Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 11 - His Grading System Pt 3

Recall from part two of the blogs dedicated to Jan de Jong's jujutsu grading system that his system can be divided into three parts: the mon system, kyu system, and dan system. They are not only system divisions, but, I argue, also evolutionary divisions in the development of the 'school of Jan de Jong' (see previous blog on the concept of 'school' discussed in the context of the school of Jan de Jong).

De Jong only graded students in the kyu system until the late 1970s. Apart from De Jong, all the instructors were either purple belt (2nd kyu) or black and white belt (1st kyu). He graded Piet Hesselink 1st dan during WWII, but in what is unclear. He did not grade anyone 1st dan in Perth until Robert Hymus in the late 1970s.

Why didn't De Jong grade any of the other instructors in his school 1st dan prior to Hymus? It definitely wasn't because they were not of sufficient ability. Hymus and Greg Palmer often referred to the ability of their instructors. Hymus would motivate/chastise us based on the technical excellence and efforts of his instructors. I've had the good fortune to train with some of these instructors - Warwick (Zak) Jaggard, Tony Chiffings, and Peter Canavan - and they are as good as Hymus and Palmer (and De Jong) suggested. Given my current interest in being the unoffical historian of the 'school of Jan de Jong' (until someone else would like to assume the role), I've taken the opportunity of exploring these resources when I can. Zak visited the 'land of Oz' in the mid 90s and attended an instructors class for the first time in 20 odd years. Apart from being extremely sore the next day (and impressing those who were currently training), I asked Zak if what we were doing was the same as when he was training. He said it was, apart from this 'circular shit'. A recent conversation with Hymus suggests that he has devolved De Jong's teachings to a more 'direct approach' which presumably means he has turned away from this 'circular shit'.

There are a number of people from the pre-dan days that are a little bitter and a little disillusioned. They put in as much work and were as good, if not better (according to many), as those in later years who were awarded dan grades. These jujutsuka were not even given the opportunity of attempting dan grades. Why? Various theories abound as to De Jong's motives. Economic imperative is a frequently espoused explanation. De Jong didn't want to grade anyone black because they might leave and set up their own school in competition to his, which was his livelihood after all. Some suggest it was in connection with keeping the 'secrets' of the school secret as they were contained in the dan grades. That he didn't want to relinquish his monopoly of the 'knowledge well'.

These theories/explanations do not reconcile with the man I knew as De Jong. And remember, I'm a qualified accountant, so I am big on reconciliations. After much research, analysis, and deliberation, I propose an alternate theory. De Jong didn't grade anyone black because ... he didn't have any dan grades.

This, I am sure, will be controversial. I've already received criticism from some about my chronicling of De Jong's life and work, but this is the first time I'm referring to any criticism of De Jong, and, I am looking at a 'sacred cow' - the grading system.

Some need for what we do, including the grading system, to be predominantly handed down from at the very least the Saito brothers, if not the Tsutsumi family. This need is not unprecedented as so many in the martial arts need to associate their teachings with those of the past to gain credibility and/or authority. What I'm suggesting is that we don't need this link. In fact, what I'm suggesting is that one of De Jong's greatest achievements, one of his greatest legacies, is his grading system. It is a thing to celebrate, to study, and not simply something to be taken for granted (as it is).

De Jong's kyu grading system is only remarkable in that it uses the shinken shobu no kata method. What we refer to as the 'reflex' method. The use of shinken shobu no kata is a major 'point of differentiation' with other schools/systems. Most gradings/teachings are demonstration (technique or kata) based and/or randori (free fighting, sparring) based. Shinken shobu no kata combines elements of both. The kyu gradings contain specified defences against specified attacks, hence the kata element. However, where the uniqueness comes in, where the 'reality based' element comes in that so many emphasise these days, is that the attacks are randomly presented. This is the randori element.

