I never worried about it, you just know what you know. That's all you do, you do not worry about dan grades very much.
He goes on to say that 'dan grades are not important - it is what you can give the people, that is what is important.'

De Jong was awarded 4th dan and 6th dan by the WJJF in 1980 and 1982 respectively. I'm led to believe the same gradings were awarded to De Jong by the AJJA at the same time though I'm in the process of confirming that. In writing the abovementioned book for De Jong, he advised me he was awarded 8th dan and 9th dan in 1989 and 1996 respectively. Reflecting De Jong's attitude to honorary gradings, it never occurred to me to ask who awarded him these gradings. I'm in the process of trying to obtain these details now that I'm writing this unofficial biography.

In 1990, De Jong was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia for services to the martial arts.

(PS: See Jan de Jong Pt 8.1 for updated information contained in this blog)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 7 - Yoshiaki Unno

Yoshiaki Unno is a fascinating off-shoot from the Jan de Jong story. The photograph to the right is a rare photograph of a young Unno presenting Branco Bratich with his 1st dan certificate in Yoseikan karate in March 1976 (more on Bratich below).

After De Jong returned from Japan in 1969-70, he asked Minoru Mochizuki to send an instructor to Perth. Mochizuki sent Unno who was a personal student of his, and a seriously credentialed martial artist. He's been credited with 6th or 7th dan Yoseikan aikido, 6th dan Yoseikan karate, 6th dan jujutsu, 5th dan kobodo, 5th dan iaido, 4th dan Nihon den kempo (Takushoku University), 4th dan Shotokan karate, and 2nd dan judo.

Unno was born in February 1950 and arrived in Perth in 1974. He is known for teaching aikido and karate for De Jong, however, some students of those classes have said he taught an eclectic mix of martial arts in the Yoseikan Budo tradition.

Bratich provides further information on the Unno story in an article published in Bujutsu International (Jan/Feb 2006) and which is available on his website (
Sensei Unno taught six days a week for Jan de Jong. Wherever Sensei Unno taught, Branco was there to assist and learn. It was under Unno Sensei that Branco first studied kobudo and aikido and dabbled in judo.
The Yoseikan Budo way teaching eclectically. Unno was to teach for De Jong for two years. During that time, De Jong and his son, Hans, trained with him six days a week from 7am to 9am. Hans refers to Unno as his aikido teacher on his website:

Bratich (8th dan) has built Yoseikan-ryu Karate Australia into an Australia wide organisation. He opened his first club in 1978. His introduction to karate started in 1973 at Jujutsu Kan, Perth (De Jong's school). The article states that his initial interest was in karate closely followed by jujutsu. It also states that in later years he realised that the jujutsu training made it easier for him to understand and appreciate the 'bunkai' of kata.
After two years training, Jan de Jong, founder of Jujutsu Kan, approached Branco about teaching karate and Branco accepted becoming increasingly aware of his great enjoyment of teaching karate even though he felt his knowledge was limited.
What karate? I asked Bratich was it Shotokan karate or was it pencak silat. He said it was pencak silat although De Jong called it karate. You can see on the old signage of the 996 Hay Street School photograph in my blog 'The Perth Years' advertising teaching jujutsu, karate, aikido, and self defence.

Bratich also informed me that a visiting Indonesian instructor said what De Jong was teaching was not pencak silat. I'd heard that said before myself. He was teaching pencak silat, it's just that it 'looked' different. In Budo Masters: Paths to a Far Mountain by Michael Clarke, De Jong is quoted as saying with regards to teaching pencak silat: 'I found I that I had to modify things a little for Australian students ... so I changed the way I taught to suit them, and by doing so I got them to understand what I was trying to teach' (2000: 135-136) De Jong told me this same thing. Rather than Westernising pencak silat, I think of it as Japanising it which, paradoxically, made it more acceptable to the Western audience. I did most of my formative pencak silat training outside of De Jong's school, particularly with Richard de Bordes in London (some of the toughest training I have ever done). Their pencak silat was trained in the 'Indonesian way'. In the latter part of the 1990s, De Jong started to reintoduce this style into his pencak silat. Even though I was lowly graded in his pencak silat I was invited into the instructors class because, among other things, I was more familiar with this method than anyone in the school. I refer anyone interested in pencak silat to the Dutch book, Pencak Silat: De Indonesische Vechtsport by Joep Caverle & Franc Van Heel.
It was in the latter part of 1976 that Sensei Unno opened his own Yoseikan Budo dojo in William St Perth. It was a small dojo. The training was still rigorous. It was surprising that any student would let them self be subjected to the brutal kumite training that was done in those days.
Unno also taught aikido at the University of Western Australia as John Langley (7th dan)( explains:
Sensei Yoshiaki Unno taught Yoseikan Budo. He held the Grades of 7th dan aikido, 7th dan karate, 6th dan kobudo (weapons), 4th dan bojutsu and 2nd dan judo. He also taught kenjutsu. His Sensei was Kancho Minoru Mochizuki (10th dan) as Yoseikan Budo Hombu Dojo, Shizuoka City, Japan. After several years, Sensei Yoshiaki Unno left UWA.
Many aikido instructors in Perth reference training under Unno in their biographies. Both De Jong and Unno have had a significant influence on the martial arts scene in Perth.

I didn't know much about Unno until I undertook research for my originally conceived book. I only had the opportunity of meeting him once, and that was sheer coincidence. A friend of a friend, totally unrelated to the martial arts, invited me to a Christmas breakfast a couple of years ago. Lo and behold I was introduced to Unno who was a guest at the same breakfast. Unfortunately I did not get to have the depth of conversation I'd have liked. He passed away in June 2006.

[Appreciation is extended to Branco Bratich for his permission to reproduce his photograph and for his information on his time with Jan de Jong]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Can martial arts falling techniques prevent injuries?'

I'm currently working on chapter 10 in my tentatively titled Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts. This chapter concerns breakfalling techniques (ukemi waza). A GREAT deal of research has gone into this chapter. I thought I'd share just a little at this stage to hopefully garner further interest in my work and some comments.

The World Health Organisation has this to say on falls:
Globally, falls are a major public health problem. An estimated 424,000 fatal falls occur each year, making it the second leading cause of unintentional injury death, after road traffic injuries. … Though not fatal, approximately 37.3 million falls are severe enough to require medical attention occur each year. Such falls are responsible for over 17 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost. … In addition, those individuals who fall and suffer a disability, particularly older people, are at a major risk for subsequent long-term care and institutionalization. The financial costs from fall-related injuries are substantial.
Human movement specialist, Arthur A. Chapman, is a big fan of teaching techniques for landing safely from a fall to the wider community. In Biomechanical Analysis of Fundamental Human he describes the two basic landing strategies taught by the martial arts and suggests 'all good school physical education classes should teach [these techniques]' (2008: 88). In their chapter entitled 'Biomechanics of Combatives' in Biomechanics of Human Movement, Marlene J. Adrian and John M. Cooper likewise recommend the benefits of teaching breakfalling techniques to the wider community: 'Falling and landing effectively with a minimum of injury are also necessary skills to attain longevity in sports, industry, and daily living' (1995: 279).

Injury Science published a research letter submitted by Dr. Frank J. Leavitt (Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel) titled 'Can martial arts falling techniques prevent injuries?' (2003: 284). I'd like to take this opportunity to inform the reader that there is some professionally researched works related, or which can be related, to the martial arts which unfortunately are hidden away in academic journals and would never see the light of day in the normal course of events. Secondly, I'd like to use this article to inform the reader of some of the work they can expect in this chapter.

