History of the AJJA - Shihan mike jeans
I contacted Shihan Mike in 2020 to give me some background behind the AJJA, as we all know this was the start of many phone calls, exchanging of emails and a long lasting friendship. Enjoy!
Shihan Mikes Story:
Sitting in my office after updating Castles of the Samurai and Scenic Japan a number of times after going through thousands of photos and considering the problem Australia has in regard to Covid 19 and not being able to train in jujitsu my thoughts have wandered into how I became interested in this martial art. It takes me back to my Primary School days in Kempsey NSW and reading a particular comic The Shadow. He was a character along with his aide who were secret agents getting in and out of trouble. His aide who I can’t recall his name was always getting into fights and would recall how he used his skills in jujitsu. He would describe throwing a person in tomoenage and this was spelt out and the comic would portray how it was executed. In other scenarios he would tell the Shadow that he threw a person in seoinage and would describe how this was carried out. Other techniques I can recall were Hadaka jime and juji gatame.
Living in Kempsey there were 3 primary schools, East Kempsey, West Kempsey and the Catholic primary school. I went to the East Kempsey school and in those days there were always fights. So with my comic knowledge of these techniques I was always trying them out. Most kids would try to box but I went into these wrestling skills and after a while it became second nature. I went to boarding school in Tamworth in 1954 and that was a very tough time. We had 45 in our class and in 4 dormitories. There were fights on a regular basis and when was kid was not a good fighter I found myself stepping in to assist. I left high School in 1956 and went to Lismore as my parents had moved there from Kempsey in 1954. In Lismore there was a small gym that was owned by the council but only a few people went there.
This gym only opened at night 3 days a week so I went to investigate, there was a boxing ring not many weights and that was all. However the first night I was there a couple of guys were throwing each other around and wrestling and I thought this is very interesting. I was welcomed in and the Instructors had been in Japan with the British Occupation Force in Japan and they were teaching Fusen Ryu jujitsu along with various throws. So I began going along 3 times per week. There were only 4 others training and they were doing a lot of wrestling and using these skills.
As it turned out when the local agricultural shows came to town and surrounding towns they would go and take on the wrestler in the boxing tent and get paid if they won. So after 2 years I started going to the shows and getting paid 5 pounds ($10) for a win which was very good as I was working as an apprentice at Norco and only getting 4 pounds 14 shillings and sixpence a week ($9.45). That was for a forty hour week.Won some wrestling tournaments using the techniques of Fusen Ryu jujitsu. In 1959 - 1960 I went to Hawkesbury Agricultural College at Richmond, NSW which is now called the University of Western Sydney. While at Hawkesbury in 1959 I met a student Ian Pankhurst who had been learning Jujitsu from his uncle who was an unarmed combat instructor with the army. So would do some training with him and would go to his parents place in Sydney on some weekends.
On one weekend I found out that a Japanese ship was docked in Circular Quay and went there early to wait for the sailors to come on shore and calling out as they approached JuJitsu and if they responded would try and talk to them. However they didn’t all speak English. However on another occasion a person was calling out Judo and we got together talking and he was there for the same reason but just wanted to do Judo. This person was Brian Knyvett and we got 6 sailors and went to the YMCA as they had a dojo there. On other occasions practiced in Hyde Park. Brian went onto marry Marguerite Wilson who was secretary of the NSW Judo Association. Marguerite was the Australian womens judo champion. She was later beaten by Yvonne Morrow. At the YMCA I met Ray Vercoe, John Peters who would later be elected President of the NSW Judo Association, Jim Selby and Gary Grennan who went on to establish Jala agencies that sold tatami , judogis and martial art gear. Jim Selby would later go on to marry Yvonne Morrow and travel by ship to Japan to train at the Kodokan.
While at Hawkesbury College we played Rugby Union which meant we played at different venues around Sydney. On one occasion I decided to stay in Sydney overnight and walk up to Kings Cross. Walking through Hyde Park to Kings Cross I was confronted by 6 guys who wanted my money, not that I had very much, but the leader produced a cut throat razor which he waved at my face. Instincts came to play and the razor was in my hand and I was now behind him with the razor at his cheek and then the blood started flowing and I shoved him away and slashed at the ankles of two others who then appeared to be in a state of distress and with my kiais’ the others made a very hasty retreat. I still have that confiscated razor. I completed college in 1960 and went back to Lismore to finish off the final year of my apprenticeship.