During the grading, the student stands with their back to the examiner(s). The chief examiner signals an attack which is then executed. The candidate must defend themselves against the attack. Minimum, the candidate must defend themselves. If the candidate defends themselves with the required response, marks are awarded based on technical merit. If the candidate defends them self with another defence, the attack will come again. If the candidate fails to defend them self, they fail that 'question'.

Shinken shobu no kata is not just used as a grading method. It also used as a training method. Brazilian jiu-jitsu refer to 'drills' in which they train techniques, and then they rely on randori to train a person for combat. Jan de Jong jutsu uses 'drills' but then rely on shinken shobu no kata to train a person for combat. Each class usually ends with shinken shobu no kata, except that unlike a grading, no defence is specified against any specified attack. This method is also used in many different ways to train the student. It is modified by specifying an attack but requiring the student to respond with only one specified response. Alternatively, the response is specified but the attack is chosen at random. This is not unlike the story told in The Fighting Spirit of Japan were the jujutsuka/judoka would go into the red light district to confront individual yokuza and limit themselves to only one technique.

Major Greg Mawkes MBE (retired) had this to say on this method of training when working with De Jong to develop a close combat system, including training system, for the Australian Army including the SAS (Special Air Service Regiment):
What was created during the months of early morning starts and hard work is a system of unarmed combat that has Tsutsumi ju jitsu as its cornerstone. The reflex method of training and testing is particularly appropriate to the instinctive reactions that must be developed in unarmed combat exponents. (Jan de Jong: the man, his school, and his ju jitsu system)
Given the limited attention span that most of us are suppose to have in this electronic/world wide web age, and given what I consider to be one of De Jong's major legacies, this subject will be continued in future blogs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Martial Arts Related Research and Education

Attilio Sacripanti (author of Advances in Judo Biomechanics, and Chair of Biomechanics of Sports at the University of Rome Tor Vergata) has asked if I would circulate information about the European Judo Union's (EJU) 2nd Poster Exhibition of Research to be held in Istanbul, Turkey on 21 April 2011. I am more than happy to do so because it is promoting a forum or organisation that is encouraging serious research into subjects directly concerned with the martial arts.
All sessions will consist of presentations of scholarly works related to any aspect of judo. Such areas may include, but are not limited to, topics related to the sport aspect of judo, including exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, sport psychology, injury rehabilitation, rest and recovery, nutrition, and the like. Topics may also include any area of judo history, philosophy, culture, or values as well. The audience will be mixed and include, academics, coaches, officials and the wider judo family. Presenters, please bear this in mind when communicating your research.
More details can be found on the EJU Judo Knowledge website: http://www.judoknowledge.org/

What you will also find on that website are other examples of the martial arts being taken seriously as a subject of academic study. Various universities are offering degree courses in judo. Bath University, UK, offers the EJU foundation course, and Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK, offers Level 4 and 5 Performance Judo Coach Award. Sacripanti has just completed designing and developing the Level 6 Award which 'successful coaches will also achieve the Masters Degree in Biomechanics of Judo.' Envy abounds.

Sacripanti's Masters degree in Biomechanics of Judo covers the following subjects all specially contextualised to judo:

• Advanced Physiology
• Biochemistry
• Cardiology
• Genetics and Doping
• Geriatric
• Neurology
• Neuro-traumatology
• Nutrition
• Orthopedic
• Pedagogy
• Physiatry
• Pneumology

The following is also included in connection with the content of the course:

Biomechanics, Theory and Methodology of Conditioning, effects of Conditioning, Periodisation, Control Test, Technical training, Non linear Training, Didactics for Adults, Judo as self-defense, Didactics for Children, Didactics games, Match Analysis, Grips fight, Strategy and Tactics, Throws Evolution comparative analysis of methods of teaching adults, comparative analysis of methods of teaching children, advanced studies of competition, comparative study of Japanese and Russian styles.
I also refer you to the International Association of Judo Researchers website (http://judoresearch.org/). The International Association of Judo Researchers was founded in Tokyo in 2006 in order to coordinate and foster the development of Judo-related academic research and educational activities.

