Saturday, July 31, 2010

O Mae Ukemi aka Bridgefall

The grading system of the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong is one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen (and which will be the subject of a future blog). One of the second dan gradings requires the candidate to put on a demonstration with their students being the participants. The demonstration is in two parts. The first part, 20 minutes long, is an explanation of the jujutsu taught by Jan de Jong, and the second part is 10 minutes fast action. The above Youtube posting is a small part of Greg Palmer's second dan demonstration presented in 1985. It is planned that future postings will include other excerpts of this demo.

Jan de Jong acknowledged that Greg's demo was the best of all those who had attempted the grading. I was fortunate to be asked by Greg to participate in his demo. We trained two to three times a week for six months. In the demonstration, Greg is explaining the progression of training o-mae-ukemi, literally major forwards breakfall or more popularly 'bridgefall.' I am the jujutsuka (jujutsu participant) at the end of the video who performs the 'no hands' bridgefall over a 'horse.'

I remember teaching a seminar with Jan de Jong in Stolkhom, Sweden. We were teaching a hip turn (goshi gaeshi) technique where the opponent is taken across the hips and falls to the ground. When demonstrating the technique I would always land in a bridgefall as per the video. I noticed that none of the seminar participants were using the same breakfalling technique and approached one of the participants who was also one of the people responsible for us being there and discovered they did not know this technique. I advised De Jong and suggested we teach this breakfalling technique, which, being open minded, he agreed to do. During the half-time break, the technique I was approached to teach the interested senior students and instructors was this breakfalling technique and not any of the other 'defensive' techniques taught during the seminar.

Hans de Jong, the son of Jan de Jong, has spoken of using this technique when falling from a height of the roof of a house while tree lopping. Falling into a bridgefall and only suffering some scuffs and bruises. Another of De Jong's former instructors, Mike Simpson, started some demonstrations for the public by running and jumping over the heads of spectators and landing in a bridgefall. I remember hearing of Mike's exploits in somersaulting over a card table and landing in a bridgefall. So, with a youthful bravado attitude of 'anything you can do I can do better,' I attempted to replicate this feat although the card table was a much sturdier metal structure which was about 1.5 metres long. I recall having no qualms until half-way through the somersault and seeing the card table while upside down in the air. I landed the technique ... and never attempted it again.

The bridgefall and the other breakfalling techniques are described and illustrated in my book. One rather unique breakfalling technique taught by Jan de Jong jujutsu is the sideways roll. Most jujutsu follow judo's breakfalling methods which include a forwards, backwards, and sideways breakfall (flat fall), and a forwards and backwards roll - no sideways rolls. I have seen some attempt to teach a sideways roll such as in Pat Harrington's The Principles of Ju Jutsu and Marc Tedeschi's Hapkido. In these cases the sideways roll is a barrel-type of roll, rolling from one side of the body to the other. The sideways roll taught by Jan de Jong jujutsu is a little more sophisticated than this.

In addition to describing and illustrating the breakfalling methods taught by Jan de Jong, the chapter will also apply injury science to facilitate the understanding and study these techniques. Injury science is a relatively new science which, as the name suggests, studies injury. This science is the subject of its own chapter in my book and is specifically applied to facilitate the understanding and study of breakfalling techniques and percussion techniques. Injury science will be the subject of a future blog.

Until next time.

John Coles

Friday, July 30, 2010

Triumph and Disaster - The Same Two Imposters

Some people have complimented me in expressing their admiration for my dedication and discipline in researching and writing this book. I've spent nearly every day, often twelve hours a day or more, for more than two years researching and writing this book. Career, socialising, fitness, health, paying bills (phone gets cut off on a regular basis), day-to-day living, have all been subjugated to this book. There has been no more demanding a mistress in my life then this book. Dedication and discipline - no; obsession - yes. And this obsession is even greater than that demonstrated, and also mistakenly admired, in my training and advancement in jujutsu.

