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 (http://www.yoseikan-ryu.net/downloads/bujutsu_branco.pdf).
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: http://www.hansdejong.biz/aikido4.htm.

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)(http://www.ioaikido.com.au/resource/aboutSensei.html) 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]


  1. Hi John.

    I've been having trouble keeping up with all your great posts. Great series on De Jong. I left a comment back on part 6.1. Also, exciting progress on your novel.

    Keep the posts coming.

  2. Thanks Jman. Over the past few years I've done so much research on so many things which I want to share. Given this opportunity I suppose I am posting a lot quickly. It is exciting the near completion of the first draft of my book. I may get a life back. My chapter on breakfalling techniques became three chapters last week. One on Injury Science which is a relativley new science and provides a way of analysing injuries. Can be used to analyse breakfalling techniques, and, can be used to analyse any injury, i.e. any martial arts technique. Next chapter looks at clinical studies associated with landing from a fall and techniques to reduce the risk of injury. Third chapter has all breakfalling techniques from Jan de Jong jujutsu, including a relatively unique one - sideways roll.

  3. Hi John, Yoshiaki Unno was indeed a skillful and knowledgeable martial artist who had a great influence in Perth. However he did not teach at the UWA Aikido Club. This was founded by Brett Nener who commenced his training with Jan de Jong and Unno and gained a yondan in Yoseikan, but the club always had Fujimori Akira of Butokuryu Aikijujutsu as its Shihan.


Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.