My very ambitious goal is that my work (books) will be of sufficient quality to at least be referred to within these educational courses, if not studied. They are aimed at being unique contributions to the general body of knowledge supported by academic research, theories, concepts, and literature.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 11 - His Grading System Pt 2

My first blog on the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system has received a record number of pageviews. It seems his grading system is of interest, so I'll continue on with this series.

The photograph to the right is of the late Greg Palmer executing a mukae daoshi (meeting takedown) on the 'hapless John Coles' (as I was referred to in one published article interviewing Jan de Jong) during his second dan demonstration grading (see below). As an aside, this same technique is referred to as irimi nage (entering throw) within aikido circles and those that follow their terminology. It is performed differently in most cases in these instances. I argue in my book Throwing Techniques and Takedown Techniques of ALL Martial Arts that De Jong's and Mochizuki/Yoseikan's mukae daoshi (meeting takedown) is in fact a throw and the aikido and related parties irimi nage (entering throw) is in fact a takedown. Ironic, isn't it.

The Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system can be divided into three parts. This, as will be seen, also reflects the three stages of the development of his jujutsu grading system. The three parts are the mon grades, kyu grades, and dan grades.

Mon Grades
Grade (Belt)
1st Mon (Yellow and White)
2nd Mon (Blue and White)
3rd Mon (Green and White)
4th Mon (Orange and White)
5th Mon (Purple and White)
9th Kyu (Brown and White)
8th Kyu (Red and White)
7th Kyu (Red)

These are the entry level gradings that De Jong introduced in 1978. Students under 12 years of age commence at 1st mon; 12-15 years of age at 3rd mon; and over 15 years of age at 9th kyu. De Jong obviously differentiated the 'adult' grades from the children's grades by referring to the latter as mon and the former as kyu. Nonetheless, all the grades follow the same format and are designed to introduce the students to the fundamentals of his jujutsu and his systems thinking approach to understanding and studying his jujutsu.

Kyu Grades
Grade (Belt)
6th Kyu (Yellow)
5th Kyu (Blue)
4th Kyu (Green)
3rd Kyu (Orange)
2nd Kyu (Purple)
1st Kyu (Black and White)

As will be explained in further detail in a later blog, this was the original grading system prior to the introduction of the dan grades. 2nd kyu/purple belt consists of two parts - a revision part and a practical part.

At the heart of Jan de Jong jujutsu training methods is shinken shobu no kata. This is a unique method of training (and grading) which is, in my opinion, one of the most significant points of differentiation between Jan de Jong jujutsu and other martial arts. Shinken shobu means sword spirit, or earnest or serious competition. It is not a kata in the traditional sense of the word. It is a blend of randori and kata, free practice and pattern practice. Major Greg Mawkes makes special mention of this training method in connection with his endeavours to develop a close combat system for the Australian Army and SAS. From 6th to 3rd kyu gradings are all shinken shobu no kata format. The practical grading in 2nd kyu likewise adopts this format.

A black and white belt is a little confusing for many. Women used to be awarded a black and white belt instead of a black belt in Kodokan judo. I don't know of anyone else who uses a black and white belt within their grading system. I was warned by Peter Clarke that I would be questioned as to my grade when I wore my black and white belt to the first seminar I attended in Europe. Sure enough, I didn't even make it out of the change rooms without being questioned what grade it represented. It suited me because the seminar organisers didn't know how to classify me so I was free to attend all classes for dan and lower grades.

The 1st kyu/black and white grade is the first serious hill the student encounters. Seven separate gradings: (1) revision; (2) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (3)demonstration of sword basics and kata; (4) oral examination of history of jujutsu and briefly of other martial arts, as well as Japanese terminology used in 1st mon to 3rd kyu grades and weapons used within the Japanese martial arts; (5) oral examination on technical aspects of any technique in 1st mon to 3rd kyu grades; (6) examination on ability to teach grades from 1st mon to 3rd kyu; and (7) first aid certificate.