This obsession is sometimes fed by finding insightful articles which unfortunately are hidden away in academic journals which the general populous would never normally get to see. The 'Wax On, Wax Off' article which formed the basis for my Wax On, Wax Off blog is one such article. Another is 'Sumo: the recent history of an ethical model of Japanese society' published in the International Journal of the History of Sport by Ian Reader from the Centre of Japanese Studies at Stirling University. Within the article, Reader writes about the attitude adopted by Sumo wrestlers:
Anyone watching Sumo for the first time would certainly note the lack of apparent emotion that follows a fight. From the faces of the wrestlers it is rarely possible to tell who has one and who has lost. Neither should show their feelings; rather, after the fight has finished, both men return to their side of the ring and bow respectfully to each other. There are none of the ritual displays of triumph and defeat found in most other sports, nor should there be any overt hint of animosity between wrestlers. ... It is essential to show respect to a defeated foe as much as to a victor. Humility in victory is vital ...
Too true. Ritual displays of triumph and defeat are de rigueur in the modern sporting arena. Reader's observations echo Jigoro Kano's advice concerning judo outside the dojo in Kodokan Judo which he suggests evokes the very essence of judo:
Walk a single path, becoming neither cocky with victory nor broken with defeat, without forgetting caution when all is quiet or becoming frightened when danger threatens. Implicit here is the admonition that if we let ourselves be carried away by success, defeat will inevitably follow victory. It also means that one should always be prepared for a contest - even the moment after scoring a victory.
Reader suggests that the contemporary strengths of Sumo lie in its 'nature as a sport welded to the traditions that mark it out in antithesis to modern society.' He suggests that as Japan becomes more modern and Westernised, Sumo becomes more markedly representative of a cultural past that stands in stark contrast to the present. While the West is often vilified when societal moral strength is considered, I'd refer the vilifiers to Rudyard Kipling's poem If which echoes the sentiments of Reader's Sumo and Kano:
If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
And treat these two impostors just the same; ...
Yours is the earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Jan de Jong, being 'old school,' expressed the same views concerning success and failure, triumph and defeat, winning and losing. He once told me of his disappointment when one of his grandchildren was caught up with soccer, aka football, celebrating the success of his team and the disappointment with their failures. De Jong was old school where success and failure are the same two impostors. West or East, this is a lesson which has been learnt by some and not by others. It is a lesson which De Jong taught me and which has had a positive influence on my life. It is a lesson which I share with you.

Until next time.

John Coles
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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Leaky Bucket: Student Retention

This blog was inspired by an article George Kirby wrote entitled 'Student Retention' which is posted on his website ( Kirby is a well known American jujutsu master and author of a number of books on the subject. He has kindly been encouraging me in my own work with some sound advice. Kirby's article reminded me of the work I did in arresting the downward spiral of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School (JDJSDS) in the mid-90s.

I was employed by the JDJSDS full-time while I was enrolled full-time in the Master of Business Administration degree (MBA). While there, the principals of the business (Mr and Mrs De Jong) informed me of the dire financial circumstances of the school and that they intended to shut up shop after they returned from teaching in Europe that year. They had been putting in money to the business to keep it afloat for a number of years. The first step in rescuing the school was to gather as much data on the key performance indicators (KPI) that I could lay my hands on.

The KPI's were consistent in that each one of them showed an unwavering downward trend since the early 80s. In the late 70s, early 80s, the membership of the school swelled to over 1,000 members. This population growth was due to the popularity of the television Kung-fu series. Even though the JDJSDS did not teach kung-fu, people were lined up to join the school in queses that extended down the street and around the corner. The business had been living of this 'fat' ever since with each year the membership declining, until in the mid-90s where it was not sustainable.

From my MBA studies, I had been introduced to the concept of 'relationship marketing.' Relationship marketing is based on the premise that it is less expensive to keep the customers you already have than to acquire new ones. The focus of relationship marketing is customer retention and developing long-term relationships. An analogy of a leaky bucket is often used to explain relationship marketing. The bucket is the business and the water are the customers. If water is lost through holes in the bucket, more water continually needs to be poured into the bucket. It's better to attempt to plug the leaks so the water is retained otherwise you have to continually work to pour more water into the leaking bucket.

I equated relationship marketing in the martial art school context with developing a strong culture. And culture is about sitting around camp fires telling stories. Jan de Jong had been travelling annually to Europe since the early 1980s to teach seminars. He loved these tours as did we all when we accompanied him. De Jong would spend three or four months planning the tours, three months touring, and three months telling everyone about it upon his return. I determined the school's culture suffered from De Jong's reduced involvement in, and focus on, the school.

The JDJSDS was made up of the hombu (head school) in the CBD of Perth, Western Australia, and a large number of branches in the suburbs. De Jong never visited the branches. In fact, I found there were students at the branches who did not know Jan de Jong in Jan de Jong Self Defence School was the name of a person. They did not know who De Jong was! Consequently, I encouraged De Jong to visit the branches. These visits were not only directed at the students, but more importantly at the instructors. De Jong took an interest in what they were doing. It showed support. It also gave the instructors an opportunity to introduce De Jong to the students, and to tell stories.

I encouraged De Jong to engage with his instructors more in order to develop two way communication between himself and his instructors. I encouraged him to bring up things which came to mind after his visit to the branches in the weekly Friday night instructors class. The focus on De Jong and his instructors is an example of internal marketing. Internal marketing is about a business marketing to their employees in order to improve their marketing effectiveness. Motivated and engaged instructors then motivate and engage students.

