Saturday, July 31, 2010

Small Circle Theory and Keeping a Open Mind.

I was reading an interesting post over at Bujutsu: The Path.  Read it here.

The post discusses, amongst other things, Wally Jay and the art of Small Circle Jiu Jitsu.  The style of Jiu Jitsu that I study is heavily influenced by the small circle theory.  My Sensei is always telling me to make the circle smaller, to be more efficient in my technique, not to 'muscle it' etc.

The point that jumped out at my from J.C.'s discussion is that no matter what art we study, there are concepts and ideas that can easily cross over from art to art.  Each system out there has differences and similarities.  We are drawn to those arts that focus on certain areas or theories that make sense to us.

Over generalizations might be that Bralizian Jiu Jitsu is only a ground fighting system, Tae Kwon Do is all kicks and Judo is just throws.  Even if you agree with this, it is silly to say that these arts don't contain other aspects of combat.

The point to take from all this is that we must always keep an open mind to other arts and artists.  Wally Jay's small circle theory has ten points, but he never felt they belonged only to Jui Jitsu.  I suspect this is why it is a theory of combat that he meant to share, not to say it only belonged to one style, teacher or artist.

The following quote is copied right from J.C's post:

“One of the key elements is about not having to use massive amounts of power to control people – we control them with as little effort and, therefore damage to them, as possible.
“Students take on board the 10 principles that Dad drew up and apply them to their own systems. There’s balance, avoiding head on collision of forces, mobility and stability, mental resistance to an attack, concentrating the maximum force to the smallest point, energy transfer, the two-way action of the fulcrum and lever and making a base, sticking to your opponent and feeling what he’s doing, rotational movement, and transitional flow – where you can flow from one technique into another effortlessly.” (from an interview at

What art couldn't benefit from some of these concepts?  None that I know.

The salient point?  No one owns any technique or series of techniques.  If we strive to keep and open mind and learn from everyone, we become more well rounded martial artists.  I may never wish to take a particular martial art, but I sure can learn from it and the people who study it. 

If we can maintain a spirit of openness, both in mind and heart, we will all benefit.


  1. I totally agree with this. My study of jujitsu and kobudo enhances my practice of karate every week. In karate the attention to bio mechanics of striking and kicking is very detailed but to throwing much less. However, by also learning some jujitsu i'm not just learning how to throw better but I'm actually learning how to move my feet better and to move more smoothly from one technique to another - this is improving my karate no end. You just need to think about how the concepts learnt in one art can be applied to another.

  2. It's interesting how somewhat contradictory concepts (stylistic ones anyway) can still improve our own practice and the learning of our chosen art. The lessons aren't always readily apparent but in time and with an open mind we learn from each new experience.

    Just as a differing opinion generates discussion, differing concepts in the martial art force us to examine our own skills and abilities.

    Sue, your example of learning how to move your feet and flow between techniques as a result of learning some Jiu Jitsu and Kobudo illustrates the point I was trying to make perfectly. Thanks for the comment.