Get the best products for Small Circle JuJitsu and Small Circle Judo at absolute top prices now!!!

LEON JAY IS
OUT THERE
IN THE WORLD,
SPREADING SMALL
CIRCLE JUJITSU
AND SMALL
CIRCLE JUDO

FEW MARTIAL ARTISTS HAVE NOT HEARD OF WALLY JAY AND SMALL CIRCLE JUJITSU. JAY, A MEMBER OF THE BLACK BELT HALL OF FAME, WROTE EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THE ART HE FOUNDED. WHAT MANY PEOPLE DIDN'T KNOW IS THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYSTEM THAT HAS THEN SUCCESSED UNDER LEON JAY.


by John Mellon 

Photo: Cory Sorensen
 

As you might have guessed, Leon is Wally Jay's son and successor. He retains the superior mechanics for which his father was famous, and in some ways refines the martial art further. I'm sure his father would have agreed with him on all levels.

I met Wally in the mid-1980s and Leon a few years later, and over the years our conversations often revolved around the futility of change simply for the sake of change. Each martial artist made it clear that the development of techniques is an evolutionary process. If there is no gain in function associated with a change, it does not count as real development.

The difficulty for students in the 21st century is to balance the classical martial arts with the practicalities of modern life, including changes in lifestyle, population density in cities and differences in the types of weapons and attacks one might face. Few instructors can teach us to walk this tightrope between tradition and innovation. Leon Jay, however, does just that.

Even better, he is honest enough to acknowledge that he is on a long and never-ending learning curve.

To judge his qualifications, one needs to know his background. Leon was born in Alameda, California, in 1955. His father was Chinese-Hawaiian, as was his mother Bernice, who also has English ancestry. Despite his famous father, it was never a given that Leon would inherit and learn ju-jutsu at a small and manageable cost. The son had to earn his rank and inheritance the hard way.

In addition to his training in Small Circle Judo and Small Circle Jujitsu, which began at the age of two courtesy of his father, Leon pursued other arts. He earned a first degree black belt in Kodokan Judo and Taekwondo and a third degree in Kodenkan Ju-Jutsu, the system of Henry Okazaki, his father's original sensei.

Leon was appointed headmaster of Small Circle Jujitsu. This was a few years after his father passed away in 2011, and as a teacher he is even more detail-oriented about the strategy and tactics of the system and how it will evolve. "People have a lot of preconceptions about Small Circle Jujitsu - they think it's all about finger locks and using palms and nothing else," Leon says.

"The truth is that it is a complete ju-jutsu system with everything that goes with it, but as with any other style, we have our own characteristic fighting style and approach to fighting. My father only pulled one punch or kick out of the air, but that was because he could, and he could because he had trained in ju-jutsu and judo before and alongside boxing. I will strive to do this without the same breadth in training, so we make sure that is there for the student. If there is such a thing as a typical small circle stylist, I would say we would prefer to act as a counterfighter. We train for this by teaching students a referencing system that gives them a variety of ways to hit a body part. More importantly, they can intelligently choose the most likely technique to suit the situation.

Once we have contact we focus on not only being efficient in our mechanics but also being able to adapt to the resistance. No matter how tight or painful a locking technique is, the opponent will get used to the discomfort and then the resistance will come. We get around this by holding each lock for only a few seconds before switching to another. This is why transitional flow was such an important concept for my father. Putting an opponent through several locks in a row - with no escape - is psychologically demoralising.Once we make contact we focus on not only being efficient in our mechanics, but also being able to adapt to the resistance. No matter how tight or painful a locking technique is, the opponent will get used to the discomfort, and then comes the resistance. We get around this by holding each lock for only a few seconds before switching to another. This is why transitional flow was such an important concept for my father. Putting an opponent through several locks in a row - with no escape - is psychologically demoralising.

We usually finish with a throw - the ground is another weapon after all - then we either walk away or get stuck. By throwing, we can also use the opponent as a weapon if more than one attacker is involved."

Leon had already begun to study the pressure point fighting of Okinawan Karate and Filipino Arnis - this too with his father's friends, George Dillman and Remy Presas, who as a group gave regular seminars together with Wally as "The Big Three". Presas was a particular favourite of Leon's and he became a significant mentor to him. Wally was already using a series of pressure points found through trial and error to improve the mechanics of the Small Circle system, and Dillman was able to name and explain the theory behind the refinements discovered by Wally. Presas loved to incorporate Small Circle into his


No matter how firm or
how painful a
blocking technique is, the
Opponent will adhere to
the inconvenience
get used to, and then
kcomes the resistance.


