Olivecrona Jiu Jitsu:
Since 1998, NZJJS has been teaching Olivecrona Jiu Jitsu. The techniques taught are essentially Kawaishi jiu jitsu but the method by which they are systemised is very different to traditional Kawaishi or other forms of jiu jitsu.
Within Olivecrona Jiu Jitsu we use a musical analogy to explain our jiu jitsu. The new music pupil initially learns the notes and techniques needed to make music. They then may progress by perfecting written tunes with the aim of making each performance exactly as written. Alternatively, they may take their notes and techniques, and combine them in all manner of ways to produce jazz. Classical music is very structured so that each performance will be much the same while jazz sessions are improvised and never the same.
With Olivecrona Jiu Jitsu, we aim to make jazz musicians. No two fights are ever the same so it does not make sense to us to use a structured system and attempt to make it fit all fight possibilities. Instead, we believe jiu jitsu should be an expression of the self - a jazz improvisation reflecting the situation and our response to it.
Jiu jitsu principles are the means by which fighting is understood in Olivecrona Jiu Jitsu. They are the glue that stick all the individual techniques together to make jiu jitsu.
For example, moving to a side clinch puts us in a safe position and allows us to control uke. Unbalancing uke to their front corner moves their centre of balance beyond their base and puts them at a disadvantage. Uke must step forward (re-establish their base) to regain their balance but if we stop that by blocking their step, we are able to throw uke to the ground. In doing so, we make sure we throw uke ‘off’ us so that we do not have to wear their weight or risk being reversed during the throw.
Some of the principles used here are: gaining and maintaining the initiative; moving 90˚ to a force; clinch positioning; tetrahedral unbalancing; and isolating and overwhelming. This movement could just as easily be applied to create the throws tai otoshi, hiza guruma or ashi guruma, or to improvise a takedown. Alternatively, the same principles can be used in groundfighting to improvise a guard sweep or turnover from all fours. By acting within a framework of principles, fighting is not restricted to single, pre-programmed responses but is free to react to the opponent and situation in whatever manner is appropriate.
Free practice makes up a large part of NZJJS jiu jitsu training. It is the time when techniques, principles and ideas are tried out and tested, and where students develop ‘flow’ in their fighting. It is essential for learning and provides a valuable teaching environment. For example, when a pupil is consistently throwing others using a side stretch from the side clinch the instructor will take the pupil aside and say “Hey, that move is called tai otoshi. Here’s what Kawaishi and other judo / jiu jitsu greats have to say about it, and here are some ideas for using it in other ways.” Free practice can therefore be used to cement recently-taught techniques and principles, or to lead into new areas of learning.
While it is fun to let free practice take its natural course, we find that learning is enhanced when the intensity is brought back to about 60% and the conscious mind can be engaged. Students can then each focus on their own ‘game’, developing whatever area of their jiu jitsu is important to them at the time. That said, because the outcome of fighting is necessarily important, fighting with the minimum of restrictions from time to time is essential, too.
We have found that principles-based learning and plenty of free practice yields much better results in pupils, compared to traditional, kata-based teaching. Simply put, pupils taught with the Olivecrona Method are better fighters with a greater depth of knowledge sooner, in our experience.
Progression through the grades mostly reflects a member’s fighting ability rather than ability to repeat techniques back to an examiner. Instructors award promotions based on their observation of the member over a long period of time and in a number of different situations, with consideration given to fighting ability, technical ability, consistency, self-confidence and improvement. Within NZJJS, it is not felt that a formal grading provides an intimate enough understanding of each member’s level of development and, as a result, promotion tends to be spontaneous and on a case-by-case basis. Further, grade promotion is seen as a tool; in some cases, it is a reward and in others it is an encouragement. Above all, NZJJS fosters a culture where members understand that grades are not important in a fight; we are here to do jiu jitsu, not concern ourselves with the colour of our belt. That said, the following is a guide.
The NZJJS grade progression has three mudansha grades:
Teaching & Leadership