Jan de Jong speech

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Early days in Indonesia

World War II


Australia -- early days


Australia -- modern history


I am very pleased to have been asked to speak at this very auspicious occasion of the celebration of Jan's 50 years of teaching jujutsu, as I have been one of the principal beneficiaries of that of his teaching for the past 20 years.

There will be a number of speakers called upon during the evening to recount their experiences and to provide you with some insight into the man who has pursued the improvement of his own skills and the imparting of that skill to others with a single minded dedication that I have rarely seen in anyone in any field of endeavour.  These people will be forthright and frank in their comments knowing that if they say anything disparaging, Jan has the capacity to extract painful retribution beyond the capacity of anyone else.

By way of introduction I shall give a brief history of Jan's martial arts background.

Early Days in Indonesia

Jan was born and raised in Indonesia. He was born in Semarang an important port on the north coast of Middle Java.

Jan, at the age of 7, .was introduced to jujutsu by his father who was then training jujutsu himself and wanted his sons to learn.  In those days training was a daily activity. Training was at 2:00 in the afternoon for 2 or 3 hours, no mean feat if you have experienced the heat of Indonesia.

Jan's teachers were two brothers, K. Saito (7th Dan) and Y. Saito (8th Dan). One was a photographer and the other was a florist.

Jan was just the right size and age to train with the youngest brother of Saito Sensei, Uchi Saito, and they were the youngest members of the class.  Instruction was given in Indonesian.  Saito sensei was graded by Master Tsutsumi who founded the system after studying Takenouchi Ryu.  Recent investigation of this by Tanaka Sensei suggests that the Tsutsumi system may be substantially older than that and go back well before even the origins of Takenouchi.  I'm not going to elaborate on that because there are a number of up and coming instructors here who will have to do their history exams in due course and I would not want to make their task too easy or lessen the enjoyment of having to find these things out for themselves.

Jan graded to third dan, the highest technical grade.  Under the guidelines of the system, after grading 3rd dan, he could not hold a higher grade until he was at least 35 years of age.  I certainly won't be having that problem!  There are 3 people with 2nd dan at the moment who have some aspirations to grade 3rd.  The present goal would be to do so by 40 but for one of us, and I won't mention Paul by name, time has almost run out.

As he would soon leave for Holland and never see his instructors again he would not be upgraded by them and in fact held that grade for many years.

In 1940 he left to go to Holland to train as a pilot. It was common for Dutch people in the colonies to return to Holland to complete their education as the qualifications from the Dutch institutions were more highly regarded.  Jan arrived just a few months before the outbreak of hostilities with Holland.

World War II

The outbreak of hostilities put an end to the prospect of Jan being a pilot.  Mind you for those of you that have been a passenger in a car being driven by Jan, you can be excused for thinking that you were in the cockpit of a 747 hurtling down the runway for take-off.

Jan first started teaching in Rotterdam.  He first started teaching for Reinier Hulsker who owned a sports school and then approximately 12 months later started his own school.  Within a few months of doing so he had 300 students.  The reason for teaching was that the war had interrupted the flow of funds from his father back in Indonesia. Without a source of income he turned to the thing that he did best.  He did this for approximately 4 years. The school closed on 13 November 1944 when the occupying forces rounded up all of the men folk to work in the munitions factories.  It was on the 11 November that he hid in the water for 11 hours to avoid the round up.

During this period in Holland, he taught 4 people to the grade of shodan.  So far as Jan has been able to ascertain, none of them survived the war.

Jan was involved with the Dutch underground movement and spent much of those years attempting to stay out of the clutches of the occupying forces.

Also during this period he studied physiotherapy at day classes and was teaching jujutsu at nights, as well as on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


Jan returned to Indonesia in 1946, joining the Dutch Indonesian Army as a physiotherapist.  He was recruited in Indonesia as the Dutch badly needed people back in Indonesia as they tried to reestablish themselves in the region.  This was at the time that the Dutch Indonesian Army were fighting the Indonesians in the struggle for independence.  He was first sent to Jakarta and was stationed there for about 9 to 12 months.  He went back to his home town, Semarang, in 1947 and could find virtually no one there from his earlier days.  The war had extracted a heavy toll.  Many people had perished during the war and many people that were taken prisoner were not detained in their local area but were moved to camps far away.  He found only three people that he had known prior to the war.