Next, I obtained as much memorabilia as I could lay my hands on from De Jong and hung them on the wall of the members lounge at the hombu. This memorabilia are visual stories of De Jong, the school, and the tradition. Photos of De Jong executing techniques, his instructors, certificates from Minoru Mochizuki, etc. I arranged for an annual get-together at Christmas of all the branches where the instructors put on demonstrations. The students never really got to see the instructors 'do their stuff' and here was a chance for them to see just that and be motivated. It was also an opportunity for all the school to see they belonged to something a lot bigger than the branch or class they attend. This was the only time everyone got to see how large the school actually was. It was also a time where students and instructors could interact on an informal basis, telling stories.

I wrote a book entitled Jan de Jong: the man, his school and his ju jitsu system. It is a coffee-table style book with information on De Jong, his school, the international reputation of the school, tributes to De Jong, the grading system, etc. It gave an overview of the 'tradition' and showed that the student was part of something a lot bigger than, for instance, participating in a sports class at the local community hall.

The De Jong's had the first place in the Yellow Pages for years/decades. It was a large advertisement costing at that time A$10,000+ per annum. I conducted a survey and found only one person said they joined the school based on the advertisement. ONE student! I suggested that if they wanted to spend ten grand on marketing they should do so and market internally not externally. Spend it on strengthening relationships with existing students. Unfortunately, this proposal was too big a leap of faith for the De Jongs.

The idea with relationship marketing is to let the students become the business' sales force. Not in a way which one kung-fu school did which I attended for a very short time. A requirement of membership to that school was to take posters home when you joined and post them around the area the student lived, in shopping centres, laundromats, etc. Another requirement was to wear their distinctive uniform going to and from training so it could be seen on the streets and public transport. They also played some Chinese music in the background when training which I finally understood that the music was background to the continuous repetition of the name of the school.

The KPI I focused on was average length of stay of a student. If I could increase the average length of stay of the students, the relationship marketing would be working and the profits would increase, or in this case the losses reduce.

In the first year I had (often surreptitiously) implemented this marketing approach, the downward trend continued. I decided to stay on after my MBA was completed in order to continue trying to save the school. The second year, for the first time in nearly two decades, the trend plateaued. The third year, for the first time in nearly two decades, the trend started to move upward. Building a strong culture worked. Making the students and instructors feel a part of something worked. Relationship marketing and internal marketing worked. The school continues to operate today.

A postscript to this story is the approach Jamie Francis has adopted with his school in the southwest of Western Australia. When De Jong passed away a number of senior instructors opened their own school. Francis has four branches and he teaches at each one. At the end of each term, he puts on a training session in one location which is free to all members of all his branches. Bringing all the branches together each term. He then puts on a barbecue after the training session where people intermingle and have the opportunity of telling stories. I've had the honour and pleasure of being invited to teach at these end-0f-term training sessions and it's heart warming to see the tradition of building a strong culture continues.

A further postscript is a consistent trend in enrolments which I observed. Consistently for the two decades of data I obtained, enrolments peaked in January/February each year than dropped off until another peak in July/August before dropping off for the rest of the year. I can understand the January/February peak, new year resolutions and all that, but I am still mystified as to the mid-year peak. My business mind looks at the end of the financial year, however I seriously doubt the average person at the end of the financial year thinks now is a good time to learn martial arts.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

FOOSH Injuries

What is a FOOSH injury? FOOSH is an acronym for Fall On OutStretched Hand and a FOOSH injury is an injury caused by falling on an outstretched hand.

In an article in the Journal of Biomechanics, James Chiu and Stephen N Robinovitch (1) explain that falls on outstretched hands are a significant cause of upper extremity injury, including approximately 90% of fractures at the distal radius, humeral neck, and supracondylar region of the elbow. They suggest that among these, fractures at the distal radius is especially significant, as it represents the most common type of fracture for the under-75 population. This mechanism of injury is so common that the medical fraternity use the FOOSH acronym to describe all such these injuries.

In another study, Robinovitch teamed up with ET Hsiao (2) to investigate the natural response when falling unexpectedly from standing height. They found, as expected, that the predominant balance recovery technique was stepping with only one of their trials involving stabilisation of posture through sway. However, the effectiveness of stepping in preventing a fall was highly directional dependent. Falls were avoided in 78% of the cases where stability was disturbed to the front and 72% of the cases where stability was disturbed laterally, but only 37% of the cases where stability was disturbed to the rear. Subjects were more than twice as likely to fall when balance was lost to the rear than when lost to the front or side. Hsiao and Robinovitch suggest the observed directional nature of stability may be related to an inability to visualise the environment behind the body, or achieve large step sized during rearward stepping.

