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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 1 - The School of Jan de Jong

I've received numerous requests to write about Jan de Jong to which I am now acquiescing. I will basically serialise the chapter I drafted for my originally conceived book on the tactics and techniques of Jan de Jong jujutsu with certain modifications.

What is the ‘school of Jan de Jong’?

'School,' when used in this sense, refers to a school of thought or a continuing tradition, like the 'school of Rembrandt' for instance. When used in this context, The Macquarie Concise Dictionary defines 'school' as, 'a body of scholars, artists, writers, etc. who have been taught by the same master, or who are united by a similarity of method, style [and/or] principle.' Hence, the 'school of Jan de Jong' refers to the school of thought concerning martial arts which can be attributed to Jan de Jong and those who follow his teachings.

With regards to the Japanese martial arts schools, I will defer to the work of Karl Friday. Friday is associate professor of Japanese history at the University of Georgia and he holds the menkyo kaiden license and is a certified shihan in Kashima-Shinryu. His book Legacies of the Sword is one of the most authoritative English-language books on the Japanese martial arts ever written. This book should be required reading for anyone attempting to understand the Japanese martial arts. He has this to say with regards to martial art ryuha (school):
Martial art ryuha ... have historically tended to practice total transmission, in which students certified as having mastered the school's kabala are given 'possession' of it. ... such former students normally left their masters to open their own schools, teaching on their own authority; masters retained no residual control over former students or students of students. Each new graduate was free to modify his master's teachings as he saw fit, adding personal insights and/or techniques and ideas gleaned from other teachers. It was common practice for such graduates to change even the names of their styles, in effect founding new ryuha and independent branches of ryuha in each generation.
Friday presents a case study by analysing the history, philosophy, and pedagogical dynamics of Kashima Shinryu to lay the foundation for a broader understanding of what the classical bugei (martial arts) are, what they were, and what they mean to those who practice them. His explanation of the historical pattern of the development of martial arts schools definitely explains the evolution of the school of Jan de Jong following his death in 2003.

According to De Jong, he started teaching in Perth, Western Australia in 1952, the year he emigrated to Australia from Indonesia. In 1955 he named his school Ju Jutsu Kan which was changed to Jan de Jong's Self Defence School (JDJSDS) in 1973.

The style of jujutsu which De Jong taught is often referred to as Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. However the JDJSDS grading certificates only refer to Tsutsumi Ryu and discussions with previous generations of instructors only refer to Tsutsumi Ryu. It appears to be quite late in the piece that De Jong started to refer to Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu.

The Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system includes technical grades up to and including third dan. Higher grades are honorary and awarded at the discretion of De Jong. There are only five people who have completed all the technical grades under De Jong. Peter Clarke was the first in 1998 and was immediately awarded fourth dan. The grading certificate referred to Jan de Jong Jujutsu for the first time. It would appear that De Jong was acquiescing to the lobby to change the name of the style of jujutsu he taught to reflect his contributions. However, he only did so on certain higher grade certificates.

Clarke was followed by Rob Hymus, Paul Connolly, Greg Palmer, and myself. These four instructors were my instructors and I am the only 'student' who has completed the technical grades under De Jong.

Greg Palmer is pictured above receiving his third dan grading certificate. Just prior to De Jong's death he was awarded fourth dan. He went on to establish his own school which he named Keikai, apparently the Japanese equivalent of his name. He also changed the name of the jujutsu he taught to Keikai jujutsu. Unfortunately Greg passed away in 2008.

Debbie Clarke, wife of Peter, established Southern Cross Bujutsu a few years before De Jong's death. Peter joined his wife after De Jong's death and became the technical director of the school. He refers to his jujutsu as Tsutsumi Jugo Ryu jujutsu. Peter, along with Hymus and Connolly, was awarded sixth dan by De Jong just prior to his death. Peter is a very proficient and thoughtful practitioner and I am led to believe, based on discussions with him, that he has made some significant changes to the jujutsu he is now teaching.

De Jong's school was taken over by his daughter, Maggie de Jong (first dan), following his death. Connolly, her partner, assumed technical control. They changed the name of the school to Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness and they advertise they teach Tsustumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. Hymus established Indian Ocean Dojo which he advertises as teaching Tsutusmi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. Hans de Jong, De Jong's son, established Hans de Jong Self Defence School and likewise teaches jujutsu he refers to as Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu. All of these schools are based in Perth, Western Australia.

One of De Jong's students/instructors, Jamie Francis, established South West Self Defence School teaching Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu in the south west of Western Australia. He has built up quite a respectable following with over 80 students. He graded up to second dan with De Jong and half way through third dan with Palmer. I've agreed to continue his journey and teach and grade him the remainder of third dan. When completed, he will be only the sixth person to have completed the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system.

I have succumed to the requests to teach and am teaching a small number of higher graded students/instructors. Given my obsessive nature, I do not want to commence teaching until my book(s) have been completed. I've also received requests to teach in Europe and the United States. Again, these requests have been put on hold until I complete my book(s). I consistently refer to the jujutsu I learnt and teach as Jan de Jong jujutsu reflecting what I believe to be the school of Jan de Jong.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mental Unbalancing - State of Mind

This is the second in a series of blogs I plan to post on the nebulous concept of 'mental unbalancing'.

Recall from my previous blog that, based on the Oxford dictionary definition of unbalance, mental unbalancing could be described as upsetting or disturbing the equilibrium of a person's state of mind. Colonel Rex Applegate, the father of Modern Army combatives, in Kill or Get Killed specifically referred to mental balance as a 'state of mind'.

What does 'state of mind' mean? Recall from my previous blog that I could not find a dictionary which defined this phrase, even though it is a phrase which is commonly used. If any reader can point me in the right direction for an authoritative definition of the phrase I'd be very grateful. Having said that, and based on the common usage of the term, let's look at what state of mind means to some people.

