Wednesday, May 4, 2011

History of Jan de Jong - Peter Clarke

Peter Clarke was a senior instructor with Jan de Jong.

Peter is unique. He was the first to complete the final technical grading of Jan de Jong's jujutsu, third dan, and was immediately, and quite rightly, upgraded to fourth dan. He was also the highest grade in Jan de Jong's pencak silat.

Peter and myself assisted Mr de Jong in developing his grading system for his aikido, and were graded shodan by actually engaging in the grades that De Jong developed. We were also involved with Mr de Jong at his dojo at home where we were 'encouraged' to undertake the Australian Ju Jitsu Association (AJJA) dan grades that he and Mr de Jong developed. Congratulations - we were graded fifth dan.

Peter has included his speech and a commentary about his speech on the Southern Cross Bujutsu website concerning the history of Jan de Jong:

To Peter's credit, he prefaces his speech with the following comment: 'There are now matters in the speech which I now know to be either quite wrong or perhaps dubious.' How often do you hear or see someone, let alone within the martial arts, qualify their previous statements with this sort of comment? This speaks volumes for Peter's character - and comes as no surprise.

Mr de Jong would sometimes expressed his exasperation with Peter because of his 'lawyerly' approach to jujutsu. He is a lawyer (don't hold that against him). It's no secret that I often exasperated De Jong, and his senior instructors, with my 'analytical' approach to jujutsu (I am an accountant, among other things, don't hold that against me). But our analytical approaches dovetailed with De Jong's evolving analytical approach to his jujutsu.

Peter is the only instructor I ever requested to assist.

The general rule within the Jan de Jong Self Defence School, post 1970s, was that you gain a black and white belt and assist an instructor before you teach a class on you own. I remember a conversation with Maggie de Jong (Mr de Jong's daughter and now principal of the Jan de Jong Martial Arts Fitness school) in which she explained this general rule to me. I reminded her that I was asked to teach my own branch after two years, and only being an orange belt and having never assisted any instructor whatsoever. She responded with the comment that I was 'exceptional'. I appreciate her comment, with gratitude, but suggest what she probably meant was that I was the exception.

I commenced jujutsu in 1983. By 1985 I was teaching, and I never stopped. I ended up assisting Mr de Jong in his classes, and of course in the numerous seminars I accompanied him on throughout Europe, Australia, and Indonesia. But there is only one person I ever requested to assist - Peter Clarke. I attended his Saturday afternoon classes, but I knew I could learn, and wanted to learn, more from him. I wanted to be his apprentice of sorts. So I requested, and the request was granted, to assist him in one of the northern suburbs on a Saturday morning.

I recently watched a DVD the Jan de Jong school produced which included footage of Peter demonstrating techniques along with his fellow senior instructors. In my professional opinion, he is a class above. I always recall Peter performing a simple technique in one of the Friday night instructor classes where his movement were so fast that they appeared, and are remembered, as segmented frames in a movie reel.

I believe we've never seen the best of Peter Clarke. Why? Because he's had 'average' attackers throughout his career. This is a controversial statement as the majority of the time his attackers have been his fellow senior instructors. Don't get me wrong, they are exceptional practitioners; it's just that they are rubbish attackers. I know. I wanted to test myself for my gradings by asking Peter and another senior instructor to attack me for my revision grading for my revision black and white grading. Unheard of. They provided 'strong' attacks, but, with no commitment. The attacks were strong, but, there was a huge degree of 'control' involved. No full commitment. From that, I've learnt that attacking is an art in itself.

I would give anything to see Peter go full tilt with attackers that had no regard for their own safety - like me, Jamie Francis, Dave Palmer, Marcus. The senior instructors talk of the commitment of their instructors and how it is not exhibited in their students. I would give anything to see those former instructors go full tilt with Peter Clarke just to see what he is truly capable of. I have no hesitation in suggestion that I would not have been disappointed.

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