Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A jiu-jitsu demos from the 1980s

John Coles of the Kojutsukan blog has posted a set of 3 videos of his instructor -- the late Greg Palmer -- delivering his impressive second dan jujutsu grading (under the late Jan de Jong) in 1985*.  They feature lecture-style explanation and 'quick action' demonstration from Sensei Palmer and his students, including a young John.

Each part is just over 10 minutes.  The links are to John's blog, which give additional commentary and historical information:
  1. Part I
  2. Part II
  3. Part III

*Technically, these are "take two", done for the camera.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bartitsu: Sherlock Holmes's martial art

In Arthur Conan Doyle's story The Empty House, Sherlock Holmes -- previously missing, presumed dead in The Final Problem -- explains to Watson how he was able to evade his nemesis's clutches on the edge of Reichenbach Falls, before disappearing for a bit of a breather from detective work:
I had little doubt that I had come to the end of my career when I perceived the somewhat sinister figure of the late Professor Moriarty standing upon the narrow pathway which led to safety. I read an inexorable purpose in his grey eyes. I exchanged some remarks with him, therefore, and obtained his courteous permission to write the short note which you afterwards received. I left it with my cigarette-box and my stick and I walked along the pathway, Moriarty still at my heels. When I reached the end I stood at bay. He drew no weapon, but he rushed at me and threw his long arms around me. He knew that his own game was up, and was only anxious to revenge himself upon me. We tottered together upon the brink of the fall. I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me. I slipped through his grip, and he with a horrible scream kicked madly for a few seconds and clawed the air with both his hands. But for all his efforts he could not get his balance, and over he went. With my face over the brink I saw him fall for a long way. Then he struck a rock, bounded off, and splashed into the water. [my emphasis]
Holmes and Moriarty grapple on the precipice
It turns out that the mysterious art of "baritsu", was a probable mis-remembering of an actual composite martial art of circa-1900: bartitsu, a mix of jiu-jitsu, judo, savate and boxing, popularized by Edward Barton-Wright.

Although there is (too the best of my knowledge) no surviving film footage from the era, here is a reconstruction from cinematograph images in a 1905 book:

Hmmm: looks familiar!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Great advice for beginners

Nev Sagiba, an aikido instructor, has written some excellent articles for Aikido Journal.  Here are two aimed at beginners, not just in aikido, but in any martial arts:
And here's one of those great stories that you hear from time to time -- or even end up in! -- when you study martial arts.

Ideas for theme classes

This year I plan to do a themed class roughly every four weeks.  That may be too frequent: we'll see how it goes.

Where a regular class follows a standard format, allowing for repetition and reinforcement of foundational skills, with a couple of blocks where the instructor goes into a bit more depth, a themed class goes more in depth more most of the class.

The approach I'm taking this year is a bit different from theme of the month, which I ran in 2009, in which the discretionary blocks for a whole month were on a unified theme, which also seeped into the rest of the class.

Here's a list off the top of my head:

  1. Kuzushi
  2. Leg throws
  3. Hip throws
  4. Hand throws
  5. Hidari class (everything left-handed)
  6. Throwing with movement
  7. Combination throws
  8. Counter throws
Restraint and Control
  1. Come-alongs
  2. Reflexive self-defence
  3. R&C throws
  4. Standard escapes
  1. Immobilizations
  2. Groundwork randori skills
  3. Arm locks and leg locks
  4. Strangles
  5. Combination locks: such a good title!
  1. Sacrifice throws
  2. Stick defences -- hmm: will need sticks
  3. Nage no Kata (kata of throws)
  4. Katame no Kata (groundwork)
  5. Gonosen no Kata (counters)
Requests and reactions welcome.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Effortless jiu-jitsu and judo / first class back in 2011

On Wednesday we had our first class back for the year with eight regulars on the mat -- what passes for a small class nowadays -- plus one prospective student.

It was good to be back, even on a rainy night; never mind this Summer's floods and cyclones.

* * *

This year I'll be taking an over-arching theme of "minimal effort".  How can we become so efficient in our jiu-jitsu and judo that it becomes near-effortless?

Of course, the training for such masterly ease will entail a lot of hard work!

A fun Judo kata

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Featured in Aikido Journal Blog

A couple of days ago 2008 post of mine, The Broader Meaning of Kuzushi, was picked up by Aikido Journal and featured in their blog.

Nice!  Not only that, but one of their readers, Dan Rubin, was able to point me to the likely source of the quotation in the top left corner of this blog:
The source of the quotation is cited as “unknown.”

I thought you might like to know that the analysis, if not the exact quotation, is that of Donn Draeger in Classical Budo (1973), at page 11 (and elsewhere): “...a number of preconceptions and rigid beliefs about the relationship of the bujutsu (classical martial arts of self-protection) to the budo (classical martial ways of self-perfection) prevent a true understanding of these disciplines.”
Thanks Dan!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Slap in the face

Freeze-frame: mid-slap
Who would have thought that a slap to the face could rearrange it, albeit temporarily?

Here's the video proof, in super slo mo.

Of course, copping a water balloon in the face would be even more distracting!