Leavitt explains that 'although falling techniques are taught to martial artists, athletes and paratroopers, a BMJ search of Highwire listed journals has discovered no mention of "falling correctly", "safe falling", etc.'. My research has revealed there is very little research published on fall-arrest techniques (falling techniques are pretty simple but landing safely is the tricky bit) - but there is some. I start out my chapter with a paper investigating the natural (evolved) way humans try to land safely from falls to the front, rear, and side. I refer to these as 'nature's breakfalling techniques'. Part of nature's breakfalling techniques is the use of landing on outstretched hands which often results in a FOOSH (Fall On OutStretched Hand) injuries (see a previous blog). I then intend to write about the studies that have investigated proposed improved methods of falling safely from falls to the front, rear, and side.

'Although correct falling is neglected in the medical literature, there is much semi-scientific literature by martial arts masters.' Fall-arrest strategies are virtually, not totally, ignored in the medical literature as the abovementioned published papers demonstrate. I would take issue with the suggestion there is much semi-scientific literature by martial arts masters. There is a veritable dearth of such work within the martial arts. One notable exception is Attilio Sacripanti's Advances in Judo Biomechanics. This veritable dearth in semi-scientific or scientific literature in the martial arts is one of the driving forces behind my work.

'The ease with which martial artists take even very hard falls suggests the hypothesis that falling practice while relatively young can prevent injury from falls incurred later in life.' Here's hoping this is true given I'm entering the later in life period of my life.

'A Japanese study of 11 deaths and serious injuries in aikido from 1972-75 listed eight due to falling. Most of the victims were relative beginners, suggesting that those who practice over long periods are more protected.' Since commencing training in 1983, oh so long ago, I've seen relatively few injuries due to falling. The most severe was in a seminar conducted in Sweden in the 90s. We (Jan de Jong and myself) were teaching a throwing technique (definitely not a takedown technique)and one of the seminar participants, a yudansha (black belt holder), used an outstretched hand to arrest his fall. Both the radius and ulna were shattered requiting plates on both bones.

'Martial arts tend to have rather specialised falling techniques. Aikido falls may not protect you in cases where judo falls will be effective.' Too true. The types of ukemi waza taught reflect the types of techniques taught. Aikido tends to 'project' (a term that is often used in aikido to refer to throws) so rolling ukemi waza tend to dominate. Judo tends to throw down so 'flat falls' tend to dominate. Interestingly enough, virtually nobody teaches a sideways roll. They teach a forwards, backwards, and sideways flat fall, and a forward and backwards roll, but not a sideways roll. Again, this tends to reflect the types of falls initiated by the throws and takedowns taught within these schools. Jan de Jong jujutsu is relatively unique in teaching a sideways roll. Very useful when practicing ukemi waza by leaping from a scooter as Jan de Jong demonstrated in one of my past blogs. The ukemi waza of Jan de Jong jujutsu will also be included in this chapter.

'There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of martial artists coming out safely from quite dangerous falls.' A previous blog of mine added to the anecdotal evidence when I described Greg Palmer's use of ukemi waza to survive a motor cycle accident and Hans de Jong's use when falling from a tree while tree lopping.

'It remains to be seen whether safe and enjoyable methods might be developed to teach selected falling techniques to the general population.' They have been developed. Only Brenda Groen and her Dutch colleagues have studied martial arts techniques to reduce the severity of falls. Her PhD thesis which she finished this year and which she kindly sent me a copy, is entitled 'Martial arts techniques to reduce fall severity'. The technique she studies is included in an expansive fall prevention program currently being taught to the elderly in Holland. There have also been studies published which have investigated the efficacy of this technique within this program and participants. I'm intending to include discussion of these studies within this chapter as well.

Any and all comments are appreciated. My work can only improve with these comments. Thank you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Update on Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts

You may or may not recall I'm in the process of writing a book tentively entitled Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts. Here is an update on my work and progress.

I am now 70% of the way through the first draft.

Today I completed the first draft of chapter eight 'Judo Classifications.' Jigoro Kano proposed a classification system for judo techniques including judo throwing techniques. This classification continues to be used more than 100 years later by the Kodokan and most judo organisations and has been adopted by many other martial arts which include throwing techniques in their curriculum. I was unaware that there have been many other classifications proposed over the years until I researched this book. This chapter looks at a number of these classifications. 'Why?', I hear the doubters of my work ask.

The answer to the question raised by my doubters lies within chapter two which I have completed the first draft. The identification of similarities and differences have been referred to as 'basic to human thought' and the 'core of all learning'. Cognitive science researchers have identified four main 'forms' of identifying similarities and differences which have proved highly effective: comparision, classification, creating metaphors, and creating analogies.

The different classifications which have been proposed are based on what the authors of the classification consider important shared and distinctive characteristics of these techniques. By looking at their classifications we get to see what these authoritative teachers thought to be the important characteristics of these techniques. By comparing the different classifications we get to learn more about these techniques then if we looked at them individually or looked at them through just one classification.

The draft of chapter three has also been completed. This chapter looks at how many organisations, authors, and different martial arts have distinguished between throwing techniques and takedown techniques. MOST DON'T, even though they use both terms when describing the types of techniques they teach.

Chapter four has also been drafted. This chapter looks at how to analyse a sport skill, in this case martial arts techniques including throwing techniques and takedown techniques, in order to teach and correct them. As Gerry Carr explains in Sport Mechanics for Coaches: 'If you don't have a well-planned approach, you're likely to be overwhelmed by the complexity and speed of the skill you are trying to analyse.' I'm sure we've all experienced this, and this experience can be minimised by applying the principles contained in this chapter.

Chapter five has been drafted as well and is the raison detre for the book. It definitvely distinguishes between throwing technique and takedown techniques based on biomechanical principles, and, for the first time ever, proposes a classification of takedown techniques.

Chapter seven has been drafted. It looks at unbalancing kuzushi) and specifically addresses the nebulous issue of mental unbalancing. Only one other author has attempted this to the best of my knowledge and that is George Kirby. My work builds on his which hopefully means that, as Issac Newton said, I can see further because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

I'm now starting work on chapter ten which looks at unbalancing. I've mostly completed this chapter based on my work for my originally conceived book on the science behind the martial arts. I hope to complete this in a week. Among other things, it'll include research done on martial arts falling techniques by researchers in Holland and to which I've referred in previous blogs. It'll also contain the breakfalling techniques taught by Jan de Jong jujutsu, including the relatively rare sideways rolling technique.

Then only two more chapters to draft. Ernest Hemmingway suggests that 'the first draft of anything is shit', so, it would appear my writing work begins in earnest ( :) ) once the first draft is completed.

Jan de Jong Pt 6.1 - Mochizuki Similarities

Recall from the last blog that I suggested there were similarities between Jan de Jong and Minoru Mochizuki which enabled me to recognise the latter when first seen on the cover of Fighting Arts International. While researching that blog I came across an article written by Patrick Auge entitled 'Remembering Minoru Mochizuki Sensei' and posted online at (or in) the Aikido Journal ( This rememberance of Mochizuki responated with me with regards to De Jong which I thought would form the basis of this blog which shows a little more of the man.
At the dojo, his door would always be open. He would often sit at a small table next to the entrance. That table was always covered with pens, pencils, dictionaries, newspaper clippings, and manuscripts. Above the table on the wall was a large world map. That area was where he did most of his reading and writing. He even ate breakfast there. Kancho Sensei used to get up early and prepare his breakfast himself. His favorite breakfast consisted of bread, butter, jam, and cafĂ© au lait (milk coffee), which he would quietly eat at that table, as he faced toward the sunrise. Then he would wash dishes – something he always insisted on doing by himself – and he would read the newspaper. When the mail came in, he would open it, call one of us if any translation was needed, and reply immediately.
De Jong had a small brick building down the end of his garden which was his private dojo. The flooring was carpet covered mats on concrete with naked brick walls and weapon racks and some memorabilia on the wall. A small, old leather punching bag was suspended in one corner (I never saw anyone actually use it in all the time I spent in that room).