My blogs of recent times concerning injury and injury science highlights my view that there should not be an instructor of martial arts, self defence, close combat, or whatever other term you want to use, that does not have at least a first aid certificate. That, in my opinion, is a gross breach of a moral, if not legal, duty of care (which is discussed in my book on injury science and the martial arts).

Dan Grades
1st Dan consists of nine separate grades: (1) revision; (2) and (3) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (4) suwari waza no kata (kata with partner while both are kneeling) and kentai ichi no kata (kata demonstrating sword techniques and their unarmed applications); (5) shiai (free fight; unarmed vs knife, unarmed vs short stick, then swap roles); (6) oral examination of technical aspects in all grades up to and including 1st kyu, and, oral examination of Japanese terminology used in these gradings and that used for Japanese martial arts weapons; (7) essay on the history of jujutsu and one aspect of jujutsu; (8) examination of ability to teach all grades to 1st kyu; and (9) regulated period of time assisting grading students.

I remember one training partner, Gerald Woods, a warm, friendly, and very funny person. When I discussed the essay requirements with him, it came as a bit of a shock to him that the essay was suppose to be in two parts, one history and the other one aspect of jujutsu. He had written his entire essay, meeting the minimum required length, on the history of jujutsu. He rationalised his approach in that he had written the first half of the essay on the history of jujutsu, as required, and the second half on one aspect of jujutsu which he selected to be the history of jujutsu.

2nd Dan consists of nine separate grades; (1) revision; (2) arrange a demonstration using eight lower grades to demonstrate our jujutsu to the public with 20 minutes explanation type and 10 minutes fast action (see photo above); (3) practical (shinken shobu no kata format); (4) hantachi waza no kata (kata with one kneeling and one standing) and kentai ichi no kata (see 1st dan although different techniques); (5) demonstration of defences with tanbo (short stick) and separately unarmed against jo (short staff); (6) demonstration of knowledge of pressure points; (7) shiai (knife vs knife); (8) oral examination conducted with at least two other candidates discussing technical aspects of any technique selected by De Jong; and (9) essay on a topic approved by De Jong.

My essay in satisfaction of the last requirement of 2nd dan was a plan on how to take advantage of the Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur's opportunity and franchise Jan de Jong jujutsu world-wide (see the Indonesian trip blog).

3rd dan consists of 12 separate grades: (1) revision; (2) arrange a 10 minute demonstration using only yudansha (black belts) on a topic given by De Jong with only 20 minutes preparation; (3) taisabaki no kata (kata of bodymovements); (4) demonstration of 20 sacrifice throws and 20 takedown techniques and answer any questions raised by De Jong; (5) kodachi no kata (kata with short sword); (6) hojo jutsu (demonstration of use of rope to tie up an opponent); (7) demonstration of arresting techniques when the subject is sitting or standing; (8) demonstration of searching and handcuffing techniques; (9) demonstration of tobitanbo (jumping stick; and the size of a large baton) and jo against various attacks; (10) demonstration of use of manrikigusari (chain with weights on either end); (11) shiai (short stick vs knife, and then change roles); and (12) complete a project assigned by De Jong.

De Jong credited me with the last requirement of the 3rd dan gradings with my writing the booklet: Jan de Jong: The man, his school and his ju jitsu system. Prior to the writing and printing of this booklet, De Jong (or his family) would compile a small folder of information for distribution at his national and international seminars. This printed booklet provided a professional looking document which contained information on his history and grading system, among other things. It proved highly successful, demonstrating the demand for De Jong related information, as it has been sold throughout Western Europe, Australia, and in various Asian countries. I fondly recall that De Jong was so happy with this booklet that he pulled over to the side of the autobahn (or motorway, I can't remember if he was in Europe or the UK) to phone me and thank me, and tell me how happy he was with the finished product.