During 1961 I won the NSW Wrestling still using the Fusen Ryu techniques and still training with the same guys who I had met in 1956.In February 1962 I left Lismore and went to Sydney as my parents were living in Dundas . Within a few days of my arrival I read in the local paper that JuJitsu was available at Parramatta Evening College so I paid a visit. The Instructor was Les Blanchett and he had gained his Black Belt while in the RAAF at Butterworth in Malaya.The instructor was Professor Kam Hok Hoe. I trained with Sensei Les Blanchett for 6 months and he graded me to Brown Belt. So after 6 years I had a Brown belt. I took up a position at Mudgee Dairy Company as a buttermaker and while I was there started instructing in self defence at the Mudgee PCYC.
The following year I took up a position of Cheesemaker in Deniliquin NSW. I was only there for a short time when I Joined the NSW Department of Agricuture and stationed at Wagga Agricultural College. While there I started teaching the students jujitsu. During this time the Agricultural show came to Wagga and guess what, there was a boxing tent and they also had a wrestler so I took him on and won and got myself 5 pounds. I also went to Sydney for the Royal Easter Show and naturally took along my wrestling boots. The guy calling out who would take on the boxers and wrestlers. When they called out who will take on this wrestler who was about 115 kilos I shouted I will. He did nothing except saying here is a guy who happened to be a few metres away from me who will take on the wrestler he had not uttered a word so he climbed the ladder and everyone cheered. I went in to see the match and I realised it was a con. After we got out of the tent I waited around till the drums started beating and they were calling out for contestants. When they called for a contestant to wrestle their wrestler I immediately climbed the ladder and said I would so they couldn’t back down. Once inside they asked me if I had done much wrestling and I said a bit. They then said look if you do this he will do that and to make it look good. I agreed, but when the bell rang for the first round I used my jujitsu techniques and made him look stupid. I got my money and they said they didn’t want to me there again.
In 1964 I was transferred to Coffs Harbour and one of the people in the office was a member of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) so went along to meetings. At one meeting in 1965 it was announced that if we could raise 600 pounds ($1200) for legacy a home unit could be built and the Government would provide the rest of the money. So I said I would run a self defence course for 6 months at a cost of 10 pounds ($20.00). We got 60 people involved had a hall with mats for our use and it went very well. At the completion of the course I was asked if they could continue on so I said yes We had about 50 seniors and 40 juniors in 2 classes 3 times per week. During this time the local TV station was televising Shintaro the samurai. I happened to be looking through a Womens Weekly magazine and there was an article by Pat Harrington Secretary of the Australian Society of JIujutsuans and it had her address.
I wrote to her to find out more about her organisation however the reply was from Ray Hutchinson secretary of the ASJJ . In his reply he said he was the new secretary and sent me a curriculum, etc. At this time I didn’t know that Pat Harrington had resigned as she had the Charter for Sosouishi Ryu Jujitsu and some members were wanting her to give them Sosouishi Ryu grades which she refused. In 1966 I wrote to the ASJJ indicating I wanted to be considered to do the Black Belt grading and for my members to receive kyu gradings. A panel of 3 came to Coffs Harbour by train and included Sid Neal (aka Len Noyes the name he wrestled under as he did not want his wife to know) , Mike Heneghan and Ray Hutchinson. They commented at the time that I had more members in my club than the entire ASJJ. The gradings took the whole weekend, I was graded to Shodan and my members from yellow to Brown belts. I had visits from Jim Selby, Yvonne Morrow, Garry Grennan, John Buckley Australian Open Judo Champion all judo instructors.