De Jong's table and chair sat facing the door on the opposite side of the room. He had this collapsible card table (though I never saw it collapsed) which had covered with whatever he was working on or had left there from the past, or the grading sheets when we conducted gradings there. He sat on a collapsible wooden chair observing and instructing when training or grading. The photo at the top of this blog is De Jong at said table when Greg Palmer and myself were doing a third dan grading. The photo right is Palmer being congratulated for completing his third gradings and being awarded sandan (I still had a couple of gradings to complete if memory serves). Note the weapon racks and the clock on the wall. The clock was important because training was often conducted early in the morning and the trainees needed to keep an eye on the time as De Jong (and frequently the trainees) would lose track of time.

The dojo was not all that large, so, when we had to do any free-fighting gradings there was no room to hide. You had no choice but to stand your ground. A good method of training as I now appreciate. De Jong was not big on being overly formal (a trait he suggested he shared with Mochizuki). I recall one grading I was doing when my partner and I were joined by De Jong's great dane, Sasha. She had been observing proceedings from the doorway and decided it looked like fun so came bounding in to join us. Sacha's technique was very effective.

That reminds me of sword grading for shodan which I did with Darryl Cook (teaching the Melville branch of Jan de Jong Martial Arts and Fitness as the school was renamed after De Jong died). The grading was a kata demonstrating the relationship between sword techniques and unarmed techniques. It was conducted in quite a formal manner with opening and closing ceremonies, etc. I remember assuming jodan kamae where my sword was raised above my head - only to feel that I had pierced a lemon hanging on a branch above my head. Then there was one of the unarmed techniques where Darryl projected me into a nest of pot plants. As I rolled to one knee and faced Darryl, I'm not sure what the dirt and uprooted plants hanging off me did for the formality of the grading. The most testing part of that grading though, was to not deviate from the prescribed actions as a good-old Australian fly kept on trying to get up my nose.Seriously, do the Japanese have to put up with these sorts of distractions?

With regards to the 'table was always covered with pens, pencils, dictionaries, newspaper clippings, and manuscripts. Above the table on the wall was a large world map. That area was where he did most of his reading and writing.' That was De Jong's table in his study. It was always strewn with books, magazines, and papers. He didn't have a map of the world on the wall because he had no wall to hang it. He was surrounded on three sides by floor to wall book shelves filled to overflowing with martial arts books. The other wall had an old cabinet in which very old jujutsu books were held behind glass doors. There was one pillar which was free, but it was taken up with kris (Indonesian traditional bladed weapon) De Jong had collected, and a replica uzi if I remember correctly. He also had a computer on his table, though not one of the thin screens that are used today. This is where you would find De Jong most times when he was home. I've sat on the other side of his desk for many hours discussing this, that or the other related to martial arts, his school, or his European teaching trips ... and later, his life which has formed the basis for this biographical blog.
Often Mochizuki Sensei would stay after practice to give more specific instruction. At a large seminar in Europe, while most other teachers left eagerly to go shopping and sightseeing, he continued teaching. He later explained to us: "I may be dead tomorrow, so there is no time to waste!'
While De Jong may not have said those words, that was his attitude. This was particularly evident when he was teaching in Europe. He didn't want to waste any time when teaching could be done. He particularly enjoyed teaching less experienced people which he often received letters suggesting his attention to them was greatly appreciated, and not the norm with many other teachers.
Living close to Kancho Sensei was like living on total groundlessness. If one expected a definite, secure answer to a question, the Yoseikan wasn’t the place for that. Many students left because they could not take that kind of pressure; they couldn’t learn to function beyond their zones of comfort. One of my teachers told me soon after I arrived at the dojo: "Train yourself to not be surprised!" which I translated into: "Be prepared to expect the unexpected!"
Many people would get frustrated with De Jong because of what they perceived to be obtuse answers to their questions. It wasn't that he was deliberately obtuse, and he did not speak in abstract psudo-philosophical terms which some attempt to feign depth and wisdom. It's just that he was not bound by the limitations often imposed by the question. It was an art in itself to understand, at times, what De Jong was thinking or focused on when he was explaining something or instructing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 6 - Mochizuki

Recall from the last blog that after training with Phillipe Boiron, Jan de Jong developed an ambition to visit Japan to train. In 1969, at the age of 48, he realised that ambition. While in Japan, De Jong was a uchideashi (live-in student) of Minoru Mochizuki. The photograph to the right is of De Jong and Mochizuki during this time.

Minoru Mochizuki

Mochizuki was a remarkable man. He trained under many modern day martial art greats, including Morehi Ueshiba (founder of aikido), Jigaro Kano (founder of judo) and Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan karate). He was graded 10th dan aikido, 9th dan jujutsu, 9th dan judo, 8th dan iaido, 5th dan kendo, and 5th dan karate, in addition to the various traditional certifications of mastery he received. Mochhizuki was the first to teach aikido outside of Japan when he taught in France in 1951. He developed his own composite martial system named Yoseikan Budo which includes elements of judo, aikido, karate, and kobudo. Even though he is not well known for teaching jujutsu, the only book he ever wrote was entitled Nihonden Jujutsu.

Mochizuki was born in Shizuoka, Japan on 7 April, 1907. He commenced learning judo at the age of five. He explains how he came to learn Gyokushin-ryu jujutsu in Stanley A Pranin's Aikido Masters: Prewar Students of Morihei Ueshiba:
I also practiced an old-style jujutsu art called Gyokushin-ryu jujutsu. This system used a lot of sacrifice techniques and others that were very similar to those of aikido. At that time, the Gyokushin-ryu teacher Sanjuro Oshima lived very near my sister. The teacher was quite saddened to see the classical styles of jujutsu disappearing one by one and was determined to see to it that his own art was preserved - so much so that he requested that I learn it from him. I would go to his house and would be treated to a fine meal. I didn't have to pay any fees to study and they actually gave me dinner. That is how I came to study jujutsu.
Mochizuki explains that Gyokushin is written with characters which mean 'spherical school'. He quotes his former teacher when explaining the significance of the name:
A ball will roll freely. No matter which side it is pushed from it will roll away. Just this sort of spirit is the true spirit that Gyokushin-ryu seeks to instill in its members. If you have done this nothing in this world will upset you.
The Yoseikan dojo was established in Shizuoka in November 1931. Mochizuki had been ill with pleurisy and pulmonary tuberculosis and his brother and some others built the dojo to encourage him to stay in Shizuoka rather than return to Tokyo once he got out of hospital. Yoseikan can be loosely translated as 'the place where the right path is taught' (The Art of Jujutsu: The legacy of Minoru Mochizuki's 'Yoseikan' by Edgar Kruyning).

Mochizuki explains how he discussed his composite approach with Ueshiba (who was less than impressed with his emphasise on combat victory):
I went overseas to spread aikido and had matches with many different people while I was there. From that experience I realised that if was very difficult to win with only the techniques of aikido. In those cases I instinctively switched to jujutsu, judo, or kendo techniques and was able to come out on tope of the situation. No matter how I thought about it I couldn't avoid the conclusion that the techniques of Daito-ryu jujutsu were not enough to decide the issue.

The first copy of the brilliant but now defunct magazine, Fighting Arts International, I purchased had Mochizuki on the front cover. I'd never seen a photograph of him before but I knew instinctively it was him because he was so similar to De Jong in many ways. In the article by Harry Cook, he explains that 'to recieve a black belt from the Yoseikan it is necessary to study at least three of the major arts and have a working knowledge of as may systems as possible.' I've never really understood how that works as there is Yoseikan budo, Yoseikan aikido, and Yoseikan karate being taught around the world. In any event, De Jong said he was awarded shodan in Yoseikan aikido and Shotokan karate and that he also trained various weapon arts including kenjutsu.