With regards to the fourth grading in 3rd dan, I wish De Jong was still alive so I could bring my theories and concepts regarding throwing techniques and takedown techniques to the table. Based on my biomechanical classification of these types of techniques, I would challenge at least 25% of the techniques classified as takedown techniques within that grading and reclassify them as throwing techniques. This grading (and another in 1st dan) demonstrates that there is a difference between the two types of techniques, that it is important enough to include in gradings, but that the difference or distinction is not understood. It's telling that the most obvious theoretical question to raise in this grading is, 'what is the difference between a throw and a takedown', and that is the one question that was never asked of the five people who attempted the grading and completed the technical grading system.

All higher gradings are honorary in the Jan de Jong jujutsu grading system, based on age and contribution to the school or jujutsu. Further aspects of the grading system will be discussed in future blogs.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Injury Science - One Punch Deaths Postscript

The photograph to the right is of another fatal one-punch victim.

I've just been going through my undeleted and unfiled emails looking for an email received by the noted forensic pathologist from the University of Dundee, Derrick Pounder. I contact him concerning his lecture notes that refer to wounds, injury, and trauma that has an injury science background. In particular, I'm researching the 'factors' involved in an injury which I then use to develop a model that can be used to understand and study any and all impact techniques, blunt or sharp, of the martial arts. Pounder states that 'whether or not injury occurs following the application of energy, in whatever form, depends on physical and biological factors'. These are expanded upon in my book concerning injury science and pain as related to the martial arts (still looking for a suitable title; do you think that's a good one?).

Anyway, I came across an email I emailed to myself. It was to keep a record of a news article concerning one punch deaths. The title of the article is '"One-punch" homicides every month, says Simon Overland.' The article reports: 'At least once a month in Victoria someone dies in a "one-punch homicide"; a drunken confrontation outside a pub where the victim hits his head on the ground and dies, the state's police chief says' (Read more: http://www.news.com.au/story-0-1225727460287#ixzz1DWor6nC3).

One death from one punch every month in one state of Australia. The use of the term 'one-punch deaths' is relatively unique to Australia, thanks in part to the media. What terms are used in other parts of the world to describe this relativley common, and tragic, cause of death? In the previous blog I refered to another blog that reported such deaths in America. It'd be interesting to see some authoritative information on the extent of this problem.

This issue reflects the reality that an inherent risk in any form of interpersonal violence is death. This has multiple and far ranging implications for those involved in interpersonal violence, and the disciplines that study tactics and techniques associated with interpersonal violence.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Injury Science - One Punch Deaths

Another one punch death ...

This is what someone wrote about yet another newspaper article reporting yet another person has died after being hit with one punch. This blog was inspired by (a) an article appearing on news.com.au concerning this issue, and (b) the work I'm doing on my book associated with injury science and pain.

Injury science is a relatively new science that studies injuries and the causes of injuries. Injuries can be classified in many ways but one of the main ways is by intent: unintentional and intentional. The World Health Organisation subdivides the intentional category into interpersonal (eg assault and homicide), self-harm, legal intervention, and war, civil insurrection, and disturbances (Injury Surveillance Guidelines). Injuries can also be classified as non-fatal and fatal. Thus, the injury field studies, among other things, fatal and non-fatal injuries resulting from violence.

William Haddon, the father of modern injury control, made many contributions to the field of injury control. One of his contributions is a matrix that analyses injury in terms of all the factors that go into the occurrence of an injury over three phases. Interventions to prevent or reduce the severity of an injury can then be developed for each of the nine cells in the matrix.

The author of the abovementioned news article attempts a bit of an analysis as to the causes of these types of deaths and possible ways to prevent these deaths. The framework for such an analysis and the development of interventions has already been provided by Haddon. There is a whole scientific field that studies injuries arising from violence, and hence violence itself. But it is seldom referred to.

In 2008, new laws were passed in Western Australia aimed at 'one punch deaths' because the current laws did not adequately cover them. The following is an extract from a media statement issued by Attorney General Jim McGinty:
In an Australian first, offenders in Western Australia will no longer be able to walk free unpunished after killing another person in what is commonly referred to as a 'one punch death'. ...