The direction of balance disturbance also effected the type of fall. Hsiao and Robinovitch used the terms 'partial fall' to refer to a fall which involves contact with hands and/or knees but no trunk and/or pelvis contact, and 'complete fall' to refer to a fall which involves contact to the trunk and/or pelvis. Complete falls run the risk of injury to the pelvis whereas partial falls do not. They found that 92% of the falls to the rear were complete falls, 23% of falls to the side were complete falls, and no complete falls were observed in falls to the front.

Wrist contact was observed in ALL complete and partial falls. Braking the fall with the outstretched hand allowed for complete avoidance of upper body impact in falls to the front and reduced the incidence of upper body impact by over fourfold in falls to the side. In falls to the rear, subjects were just as likely to first impact their pelvis as they were their wrists. Hsiao and Robinovitch suggest the time difference between impacts is of greater significance than the order of impact. Previous studies have shown that 50 ms is required to reach peak force after contact with either the hip or wrist during a fall. Hsiao and Robinovitch observed the time difference in their falls to the rear trials was less than 50ms in over 75% of the cases. This suggests the near simultaneous impact between wrist and pelvis is chosen to allow sharing of impact energy between the upper extremity and pelvis.

Robinovitch had concerns over the findings of the falls to the side in the above study. He teamed up with Fabio Feldman (3) to investigate the protective response that allow young adults to avoid hip impact during a sideways fall. In their study they found that only 5% of participants were able to avoid falling altogether and another 5% fell but did not impact the pelvis. The remaining 90% fell and impacted the pelvis. However, they also found that the hand impacted before the hip in the vast majority of the falls, and the knee impacted before the hip in most falls.

A martial arts breakfalling technique is a technique designed to reduce the risk of injury during a fall. Nature's breakfalling technique then, based on these studies, is to fall on outstretched hands. Falling on knees and buttocks is also used in attempting to land safely but the predominant technique of nature's breakfalling techniques if falling on outstretched hands.

But falling on outstretched hands runs the risk of incurring a FOOSH injury.It is an evolutionary trade-off. This reflexive protective response in stretching out our hands to allow for a safe landing from a fall has been selected for in nature. Nature, or evolution, is prepared to sacrifice the upper extremity in order to protect the head, neck, and torso. Trauma to these regions poses the greatest danger to our physical well-being. Injuries to the upper extremities result in disability but rarely with fatal consequences. Injuries to the head, neck, or trunk, in contrast, have real and immediate potential to be fatal. (4)

Nature's, or evolution's, breakfalling technique is effective. It allows Mr and/or Ms Caveman to live to fight another day after falling, albeit with a damaged wing.

Nature's breakfalling technique and FOOSH injuries has implications for the martial arts. Firstly, the martial arts breakfalling techniques is an attempt at improving on nature. Martial arts breakfalling techniques are designed to reduce the risk of injury to the head, neck, and torso and the upper extremities in a fall. Arthur A Chapman, in Biomechanical Analysis of Fundamental Human Movement, suggests that all good physical education classes should teach basic martial arts landing strategies. Marlene J Adrian and John M Cooper likewise recommend the benefits of martial arts breakfalling techniques to the wider community in Biomechanics of Human Movement: 'Falling and landing effectively with a minimum of injury are necessary skills to attain longevity in sports, injury, and daily living' (p. 279).

Injuries and fatalities from falls is a major health issue around the world. Interestingly, only two groups of researchers have studied martial arts breakfalling techniques in an attempt to develop techniques to reduce the risk of injury during a fall for the general population. In 1999, MB Sabick (5) and her American colleagues used seven young adult male and two young female aikidoka (aikido practitioner) to investigate impact forces at the hip and shoulder in falls to the side. More prolific studies have been conducted by a team of Dutch researchers led by Brenda Groen and Vivian Weerdesteyn. They have developed a method of falling based on judo breakfalling techniques which has been included in the Nijmegen Falls Prevention Program (NFPP) which is being taught in Holland. Various studies conducted by Groen and Weerdesteyn investigating the efficacy of the breakfalling technique taught within the NFPP have found that elderly participants could learn to the basics of this technique in falls to the front, side, and rear in five weekly sessions of 45 minutes duration. An interest result coming from one of these studies (6) is that the fear of falling was significantly reduced after the martial arts fall training. The authors of the study suggest that since the fear of falling has been shown to be an independent predictor of falling, the reduction in fear of falling might have an additional effect on hip fracture prevention.

These and other studies are discussed in chapter two 'Breakfalling Techniques' of my book on the science behind the tactics and techniques of the martial arts. Chapter eleven, 'Injury Science', is also applied in chapter two to facilitate the understanding and study of breakfalling techniques. Along with the basic breakfalling techniques is a unique technique taught by Jan de Jong - a sideways roll. Most martial arts follow judo's lead and teach forward and backward rolls, Jan de Jong jujutsu is unique in teaching a sideways roll.