After having been training at the Yoseikan for a couple of weeks, De Jong was summoned down from the living quarters upstairs to watch some students do a grading one morning. The student seated next to De Jong nudged him and told him to pay attention as he was next. Remember, in those days they didn't have grading sheets to refer to, it was all rote learning. When it was his turn, De Jong undertook the examination and passed. When he sat down the same gentleman nudged him again and advised him to pay attention to the next grading as well. That day he successfully graded three grades in Yoseikan aikido.

It wasn't all hard work. De Jong explained that his Japanese fellow students would go into town to have dinner and a few drinks. They were impressed with his drinking ability which didn't say a great deal as De Jong suggested they couldn't hold their alcohol. He said he had to support, if not carry, some of his training partners back to the dojo on more than one occasion.

Recall from the war years that De Jong had an aversion to cold weather due to his Hunger Winter experience following WWII. It reared its head in Japan when his fellow uchideashi opened the window at night for some fresh air, which was a little too 'fresh' for De Jong who would close the window.

De Jong explained that the aikido/budo which Mochizuki taught had a lot in common with the jujutsu he had learnt from the Saitos (see previous blogs). He recognised the bodymovements (taisabaki) which Mochizuki taught in an analytical appoach based on Kano's analytical approach. Gerry Carr, in Sport Mechanics for Coaches, provides an analytical approach to teaching and correcting sports skills. Step 4 is to divide the skill into phases. Kano did this with his kuzushi-tsukuri-kake (unbalancing-fitting in-technique execution) phases of judo throwing techniques. De Jong did this after returning from Japan in his taisabaki-kuzushi-waza (bodymovement-unbalancing-technique) approach (more will be explained on this in future blogs). De Jong said that Mochizuki preferred his o irimi senkai (major entering rotation) and changed his to that of De Jong's while De Jong preferred Mochizuki's and changed his to that.

De Jong only trained with Mochizuki for less than six months. However, he would later request an instructor be sent from the Yoseikan to Perth and his jujutsu grading system would be significantly influenced by his Yoseikan experience. These will all be the subject of future blogs.

Mochizuki pasted away on 30 May 2003 age 96. De Jong passed away the same year on the 5th of April age 82. Two giants of the martial arts world, upon whose shoulder's I'm attempting to stand and see further, coincidentally passing away within months of each other.

Nihonden Jujutsu

Recall from above that Nihonden Jujutsu was the only book Mochizuki, the budo/aikido/judo master ever authored. The title is translated as 'Traditional Japanese Jujutsu' and it was published in 1978. I recently saw a copy of this book on ebay with an asking price of US$4,000.

De Jong, Maggie (his daughter), and myself had been teaching for Jan-Erik Karlsson in Lund, Sweden. An annual event, both the European teaching tours and teaching in Lund. We had a rare day without teaching and De Jong, being older and always pushing himself on these tours, was taking the opportunity of relaxing in the sun outside Karlsson's house with its sea views. I on the other hand was taking the opportunity of rummaging through his martial arts library. Lo and behold, I found a photocopy of a book with Mochizuki's photograph on the front which I recognised from the abovementioned magazine article. It was in Japanese, but, I couldn't help but recognise so much of the content with what we'd been taught by De Jong and which made up so much of the grades De Jong had introduced. I felt like Indiana Jones finding the Ark of the Lost Covenant. De Jong's teachings were much sought after around the world and here was a book with some of them in it

Karlsson was most generous in giving the copy of this book to me once I'd gushed over it. When we returned to the land of Oz (Australia), I gave a copy to De Jong. Again, lo and behold, a few years later he began teaching a third dan grading which included 20 sacrifice throws and 20 takedown techniques in the instructor's class held every Friday night. He would give all the attendees a photocopy of the techniques he was going to teach that night, which, I recognised as coming from Nihonden Jujutsu. I never spilled the beans and we would often exchange rye smiles as he introduced these new techniques. The existence of the book was never disclosed to his instructors and, often much to the surprise of the instructors including the senior instructors who had been my instructors, De Jong would often get me to demonstrate the techniques when introducing them to the instructors class for the first time. I would like to think he selected me because my technique and understand was so good, however, I suspect it was because he knew I'd seen the techniques before and had been playing with them over the years

A few years ago I acquired a rare two set DVD produced of Mochizuki's teachings. Again, this is so exciting because it is another reference point for many of the things De Jong taught. You can see similarities and differences, which, as explained in a previous blog, the identification of is the core of all learning.

These DVDs also demonstrates one other thing. The training we received at the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, and the capabilities of some of its students/instructors, was world class. There is a DVD of Greg Palmer's second dan demonstration grading which involved six of his students, all non-black belts, which I would consider at least technically equivalent of the Mochizuki DVD performed by black belts. De Jong was always one for precision. Twitch a foot in a particular technique and you'd fail that technique in a grading.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 5 - The Perth Years

In the last blog we left Jan de Jong and his young family emigrating to Perth, Western Australia in 1952. There are various subjects of interest during this period until his death in 2003 which will be discussed in detail in future blogs.

De Jong arrived in a very provincial Perth in 1952. When discussing this subject he would use as an example that Perth had only one Chinese restaurant at that time. His physiotherapist qualifications weren't recognised in Australia so he initially worked as a labourer. It wasn't long before his work colleagues started to ask him to teach them martial arts. He initially taught them during his lunchtime break for no charge on what has now become the site of the West Australian parliament. This then laid the seed of an ambition to teach martial arts as a full-time profession. In the forward to my Jan de Jong: The man, his school, and his ju jitsu system, De Jong explains:
Looking back at my own early years in Australia (1952-1963), self defence was often considered a rather peculiar and odd thing to do. The term 'judo' was known by some, but most people had not even heard of 'karate' or 'kung fu,' let alone 'jujutsu'. My expressed intention to make the teaching of this art into my living was almost always met with doubt, if not ridicule. The idea that anyone could teach an oriental self defence professionally was not considered possible. However, I had the confidence that I could and would do this. When I did make it my full-time occupation in 1963, to the best of my knowledge I was the only full-time martial arts instructor in Australia.
Later that year he took his first steps in realising that ambition by offering classes in a premises located in North Perth. That same year he relocated his school to Victoria Park and then finally to his residence in Scarborough. Hans de Jong, his son, who would go on to make teaching jujutsu his full-time profession as well, recalls students being inadvertently thrown over balconies and through walls during lessons held at the Scarborough residence.

In 1955, De Jong's school was relocated to Swan River Rowing Club located on the city's foreshore. Attending the first class were ten students. After demonstrating a bridgefall and putting both his feet through the floorboards into the river, only three students returned for the next lesson. It was suggested that the use of mats may encourage more people to take up jujutsu, so, as mats were not available in those days, they made some mats by hand. Rodney Miller, a student in the 1960s and later an instructor, recollects training on these home-made mats: 'Can you imagine training on canvas mats? Well, that's what we had in the early days. They were especially good for mat burns and broken toes.'

In 1960, the school was relocated to 870 Hay Street, Perth, which is located in the Perth central business district. The photograph to the right is of training at the 870 Hay Street dojo. You might note how thin the room is. One can only imagine the difficulties this imposed on training. Also look closely and you'll see the home-made mats that Miller was so fond of. De Jong is kneeling centre.

In 1963 the school was moved to 996 Hay Street where it remained until De Jong's death in 2003. The building was full of character ... which is another way of saying it was a dodgy old building. It was a large building with four (five in the earlier years) separate large matted areas.

It was around this time that De Jong imported a large number of tatami from Japan. Towards the end they were moved around and tapped up due to the wear and tear they sustained over the decades. The photograph to the right was taken around 1963 according to Warwick Jaggard (aka Zak), a colourful character who went on to become an instructor for De Jong. He joined the school in that year and said that he 'always always loved the smell of the tatami as you walked in off the street.'

The building only had a ceiling in the upper area. Down stairs in the main training areas there was no ceiling, only a tin roof. On hot summer days when it was 30 degrees plus outside, it was another 5 or 10 degrees hotter inside. On some Saturdays you could not stand still in one place on the mats because of the heat radiating off the mats onto your bare feet.