A person can have a calm or agitated, peaceful or aggressive, healthy or unhealthy, positive or negative, robust or fragile, rational or irrational state of mind. Applegate explains that mental balance is a state of mind. Pain is often described as a state of mind. So is fear. Courage is a state of mind according to Major Darryl Tong of the New Zealand Army. Success and failure, happiness and sadness, freedom and slavery, and democracy and communism have all been described as states of mind.

Defeat is a state of mind according to Bruce Lee. Texas is a state of mind according to John Steinbeck. Youth is a state of mind for Robert F. Kennedy. The Dali Lama refers to disciplined and undisciplined states of mind as causes for wholesome and unwholesome actions respectively. People’s subjective states of mind are often referred to although an auditor is suppose to have an objective state of mind.

Recklessness and negligence have been referred to as states of mind in law. So has motive. A cool state of mind has been described by a trial court as meaning that a killing was committed with a fixed design to kill, regardless of whether the person was angry or gripped with passion at the time of the act. A guilty state of mind has been described by other trial courts as meaning an act was committed deliberately or recklessly and without care about the result of the action. The English Court of Appeal argued that, for the purposes of law, consent is a state of mind when deciding whether sex was consensual or not. But what does ‘state of mind’ actually mean? In each case this question is never specifically addressed.

While I could not find a definition for state of mind, a synonym of the phrase, frame of mind, proved more successful. Based on this definition, state of mind can be thought of as the way a person thinks and feels about something at a particular time. This definition certainly applies to the conceptions of state of mind referred to above.

Therefore, mental unbalancing could be defined as upsetting or disturbing the way a person thinks and feels about something at a particular time.

When discussing the 'most basic fundamental principle in hand-to-hand combat', balance, and looking at mental balance in particular, Applegate explains that
in exciting circumstances, such as vital combat, the mental balance of the opponent can often be upset by the surprise of the attack. The use of yells, feints or deception; throwing dirt or other objects in the opponent's face; or the use of any strategy that he does not expect forces him to take time to condition his mind to a new set of circumstances.
Does Applegate's mental unbalancing tactics sound like upsetting or disturbing the way a person thinks and feels about something at a particular time? The way a person thinks or feels about something, not what they are thinking about (a leading question if ever there was one).

Loren Christensen in Far Beyond Defensive Tactics lists the following tactics as mental kuzushi (unbalancing): pointing away from you, screaming, shining your flashlight in their eyes, deliberately knocking something over, saying something to an imaginary partner behind the suspect, warning a suspect about a passing car, and handing a suspect’s ID back and then dropping it to the floor just before he takes it. Shinzo Takagaki and Harold E. Sharp, in The Techniques of Judo, suggest that it is important to try to unbalance an opponent's mind in addition to unbalancing their body. They refer to the following 'tricks' as examples of ways to unbalance an opponent’s mind: shouting, slapping some part of your body, creating a sharp sound, or a jerk. Would you suggest that these tactics are designed to upset or disturb the way an opponent thinks and feels about something at a particular time?

Are not these tactics more accurately described as distraction. Distraction means to divert a person's attention away from something. Isn't this what Applegate's, Christensen's, and Takagaki and Sharp's mental unbalancing/kuzushi tactics are designed to do? Isn't distraction a more accurate and nuanced explanation of what these tactics are designed to do?

Why bother? This is a question I'm often asked when discussing my work with others (the few that I do, other than readers of my blog of course). I agree that, at least initially, many appear not to be interested in the finer detail. But then why do these same people attempt to offer explanations on why certain things are done, and done a particular way? Why don't they simply stick with explaining how to do something instead of also trying to explain why something is done? The why adds credibility to the how. The why enhances understanding of the how. The why facilitates the understanding and study of the tactics and techniques of the martial arts (the how). Most people are already referring to these concepts - the problem is they have not been studied. Those that are referring to them are often at odds to explain what is actually meant by the concept, and when they can based on their own understanding of the concept, are often at odds to explain the inconsistencies of the concept when applied to practice.

Many instructors and authors discuss unbalancing and refer to both physical unbalancing and mental unbalancing. They then go on to provide detail of the physical unbalancing and often relegate mental unbalancing to 'then of course there is also mental unbalancing' (as one unnamed author did) with no further detail. Others provide examples of mental unbalancing as referred to above, without clarifying what is actually meant by mental unbalancing. Why? Because they cannot offer an authoritative explanation of what is meant by mental unbalancing.

There is one author, George Kirby, that describes both physical and psychological off-balancing in conceptual terms and then gives examples. He does this in Advanced Jujitsu: The Science Behind the Gentle Art. Kudos to Kirby I say. At least he attempts to articulate what others simply refer to in superficial terms, with no real understanding of what they are describing. However, as will be seen in next weeks blog, Kirby's conceptualisation of psychological off-balancing shows how nebulous the concept is and how all manner of 'sin' is included under its umbrella.

It may often appear I'm taking aim at the work of other authors and the teachings of other martial arts. This is only because reference to these works provides the basis to which others can readily refer when discussing certain concepts and issues. The school I was involved in is not immune to these issues. Mental unbalancing was often referred to within the teachings of Jan de Jong jujutsu (aka Tsutsumi Hozan Ryu jujutsu). As will be seen in later blogs, the use of the phrase and concept within Jan de Jong jujutsu is just as flawed as it is in many other teachings.

I would be appreciative of any reference to any detailed discussion on mental unbalancing any reader may direct me to. Or any discussion where blocking and striking techniques are explained in terms of these techniques being mental unbalancing.

Until next time.