Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 8.1 - Filling in the gaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 8 - The Political Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 7 - Yoshiaki Unno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Can martial arts falling techniques prevent injuries?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Update on Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan de Jong Pt 6.1 - Mochizuki Similarities

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jan de Jong Pt 6 - Mochizuki

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

Minoru Mochizuki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nihonden Jujutsu

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

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

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

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

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