About the art
Around 1192, Minamoto Yoritomo was appointed the first shogun of Japan. Japanese society was split into very strict social classes: the warrior class which was the samurai, the peasant class, the artisan class, and the merchant class. The warrior class began to grow between 710 and 1185. By the time the class divisions came about, the warrior division was of substantial size. In 1191 Chinese meditation was introduced to Japan. At this time the warrior class started studying the mental and physical aspects of the martial arts which would give them their fame later on in history. From the 13th through the 16th centuries, the warrior class became very powerful. In 1868 after the overthrow of Tokugawa Shogunate, a new emperor came to power. Meiji was the emperor who drafted Japan's first new world army. Soon after, an "imperial edict" came together to nullify the samurai class. In 1877 the last and greatest samurai revolt against Japan's government failed. In 1905 Japan rose as a new world power.
In the middle 1800's a Samurai “Jujitsu” master fled to America before the last Samurai Revolt. Supposedly, as word has it, he was sent to the “west” in hopes of preserving something of the traditions that Japan was working to annihilate. He came by way of the Atlantic Ocean and landed on the northeast shoreline of North America. To this day it is unknown exactly who he was beyond a Samurai. It is said the details were written down, but thought destroyed in the turmoil of the times when the white culture was trying to run out the last Native Americans. The Samurai master met a young Native American boy from the Lenni Lenape Wolf tribe in Virginia. His name was Pischk and he was about 4 years old. The Samurai master decided to teach Pischk the Samurai Jujitsu system. Since Pischk was made to train every day he became a master in his early 20's. A while after, the Samurai master bade farewell and disappeared forever. In 1896 Pischk had a son named Meechgalanne.
Meechgalanne began studying the art also at about 4 years old. It was Pischks' belief that the Samurai system lacked some important aspects of warrior training. He felt that the Samurai system was missing a lot of personal freedom in its daily life as well as the creativity and potential that goes along with the freedom. So when Meechgalanne reached a basic level, Pischk began to change some of the training to the ways of the Lenni Lenape. He had begun to mix the Japanese way to the way of the Lenni Lenape tribal warriors. He named it Small Circles Of 5 Animals Jujitsu. Thus, the new system was born.
This new system melded together quite well and held similarities of ninjitsu. Further study led me to realize that the system of ninjitsu had many similar concepts to that of both the Lenni Lenape warrior system and the Samurai system. This isn’t surprising since all martial arts worldwide have their roots in the same basic philosophies.
Together they worked on the new style, changing, perfecting, shaping, and experimenting on the techniques. In 1926 Pischk honored Meechgalanne, with the title Gegekhuntschik, "elected one", or Elder (kikeyjumhet) in reference to Grandmaster. Pischk passed away in 1934.
The old styles of jujitsu from Japan were such as Takenouchi-ryu, Takagi- ryu, Kashima-shin-ryu and Kito Ryu jujitsu dealt primarily with battlefield technique. Though they did contain grappling, the ground work was minimal. They instead focused more on standing and weapons combat. As time progressed and feudal Japan changed the opening of randori came about. This was the open practice or competition between jujitsu practitioners with control rather than the object of killing.
Over time many styles of jujitsu branched from original systems and ground fighting techniques intensified. The original styles of jujitsu were very incomplete as well-rounded fighting styles because they lacked the dynamics of ground work. This was developed and expanded upon later. Bartitsu, Akido and Judo are more modern forms (late 1800's onward) that began employing more well-rounded techniques involving standing and ground work. Branching off of Judo spread a large variety of jujitsu disciplines and schools the world over. Many today are sport oriented for competition.
Small Circles of 5 Animals is not affiliated with Professor Wally Jay's "Small Circles Jujitsu". Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu is a combined art containing more traditional jujitsu practices of standing, weapons and Bushido, but also has the wide range of grappling and diverse ground fighting styles of newer jujitsu styles as well as the highly dynamic close-quarter fighting style of Native American woven through.
The art itself focuses upon external style as well as internal style and focus. It is both a “hard” and “soft” art rooted in both tradition and practicality.
The external or “hard” aspects focus on control and leverage, balance and speed, locks, breaks, chokes, joint manipulation, throws, accuracy, submission, holds, pressure points, animal movement, strikes, take-downs, confidence, breath work, respect and weapon work.