Mixing superlative stick work, he and Wally shared an obsession with the flow of technique. When Leon was away with his father at his seminar, he made friends with many other teachers who were associated with Wally's partners. When he wasn't on the mat helping his father, Leon was behind the scenes experimenting with these martial artists. Many of them became future associates, and just like his father, Leon is quick to give credit where it is due. "I agree with my father: without the quality of many of my teachers, mentors, training partners and students, I would not be where I am now in my journey," Leon says.

"In 1990, Ed Lake, whom I had met on the 'Big Three' seminar trip, invited me to teach in seminars with him independently of my father," he continues. "That was a crucial turning point for me as a teacher. We spent a month travelling around the US in Ed's car, teaching.

In between we talked endlessly about how we could combine what we were learning about pressure points with the already refined mechanics we had in Small Circle. Ed passed away and I still feel the loss today. He was a great friend, collaborator and inspiration."

Small circle has always been a bit of an art in terms of the number of practices, but that's because our technical standards are high and we like to make a big contribution to a teacher's development," Leon says. "And that's not going to change any time soon. We are in the process of redeveloping Small Circle concepts. This is a programme that will allow other fighters to acquire some of the core mechanics and skills of the art without having to re-study the entire system.

In the meantime, we are cautiously expanding in the US. We have some wonderful teachers who are connected to the system and play an active role in promoting small circle." Leon says he is also trying to bring Small Circle Judo back to the forefront. "Personally, due to old injuries from a car accident, I can't really perform the art to present it properly. But two of the really great judoka my father trained, David Quinonez and Brad Burgo, are still doing it and continually refining it. They've started teaching at all of our camps, which is wonderful because Small Circle Jujitsu wouldn't exist without Small Circle Judo. It was my father's testing ground for the art; it was here that he developed and tested many of his principles and technical developments. I don't think we can move forward decisively without restoring this part of the art to its rightful place at the core of the system, alongside finger locks and the like. It is our roots and we should always know where they come from."

John Mellon is co-founder and joint headmaster of Small Circle Concepts. He also holds teaching ranks in many martial arts and is the founder of the Munen Muso Ryu and Pindochin systems.

LEON JAY IS OUT THERE IN THE WORLD SPREADING SMALL CIRCLE JUJITSU AND SMALL CIRCLE JUDO

 

Photo: Cory Sorensen

FEW MARTIAL ARTISTS HAVE NOT HEARD OF WALLY JAY AND SMALL CIRCLE JUJITSU. JAY, A MEMBER OF THE BLACK BELT HALL OF FAME, WROTE EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THE ART HE FOUNDED. WHAT MANY PEOPLE DIDN'T KNOW IS THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYSTEM THAT HAS THEN SUCCESSED UNDER LEON JAY.

 by John Mellon

As you might have guessed, Leon is Wally Jay's son and successor. He retains the superior mechanics for which his father was famous, and in some ways refines the martial art further. I'm sure his father would have agreed with him on all levels.

I met Wally in the mid-1980s and Leon a few years later, and over the years our conversations often revolved around the futility of change simply for the sake of change. Each martial artist made it clear that the development of techniques is an evolutionary process. If there is no gain in function associated with a change, it does not count as real development. 

The difficulty for students in the 21st century is to balance the classical martial arts with the practicalities of modern life, including changes in lifestyle, population density in cities and differences in the types of weapons and attacks one might face. Few instructors can teach us to walk this tightrope between tradition and innovation. Leon Jay, however, does just that.

Even better, he is honest enough to acknowledge that he is on a long and never-ending learning curve.

To judge his qualifications, one needs to know his background. Leon was born in Alameda, California, in 1955. His father was Chinese-Hawaiian, as was his mother Bernice, who also has English ancestry. Despite his famous father, it was never a given that Leon would inherit and learn ju-jutsu at a small and manageable cost. The son had to earn his rank and inheritance the hard way.

In addition to his training in Small Circle Judo and Small Circle Jujitsu, which began at the age of two courtesy of his father, Leon pursued other arts. He earned a first degree black belt in Kodokan Judo and Taekwondo and a third degree in Kodenkan Ju-Jutsu, the system of Henry Okazaki, his father's original sensei.

Leon was appointed headmaster of Small Circle Jujitsu. This was a few years after his father passed away in 2011, and as a teacher he is even more detail-oriented about the strategy and tactics of the system and how it will evolve. "People have a lot of preconceptions about Small Circle Jujitsu - they think it's all about finger locks and using palms and nothing else," Leon says.