'In recent years, several young men, each facing charges of manslaughter following separate incidents, have been acquitted and allowed to walk free or have been convicted of a lesser crime such as assault,' Mr McGinty said. 'Meanwhile, the families of the men who died are understandably angry that the men who assaulted their loved ones are able to just get on with their lives. They feel let down by the justice system and their feelings are shared by the general public.'

'This is an age old problem that is also experienced in other parts of Australia and throughout the world. WA will be the first State to rectify this grave injustice.'

'Regrettably, all too frequently, a scenario arises when a victim receives a blow, falls to the ground, hitting his head on concrete or some other hard surface, and dies from the injury to the head. Under section 23 of the Criminal Code, a person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission which occurs by accident. An incident is described as an accident if it is not intended, not foreseen and not reasonably foreseeable. Because of this, manslaughter charges in these cases are often unsuccessful.'
The mantra of the injury field is - INJURIES ARE NOT ACCIDENTS! In fact, there are many within the injury field that recommend a halt to the use of the term 'accidents'. The term 'accident' denotes an unforeseen, unexpected event that is the result of fate, chance, or destiny. It is also used to describe human error or mistake, which thereby excludes the person from the consequence of injury. A better understanding of of the nature of injury in the past few decades has led to a reconceptualisation of injury as a largely preventable event.

It would appear the law is catching up with the injury field in recognising that deaths from one punch are not accidents.

With the traditional 'accident prevention' mindset, the approach to preventing injuries was to prevent 'accidents'. If the 'accident' could not be prevented - you were on your own. 'Injury prevention' looks at attempting to prevent an injury even if an 'accident' happens, hence, seatbelts, airbags, crumble zones, etc. But the injury field goes further and looks to reduce the severity of an injury if an injury occurs. If the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association (JJAVA) mentioned in a previous blog have an 'accident' mindset ... Wouldn't it seem advisable to refer to the theories and concepts produced by the injury field.

In researching this blog, I came across another relevant and interesting blog and associated website. The blog is The Actuality of Fighting (http://theactualityoffighting.blogspot.com/) which reports deaths from fighting. Unfortunately the last posting on that blog was in November 2009. What it does support is the extent of the problem. The above photograph comes from Queensland Government's 'one punch can kill' campaign to tackle this problem. The associated website is Not-Me! (http://www.not-me.org/) which is dedicated to self-defence instruction. Just a quick perusal of the site uncovered their '3 Petal Plan'. This 'is a method to graphically group related concepts in order to make the overall plan easier to comprehend, convey, and carryout.' The three petals refer to three stages which correspond to Haddon's three phases in the injury process. Not-Me! use these three stages to develop or illustrate the use of their interventions (the '5 Ds of self defence'). A more comprehensive approach is available using Haddon's matrix, though, kudos to the developers for looking at the problem from a temporal perspective.

Haddon's work associated with his matrix is simple and practical. Haddon's matrix has been applied to domestic violence, teen violence, gun-related violence, and many other violence related topics, even terrorism and warfare. Injury science and Haddon's matrix has so much untapped potential for the martial arts and self defence. It obviously offers ways to analyse and develop interventions in relation to specific high risk groups. It also provides a means of analysing and developing interventions to prevent or reduce the severity of injuries while training. 'Accidents happen' is no longer acceptable, if the injury science theories and concepts are referred to.

Haddon acknowledged that there are analogous opposites to his injury control strategies. At the heart of injury science is the study of the causes of injuries, and that is what I'm also using it for. To study the tactics and techniques of the martial arts which are designed to avoid violence-related injuries, but which often entails inflicting or threatening to inflict injuries through violent acts. Haddon's matrix is adapted to develop a model that can be used to understand and study the percussion techniques of ALL martial arts.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jan de Jong Pt 11 - His Grading System Pt 1

How do you transmit your teachings if you develop a 'school of thought' (see Jan de Jong Pt 1 blog)? A common way within the martial arts is through 'forms' or 'kata'; what Karl Friday refers to as 'pattern practice' in Legacies of the Sword. Jan de Jong's 'school of thought' is transmitted via 'oral tradition' through the teachings of his former instructors, and through his grading system.