Classes were held at the 996 Hay Street dojo six days a week. The dojo was open from morning until late at night so there was always somewhere to train. For whatever reason, when I commenced training in 1983 I attended two lessons a day, six days a week and took the opportunity of also doing training at the dojo in addition to the classes.

In 1965 the first branch was opened and over the years there would be many more branches opened throughout the Perth metropolitan area. In 1975 the name of the school was changed to 'Jan de Jong’s Self Defence School'. The school grew to, at its peak, having 800 to 1,000 students, without sensationalisation nor inflated promotion. Standards were never lowered as De Jong had a qualitative rather than an economic imperative when it came to his teachings.

From 1955, attendance at De Jong's pencak silat classes was by invitation only. In 1968 he offered classes in pencak silat to the public for the first time. Given the informal nature of pencak silat, De Jong would have to develop an entire grading system which he did. He placed an age restriction on admittance to the class as he considered jujitsu, and later aikido, provided a more appropriate ethical foundation for young people as they emphasised acceptance and control rather than initially teaching a child to punch or kick another person.

In 1968, De Jong was introduced to aikido by Phillipe Boiron. Boiron was a student of Minoru Mochizuki and taught his Yoesikan style of aikido. De Jong said that he was very impressed with Boiron's technique and Boiron began teaching for him in that year. After training with Boiron, De Jong developed an ambition to visit Japan to train. Professional development if you will. In 1969, age 48, he realised that ambition. While he was in Japan he visited a number of schools before finally becoming a live-in student with Mochizuki. More will be said of the 'Mochizuki influence' on the 'school of Jan de Jong' in a future blog.

Two more children were born in Australia before De Jong was divorced. Only Hans, born in Indonesia as explained in the previous blog, would go on to make teaching martial arts his full-time profession. De Jong remarried a few years later. Margaret, his wife, would go on to become his partner in establishing a thriving business teaching martial arts and selling martial arts supplies in Perth. Their first born, Maggie, would go on to make teaching martial arts her full-time profession and become principal of his school when he passed away. Maggie would accompany De Jong on most of his European teaching tours in the 1990s. Maggie would be followed by a brother who trained martial arts but never took it up to the same extent as his sister.

Jan de Jong began teaching aikido when he returned to Australia. In 1974, he sponsored Yoshiaki Unno from Mochizuki’s Yoseikan to become an Australian resident and to teach aikido and karate at his school. More will be said of Unno in a future blog.

Accompanied by his family, De Jong returned to Europe for a holiday in 1978. He took this opportunity to make contact with various jujutsu instructors throughout Europe and to peruse the jujutsu scene. The European jujutsu community was impressed with him, his knowledge and his expertise, and were quick to embrace and court him. When he returned home he was lobbied to become the Australian representative for the World Ju Jitsu Federation (WJJF) which he eventually accepted.

This began, what appeared to be, the political life of De Jong. In 1985, through General Eddy Nalapraya of the Indonesian Army, the man responsible for the promotion of pencak silat on behalf of the Indonesian Government, De Jong was appointed the Australian representative for the International Pencak Silat Federation. This was followed by his appointment as President and National Coach for the Australian Ju Jitsu Association (AJJA) in 1987, and Vice President of the WJJF in 1989. Whilst these were political offices, De Jong was anything but political. His focus was always on improving techniques and 'on strengthening both jujutsu itself and the image it holds'. Briely Baily OAM, National Secretary of the AJJA, credits the presence of De Jong within the AJJA as having brought jujutsu together around Australia and moved it forward in world circles. His achievements were officially recognised by the Australian Government when he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1990.

De Jong had been graded third dan in jujutsu since 1939. After his initial visit and subsequent involvement with the hierarchy of the WJJF, he was awarded fourth dan in 1980. Following his first teaching tour of Europe in 1982, the WJJF awarded him sixth dan and then eighth dan in 1989. I've been advised that the AJJA also awarded De Jong eighth day in the same year though I am yet to verify this fact.

Actually, De Jong was 'awarded' numerous higher gradings from various individuals and organisation including a number of tenth dans. I was present when he and Margaret were both awarded tenth dans by a German instructor (who was not invited to the seminar but proceeded to take it over anyway). Margaret should have been chuffed because she never graded first dan under De Jong or anyone else for that matter. These certificates were put in the draw along with so many others.

De Jong wasn't concerned about higher grades for himself and lamented the increasing frequency with which higher grades were being awarded. In an interview published in 2002, De Jong said:
I never worried about [accepting the higher grade], you just know what you know. That's all you do, you do not worry about Dan grades very much. Dan grades don’t say very much anymore. In my time it said something. … I'm still learning too. Dan grades are not important – it is what you can give the people, that is what is important.
Following his initial visit, De Jong received many invitations to conduct seminars throughout Europe. In 1982, he returned with a team of his instructors for what became an annual tour. Over the next two decades, he would conduct seminars in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United States of America, as well as throughout Australia. As a consequence of his increasing international reputation, students/instructors from around Australia and Europe would travel to Perth in order to train with De Jong and his instructors. More will be said of these tours in a later blog.

Another watershed in De Jong’s professional life was his appointment as the Chief Instructor and Adviser to the Australian Special Air Service Regiment ('SAS') in 1979. Major Greg Mawkes MBE had been tasked with updating the Australian Army’s capability for unarmed combat training and after considerable research had identified De Jong as the man that could help him fulfil his mission.
I had very firm ideas of what was required. I needed a man with a vast knowledge of and skill in several martial arts. Someone who knew that unarmed combat has both offensive and defensive applications. A man who understood that aggression has to be developed but controlled. A man who could appreciate what works in the dojo may not be effective on the battlefield. And if possible, a man who had experienced combat. I approached several martial arts schools in Perth, but although they were willing to help, none could offer the total solution I was seeking. Without exception though, they felt that Jan de Jong was my man. In de Jong Sensei I found a man who was not only genuinely interested in helping me solve the problem, but a man with exceptional skill and knowledge. Before I even set foot on a tatami mat we spent many hours discussing the likely situations that SAS men could face in hostile environment. When training actually commenced I found him to be flexible in both mind and approach to the task, but above all patient.
The 1999 tour of Europe was the last tour for De Jong. He suffered heart problems during that tour and was hospitalised. From that time he was plagued with ill health until he passed away on 5 April 2003, coincidently, a couple of months before Mochizuki passed away.

PS: I have since been advised the photograph included above which was identified as being the 870 Hay Street school was not in fact that school. To date the location is unidentified and it would be greatfully appreciated if anyone can identify the location. This is one of purposes of this blog, albeit not originally intended, for the Jan de Jong story to be 'filled in' with other people's information which I have not contacted as yet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 4 - The Post WWII Indonesian Years

In the last blog we'd left Jan de Jong and his new family leaving the Hunger Winter of Holland to return to the warmer climate of Indonesia.

Indonesia had been occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Two days after the Japanese surrender to the Allies, the Indonesians seized the opportunity of the Netherlands situation to declare independence. British forces landed to disarm the Japanese and 'to maintain law and order until the time that the lawful government of the Netherlands East Indies is once again functioning.' Prior to the arrival of the British forces, the Dutch Lieutenant-Governor of the Indies met Lord Mountbatten in Ceylon and asked that Japanese troops still in Indonesia be ordered by the British to suppress the Republican government. Mountbatten agreed but the Japanese delayed. Prior to their repatriation, the Japanese forces did, indeed, fight Republican forces and hand over the territory won to the British forces.

The British forces found themselves in conflict with the fledgling Republic who, when confronted with all out combat from the sea, air and land from the British (assisted at times by the Japanese), decided to withdraw from urban battles and adopt a guerrilla campaign. The Dutch, under the pretext of representing the Allied forces, sent in troops to regain control of their former colony in what was to be their largest military effort in their history. After more than four years of bloody conflict where human rights abuses abounded on both sides, the Dutch formally transferred sovereignty to Republik Indonesia Serikat (Republic of United States of Indonesia) on 27 December 1949. The Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL) were officially disbanded six months later.