Secondly, since the majority of injuries to the upper extremities are FOOSH injuries, there is very little information available on the types of injuries which may be inflicted when applying a joint-locking technique (kansetsu waza). The forces applied to the upper extremity in both instances are entirely different. For instance, when an arm breaking (ude kujiki) technique is applied, the forces are applied to the opponent's elbow in a lateral direction whereas in a FOOSH scenario, the forces are applied at the hand up the arm. The different forces result in entirely different injuries. Also, FOOSH injuries occur when the hand is usually hyperextended, however, the wrist joint-locking techniques (e.g. wrist twist, or tekubi hineri or kote hineri) are nearly always applied with flexed wrists. The prevelance of FOOSH injuries may account for the fact that there are NO descriptions of the physiological effects of joint-locking techniques in the English-language literature to date - until my book of course. It has not been easy attempting to discern the physiological effects of joint-locking techniques, but it has been worth the effort in that it provides a unique contribution to the general body of knowledge, and the martial arts body of knowledge in particular.

Before I finish this lengthy (again) blog, I must thank Brenda Groen for her generous support. Having an interest in her work, I contacted her and she generously corresponded with me and assisted me in coming to grips with some of the studies that have been conducted on falls. She has also been kind enough to provide some positive feedback concerning my grasp and interpretation of these studies. In my journey in researching this book, I have found that many academics have been particularly generous in their support.

Until next time.

John Coles

(1) J Chiu & SN Robinovitch 1998, 'Prediction of upper extremity impact forces during falls on the outstretched hand', Journal of Biomechanics, 31, 1169-1176.

(2) ET Hsiao & SN Robinovitch 1998, 'Common protective movements govern unexpected falls from standing height', Journal of Biomechanics, 31, 1-9.

(3) F Felman & SN Robinovitch 2007, 'Reducing hip fracture risk during sideways falls: Evidence in young adults of the protective effect of impact to the hands and stepping', Journal of Biomechanics, 40, 2612-2618.

(4) WC Whiting & RF Zernicke 1998, Biomechanics of Musculoskeletal Injury.

(5) MB Sabick, JG Hay, VK Goel, & SA Banks 1999, 'Active responses decrease impact forces at the hip and shoulder in falls to the side', Journal of Biomechanics, 32, 993-998.

(6) BE Groen, E Smulders, D de Kam, & V Weerdesteyn 2010, 'Martial arts fall training to prevent hip fractures in the elderly', Osteoporosis International, 21, 215-221.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wax On, Wax Off

Do you recall the original 1980s cult movie The Karate Kid. Pat Morita plays Mr Miyagi, an apartment maintenance man who is also a karate expert. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel, a high school student being bullied by students experienced in karate. Daniel discovers Mr Miyagi is a karate expert and asks Miyagi to teach him karate. Miyagi agrees under one condition. He tells Daniel, 'I say, you do.' Daniel agrees and they proceed with the first lesson.

Anxious to learn karate, Daniel is confused when instead of receiving karate instruction, he is instructed to was Miyagi's antique automobiles. He is then instructed to sand the extensive wooden decking in Miyagi's back yard, paint his fence, and finally to paint his house. When receiving instructing Daniel, Miyagi specifies the precise arm movements to be used in these tasks.

After four days of performing these seemingly irrelevant and arduous tasks, Daniel finally loses his temper and confronts Miyagi, charging, 'Four days and I haven't learned a thing, except how to be your slave.' Mr Miyagi responds simply, 'Not verything thing is as it seems.' To which Daniel replies, 'Show me.'

Mr Miyagi positions himself in front of Daniel and asks him to demonstrate 'wax on, wax off.' Daniel performs the circular arm movements. As he demonstrates 'wax on, wax off,' Mr Miyagi unexpectedly moves to the attack using straight punches that are harmlessly deflected away. Miyagi then has Daniel demonstrate 'sand the floor,' 'paint the fence,' and 'paint the house.' For each of these movements, Miyagi attacks Daniel with offensive maneuvers that the movements are designed to block. Daniel successfully counters every offensive maneuver. Finally, Mr Miyagi intensifies the attack using a flurry of offensive punches and kicks. Much to his surprise, Daniel uses all four of the defensive techniques to effectively fend off each potential blow.

The above is a extract from an article published in the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (Wax On, Wax Off: Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Motor Skill Instruction: Feb 1994; 65, 2, 63-68). The authors of the article, Lynn Dale Housner and David C Griffey, use Mr Miyagi's teaching methods as an 'excellent example' of the use of alternative strategies in teaching sport skills. They suggest that transforming subject matter and presenting it to students in comprehensible forms entails the use of alternative strategies such as analogies, metaphors, examples, demonstrations, and simulations that can build a bridge between the teacher's comprehension and that desired for the students.

