Tuesday, 17 January 2012

DVD review: Art of the Wristlock

Art of the Wristlock by Roy Dean Sensei is a very professionally put together instructional DVD. Roy Dean Sensei runs a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Oregon, America but also holds Dan Grades in Aikido, Judo and Seibukan Jujutsu. Thus Roy Dean is the complete package when it comes to the grappling arts of Japan and Brazil. It is this respect for and blending of both ancient and modern forms of Jujutsu that sets this DVD apart from other instructional DVDs I own. Disc 1 begins with Roy Dean’s own thoughts and philosophy on Jujutsu. This insight into the theory and application of Jujutsu from an instructor of Roy Dean’s experience and calibre is excellent and inspiring. A long time practitioner of Aikido, Roy Dean then began to explore the competitive world of grappling, namely through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, testing his Jujutsu techniques and skills, honing them to become both practical and applicable for both competition and self-defence.
The wrist lock techniques on Disc 1 cover the Aikido techniques of Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo and Gokyo. Very similar techniques are found in Dentokan Aiki Jujutsu such as Shodan and Nidan, which relate to Ikkyo and Nikyo with the other Aikido techniques featuring in the Dan grade syllabus of Sandan and Yondan. The techniques are performed by Roy Dean in a traditional Japanese style dojo, which helps create an air of authenticity and professionalism to the quality of the DVD. I always find it especially inspiring to learn and train in a traditional Japanese setting. Roy Dean clearly explains the mechanics of the technique before demonstrating them first at a slow pace and then at a faster, more realistic pace. Thus this DVD is excellent for beginners to Jujutsu or Aikido.  Disc 1 also covers Shihonage (known in Dentokan Aiki Jujutsu as Nihonage) and Kotegaeshi. What sets this DVD apart is the nuances Roy brings to the techniques from Seibukan Jujutsu, showing Jujutsu variations to the techniques. There is much greater emphasis on the use of atemi's in traditional Jujutsu than in Aikido and these variations feel far more 'street' ready as a form of self-defence. I believe it is important to have a knowledge of all such variations for the different wrist lock techniques so that the Jujutsuka can apply them when and where appropriate, should they become necessary.
However, one of the best features of this DVD is Roy Dean’s own BJJ style variations of the wrist lock techniques for ground fighting. Dean is an experienced grappler having competed in many grappling contests where wrist locks are legal and demonstrates many of the techniques that he has had success with. Dean is an exceptionally innovative Jujutsuka and his development and adaptation of traditional Jujutsu wrist locks for ground fighting are inventive and effective. Bonus features on Disc 1 include several demonstrations of Aikido and Seibukan Jujutsu as well as trailers to his other BJJ DVDs. Particularly impressive from my perspective was Dean’s Seibukan Jujutsu Sandan demonstration.

Disc 2 features three seminars from the Yosokan Dojo in Monterey, California. The first two deals with aspects of Aikido principles and how they relate to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the third is a seminar on leg locks and foot locks. The seminars all feature Roy Dean teaching and selected footage of his students training. Roy is a good communicator and his instructions are easy to follow. What makes Roy such a good instructor is his attention to the mechanics of the technique, breaking each technique down into their component parts and then reconstructing them to demonstrate the technique as it should be executed. His teaching style is also very incremental in as far as he starts with a basic technique and builds upon that technique to incorporate variations and adding more complex elements to the technique in line with the skill level and competency of the class. My only criticism (if you can call it that) is that the third seminar on leg locks seems strangely out of place for a wrist lock DVD and while having an overall ‘game’ is very important, I couldn’t help but feel it would have been better suited to a BJJ instructional DVD instead.

