So have we finished? Is the syllabus fully developed? Will things change again? If there is one thing I have learned from researching this history, it is that change is both inevitable and necessary.
From the beginning we see Jigoro Kano developing Judo from the best bits of different Ju Jitsu styles, and other martial arts. We see the influences upon Yukio Tani of wrestling and Bartitsu. Jack Britten was a boxer before teaming up with Tani, and we see that when Clark, Blundell and Morris (and others such as John Steadman) got together there was a massive reorganisation of the martial art as we know it. These men took the best of what they knew and had learned and incorporated it.
It was essential to the survival of the martial art, and it has led us to the style we practise now, which can probably only be defined as ‘British’ Ju Jitsu. There have of course been further innovations through the development of the Bushido Academy and these continue. For example, Sensei Geoghegan developed most of the katas we practise and the combinations on the Dan grade syllabus amongst many other aspects.
Katas are fundamental to our training (see my previous blog post ‘Practise makes almost perfect’ (1)), and I, and many of us owe many of our medals to those katas! Former MMA fighter and Bushido 5th Dan Andy Walker from Poole Bushido reintroduced high-level ground fighting techniques, which has been further developed by courses run by Sensei Phil Rhodes and ground fighting champion and Bushido 2nd Dan Gavin Davies. Currently, Senseis Walker, Rhodes, and Davis are developing a ground fighting syllabus so the whole of Bushido can benefit from their expertise. I really like this, not only is ground fighting important for our success in competitions, it also brings us back to where we started and the newaza of Yukio Tani (2). Senseis Idle and Asbery from Barnoldswick are Dan grades in Iaido, a traditional Japanese martial art focusing on sword work, and so they bring further development to this aspect of our advanced syllabus. There have of course been many other excellent developments.
Our organisation, as well as our style, is also developing. There are a number of vibrant clubs within the academy, including Knutsford Bushido where I am the Chief Instructor, and which myself and Phil Malkin established in November 2016. In 2017 Sensei Geoghegan established Bushido HQ in Ellesmere Port; a customised dojo to centralise and organise Bushido matters, and installed Sensei Phil Rhodes as chief instructor. On the Bushido Academy website, there are 12 clubs listed ranging as far south as Sensei Andy Walker in Poole. Sensei Tony Joaquin in Gibraltar is also Bushido (3). No doubt there will be more clubs developed in the future as some of the current crop of Kyu and Dan grades establish their own dojos. So, for me, it feels like we are at the beginning of a journey rather than the end. It’s hard to say where the journey will take us, but if it is anything like the preceding 120 years or so it will be very eventful indeed!
For students interested in tracing their Ju Jitsu lineage. I was a student of Andy Smith (2nd Dan, chief instructor at Wilmslow and a student of Senesi Pape), and I recently (29th July 2018) graded 3rd Dan with Senseis Pape, Asbery, and Pryce, with Sensei Idle as the matman. My 2nd and 1st Dan grading panels included Senseis Pape, Geoghegan, Idle, and Asbery. They can now trace their grading and training heritage/lineage right back to the origins of Ju Jitsu in the UK, and before in a new poster.
Click on the image below to download the A3 poster. It’s completely FREE!
On a personal note, I have enjoyed researching the history. The people documented throughout these articles are true pioneers of Ju Jitsu and I have marvelled at their determination, innovation, and abilities. Understanding where we have come from gives a sense of history and belonging to something important, and I think we need to value and appreciate the gifts that have been handed down and preserve them so future generations can continue to benefit.
If you missed any of ‘The History of Bushido and British Ju Jitsu, catch up below…