27 Aug 2009

Meerkatsu Interviews: Simon Yeo, the Ninjutsu Grappler

Recently I've been lucky to interview a few people who are experts in both a traditional martial art and also highly ranked in BJJ. Simon Yeo is a 12th dan in Bujinkan ninjutsu and a brown belt under Roger Gracie.

The full interview is here on the ON THE MAT website.

But here are some excerpts:

Q: Ninjutsu and BJJ are so different, what aspects do you see that they both share?

A: On the face of it Ninjutsu and BJJ are very
different. In both you have to start by learning the dos and do nots. Generally in both you start with poor natural instincts, as more often than not the necessary movements are counter intuitive. However once you have learnt these laws, things are pretty similar and by using biomechanics you can see how to manipulate the opponents body into weaker positions and capitalise on it.

I now always try to look for the similarities rather than the differences. For example the need to flow from one technique to the next, or Nagare, to catch the opponent, rather than just insist on one technique.

I also view training in ground fighting as reuniting the complete Ju-Jutsu skill sets, so I will know both ground and stand up ju-jutsu. It is possible people haven’t trained like this for more than 100 years.

Q: What do you say to people who think that the original UFC and Gracie style challenges proved that traditional martial arts are no longer viable.

A: I think what the early UFC’s showed to the traditionalists, is that they needed to adapt what they are doing. Some people have done this, others as I have said have not heeded the message and are deluding themselves. It is kind of like a blind faith. The amount of people I have told to go to a BJJ academy around the world and see what I am talking about, who don’t need to because “they know they will survive” is unbelievable. These people do have to give their heads a shake. It is really na├»ve.

I have black belts from other schools who come to my class and they get really disturbed about being tapped by my students who have only been training a few months. Often what happens is, that instead of realising there is a massive hole in their game they never come back and pretend it was bad luck and by not putting themselves in that environment again, can validate their delusion.
...full interview here on OTM.

Simon Yeo runs the Yeo Dojo in Fulham, London, and is available for seminars and private lessons in both Bujinkan ninjutsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
His book: Ninjutsu: The Secret Art Of The Ninja, is available from Amazon and most good book stores.

My thanks to Simon and to OTM. More Meerkatsu interviews coming soon!

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


slideyfoot said...

I used to often see him on his way out from the changing rooms, as I always arrived early for class at RGA.

Shame he only ever did privates rather than group classes: must have spent a packet if he's been doing two a week up to the level of brown belt!


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