De Jong's jujutsu isn't big on kata. Well, not kata as is commonly conceived.

De Jong didn't base his teachings on a theory such as the 'small circle theory'. He didn't base his teachings on a tactical theory such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu which suggests that almost all fights end up on the ground. He didn't espouse a philosophy such as Bruce Lee in what he suggests nobody should refer to as Jeet Kune Do. De Jong's school of thought, and the evolution of his school of thought, can be seen within his grading system.

The De Jong grading system is one of the MOST comprehensive in the world. Following the introduction of the 'mon grades', there are 11 gradings (for an adult) before attempting the 1st kyu grading comprised of seven seperate gradings. Following that is nine separate gradings for shodan, nine separate gradings for nidan, and twelve separate gradings for sandan. All in all there are 49 separate gradings to complete in the technical gradings of De Jong's grading system. Practical, weapons, theory, teaching, history, terminology, first aid, projects - 49!

Only five people have completed the De Jong grading system: Peter Clarke, Robert Hymus, Paul Connelly, Greg Palmer, and myself. I prefer to think of myself as 'slip streaming' behind my instructors.

De Jong understood the extensiveness of his grading system. Towards the end of his life he was talking about including the gradings his instructors/students had to go through for their dan grades on their grading certificates. While I understood his intention, I had to disappoint him in explaining that nobody looks at anyone's certificates within the martial arts. He had to rely on the depth and breadth of knowledge his instructors possessed to express the quality of his grading system.

He was also contemplating having different 'degrees' of shodan in that not all that were at that level were going to become teachers. He was contemplating modifying his grading system to include different 'streams' - teachers and non-teachers. Unfortunately, I again had to disappoint him in explaining that within the martial arts, a black belt is considered a teacher without reference to their actual qualifications. It is unfortunate but it is also true.

A look at De Jong's grading system reveals a great deal about his school of thought, the evolution of that school of thought, and about the quality of his instructors. Consequently, this is part one of looking at his grading system. However, these blogs must be prefaced with the comment that these views may be controversial within the De Jong community.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

'School judo deaths prompt protest in Japan'

'School judo deaths prompt protest in Japan' - this is the title of a disturbing article that was posted on The Age website on January 3, 2011 (http://www.theage.com.au/world/school-judo-deaths-prompt-protest-in-japan-20110102-19d03.html). The article reports 110 children have been killed in school judo practice since 1983. The article is quite thought provoking, particularly when you do a little research, and even more so when you study injury science.

The article reports that:
The [Japanese] government's bid to make the martial art compulsory in schools has alarmed parents. Research showing that an average of four children die each year during judo lessons in Japan has alarmed some parents as the country prepares to introduce martial arts as a compulsory school sport. Yoshihiro Murakawa, one of those concerned about the government's plan, is convinced his 12-year-old nephew died in a reckless judo practice.
The article refers to a website that is dedicated to this problem (http://judojiko.net/eng/). This website, Japan Judo Accident Victim's Association, reports that:
Over the 27-year period 1983 to 2009, 108 students died as a result of judo accidents in Japanese junior and senior high schools (age range ca 12 to 18years), 60% of them from brain injury. The mean of four deaths per year is significantly higher than in any other school sport. ... Note that these figures do not include deaths from accidents outside school such as in private judo clubs, so the total number of deaths in young people is higher still. There have also been a large number of serious injuries, many of which have resulted in chronic higher brain dysfunction or persistent disturbance of consciousness.
The website also contains an analysis of the 'cause' of the deaths which is quite interesting (http://judojiko.net/eng/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/en_judo_data110110.pdf).

The Age article reports: '"Many factors are involved here," Mr Murakawa said of his nephew Koji's death during judo club training. "First of all, many judo instructors at Japanese schools are too ignorant about what to do when a serious incident occurs," he said.'

