When I was taking Jujutsu in my teenage years, I would aggravate the hell out of the Instructor to show me any Knife, Chain or Yawara Stick he knew...
And the love of these things for going on about twenty years now is seen in little glimpses in here.
I was making oak dowel "Koppo Sticks," copying them out of Hatsumi Sensei’s book, "Stickfighting" since about 1987 or so. That reached the apex of the design with James Piorek [JSP "BladeRigger"] . I believe there is no better Koppo Stick-type of weapon in existence. There are many that can do the job, it’s just the best of breed in execution.
To me, the Koppo Stick is everything the Yawara Stick should be and more. It is so versatile and there are more things that can be done more effectively, effortlessly and securely with a properly executed Koppo Stick than a Yawara. The Yawara is still a favorite.
When the "Keychain Koppo Stick" became a reality, I retired the regular Kubotans, the Original Kubotan™, the ASP O.C. Kubotan (It discharged on me once, I don’t trust it anymore) and the ASP P-9 Keychain Baton.
My love for the weighted Japanese Fighting Chain has evolved into a love for the JSP Bandando™ and V-Gar System’s ManrikiGarrote™. I still play with Manrikigusari/KusariFundo, and Improvised Flexible Weapons, Garrottes and such, but they all sprang from the childhood/teenage interests in the Martial Arts.
There was something unique on the scene in the 1980s and for some reason, I never got around to ordering one. I have been searching for one, literally, for years. Prowling Pawn Shops, Gun Shows, Knife Shows, Martial Arts Stores...Flea Markets, Yard Sales, anywhere I could. I put the word out through about a dozen people on the Internet. No luck.
Then, in a flash, one fell into my lap from a fellow on the Internet by complete luck. This was not one of the people that found one for me, he was unaware of the search. He just happened to have one in excellent/mint condition and was willing to trade it.
I called James Piorek the other day and he said, "You got WHAT!?!?!" Hahaha...
Yes indeed, I found an elusive ParaCombatives Ju-jo™.
What more could a guy who loves the Yawara Stick and Manrikigusari ask for? It’s both wrapped up into one.
Usually when people combine things, effectiveness is lost and it ends up that both things are done badly. While this is a far cry from a weighted chain or a Koppo Stick, it is indeed the best of both worlds with a hefty set of keys on the flail end. You could tie someone up Yo-Yo Style as Tuhon Bill McGrath [Pekiti-Tirsia] described Guro Inosanto’s Yo-Yo techniques...[*] or it can be used for any number of things.
I’m still waiting to try it out. But I really wish these could be produced again by Choate Machine & Tool, Inc. This really is a great Self-defense Weapon even if the cylinder is a bit more bulky than it had to be. It’s diameter could be trimmed by one-quarter of an inch and you might have to use your pinky or a pencil to push the cord back in, but that would be no problem at all...it would ride easier in the pocket though...the Ju-jo is thick.
In the September 1985 Issue of Soldier of Fortune Magazine, Page 18 "Adventure Quartermaster," there was a short piece written on it, after that, I saw it appear in Brigade Quartermasters’ Catalog and I was hooked;
"Tested by Special Forces, the SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) Committee, Fort Bragg’s Military Police, Rangers, Force Recon, and British SAS, the Ju-jo is constructed of Zytel plastic and manufactured by Choate Machine & Tool Co."
There was mention of the Inventor, "Dr. John J. Lewis" in the small piece written on the Ju-jo. When I knew I had secured the elusive ParaCombatives Ju-jo, I decided to research it as thoroughly as possible (God bless the Internet folks, it really is a remarkable tool) and I found some very interesting information about the Ju-jo.
With the help of my friend and Webmaster Jay, I was able to obtain the Original Patent Document on the Ju-jo. I found it, I had the Name of the Inventor, but could not open the file because the U.S. Patent Office uses a funky picture viewer program and even though I went to the MS Site, I could not figure out what the hell I needed to view them. Since then, Jay has been an invaluable resource and friend in my hunt for oddball weapons that have been patented.
Once he sent the files back to me in Giff format, and I could read them, I was very impressed at the mechanical drawings. Alot of patents do not have drawings this good, some are better, but this one is really great. It is more for historical purposes.
Then, I started searching elsewhere on the Internet, searches for "John J. Lewis." And then I was surprised to find out that he was once a member of U.S. Army Special Forces. All too often, Special Operations Units are used as a Hot Link to Success from people who make knives, etc., and it was refreshing to see that the Ju-jo apparently made its way into the hands of S.F. people because it was made by a former member.
During his Army years, Mr. Lewis studied Judo and I do not know what else, he then rapidly rose through the ranks of Miyama Ryu Jujutsu because of prior experience in Martial Arts. On one website it was stated that he reached Black Belt in Miyama Ryu Jujutsu in one year, due to his background in Judo and I do not doubt that could be done legitimately. Since a firm foundation in Judo would make for a firm foundation in Jujutsu. There are alot of things that cross...Judo came from Jujutsu.
He then began his own "System," ParaCombatives Jujutsu at Northwestern University, Illinois.
He geared the Martial Art for the Street, Streetfighting Martial Arts have my utmost respect. I have never been exposed to ParaCombatives Jujutsu, but if the thought he put into the Ju-jo is any indicator of his Mindset (and I believe it is), I’m sure the System as he taught it was good.
Sadly, Mr. Lewis died in 1996. Sadly, James Keating’s Bandana work was not around and popular in 1985 or Mr. Lewis would have probably made a mint off of the Ju-jo.
The thing is constructed like a tank. It is idiot proof, there are no buttons or anything. Yet, for all of its’ simplicity...it would take a firm understanding of Flexible Weapons to get the most of it. It is truly a weapon for those who understand it and less than useless for anyone who does not understand it.
It was truly a Self-defense Weapon before its’ time...a damned shame it is still not being produced for those that can appreciate it and are willing to dedicate the time to Master it.
Can you tell I’m thoroughly impressed with it?
I was saddened to learn during my search that the Inventor had died. He obviously had a keen eye to what was needed, but maybe the weapon was so complicated in application, yet simple in construction, that it never caught on and seemed like a "gimmick."
Jim Keating and Robert Langford have proven that the Bandana* is viable, and these techniques make the JSP V-Gar System viable, as well as the Ju-jo. It seems that Mr. Lewis had his finger on the button of reality a long, long time ago. Maybe the methodology differed, but he most certainly was on the right track.
Here’s to John Lewis, a great Martial Artist, Inventor and Innovator. A Man who had vision.
*McGrath’s comments on Guro Inosanto’s Yo-Yo Methods was very interesting indeed. Attaching the free [fingerloop] end of the Yo-Yo to the end of a knife and using it like a garrotte, or using it in the off hand to throw at an attacker’s forearm/wrist area to allow the natural weight and momentum of the Yo-Yo to wrap and secure around the limb to somewhat entangle the attacker, giving you time to take countermeasures, draw your knife, etc.
**Before James A. Keating launched his Bandana Material on the Martial Arts Community, there was material from GMs Sulite and Illustrisimo on the "panyo." Unfortunately, even alot of people in the Filipino Martial Arts Community stood up and claimed Keating was making things up as he went along, when in fact, the material did exist. Keating/Comtech may have added some things, but the basic concepts are universal and they can shadow Japanese Bujinkan or the other way around, they compliment each other...but make no mistake, Keating did not simply make things up in this instance and call it "Filipino." All of these things most certainly have their place as improvised weapons, the Yo-Yo [Tapon-Tapon], Bandana [Panyo], Whip, Belt [Sabitan] and Rosary.