“Sticking with your opponent … is vital. To counter any resistance or escape attempt, you must keep in constant contact with your opponent during the flow of one technique to another. This requires sensitivity. To learn sensitivity, you must learn not to ‘muscle’ the application of the hold. You must relax to feel the slightest movement by the opponent, sensing its direction and quality. This is the most difficult art to develop, but with sufficient practice it can be mastered. After it is mastered you will be able to sense your opponent’s intentions instinctively, enabling you to decide what countertechnique to apply to maintain control.”
Wally Jay, Small Circle Jujitsu
Professor Wally Jay, who sadly died last year at the age of 93, was a martial arts master who left a lasting legacy due to his experimentation with melding judo and jujitsu techniques into his Small Circle Jujitsu method.
Jay studied Danzan Ryu jujutsu under Juan Gomez and learned judo from Hawaiian Champion, Ken Kawachi. Over many years, he developed his theory of Small Circle Jujitsu and then taught it worldwide. He has influenced many people, including Bruce Lee, who studied with him during his Oakland period.
I studied briefly with Wally Jay student Professor Lee Eichelberger (8th Degree Black Belt) in Alameda just before I discovered Greg LeBlanc was teaching Wing Chun nearby. I probably learned just enough to get myself into trouble but the training really made me respect the mind behind the system.
My Kung Fu brother Dave Rodriguez studied under Professor Jay for years and has shown me some of his stuff and I have to say, it is an art I would like to study in more depth down the road, after I finish my primary Wing Chun training.
Again and again as I study martial arts, I find the same ideas at the root of each art. In Wally Jay’s book Small Circle Jujitsu, he has a section titled “Ten Principles of Small Circle Jujitsu,” and the principles are all similar or identical to the basic principles of Wing Chun, despite one being a grappling art and the other being a striking art.
His ten principles are: Balance, Mobility and Stability, Avoid the head-on collision of forces, Mental resistance and distraction, Focus to the smallest point possible, Energy transfer, Create a base, Sticking, control and sensitivity, Rotational momentum, and Transitional Flow.
Compare these to the principles of Penjat Silat discussed in my earlier article on that art. Wing Chun principles teach almost word for word what Professor Jay tells us about Balance, mobility and stability, and the avoidance of “collision of forces,” which Gary Lam calls “Mercedes vs Honda” and cures with the creation of angle. And Wing Chun is predicated on learning sensitive sticking and the use of transitional flow between techniques.
Again and again I recall my teacher’s point that at the highest levels, all arts resemble one another. And these higher level perspectives bring into sharp relief the foolishness of the endless forum arguments about which arts are “best” and what arts are a waste of time. If you are worried about whether your art or teacher is any good, see if they can explain why their art works and what its principle ideas are.