Mr Miyagi was able to transform and present the content of karate to Daniel in a way that facilitated the deep, meaningful, and organised representation of the nature of defence in karate. Through the use of the metaphors 'wax on, wax off,' 'sand the floor,' 'paint the fence,' and 'paint the house,' Miyagi helped Daniel effectively build a memory structure of defence in karate.

Chapter ten of the book I'm researching and writing concerning the science behind the tactics and techniques of the martial arts looks at the difference between throwing techniques and takedown techniques. It looks at the classification of techniques designed to take an opponent to the ground and the two categories of these techniques commonly referred to, albeit inconsistently and ambiguously. The distinction between throwing techniques and takedown techniques has not been definitively and objectively identified in any English-language text to date to the best of my knowledge. When discussing my work on this subject with others, including my own senior instructors, I was often met with indifference at best: 'Who cares. Why bother classifying these techniques. What's the point.' Thus, my first task was to answer the question, 'why bother,' about the question 'what is the difference between throwing techniques and takedown techniques.' Firstly, if it doesn't matter, why do people use both these terms as though there is a difference?

Secondly, the question concerning the utility of classification led me to the cognitive sciences. Classification is the identification of similarities and differences. Researchers have found that the identification of similarities and differences are mental operations which are 'basic to human thought' and are considered by some to be the 'core of all learning.' Research has indicated that there are four 'forms' of this activity which are highly effective: comparison, classification, creating metaphors, and creating analogies.

Metaphor and analogy compare two seemingly dissimilar things and highly similarities, but they do so in slightly different ways. 'War is hell' is a metaphor. War is not literally hell however the understanding of hell is used to facilitate understanding and insight into war. When an explanation of why war is like hell is provided it becomes an analogy. An analogy has been described as an extended metaphor. Pulitzer-prize winner Douglas Hofstadter believes that metaphor and analogy are the same phenomena and refers to them as the 'core of cognition.' In each case, the familiar is being used to understand the unfamiliar.

The four forms of identifying similarities and differences are all interrelated. Identifying similarities and differences (using the four forms) are how we subconsciously make sense of a complex world. This is how we think, how we learn, how we create, how we discover, how we communicate, and how we understand. When people ask 'why classify,' I'd suggest they are unknowingly asking why explicitly classify as we subconsciously classify all the time. Aside from the issue of intellectual laziness, I'd suggest when people ask 'why classify' it may be because they are unaware that this is part of the core of all human learning and cognition.

This first part of my chapter answers the question about the question. Answers 'why classify?' The rest of the chapter is devoted to answering the question 'what is the difference between throwing techniques and takedown techniques?' For the first time, to the best of my knowledge, a definitive classification of techniques designed to take an opponent to the ground is presented. A definitive, objective classification based on biomechanics. This classification is then taken for a 'test run' to see if it does in fact facilitate the understanding and study of techniques designed to take an opponent to the ground. It does.

In answering the question about the question, I've learnt a great deal more. I believe you will to.

Until next time.

John Coles

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Outline

Hello again.

This is what the outline of the book looks like at the moment. Before I discuss the outline of the book however, a note on terminology. My work faciliates the understanding and study of all disciplines associated with the physical aspects of interpersonal conflict, by whatever name they go by: martial arts, combat sports, close combat, whatever the various law enforcement agencies refer to their close combat, and self defence. Within this particular blog I'll use the term 'martial arts' to refer to them all, however, I'd be most appreciative if any reader of this blog could suggest an inclusive and relatable term to refer to all this aspects of the same basic phenomena. Thank you.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Science and Analysis
This chapter seeks to present an argument that science and analysis faciliates the understanding and study of the tactics and techniques of the martial arts. It also introduces the reader to the very rare instances where they have been used by certain martial arts legends, and in each case with spectacular success. Creating world-wide phenomena based on a unique approach rather than unique tactics and techniques.

Chapter 3: Beyond Fight or Flight
The title of the chapter is still being considered. The physiological and behavioural concept of fight-or-flight is often referred to within the teaching of the martial arts, and it is seriously limited. I've integrated the theories and concepts of the stress discipline and the emotion discipline to develop a comprehensive, integrated model which explains all human responses to threats, harm, and challenges.

Chapter 4: As yet unnamed.
Applies the model, theory, and concepts of chapter 3 to understand why and what is taught in the martial arts. It also suggests certain new approaches as does some of the other chapters.

Chapter 5: Pain!
An obvious subject in any study of the tactics and techiques of the martial arts, and one which has never before been included within any book published on the subject. An authority on pain explains that more has been learnt about pain in the last ten years than in the last one thousand. For the first time the subject of pain is addressed in a martial arts book.

