Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Latest Contribution to Blitz - What is Jujutsu?

It would appear that I am becoming a regular contributor to Australia's premier martial arts magazine, Blitz.

My latest contribution which is to be published in a two part series starting next month is titled: 'What is Jujutsu?'

What is jujutsu? One of the best places to begin any enquiry into the Japanese martial arts is with the works of Donn F. Draeger. He was one of the first to write in any detail on the Japanese martial arts in the English-language literature, and he provided definitions and descriptions that continue to be widely accepted by Western practitioners. Draeger consistently explained jujutsu in terms of:

·       the generic nature of the term;

·       its history;

·       its technical content; and

·       the application of the philosophical concept of ju. 

Each of these elements are essential to any meaningful understanding of jujutsu.

The editor of Blitz has approached me for more articles. I may have access to a photographer and/or a graphic designer (although other offers would be gratefully accepted) which means I can write and share how-to articles and articles that require graphics in order to fully appreciate the message. For instance, articles that for the first time provide a physiological explanation of joint-locking techniques; articles that for the first time provide a definitive distinction between throwing and takedown techniques; articles that provide how-to instruction that was in demand world-wide from Shihan Jan de Jong OAM 9th Dan and which I have provided greater insights into through the application of biomechanics.

Please contact me with any of your questions as it may provide the basis for another article to be published by Australia's premier martial arts magazine - Blitz.


  1. Hi John,

    Thought I would offer some help as I have been down this route myself in the past.

    It will be easier if you just take photos with your students - at least as a start for the artist - even if they don't use it. If you rely on them getting it right you can strike trouble - set out the spread with your students yourself then go to the next stage.

    Speaking of which - how about some dojo photos or something - we want to know more about John Coles the man!

    Also, and again from experience, you have got to be careful of big claims - first or best - as everyone in martial arts has either said it or heard it again and again - sometimes it is best to just stick to well researched and factual articles.

    Assuming your work is up to its usual standard you will have no problem impressing the people who read blitz - let them be the ones to provide the commentary on being the first or best... I read a great definition of throw/takedown just the other day - I'm sure that guy would say 'I'm the first/best'.

    As always said with love.

    Yours, Paul.

    1. Thanks for the comments Paul.

      Thought this through a great deal, as is my inclination. The only graphic design images I need done are those that cannot be photographed, e.g. the physiology of a joint, the stability-mobility continuum, etc. Here I am mainly talking about the illustrations for my books, however, the same would be true of the Blitz articles.

      It is not in my nature to make exaggerated claims, and when I refer to 'for the first time' it is on the back of a great deal of research which is detailed in the draft books.

      With reference to the distinction between throws and takedowns, I was astounded that while both types of techniques are referred to within the martial arts there is no definitive distinction between them. In fact, 'throws and takedowns' appears to be a new term used to refer to all techniques designed to cause a person to fall to the ground with an implicit recognition that there are two types of techniques but no real understanding what the difference is thus lumping them all under one phrase.

      While I didn't use the term 'best', I will argue it is the most definitive in that is based on biomechanical principles - the things that actually make them work. This distinction is objective and not subjective as are some other proposed distinctions.

      To give you some idea of the confusion that surrounds this issue - does judo teach takedown techniques? They don't if you refer to Kano's classification of judo techniques. They do but they are not official techniques if you read Eddie Ferrie. They do if you read Thompson's Throws & Takedowns of Judo (although he at no time distinguishes between the two and refers to all the techniques as throws).

      Anyway, all will be revealed in due course and all will be supported by a great deal of research which will be detailed (much to the annoyance of some people).



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