The internal or “soft” aspects include the study of the organs and meridians, the 24 hour organ biological clock, flow of internal energy at various levels, cavity pressing/strike, blood pressing/strike, muscle grabbing, meditation, leveled breath work, heart opening, mind opening, triad mind unification and personal philosophy.
THE 5 ANIMALS-
The 5 animals of this style are all from North America. They include the constrictors, the bears, the vipers, the coyotes, and the scorpions. These particular animals were chosen due to their adaptability to meld with one another. All these animals have an external as well as an internal state of being. All the techniques of the 5 animals came about from the animal’s essence, size, character, strength, movement, behavior, territory, and balance, fighting ability, stalking skills, patience and tenacity.
The bear, for instance, is a very large, heavy animal. Bears walk in a pattern known as pacing. They move both limbs on the same side of the body at the same time. This is unlike the coyote or any of the cats. These animals are diagonal walkers in which the opposite limbs from front to back move at the same time.
The bear's movements are all massive and filled with momentum. They draw maximum power from their weighted momentum. This is why the bear is represented by power and bones.
The constrictors move with complete control and confidence. These snakes have such a massive amount of muscle in their bodies, it is no wonder they can crush just about any living creature they can wrap around.
They rely on their strength and smooth controlled body movement to overwhelm their prey. The constrictors stand for smooth movement and muscle.
The vipers are extremely quick and precise in their attacks. They will coil themselves to ready their muscles for the speed they will propel themselves with. It is due to this instantaneous start and contraction speed that the vipers represent timing and tendons.
The coyotes are deceptive and cunning in their movements. They have great agility to compliment their deceptive qualities. From peculiar positions, they can send a barrage of surprisingly effective attacks to every part of the body. This is why the coyote stands for endurance and spirit.
The scorpions, for their size, are amazing. They have a grip that will only let go if they want to let go. They are not very fast in their movements, but with their skills they don't have to be. They will go into a fighting situation slow and very controlled. When they are in close range to their prey or their opponent, they will grab on to one of the opponents limbs. The grip is so strong that most of the time the prey is helpless to the poisonous sting the scorpion delivers. If the prey is small, the grip is sometimes enough if latched around a vital area. The scorpions stand for focus and internal energy.
The rank system is different than other forms of jujitsu simply because it grew out of Japan as well as Native American traditions. The actual belt did not come around in Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu until Kikeyjumhet/Elder Meechgalanne's later years.
Once Elder Meechgalanne structured the art into a rank system the levels were assigned colors specific to their energy. In Native American tradition, everything has deep meanings, including the colors of the ranks. Such meanings are fully explained to students of the art as they progress in their skills.
Of course in the time of Samurai there were no belt systems. It was not until 1907 when Jigoro Kano, the creator of Judo, introduced the modern day kimono (uniform) and belt system. Back then it was simply a white belt and a black belt and none other. As time progressed and other martial arts adopted the belt system, countless belt colors and rank systems evolved. Even amongst jujitsu schools the belt system varies.
When Kikeyjumhet/Elder White Wolf Von Atzingen was studying under Elder Meechgalanne he did not go through belts, but rather progressed with the deeper essence of the art. His motivation and will were strong enough where he did not require the belt advancing system like many modern Americans do today.
Elder Meechgalanne understood that eventually the art would spread and would require a modern system of ranking. Thus the current belt system was structured. Though as previously stated, Elder White Wolf Von Atzingen did not use the system until he began teaching. Even though the belt rank system was not used in Elder White Wolf's training, he was awarded the highest rank belt when the art was turned over to him as a symbol of what would come should he begin to teach the art.
The title "Grand Master" was never one that Elder White Wolf Von Atzingen or Elder Meechgalanne saw as a fitting. The name itself contradicts foundational martial philosophies. In their opinions nobody ever truly masters anything in life, let alone attain the highest level, "grand" of mastery. "Life and learning are a constant evolution that humans can never truly master, only live and do their best from day to day." Therefore the Native American title "Elder" (Kikeyjumhet) was used in place of "Grand Master". The title "Elder" simply shows respect to one who has lived enough to attain respected wisdom, many times well beyond that persons years. In Small Circles of 5 Animal Jujitsu the highest ranked practitioner of the art is referred to as Elder or Kikeyjumhet.