"The truth is that it is a complete ju-jutsu system with everything that goes with it, but as with any other style, we have our own characteristic fighting style and approach to fighting. My father only pulled one punch or kick out of the air, but that was because he could, and he could because he had trained in ju-jutsu and judo before and alongside boxing. I will strive to do this without the same breadth in training, so we make sure that is there for the student. If there is such a thing as a typical small circle stylist, I would say we would prefer to act as a counterfighter. We train for this by teaching students a referencing system that gives them a variety of ways to hit a body part. More importantly, they can intelligently choose the most likely technique to suit the situation.

Once we have contact we focus on not only being efficient in our mechanics but also being able to adapt to the resistance. No matter how tight or painful a locking technique is, the opponent will get used to the discomfort and then the resistance will come. We get around this by holding each lock for only a few seconds before switching to another. This is why transitional flow was such an important concept for my father. Putting an opponent through several locks in a row - with no escape - is psychologically demoralising.

We usually finish with a throw - the ground is another weapon after all - then we either walk away or get stuck. By throwing, we can also use the opponent as a weapon if more than one attacker is involved." 

Leon had already begun to study the pressure point fighting of Okinawan Karate and Filipino Arnis - this too with his father's friends, George Dillman and Remy Presas, who as a group gave regular seminars together with Wally as "The Big Three". Presas was a particular favourite of Leon's and he became a significant mentor to him. Wally was already using a series of pressure points found through trial and error to improve the mechanics of the Small Circle system, and Dillman was able to name and explain the theory behind the refinements discovered by Wally. Presas loved to mix Small Circle into his superlative stick work, and he and Wally shared an obsession with the flow of the technique. When Leon was away at his seminar with his father, he made friends with many other teachers who were associated with Wally's partners. When he wasn't on the mat helping his father, Leon was behind the scenes experimenting with these martial artists. Many of them became future associates, and just like his father, Leon is quick to give credit where it is due. "I agree with my father: without the quality of many of my teachers, mentors, training partners and students, I would not be where I am now in my journey," Leon says.

"In 1990, Ed Lake, whom I had met on the 'Big Three' seminar trip, invited me to teach in seminars with him independently of my father," he continues. "That was a crucial turning point for me as a teacher. We spent a month travelling around the US in Ed's car, teaching.

In between we talked endlessly about how we could combine what we were learning about pressure points with the already refined mechanics we had in Small Circle. Ed passed away and I still feel the loss today. He was a great friend, collaborator and inspiration." 

Small circle has always been a bit of an art in terms of the number of practices, but that's because our technical standards are high and we like to make a big contribution to a teacher's development," Leon says. "And that's not going to change any time soon. We are in the process of redeveloping Small Circle concepts. This is a programme that will allow other fighters to acquire some of the core mechanics and skills of the art without having to re-study the entire system.

In the meantime, we are cautiously expanding in the US. We have some wonderful teachers who are connected to the system and play an active role in promoting small circle." Leon says he is also trying to bring Small Circle Judo back to the forefront. "Personally, due to old injuries from a car accident, I can't really perform the art to present it properly. But two of the really great judoka my father trained, David Quinonez and Brad Burgo, are still doing it and continually refining it. They've started teaching at all of our camps, which is wonderful because Small Circle Jujitsu wouldn't exist without Small Circle Judo. It was my father's testing ground for the art; it was here that he developed and tested many of his principles and technical developments. I don't think we can move forward decisively without restoring this part of the art to its rightful place at the core of the system, alongside finger locks and the like. It is our roots and we should always know where they come from." 

John Mellon is co-founder and joint headmaster of Small Circle Concepts. He also holds teaching ranks in many martial arts and is the founder of the Munen Muso Ryu and Pindochin systems.

Century Martial Arts Europe GmbH
2023-07-20 09:22:00

Germany's karate team shines at the EKF Cadet, Junior and U21 Championships 2024 in Georgia. With nine medals, including a silver medal for Ili Hellen (U16 -54kg), the team put in an impressive...


15.02.2024
Century Martial Arts Europe GmbH

Katharina Dalisda once again made history in the "MMA-OKTAGON" by successfully defending her strawweight title against Eva Dourthe. The training at "MMA Spirit" in Frankfurt played a key role in...


14.02.2024
Century Martial Arts Europe GmbH

Unleash the legend of Bruce Lee in the Year of the Dragon! This global star has not only conquered Hollywood, but also the hearts of martial arts fans worldwide. Find out more about his legendary...


07.02.2024
Century Martial Arts Europe GmbH

Athens, Paris and Watford were the cities of our athletes' martial arts events from January 26-28. The traditional Athens Challenge took place in the Greek capital. The Wako competition is an...


31.01.2024
Century Martial Arts Europe GmbH
Login for registered customers
Forgot password
New to our online shop? Register now!