No sooner had Independence been won then the new Republic had to face numerous armed challenges. The Darul Islam terrorised the countryside of West Java in their move to establish an Islamic State. The former Dutch army captain Turco Westerling band claimed the lives of thousands of innocent lives. Outside Java, demobilised ex-colonial armed men who remained loyal to the Dutch crown staged a revolt and proclaimed 'the Republic of South Malaka'. There were also various separatist movements and the Indonesian Communist Party all pushing their separate agendas through violent means.

This was the Indonesia De Jong returned to in 1946 and lived in for the next seven years. He was initially posted to Jakarta but was soon reassigned to his hometown of Semerang. He was mostly unsuccessful in locating people from his past but was fortunately reunited with his parents and brother who had survived the Japanese camps. His father told him that one of the Saito brothers (his former Japanese jujutsu instructors) had helped him when he was interned but no news was ever heard of his former instructors again.

De Jong commenced teaching jujutsu in Jakarta and Semerang, though it was never in any sustained way. The previously mentioned student of De Jong, Kees van Deijk, had ceased training in 1947. He joined the KNIL as a sergeant-major and was posted to Jakarta, Indonesia. Van Deijk wrote to me and described their improbable meeting in Indonesia after WWII:
One day when I was in my office I heard a well-known voice. Who was sitting about five metres next to me? Jan. We looked at each other, astonished, meeting in Indonesia, how was it possible. To make a long story short: after talking with each other for hours, Jan and I decided to give a jujutsu demonstration in the Army hospital at Jakarta. We did it together with my fencing teacher, Dick Trouvatt, and these demonstrations were so successful that we did it twice. Thereafter I lost connection with Jan until 1994.
He went on to say in his correspondence to me: 'Now that I am writing I see Jan before me (often with his smile), who gave me jujutsu lessons, which formed a part of my character in my life. I'll never forget him!'

De Jong turned his attention to learning the indigenous martial art of Indonesia, pencak silat ('silat'). He had been introduced to silat during his school days but had not trained it in any depth.

Just as with his jujutsu instruction, it wasn't simply a matter of locating a school and enrolling for lessons. He asked his barber if he knew of a good teacher, a Guru, who might teach him. The barber told him he knew a man who knew a lot about silat and a little while after that brought him to his house. This man, Soehadi, visited De Jong on a number of occasions where they would talk about various matters. On one occasion he asked, 'why do you want to do silat? You’re a white boy, you should be doing tennis or something like that.' De Jong replied, 'because it's in my heart to do so.'

On some of the visits to De Jong’s house, Soehadi would be accompanied by other men. Unbeknown to him, they were leaders of the Suci Hati aliran (Suci Hati is Indonesian for ‘pure heart,’ and aliran refers to the same concept as ryuha). It was usually the custom for the applicant to be brought to the elders, but due to the War of Independence being waged and De Jong being a Dutchman attached to the KILN, Soehadi thought it judicious to go against custom and bring the elders to him. After a number of months, Soehadi informed him that the elders considered him of good character and acceptable to them for inclusion into their aliran and that he was to be his Guru. As it turned out, Soehadi was the chief guru for all of middle Java, but he had never mentioned that he even trained silat, let alone was a guru of some note.

Training was conducted three times a week in a garage and was initially on a private basis due to the conditions of the times. About a year after he'd started training, Soehadi told De Jong that permission had been granted for him to meet 'the brothers'. The two men journeyed up Mount Ungaran, about 15 miles from Semarang and arrived at a house which had a picture of Sukarno (leader of the Indonesian's struggle for independence) on the wall and 'the brothers' all sporting long hair. He realised he was deep in rebel held territory and the long-haired Indonesians were persuda (Indonesian for youth), young freedom fighters operating in fierce gangs and who had vowed not to cut their hair until all the Dutch had been driven out of Indonesia. The bond between members of an aliran is exceedingly strong and appears to transcend nationalistic concerns.

Given the Indonesian culture and temperament, training was a lot more relaxed than under the Saito brothers. De Jong was very fit and very experienced in combative arts so he was able to pick up the skills of silat very fast. Gradings consisted of various senior members of the aliran observing the training and deciding that a higher grade would be awarded. De Jong said he was awarded the equivalent of sixth degree black belt in 1951.

Soehadi and De Jong lost contact when De Jong emigrated to Australia in 1952. Nearly thirty years later Soehadi recognised his former pupil on television giving a jujutsu demonstration in Indonesia. He wrote a letter addressed to: 'Jan de Jong, Perth, Western Australia', and despite the limited address it found its destination. In 1986, De Jong’s students raised the funds to fly Soehadi to Perth for a reunion. The photograph above was taken at De Jong's dojo at his home and has the elderly Soehadi blocking a kick by the elderly De Jong. The photograph to the right is of the same elderly Soehadi demonstrating his silat at the same location. Elderly but ever so sprightly. The person kneeling furthest to the right is Peter Clarke in the photograph to the right is the Clarke mentioned in the first blog concerning the school of Jan de Jong. In addition to being graded sixth dan in jujutsu, he was also the highest graded pencak silat student/instructor of De Jong (in addition to dan grades in aikido).

During these years, De Jong was practising as a physiotherapist at the hospital in Semerang. His third child and second son, Hans de Jong, was born at the same hospital (1950 I think). In later years I would have occasion to visit that hospital and the room where De Jong practiced his physiotherapy, but that is a story for another blog.

After living with the risks and stresses associated with living in a theatre of war for twelve years, and now with the added responsibility of a young family, who had themselves been threatened by armed bandits during a home invasion, De Jong decided to emigrate. Through his aversion to cold climates born of the Hunger Winter, he narrowed his choices to South Africa, South America and Australia. Perth won out due to its political stability, language, and of course, warm climate.

Jan de Jong Pt 3.1 - The War Years

The following fabulous photos were taken in Holland circa early 1940s.

Jan de Jong is uke, the person being thrown. I am in the process of attempting to establish the identity of tori, the person doing the throw. It has been suggested in may be Reinier Hulsker (see Jan de Jong Pt 3 - The War Years blog).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 3 - The War Years

In the last blog we'd left Jan de Jong travelling by boat to Holland in later 1939 to pursue a career as a pilot. He arrived in Holland in February 1940.

At the outbreak of WWII in 1939, the Netherlands declared itself neutral as it had been during WWI. This was not to be as Germany invaded on the morning of 10 May 1940. Hitler had hoped to conquer the country in just one day but his forces met unexpectedly fierce resistance. The German command received the following order on 13 May: 'Resistance in Rotterdam should be broken with all means, if necessary threaten with and carry out the annihilation (Vernichtung) of the city.' The Dutch and Germans were negotiating the surrender of the city when, just after midday on 14 May 1940, the heart of the city was almost completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe (a sentiment which is captured in Ossip Zadkine's statue Stad zonder hart ,'city without a heart').

The Germans employed shrecklichkeit. Shrecklichkeit ('frightfulness') is a term Hitler used to refer to the deliberate targeting of civilian populations to destroy civilian morale. The German's experimented with shrecklichkeit during the Spanish Civil War with the bombing of Guernica, then used it in Warsaw, Poland in 1939. In the early afternoon of 14 May 1940 it was Rotterdam's turn to experience shrecklichkeit. One third of the city was destroyed. Nearly 1,000 people were killed and over 80,000 lost their homes and more than 25,000 houses and buildings were destroyed. The fires raged on after the bombardment for weeks and the entire country sent fire brigades to Rotterdam. The bombing of Rotterdam would later become one of the war crimes Hermann Goering was indicted for.