Firstly, an understanding of injury based on an injury science perspective will confirm there are many factors involved in an injury. As I am attempting to explain in my obviously tentatively titled book, Injury Science and Pain [something] for the Martial Arts, injury can be analysed according to three factors interacting over three phases. Secondly, Mr Murakawa refers to the ignorance of judo instructors. This is an issue which my work is attempting to rectify.

This article has sparked some spirited discussion on the Internet. Here I refer you to a forum page dedicated to this article on the Aikido Journal website (http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/2011/01/28/school-judo-deaths-prompt-protest-in-japan-from-theagecomau/). Apart from the uninformed, dismissive posts, Patrick Auge posts the following:
Accidents will happen. However teachers can reduce risks by emphasizing safety and by being there. In my past experience, Japanese judo club coaches were too often absent and senpai did not have enough maturity to control the intensity of training.
The mantra of injury control professions is 'injuries are not accidents'. I have the utmost respect for Auge. However, when you're exposed to the work of the injury field you gain a different perspective of injuries. You most definitely gain an appreciation of what can be done to analyse the potential for injuries, and what can be done to prevent injury and control the severity of an injury should it occur. Injuries ARE NOT accidents. Or at least most of them are not.

Without disclosing the detail of the work I'm spending every day on, I have to agree with Murakawa and Auge regarding the quality of instruction with regards to safety in the martial arts. For instance, within the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, the assistant instructor and instructor gradings, 1st kyu (black and white belt) and 1st dan (black belt), include teaching gradings and the requirement to obtain a first aid certificate. Having said that, I was asked to teach my own branch within two years of training while I was just an orange belt (3rd kyu). Through my obsessive training I was exceptional in my abilities and as it turned out I possessed very good teaching and student relationship abilities. However, I had no teaching experience, I had not assisted any instructor as is the norm for the school, and I had no training in trauma management of any sort. I now see this posting as irresponsible (though we cannot judge with hindsight. Different times.). I had to deal with a student who was going into a epileptic episode, and I just winged it. One student injured her back while being thrown. Are these accidents? Or, as injury science would suggest, are these injury events which could have been anticipated and measures put in place to prevent them or reduce the severity of these injuries?

We don't teach how to hit a ball, catch a ball, throw a ball, roll a ball, or any such innocuous skill in the martial arts. We teach techniques which are designed to potentially injure, non-fatally or fatally, a person. We throw ourselves around in martial arts such as jujutsu and its derivative arts (aikido, judo, and hapkido) using ukemi waza (breakfalling techniques). Many of the deaths on the abovementioned website have followed throwing techniques or breakfalling techniques. Journeyman is currently blogging (http://japanesejiujitsu.blogspot.com/) a series dedicated to ukemi waza. The Japanese judo experience should instill a sense of respect for these techniques.

You have to ask, what do the instructors know about injury, injury prevention, and injury control? What qualifications do they have if an injury occurs. All the other instructors and assistant instructors within the Jan de Jong Self Defence School had completed a first aid course. At least that is something.

We need to ask questions. But we can only ask questions if we understand the subject matter. Most people still refer to 'accidents' when the injury field have taken steps to remove the concept. Accidents imply unforseeability and randomness. Put an inexperienced person in charge of a class as Auge described, how much unforeseeabilty and randomness is there in any resultant injury?
Yasuhiko and Keiko Kobayashi, whose son suffered a brain injury when he was 15, questioned whether the government was fully prepared, saying there hadn't been a thorough investigation into the causes of serious judo incidents. 'With so many children dying, there was no single case taken to a court for a criminal charge,' the father said.
Why hasn't there been litigation. I'm not a fan of litigation, but why hasn't there been litigation in this age of litigation. Might I suggest that the martial arts are by and large not taken seriously. They lack credibility. Why else would you allow people to instruct people in techniques designed to non-fatally or fatally injure a person without demanding some sort of safety study. If we want the martial arts to be a serious subject of study other than on the fringes of society for 'fringe-dwellers', we need to take the martial arts seriously ourselves. What better place to get an understanding of injury than in a discipline dedicated to the study of injury with a view to the prevention and control of injury.