Overall I was very impressed with the quality and production of this DVD. Roy Dean is the epitome of the total Jujutsuka and his example is a strong source of inspiration to me in my Jujutsu journey. His dedication and commitment to Jujutsu in all its facets as well as his passion to teach and guide others in the wonderful art of Jujutsu is outstanding and highly motivational. I highly recommend this DVD for those practising a traditional form of Jujutsu/Aikido, especially for beginners and even for those studying BJJ who want to have an ‘edge’ over their friends and opponents in their club.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Art of Yielding

Welcome to my new blog – my Jujutsu journey. The purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts and reflections as well as my triumphs and failures in my study and training in Jujutsu. I chose to dedicate an entire blog to this aspect of my life because 1. It is important to me and 2. I did not want my regular blog being overtaken with Jujutsu talk. The reason I have titled my blog ‘my Jujutsu journey’ is because I think it aptly reflects what martial arts are about – they say you learn something new every day and this is certainly true in Jujutsu. The martial arts are a life long journey of discovery. In many ways there is no end point – they are a path; a path to greater confidence, to finding greater harmony with your environment or circumstances and to self-discovery. Naturally there are goals and milestones you can reach and accomplish, the most obvious being your Dan Grade (black belt), but even then your journey continues, only then it takes on a new dimension having the added virtue of wisdom gleaned from experience and examination.
Why Jujutsu? There are many martial arts from across the globe; some of a ‘hard’ style, while others ‘soft’, most being oriental in origin but not all. Some have evolved into combat sports; others remain very traditional in their philosophy and practice. Jujutsu has the advantage of being all these things – in its traditional Japanese form Jujutsu is a system of self-defence first created by the Samurai for the battlefields of Feudal Japan. In its modern form it has been exported across the globe namely to Brazil where it was adapted to become a ground based form of submission fighting. Judo and Aikido can also both claim to be modern evolutions of Jujutsu, Jigoro Kano founder of Judo originally calling his system Kano Jujutsu.

Jujutsu has a long and rich heritage being primarily a form of unarmed self-defence against an armed attacker. Due to the nature of Feudal warfare blocks and strikes were ineffective and unpractical for the battlefield, so the Samurai employed throws and joint locks/manipulation in order to unarm their attackers. Thus in Japanese the word Jujutsu means the gentle art, or the art of yielding. It is the latter definition that has captured my imagination and inspired me to practice Jujutsu. It is the philosophy of yielding that I find so powerful. To some people ‘yielding’ sounds like weakness and they may consider Jujutsu ineffective for this reason. But Jujutsu’s strength lies in this principle and its techniques and mechanics are all based on this central concept – it is the axis upon which Jujutsu operates. When one learns how to take someone’s posture and destroy a person’s balance then all strength is negated. Whether it is traditional Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all these arts are variations based on the same principles. Therefore this blog is not just about Aiki-Jujutsu - the particular style of Jujutsu I study - but about all things Jujutsu related.


I am currently a Green belt in Aiki-Jujutsu. Much time and ink could be spent defining what Aiki is and how it relates to Jujutsu, maybe someday I will write a more thorough blog exploring the connection between the two, but for now a short introduction will suffice. Aiki-Jujutsu is a traditional form of Jujutsu that was created by the Samurai of the Minamoto clan in the 11th Century. Due to the social structure of Feudal Japan Samurai were divided into clans, each clan usually developing its own form of Jujutsu to be used on the battlefield. These forms were taught secretly to each member of the Samurai clan – the master passing on the art to his student. These forms later formed the different schools. The oldest school (or in Japanese ‘Ryu’) of Aiki-Jujutsu is Daito-Ryu. Later in the 20th century two other influential forms of Aiki-Jujutsu were developed: Hakko Ryu and Aikido. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba was a Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu master who, influenced by his Shinto beliefs, decided to create his own style developing the Aiki techniques further. But it was the Hakko-Ryu system, created by Okuyama Ryuho that remained truest to the traditional Daito-Ryu system of Aiki-Jujutsu. It is the Hakko-Ryu system that my Aiki-Jujutsu is based on. Thus Hakko-Ryu can be considered a modern form of a traditional art. In look and practice it is very traditional compared to Judo or BJJ.

I do not claim to be an expert just a dedicated student. There will be times when I make mistakes, but we all have to learn from our mistakes. So whether you are a Jujutsuka on your own Jujutsu journey or are just interested in martial arts I hope this blog will inform and inspire you.