De Jong sat on the roof of his apartment block watching the bombing of Rotterdam. On one of our European teaching tours, De Jong took myself and his daughter (Maggie) to see where he lived in Rotterdam during WWII. The photograph to the right is of the building with De Jong and his daughter standing in front of the front door. If it isn't the world's thinnest building it has to be up there. Looking up at the roof of that building as De Jong reminisced about the day he saw the heart of Rotterdam nearly completely destroyed was very evocative.

De Jong said that the Gestapo occupied a building on the same block but behind his apartment building. He used to listen to the BBC which was banned by the Nazi authorities and he hid the radio aerial down a gutter. They had to be constantly on the lookout when listening to the radio as the German's used mobile detector vehicles to locate radios and their listeners.

De Jong initially relied on the financial support of his father which dried up when the Nazis occupied Holland. He then survived on the borrowings from friends and was relieved when Reinier Hulsker offered him a position to teach jujutsu at his sports school. The entrepreneurial Hulsker taught jujutsu, that’s how they met, and he could see the opportunities for martial arts/self defence training in the forthcoming years. De Jong would forever refer to the day he started teaching jujutsu professionally as the day he retired. He was the living embodiment of Confucius’ saying: 'if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.'

Within a year, De Jong had decided to open up his own school. Out of respect and friendship for his benefactor, he opened up his school on the opposite side of the city in order to not compete with Hulsker, even though this exposed him to greater personal dangers. Travel within the cities of Holland was a dangerous business. The Germans, with increasing frequency, would round-up all able-bodied men for forced labour in Germany. There was a time that De Jong was ordered to present himself for selection for these labour details which he avoided by forging papers saying he was studying at the local university which excluded him from selection.

There was also the risk of being randomly selected for execution in reprisal for Dutch Resistance activities. De Jong would recall the time when he and his friends were walking down the street and one of their number was selected among them to be executed. He's shown me a newspaper clipping which he's kept from those times which lists one of his friends as being among the executed.

In spite of these risks, De Jong opened and operated his first martial art school which proved to be successful, teaching approximately 300 students at its height. This is some feat today, let alone in Nazi occupied Holland. Kees van Deijk, a student of De Jong’s at that time, recalls that De Jong gave lessons in an 'ordinary private house' and that 'on the floor in this room was a kind of tarpaulin and under that straw which had to be filled up frequently. Sometimes there were complaints from the neighbours owing to the booming by us and all the other pupils. Jan invited them to come and see what we did. Complaints stopped.' Over fifty years later, Van Deijk’s impression of these lessons was that 'the lessons that Jan gave were great, we worked hard with of course a lot of fun. That was Jan too!'

When De Jong left Holland after the war, he turned the school over to Piet Hesselink. They didn’t maintained contact, however, in 1994, whilst teaching in Holland, De Jong was approached by the tearful grandfather of a young student who was attending the seminar. It was Hesselink … and he was still teaching. When approached by Hesselink, De Jong, with his amazing memory, thought for a moment and then said: 'You’re Piet Hesselink.' Hesselink confirmed De Jong’s identification after 50 years and produced his membership card from De Jong’s school during WWII. De Jong graded Hesselink shodan (black belt) during the war years. Shodan in what is another matter. It might have been in whatever Hulsker was teaching. Hesselink's story is one which would add further information to that of De Jong's.

In addition to training with Hulsker, Jan de Jong sought out other jujutsu practitioners. He trained with, among others, Mark van Gich and Maurice van Nieuwenhuizen, but he was most impressed with Jan Boretius whose jujutsu he described as being 'very dynamic and effective.' Given his predilection for dynamism and effectiveness in latter years, this is high praise indeed. Boretius lived in Amsterdam, so the extended travel exposed De Jong to greater dangers. He would recall, and which has been misquoted in various interviews, a time he was forced to utilise his skills to extract himself from a predicament he encountered when a German soldier asked him for an Auswiez (permit to stay in Holland).

Nieuwenhuizen went on to become an important figure in Dutch martial arts after the war. He wrote a few books on judo/jujutsu and was the inspiration for the cartoon and film hero 'Dick Bos'. Nieuwenhuizen was also one of the founding members of the Netherlands Judo Federation and one of his students was the Olympic champion Anto Geeslink.

De Jong was recruited into the so-called Dutch Resistance early on during the Nazi occupation. 'So-called' because the Dutch Resistance had no central command or control. Individuals recruited relatives, friends and neighbours to join groups who often had no outside links at all and who conducted their operations as they saw fit. Association with these groups was risk laden as capture often resulted in torture then execution or deportation to a concentration camp. These risks were exacerbated by the geography of the countryside. The lack of mountain and forested terrain did not provide hiding areas for large groups of marquis and the flat terrain and many bodies of water confined movement to established railroads, road networks and bridges, which were easily occupied by the Germans who established check points to prevent complete freedom of movement by the Dutch inhabitants. Then there was the risk of being informed upon. Due to the geographic proximity and the cultural ties with Germany, there were many Dutch who were sympathetic to the idea of German nationalism.

In addition to all these risks, there was Englandspiel – 'the English game' as the Germans called their penetration of the Dutch Resistance. The Allies Special Operations Executive (SOE) operations in Holland had been penetrated in March 1942 and they were convinced, through SOE’s 'sole agent' (the Germans), that a vigorous underground movement was being built when in reality the entire operation was compromised. Abwehr Lieutenant Colonel Giskes, the officer in charge of the operation, showed a certain panache when, after the operation had been blown, he signed off to London on 1 April 1944, appropriately April Fools Day, with:
Messrs Blunt, Bingham and Successors Ltd. London. … you are trying to make business in the Netherlands without our assistance. We think this rather unfair in view of our long and successful co-operation as your sole agents. But never mind, when you come to pay a visit to the Continent you may be assured that you will be received with the same care and result as all those who you sent us before. So long!
De Jong very rarely spoke of his operational experience during the war. Of the experiences he confided in me, there is no doubt he was engaged in active service for most of the occupation of Holland. When we were walking in Amsterdam one day, he pointed out a large church (or cathedral, I don't know the difference). He stood there for a moment and told me of a fire-fight between the Germans and Dutch resistance on the roof of the building. He went to their aid by climbing up into the ceiling and taking some tiles down to get onto the roof, only to find one of his comrades had been shot in the head and killed. He also spoke of hijacking a meat wagon only to find a German officer was hiding in the back. They had to kill the officer, having no means of imprisoning him, to which the German's responded with their standard reprisal - executions. When questioned on his operational experience, De Jong would usually reply:
[this is] not a time I really like to talk about. Because war is such a stupid thing and it turns people into creatures that do the most horrible things to other human beings.
The ending of the war had just as profound an effect on De Jong as the war itself. The German’s had plundered Holland during the occupation. There was no coal, no electricity, no wood; there was no running water, no sewers and no waste disposal. Food had always been scarce, but by the time the Germans left it had become a rare commodity. The population were starving and were forced to eat tulip bulbs, and on occasion, family pets. They would put an old shoe in boiling water in an attempt to infuse some sort of taste of meat from the leather into the 'soup'. Then nature imposed a harsher winter than was the norm. More than 20,000 people died due to the deprivations of what came to be known as the 'Hunger Winter'. De Jong would recall how he had to survive on one loaf of stale bread for an entire week and how bitterly cold it was. For the rest of his life he would attend to his meals with a single-mindedness that could not be easily dissuaded and he was unable to leave a morsel of food on his plate. He would leave Holland not to return for another twenty years, and never during winter.

His eating habits became a bit of a 'thing' between us. On occasion I would attempt to engage him in conversation while he was eating, no mean feat I can tell you. On all subjects he had no problem ignoring any attempts at conversation; all conversations bar one - jujutsu. I'd deliberately raise some issue of interest related to jujutsu with De Jong while he was trying to eat and you could almost see the internal battle being waged. He knew what I was doing but still he had to fight (and often lost) the impulse to talk about jujutsu. On one of the last visits I paid to De Jong before he passed away, he proudly informed me that he had left some food on his plate. It was a moment of connection between us which appears to all intents and purposes to be trivial, but it wasn't as we both knew what it meant.