Chapter Evolution
This is how many of the chapters in this book came about. When writing about joint-locking techniques (kansetsu-waza) in the originally conceived how-to book, I wanted a paragraph or two to explain why pain is experienced when a joint is moved towards but not necessarily beyond the limit of its range of movement. Research for these two paragraphs uncovered a world of knowledge hitherto unknown and never before applied to the martial arts. So a new chapter on pain was born. A phenomena of pain is 'stress induced analgesia' (SIA) where the pain threshold is increased when stress causes a 'cascade of hormones.' I recalled a time when a knife was put to my throat while I was working the counter of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School one night. I felt nothing. No adrenaline surge, no hormonal cascade, no fear, no anger, no nothing. This is the evolved fight-or-flight response which was selected for in nature as it gave a selection advantage. Among other things, I wondered if I missed out on the SIA effect in increasing my tolerance to pain which is designed to assist me in defending myself in times of threat. This led me to research stress which I found only provided half the picture. After asking certain questions I eventually came across the emotion discipline which studys the same process but from a different angle than the stress discipline, and with neither discipline refering to each other's concepts and theories (ludicrous). From here I was able to develop an integrated, comprehenisve model which explains all responses to actual or threatened physical interpersonal conflict, from both sides of the conflict.

Chapter 6: The Biomechanics of Balance

Chapter 7: Stance
Applies the biomechanics of balance, and related topics of stability and mobility, to facilitate the understanding and study of stances in any and all martial arts.

Chapter 8: Unbalancing
Applies the biomechanics of balance to faciliate the understanding and study of unbalancing (kuzushi) in the martial arts.

Chapter 9: Agility, Bodymovements, and Blocks
To be developed. Related to stance as stance is often linked to footwork which is often linked to evading an attack. Jan de Jong Jujutsu, along with Minoru Mochizuki's Yoseikan, teach certain bodymovements (taisabaki) and which are used as an illustration of the concept. They are the first phase when a tactic is broken down into phases - a process which facilitates the analysis of all tacitcs and techniques according to the sports biomechanics discipline.

Chapter 10: The Difference Between Throwing Techiques and Takedown Techinques
The chapter on takedown techniques in the originally conceived how-to book was what pushed me into this current work. The 'little science' on takedown techniques I wanted to put behind the how-to instruction proved problematic as there is no definitive distinciton between throwing techniques and takedown techniques. There is a lot of opinion, but no definitive distinction. In proving a negative, I review the various sources which you'd expect to be authoritative and find nothing but ambiguity. I develop a definitive, objective distinction which is based on biomechanics for the very first time. I also for the very first time present a subclassification of different types of takedown techniques, just as Jigoro Kano did with judo throwing techniques. This chapter has the potential of being very controversial, not the least of which is because in proving a negative I have to refer to various luminaries of the martial arts. I first of all present an argument that classifying technqiues designed to take an opponent to the ground is useful in the understanding and study of these techniques. Here I've researched the cognitive sciences which has implications on how we study and teach the tactics and techiques of the martial arts. I then take the model I've developed on a 'test run' to show it does indeed faciliate the understanding and study of techiques designed to take an opponent to teh ground.

Chapter 11: Injury Science
What more appropriate a topic for a book on the tactics and techniques of the martial arts could possibly be conceived. My uncovery of this relatively new science came about when trying to understand the explanations of percussion techniques which some people have provided in terms of physics. All of these explanations todate, I can confidently argue, have not facilitated the understanding or study of techniques of percussion. The model I've developed based on the theories and concepts of injury science, for the first time, enables anyone to understand any and all techiques of percussion in any and all martial arts, whether delivered by body weapons or other weapons.

Chapter 12: Techniques of Percussion
Applies the theories and concepts of chapter 11.

Chapter 13: Breakfalling Techniques
Applies the theories and concepts of chapter 11. I've also reviewed the academic papers on the evolved, natural falling strategy of humans and other papers associated with falling. I've been very fortuante to have been assisted by certain Dutch researchers who are investigating techniques designed to reduce the risk of injury during a fall. These researchers are for the first time looking to the breakfalling techniques of the martial arts to help the wider community with a problem which is a serious risk to health and life.

Chapter 14: Joint-Locking Techinques
I'm presenting a physiological explanation of the common joint-locking techinques applied to the upper limb for the first time. I was surprised that nobody has even attempted to do so in the martial arts literature to this date. This explanation facilitates the understanding and study of these technqiues as the student can better visulise what the forces being applied are attempting to do in terms of bones and joints. The difficulty comes in that over 90% of all injuries to the upper limb arise from falls on outstretched hands. The forces applied in this type of injury are completely different to the forces applied when a joint-locking technique is applied. So, not a lot of readily available material to access.

Chapter 15: Strangulation Techniques (Shime-Waza)/Neck Holds
Do you know what the physiology is behind a strangulation technique (shime-waza)? Guess again. A fascinating study involving various law enforcement agencies, forensic pathologists, and various academic studies.