There were no people from the old school and despite searching; it seems that there are no survivors from that school, certainly none that are teaching after the war.  As far as we can ascertain Jan is the sole surviving teacher of the style in the world. We are unable to find any continuation of it in Japan.-a shame for a system which traces its beginnings back to the 14th century and has so much to offer.

Independence was August 1947 and Jan was offered a job as a physiotherapist with the Indonesian Army Health Department (Jawatan Kesehaten Tentara) and worked a couple of days per week in the military hospitals.

It was on this occasion that Jan took up the study of the indigenous Indonesian martial art of pencak silat, having only done very little of it in his younger days. He was taught by Mr. Soehardi.  It was very difficult for a European to be accepted into the brotherhood in those days. It is more than just a martial arts school and gaining admission was a very difficult thing at that time. That secrecy was maintained even when he came here in that pencak was only taught discreetly, only having been opened up in the last 15 to 20 years.  At the same time the Indonesian Government has sought to promote the art and opened it up with International tournaments. A team is leaving to compete in Jakarta next month as most of you will be aware.

During this time Jan was awarded the status of mahaguru which is the highest of the technical gradings that can be awarded.  It was troubled times in Indonesia and Jan moved to Australia.

Australia - early days

He gave his first lessons on the grounds of Parliament House. He first stayed at the Mia Mia hostel which used to be where BP House in Mount Street now stands. At this time the Barracks Arch was still there with the Public Works building.

During these days Jan worked as a labourer, electrical labourer, a packer at Gordon and Gotch and then with another man in fixing up houses.  At one stage he worked at Atkins Carlyle and it was there that he met Margaret.

The first dojo was in Charles Street North Perth and then for a short time in Victoria Park near Mint Street, before moving to his home in Edgehill Street Scarborough.

In 1956 it was at the Swan River Rowing club near the Barracks Street jetty.  After 3 years there it moved to Hay Street Perth and then in 1963 moved to its present location of 996 Hay Street.  At the time of the move to Hay Street there were approximately 300 students.

By the late 1960's Jan was doing the unheard of - teaching martial arts full time.  Many people sought to discourage him saying that it could not be done full time.


In 1969 Jan went to train in Japan for 6 months. He trained under Sensei Mochizuki at Shizuoka near Mt Fuji for approximately 3 months in aikido, Shotokan karate and sword work.  At that school it was required that at least 3 arts were trained and training was full time whilst living at the dojo.  He was graded to 1st dan in each.

During this stay he also visited the Takeuchi Ryu and Sosuishi Ryu schools.

Australia - modern history

Jan is the former chief instructor and advisor to the SAS of the Australian Army and currently working on a manual for military personnel with Greg Mawkes.  He started working with Greg in 1978.

In 1978 after some experience with teaching the SAS and seeing the results that he got, he introduced the mon grading system. It was designed to better teach the principles of the art at an earlier stage and resulted in better trained students.

Jan has been the Australasian representative of the World Jujutsu Federation since 1979 and in 1980 promoted to 4th dan. In 1982 he was promoted to 6th dan when a team of students toured Europe.  This was the first trip of many where Jan would take a team of students travelling Europe and Asia.

He was appointed National Coach of the Australian Jujutsu Association in 1985 and also President in 1986, retaining those positions to this day.  Since being appointed to the position of National Coach he has travelled at least once a year to the capital cities around Australia conducting seminars.

Jan was made Vice President of the world body in 1989 - and awarded an 8th dan in 1989.

Jan was awarded The Order of Australia Medal in 1990 for his contribution to Martial Arts.

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For the last 11 years I have travelled with Jan to a lot of places and assisted him teaching - no matter what part of the world he is in he is happiest on the mats doing what he does best - teaching jujutsu.

Jan I hope that you have a very enjoyable evening and for the rest of the celebratory weekend. I would just like to thank you for being a great teacher and an even better friend.