De Jong got married during the war and fathered two children. He also studied physiotherapy during the war years. After the war, a friend of his father offered him a civilian position as a physiotherapist attached to the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL). The promise of a posting to the warmer more plentiful Dutch East Indies, later to be known as Indonesia, secured his commitment. That and the watch he was offered.

Unfortunately I was unable to secure a Resistance medal for De Jong before he passed away. I applied to the Netherland authorities a little too late when they were awarding these medals.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 2 - The Pre-War Years

This blog is part two of the Jan de Jong Story. Unfortunately, reference to the 'pre-war' years now needs to be clarified given the number of conflicts that it is possible for a man of De Jong's age to have been involved in. The pre-war years refer to pre World War II. Much of the Jan de Jong story was derived from extensive interviews I conducted with Jan de Jong in the last 90s. I still have hours of tape recordings of these interviews which take on a poignancy now that he has passed away.

Jan de Jong was born to Dutch parents on 6 February 1921 – though where he was born is another matter. His parents told him he was born in Gorkum, Holland, however his first Netherlands Indies passport disclosed Indonesia as his place of birth. At that time there was a certain stigma to being born in the colonies. In Malaysia for instance, the British would often give birth on board a British ship in order to record a British place of birth against the infant’s name. In any case, Semarang, a sea port on the northern coast of central Java, was where he grew up.

The colonial Dutch were known for assimilating into the local culture and De Jong immersed himself in the Indonesia culture which became a large part of who he was for the rest of his life. He would often be seen around his home wearing a sarong (which he later taught us how to use as a weapon). If you were a De Jong instructor you developed an appreciation for Indonesian cuisine, of which he was well accomplished at preparing. Garlic was forever associated with his diet. Who could ever forget, as much as they tried, his 'satay' sandwiches consisting of bread, peanut butter, and slices of garlic. No need to mention his home brewed garlic wine which was occasionally inflicted upon his instructors. Always consumed in minute doses because it tasted very much as you'd think. I always imagined it was a test to see how gullible people can be when they follow someone.

De Jong commenced training jujutsu under the Saito brothers at the age of seven. The 'Saito brothers' as he never knew their first names, always referring to them individually as 'Saito Sensei'. The Saito brothers very rarely taught non-Japanese students and De Jong was only afforded the opportunity of joining their classes through his father's relationship with them. His father, an engineer, befriended one of the brothers whilst building a shed at the flower nursery of one of the brothers in the hills above Semarang. This friendship led to an invitation for both father and son to train under them. The chief instructor was a professional photographer, whilst his brother was a florist who spent most of his time at his nursery.

The above photographs are of the Saito brothers circa 1930. These are the only three photographs of them that De Jong had. He used the last photograph as the inspiration for Wim Zwiers to develop an ex libras which then went on to become the logo of his school. Zwiers would go on to become a famous artist in Holland and his work, mainly ex libras, is much sought after. I had the pleasure of meeting him and visiting his home where he worked and displayed his and other artist's art work. I am fortunate enough to have been given an ex libras he'd made of my zodiac birth sign and which is now hanging on my loungeroom wall.

Not much is known of the Saito brothers. De Jong would say the main instructor was eighth dan while his brother was seventh dan. Given dan grades were instituted by Jigoro Kano, it would be interesting to know how these grades were awarded. Did they, like so many, go over to the Kano system? The Saito's told De Jong that the style of jujutsu they were teaching was Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu. During his training with them, the dojo was visited by jujutsuka (jujutsu exponent) who were said to be training Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu in Japan.

The dojo was a small room with bamboo walls, off an alley in the centre of the town. Classes were always small in number, never having more than fifteen students at any one time and, as said before, very rarely including any non-Japanese students. Classes were conducted for two to three hours a day; seven days a week; 365 days a year. Apart from the rare bout of illness, De Jong only missed classes when his family returned to Holland for a six month holiday every five years. This occurred twice during his training under the Saitos.

The classes were conducted during the afternoon, the hottest part of the day in equatorial Indonesia. De Jong would recall that his gi (uniform) was often soaked with sweat before he even stepped onto the mats, and that sometimes during the class he would have to change into a spare gi which he’d brought along for just such a purpose.

Everyone trained together in the same class. All the students trained the same techniques, though the experienced students received more attention from the instructor than the novice. Repetition was the preferred method of instruction with the students being told to 'train slow', and that 'speed will come'. There was no enforced discipline, but rather respect and self discipline was expected and willingly accorded due to the times and culture.

An amusing anecdote De Jong shared demonstrated his attitude towards his training. His father visited his school one day to check up on his son’s academic progress only to find he hadn’t been attending school for the past six months. School hours were between 7am and 12am or 1pm and he had been using this time to do extra training before attending the jujutsu class. With a rye smile, De Jong would say that his father was not pleased.

De Jong would also say his father was not pleased when he got their pet monkey drunk on his father's best liquor. He was obviously a spirited lad. He'd tell of how they would give visiting soccer teams coconut milk at half time which would then slow them down for the second half of the game.

De Jong was in the boy scouts. He gave me a copy of his list of contacts and I wrote to people who had known him before and during WWII. I received a reply from one who also sent me a couple of small photographs of De Jong in his pre-WWII Indonesian days. There is a young De Jong in his boy scouts uniform (complete with shorts and knee high white socks) attending a jamboree in front of a hut surrounded by a tropical jungle.

De Jong said he received his third dan grading from the Saitos just before he left for Holland in 1939. This was apparently the highest technical grade and all higher grades were honorary and based on, among other things, certain age requirements. De Jong, at the age of eighteen, had some time to go before meeting those age requirements.

He left Indonesia by boat in late 1939 arriving in Holland in February 1940. He travelled to Holland in order to further his ambitions of becoming a pilot. Three months later the Nazis put paid to that ambition by invading Holland and ruthlessly occupying the country for the next five years.

In the 1994-5 I accompanied De Jong, along with his wife and daughter, on a visit to Java (the subject of a future blog itself). He took the opportunity of travelling to the places of his childhood. We found the street but no trace of the Saito dojo exists as it has been built over.

When De Jong returned to Indonesia after WWII, he tried to locate his instructors but no trace of them was ever found. This could be explained because they may have been Japanese spies. De Jong would suggest they may have been in the Japanese Army pre-WWII. This story is given a little more support when Jan Ruff-O'Hearne (50 Years of Silence) writes about her time growing up in pre-WWII Semarang: 'Our friendly Japanese photographer turned out to be a spy too. He was the most popular photographer in Semarang.' Given the time the Saitos spent in Semarang, it may be they were former military and were called upon, as islikely of all nationals living in a country which is at war with their homeland, by the Japanese military prior to their invasion.

During the Java trip, we were invited to dine at an old colonial restaurant. It was truly old colonial world with open bay doors and black and white checkered tiles on the floor. Our host knew of De Jong's fondness for Indonesian cuisine and organised a traditional rijsttafel for us. Rijsttafel is translated as 'rice table' in Dutch and it is an elaborate meal where dishes are brought to the table for the diners to choose portions from. At this time a dozen Indonesian women all dressed alike came to our table holding different dishes and filed pasted us. The setting, the rijsttafel, and the food brought back many fond memories that moved De Jong to tears. He later told me he'd actually worked in just such a restaurant in his youth.

In the years just prior to his death, De Jong would reminisce about his life with me after I'd taken him to the movies or out to dinner. It was a real 'Tuesdays with Morrie' moment (book about a former teacher reminiscing with a former student each Tuesday before dieing; and Jack Lemmon's last movie). He talked often, and lovingly, of his father and one thing always stuck with me. He'd say how he'd turned out very much like his father.