The ranking begins with white and moves to yellow, blue, orange, green, brown, purple and then black. Once a practitioner reaches the level of black, which can take many years, they begin working towards their 5 red colored bars and then their 5 yellow colored bars, as opposed to the standard stripes in other jujitsu systems. Each bar represents a very deep level of advanced skill in both external and internal areas of the art. The highest rank (Judan) remains with a black belt containing the 10 bars rather than changing to a red belt, which is a symbol in some other jujitsu systems as the Kikeyjumhet/Elder level. The belts are simply to show where a practitioner is in the total structure of the art. Belts are not for ego, glory, judgment or superiority complexes. This is why even the highest level belt is not embellished with colored dragons, snakes, names and other symbols. It is simply the bare basics.
The rank progression is a slow one. No practitioner is allowed to speed through the levels. The art holds the tradition of quality and integrity, not quantity. The goal of the Elders has never been money, nor to spread the art into every strip mall in the world as fast as possible. The deep essence of the art still remains strong. Nothing has been watered down to move people through faster. It is a way of life, a lifelong pursuit, not a race to a finish line. You will not find 10 year old black belts in this art, or black belts who have gained that rank in a mere few years of study.
Under belts wear the typical grappling style kimono or "gi" in natural color (off white). Master level wears either natural or black. Instructor and Elders wear blue.
The Elders and instructor levels will also wear the traditional hakama, in either black or white depending upon the level, for special occasions and events.
Essence of the art
The ancient saying:
"A warrior must be as pleasant as a flower, as steadfast as a mountain, as silent as the wind, as quiet as a forest, and as relentless as fire"
certainly sums up the highest qualities and achievements of a Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu practitioner. Within the heart of the art exists the purity and openness of Bushido and the constant awareness of all life and its preciousness. This is upheld at the highest levels within the practices of Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu.
This is not a sport. This art upholds tradition and practicality in all levels of life. It was the beating heart of both Samurai and Native American warriors. It is life itself for those who delve deep enough within both themselves and the practices.
There are far too many schools and instructors in the world today that spend far too much energy throwing ego judgments and machismo attitudes towards other schools and practices. This is not a practice of the Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu Elders, and simply goes completely against the essence of the art. The Elders have found a non-judgmental attitude is an essential aspect of living in balance and carrying the true nature and spirit of martial arts.
A common question that we hear a lot is, “Why hold onto traditions so much when new styles focusing on MMA are so popular and effective?” Elder White Wolf’s response is such, “Tradition of foundational components is the very garden from which diversity grows. It is diversity that creates opportunity for personal expression and evolution. If everything was the same, there would be no spark of individuality left in this world; nothing to show uniqueness between cultures and the people that make them up. Many people do not see it, but if everything turns into an MMA orientation and UFC goal, the world of martial arts becomes nothing more than a Wal-Mart or McDonalds. True depth; the very essence and spirit underlying the soul of martial arts and unique styles would be lost. Tradition without stagnation, but unique and personal evolution, formulated in the core foundations, could once again be focused on more deeply in the modern world. The richness and style of so many unique cultures and traditions are being lost amongst the great washout of strip-mall schools and Youtube videos. The glorification of movie, TV and tournament “heroes” is fast replacing the depth and richness of real life, stealing its soul and muddling its spirit. No style is better or worse than another. It is the practitioner alone and their unique expression and evolution within what they study and practice that matters, and this requires a diversity of opportunity's through many styles and traditions.”
For the select few who have been pre-approved and hand selected, Elder White Wolf instructs high level Combat Orientation classes. These classes move out of tradition, art form, style, honor codes and many other features of a martial art and delve deeply into the hardcore reality and grit of hand to hand combat itself. Elder White Wolf dredges from his experiences some of the most brutally effective combat training for those who are chosen. A few of his core skills that he personally brings into this training are:
Elder White Wolf Von Atzingen has a running members blog called the Wolf's Den through his wilderness school, Element Mountain. Contained within are hundreds of blog articles containing his wisdom. If you are interested you may wish to check it out: Wolf's Den
He also has written a number of e-books that you can find through Smashwords. Titles such as:
To find his books just go to his Smashwords Profile.
He now lives within the remote areas of the Green Mountains of Vermont with his wife and son and leads wilderness excursions and teaches Small Circles of 5 Animals Jujitsu.