Shintaro the Samurai came to Sydney and had a show at the Hordern Pavilion and I went to watch the show. I met Wally Brown and Eric Waters, while there. Eric Waters who passed away recently has a son Glenn who lives in Hirosaki in northern Japan. Glenn instructs in jujutsu at the Hirosaki community dojo. Glenn won the All Japan sword cutting championships in 2008. Glenn is also a member of the Australian Jujitsu Association. Also during 1966 I had a visit by Sensei Seichi Sugano who had been a live in student of Shihan Morihei Ueshiba and I was the first person he had chosen to visit in Australia. I left Coffs Harbour in 1970 and ended up in Sydney where I contacted Seichi Sugano 5th dan Black Belt in Aikido who had a dojo at North Ryde where I trained in both Aikido and Kendo. Sensei Jim Robinson 5th dan invited me to his home dojo at 14 Australia Street Hurstville to train. Sensei Jim Robinson had joined the British Civil Service and was posted to Shanghai in the 1920s which had hundreds of Japanese living there and he was able to not only to learn judo but also jujitsu from Bill Fairbairn who was a British marine and police officer who was skilled in knife fighting. Shanghai at that time was extremely turbulent.
There were only 6 training with him and all were black belts including Ray Vercoe and some had been with him for 30 years. Jim was 70 but was made out of steel and iron and weighed 95 kgs. A very tough man but was all for good technique. I was graded to Brown Belt in Judo by him. Sadly Jim Robinson died in 1988 aged 83. Being in Sydney and Living in Rockdale I was able to train in jujitsu with Sensei Len Noyes 5th Degree who had been graded in 1936 by Rigoura Fukushima, a jujitsu instructor from Japan. The term degree was used as this was used in the Sosouishi Ryu . The grading system of Sosouishi Ryu is the Menkyo system. We trained a lot in defence against various weapons and multiple attack. A great deal of groundwork was done especially leglocks, armlocks and pressure points. I trained at Oatley RSL hall in jujitsu twice a week. In 1973 while working Kriesler I was asked if I would go to Brisbane as they needed a technician there so off to Brisbane I went.
In 1973 I came to Brisbane and started teaching Jujitsu at the Oxley State School. The first students included four from the Haseman clan including Mark, Ron De Paauw, Manuel Luque, David Freeman. We were at this facility for about a year and then moved to the Inala PCYC.Started instructing at the Inala PCYC twice a week and the members kept rolling in. There were 40 subjunior students, 40 junior students and the seniors were 45 plus.
In 1974 I went to New Zealand to see Laurie Oliver who was President of the New Zealand Jujitsu Association to organise the South Pacific Jujitsu Championships between Australia and New Zealand. The rules and Divisions were agreed to with the first competition to be held in Auckland in 1975.
Prior to going to New Zealand I thought I could get fitter by doing some football training with Easts Rugby League club in Brisbane. So bought the football boots and went off to training. We would do a 3 mile run and I was the first one to finish and then we would do sprints, I didn’t finish in the first 6 and at the end of the night we would do a fast lap round the oval and I was always in the top 3. Then the preseason started and I was the hooker. I played the first 3 games won the ball when the scrums were different. The following week at training Ted Verankamp the President of East Club came up to me and said “ Mike aren’t you a bit old for playing football? I replied that I wanted to get fitter for the Jujitsu competition we were having in New Zealand. He replied thats okay come along but he also said at 35 I was a bit old to be playing in the under 20’s.The competition was a success however Australia did not win the Shield but some of our team won including myself. However in 1976 we were back over to New Zealand and won the Shield.
I was now working for the Department of Primary Industry and in 1977 was transferred to Melbourne and was there for 3 years. While in Melbourne I also worked at night in security at Phantoms Disco at Moonee Ponds and the Anchor and Hope Hotel. Church Street Richmond. At Phantoms there were only 3 worked security with over 600 patrons. On one night the manager came to us saying 3 people were breaking into the kitchen so we investigated and got the 3. While walking them out to the street via a laneway one of the security was involved with the guy he was escorting and by this time I was in the street with the guy I was escorting. So I pulled his jumper over his head and sat him down and immediately was grabbed from behind. I immediately threw him over my head however it was a policeman. From his perspective I was the one who was the attacker and he wanted to arrest me. However the person I was escorting told the police the real story so everything turned out okay. While at the Anchor and Hope hotel there were 13 Hells Angels seated and while we were watching a person was walking past them carrying some beers when one of the Angels tripped him and the beer was spilt over him. The Hells Angel got up and was about to hit him when we stepped in and told them they all had to leave. At the Anchor and Hope hotel we only had 2 working security. All the Hells Angels left. I worked 4 night a week and in those 3 years was involved in about 6 disturbance, it’s how you assess a situation to get the best outcome.
