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Wally Jay’s 10 Principles for Execution of Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques (Part 1 of 3)

Wally Jay’s 10 Principles for Execution of Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques (Part 1 of 3)

Born in Honolulu in 1917, the late small-circle jujitsu founder Wally Jay held a 10th dan in jujitsu and a sixth dan in judo. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1969 and 1990 for his outstanding contributions to jujitsu and the martial arts overall. In this first of three excerpts from his book, Small-Circle Jujitsu, Wally Jay delves into the four of the 10 principles he discovered and developed as the foundation of his small-circle jujitsu system.


The following principles form the basis of small-circle jujitsu techniques. They follow the laws of sports science, and through many years of research, have enhanced the science of jujitsu.

Wally Jay’s Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques — Principle #1: Balance

Balance is perhaps the most important principle in any sport.

The basic strategy of judo, for instance, is to keep your opponent off-balance while maintaining your own. By keeping your own balance, you will have use of your maximum power in your jujitsu techniques while your opponent uses part of his energy trying to regain his balance. The more off-balance he is, the more strength he will need to recover.

Wally Jay’s Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques — Principle #2: Mobility and Stability

Your center of gravity plays an important part in the principle of mobility and stability. Lower your center of gravity and you will achieve stability; raise your center of gravity and you will gain mobility. The hub of your action during jujitsu techniques is at your midsection. When your center of gravity rises, you lessen your stability and increase your mobility, and vice versa.


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Your mind also can control your center of gravity. Try these exercises, for example. Lift your partner up slowly holding him around the waist. If your partner thinks of riding an elevator going upward with high speed, his body will be easier to lift. Lift your partner again. If he concentrates he is riding an elevator going downward, his body will be more difficult to lift.

For mobility, move on the balls of your feet, and when pivoting, your knees should be either above or beyond your toes and not directly over your heels. For stability, lower your body slightly. Stability is essential in punching or throwing.

Wally Jay’s Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques — Principle #3: Avoid the Head-On Collision of Forces

To avoid the full power of your opponent’s attack, avoid the head-on collision of force by evading, deflecting, blending or redirecting. Unlike other systems of martial arts training in which you pivot in toward the opponent, this principle is just the opposite.

As in all small-circle jujitsu techniques, always pivot away from the opponent when blending, redirecting or evading. Try to evade the opponent’s striking force by stepping back. Move 45 to 90 degrees to the left or right, or move laterally left or right.

Wally Jay’s Small-Circle Jujitsu Techniques — Principle #4: Mental Resistance and Distraction

Everyone has the ability to mentally resist pain. Try this with the bent elbow wrist lock applied on you by a partner. As the hold is applied, concentrate on the spot where the pain is felt. Imagine that there is a flywheel spinning at high speed at the spot, going in the opposite direction, which is counterclockwise.

Do not use physical resistance, but remain calm and relaxed as you give your total concentration. If you are able to go into deep concentration, you will be surprised to find that you will feel no pain.

If, however, someone were to slap you on your wrist, causing you to lose your concentration, you will feel immediate pain. This also points up the vital part that the element of distraction plays in self-defense.

Distraction of the opponent’s concentration is important when executing a counterattack. During the application of a technique when resistance is met, distract your opponent by attacking the weak areas of the body. This leaves him with less power and a split-second loss of concentration.

An unexpected shout or grunt during your jujitsu techniques also may allow you sufficient time to escape or counter. A sternum strike while simultaneously executing a wrist-lock hold, for instance, or a kick to the shin while escaping a lapel grab, or a pinch to the inner thigh of someone using a bear hug on you may enable you to gain control of the fight more readily.


Editor’s Note: This piece was adapted for online presentation from a previous version published in Wally Jay’s acclaimed book Small-Circle Jujitsu. The five-volume Small-Circle Jujitsu DVD series based on the book is available in our online store.

Professor Wally Jay passed away May 29, 2011, at the age of 93. To read tributes and learn more about this martial arts luminary, visit smallcirclejujitsu.com.

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