Chapter 16: Training Methods
The various training methods are presented on a spectrum. Also, the unique training method of Jan de Jong Jujutsu is presented. A method which Major Greg Mawkes OAM (retired) of the Australian SAS refers to as the cornerstone of the close combat system he and Jan de Jong developed for the Australian Army.

Chapter 17: Use of Force
We teach methods which are potentially lethal. What do we do to provide guidance when these methods can or cannot be used? A blanket explanation is not sufficient. The military and law enforcement often use a 'use of force continuum' to explain when particular types of force are acceptable and when they are not. This chapter reviews this area and provides food for thought.

Well, that is the outline todate. What do you think? Personally, I've learnt more in the past couple of years academically researching this area than I have in ten years at the height of my training obsession. This work speaks to the essence of the tactics and techniques of the marital arts with no fear or favour for particular approaches. It does without doubt facilitate the understanding and study of all the tactics and techniques of all martial arts. Even though Jan de Jong Jujutsu is considered one of the most comprehensive systems in the jujutsu world, including its theory, I've gained greater insights which has suggested major modificaitons to the way it is taught.

As you can see, my work reflects my approach which is expressed in kojutsukan: the place of the study of the skill or technique.

One further question for the readers of this blog - can you suggest a title for this book?

Until next time.

John Coles

Saturday, July 10, 2010



Allow me to introduce myself. My name is John Coles and I am an instructor of the late Jan de Jong. I was a full-time instructor of his for a number of years and I am one of only five people who have completed the technical grades of De Jong's jujutsu grading system. I have accompanied De Jong on numerous teaching tours of Western Europe, Australia, and even Java, Indonesia. I was the first of his instructors to conduct a seminar overseas which was more a reflection of the esteem with which De Jong and his teachings are held than for the esteem which I am held. I was shodan (first dan) at the time, which is unheard of in Europe for conducting a seminar. Shodan is often considered the commencement of the study of a martial art rather than the culmination of a study. In De Jong's jujutsu, shodan is an entirely different proposition (which will be clarified in a later blog). The seminar was in honour of a milestone anniversary of Wim Mullens' predominantly Shotokan karate school in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was a humbling experience to find participants attending from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark, more than half of which were higher graded than me. Again I reiterate, it is a reflection of the esteem with which Jan de Jong and his teachings are held that these participants attended this seminar.

This blog has been started to introduce my work. I was originally engaged in writing a how-to book on the tactics and techniques of Jan de Jong Jujutsu (a future blog will discuss the name of the style of jujutsu). The goal of this how-to book was to (a) preserve for posterity the teachings of Jan de Jong, and (b) to contribute to the general body of knowledge. The first goal is associated with the 'fact' that if it's not documented it didn't happen. I was confident the second goal could be achieved because of the interest and world wide demand for De Jong and his teachings.

The original idea was to put a little 'science' behind each chapter in order to provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the how-to instruction. I also have various undergraduate and postgraduate business related degrees and qualifications which have provided me with research, analytical, and conceptual skills and abilities. My research for the 'little science' provided hitherto unreferenced and unconsidered information which generated unique insights and concepts. The 'little science' came to overshadow the how-to instruction and thus, a new book was born.

I've been working full-time on a book dedicated to the science behind all the tactics and techniques of all the martial arts, combat sports, close quarter combat systems, and self defence systems for over three years now. Nearly seven days a week, twelve hours plus a day, over that period of time. It has been an amazing journey. While the book is a little while off, I thought it is time to share some of what I've learnt and developed and start to generate interest in my work. Also, after repeated pressure to recommence teaching, I am now beginning to be in a position to do so. My ideas and concepts are reshaping the grading system and teaching methods used by De Jong. They enhance his work. How can I do that with the work of a master? As Isaac Newton said, 'if I can see further it's because I stood on the shoulders of giants.' I AM standing on the shoulders of giants, and it would be very disappointing if I could not see further than my venerable master, and good friend, Jan de Jong.

What does kojutsukan mean? In my research I've come to appreciate the genius of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo and specifically Kodokan judo. He named his martial art Kodokan. 'Ko' is said to refer to lecture, to study, or to spread information. 'Do' is the way compared to 'jutsu' which refers to skill, technique or art. 'Kan' is training hall, dojo, or school. Kodokan is said to mean the a place for the study of the way. My approach, encouraged by the Jan de Jong Jujutsu methods, and fostered by my mentor, instructor, fellow instructor, training partner, and dear friend, Greg Palmer, is the study of the skill or technique. In homage to both Kano who transformed the martial arts world, De Jong and Palmer, and to reflect my approach to the martial arts, I'm considering naming my school Kojutsukan.

Hello. This is my introduction to my blog. I hope you find my work as interesting and informative as I do.

John Coles