In 1983 I was asked by Martial Arts Promotions to have a photo taken of myself to go into their 1984 calender representing Jujitsu and at the 1984 annual General Meeting there were a couple present thought they should have been the ones to represent jujitsu and these same ones have never been able to never been able to establish a jujitsu club. I attended the annual General meetings of the AJJA for a number of years and then in 1982 I was elected Chairman of the ASJJ. Everything went ok until 1984 when the introduction of the Coaching Accreditation Scheme was being introduced. I had completed Level 2 General Principles of Coaching, and Mark Haseman had completed Level 1. No one in the Society had completed these TAFE courses.
Then at the annual general meeting the Secretary announced that the Society had been granted The Accreditation rights and stated that if any instructor wanted to be accredited they would have to be graded by the Society. I stated that I knew many in Australia who were far better in jujitsu than many within the Society and should be given accreditation. I mentioned Jan de Jong , Wayne Brabham, Brierley Bailey and the reply was that’s too bad. Following this, and after conferring with Sensei Mark Haseman I set about contacting a number of people including Jan de Jong, Brierley Bailey, Wayne Brabham, Bruce Watts to set up the Australian Jujitsu Association and a meeting was held at my place in Eight Mile Plains. A constitution was written but was rewritten later by Shihan Brierley Bailey..
The Australian Society of JiuJitsuans changed their name to Australian Jujitsu Federation and also the Koshinryu. Mark Haseman , Ron DePaau and myself had our names deleted from this organisation. The ASJJ had 2 Black Belt Registers, Book 1 and Book 2 . Those in Book 2 were black belts who had been graded by other organisations or grading authorities. Those in Book 1 had been graded by the ASJJ and were the only ones eligible to vote at meetings, annual general meetings and hold office.
At ASJJ training, a Jujitsu Prayer was always recited before and after training that had been conceived by Sid Neal and this was:-“O Divine powers we thy servants who submit to learn pray the all seeing eye will observe and approve”.“O Divine powers we thy non aggressors are thankful for the factors that bring about our progress”.I was at Mark Haseman’s initial black belt grading he was denied by the grading panel. Marks ability, techniques were excellent and in my opinion they feared that he was showing up their failures. Mark received his Shodan grading at his second time.
The first seminar of the Australian Jujitsu Association was held in Melbourne hosted by Sensei Wayne Brabham.Back in Brisbane I set up a dojo in my house at Brighton with tatami mats but was also instructing at Redclliffe , Sandgate PCYC and Brackenridge Youth Club. During this time Shihan Mark Haseman and myself set up the rules regarding jujitsu contests We had regular mixed Martial Arts competitions. In 1986 the American Jujitsu Association contacted me in regards to our competitions so I sent them a video on how we conducted them together with the rules and they were so impressed they indicated they would use our rules and I was given a plaque to show their appreciation.
In 1980 I got married and while living in Brighton Mark Haseman and I produced two videos Vital Self Defence and Winning Judo and Jujitsu contests by newaza. During the late 1980s I started a video production business which became so time consuming I decided to resign from the DPI . I was videoing weddings, company productions, video duplication, NTSC to Pal conversions as I had the only digital converter in Queensland. Over the following 12 years I was working about 16-18 a day. Weddings were averaging 45-50 a year. In the early 2000s decided not to do any more weddings as I wanted the weekends free to be with my 2 daughters. Also during this period I had no time to do jujitsu.Since returning to Jujitsu and especially the AJJA it has been great. Following the sad passing of Shihan Brierley Bailey, Shihan John Beckman, Shihan Mark Haseman and myself introduced the Brieley Bailey plaque which is given out at the Sydney Annual seminar. The Association has been running for over 35 years and through its members and committee make it a renowned organisation. I am in contact with Shihan John Beckman on a weekly basis as there is always something to discus. It is essential to have the right people in particular positions. Shihan John Beckman President, Shihan Mark Haseman Vice President, Sensei Lynn Farmer Secretary/Treasurer . Since Shihan John Beckman has been President the AJJA has gone from strength to strength due to his direction, contacts with all the black belts and the members. His presence on the mat at the annual seminar is always welcomed by all the groups he is instructing to.