The Small Deadly Circle of Professor Wally Jay
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The Small Deadly Circle of Professor Wally Jay

Professor Wally Jay

By Paul Swaim, AMAM


Professor Wally Jay (1917-2011) is the founder of Small Circle JuJitsu. Jay primarily studied a Jujitsu system known as Danzan-Ryu under "Henry" Seishiro Okazaki in Hawaii from whom he was eventually awarded a Masters certificate in 1948. Having also studied Boxing and Judo, Wally Jay gained knowledge and experience in various martial arts, allowing him greater insight and a personal perspective on how traditional techniques could be evolved and improved.

While the origins of Small Circle Jujitsu are based on the 2000 year old classical jujitsu, the evolution of the Small Circle emphasis dates back to approximately 1944.

A Colision of Forces

Jay credits his two years of training with Hawaiian Judo Champion, Ken Kawachi, for giving him the core principles he would later use to formulate his own system of Small Circle Jujitsu. Professor Okazaki had studied classical jujitsu styles of the Yoshin, Kosagabe and Iwaga-Ryu, as well as studying Okinawan Karate, Filipino systems, Hawaiian Lua, Boxing, Wrestling and Kung Fu. Okazaki himself was something of a rebel, as he often broke away from standard traditions. He developed his own style of Jujitsu called Kodenkan Jujitsu, as well as teaching non-Japanese, which was unheard of at the time.


The Smallest Point

Wally Jay has claimed that it was Kawachi's emphasis on the deployment of wrist-control to gain superior leverage against an opponent that became prevalent in his Small Circle Jujitsu system. Kawachi was a physically small man who stressed the use of the wrist action to gain superior leverage, and so effective was he in using the subtleties of the grip and its leverage that he routinely dominated other judoka literally twice his mass and defeated many visiting wrestlers and other grapplers from the mainland.

Create a Base

A grand realization in Jay's education occured when Wally was taking his blue belt exam in Kodenkan. There was one particular throw that gave him real difficulty. Unhappy with his own performance, he decided to refuse his blue belt award, until Kawachi Sensei advised him to accept, promising him that he would teach him how to master the throw. A key element that Kawachi then taught to him to master this was to always first create a solid base in which to perform all such techniques.


Small Circle Jujitsu techniques are smooth and functional because of the integration of the flow, in which interchangeable techniques are used to counterattack. The flow emphasises the smooth transition between various locks and throws in order to remove any "hard stops". It allows a practitioner to seamlessly transition between techniques and makes counter-measures against opponents quicker and smoother.



Over the years, Wally Jay has made some radical changes in the techniques he aquired to evolve his system. He felt that there was something missing with Jujitsu, the way he learned it. The knowledge he gained from all the other disciplines along with Okazaki’s and Kawachi's multi-disciplinary backgrounds gave him the perspective to see how classical Jujitsu could be improved.

Resistance and Distraction

Throughout it's development period during the 1960's, there were some who seemed bent on deterring from Jay's Small Circle Jujitsu. These critics scolded Jay for breaking away from traditional methods and proven approaches. However, Professor Wally Jay and his Small Circle Jujitsu would eventually prevail.

Control and Sensitivity

As a result of its continued detailed development, Wally Jay's advanced Jujitsu system has since produced many national, state, regional Judo champions, and had worked with several noteworthy martial arts prospects, such as Bruce Lee. In fact, Professor Jay first applied the Small Circle theory to his Judo teaching and then led to his creation of a winning team.

The process of creative control and greater sensitivity into his system has resulted in a more evolved style.


Mobility and Stability

The "Small Circle" theory is a proven scientific method that rapidly became accepted by the martial arts world as an acclaimed and accredited system. This theory is not only applicable to Jujitsu, but it blends in beautifully with other styles of martial arts. In 1987, it became officially recognized as a complete Jujitsu style by Black Belt Magazine.

Energy Transfer

In August of 2002, Professor Wally Jay held the ceremony officially handing the title of Grandmaster over to his son Professor Leon Jay in his hometown of Alameda, California near San Francisco. Family, friends, martial arts masters and the media all witnessed this momentous occasion. In late May of 2011, Professor Wally Jay suffered a heart-attack and was quickly admitted into a hospital. Hours later, per the wishes of his immediate family members, the 93 year-old beloved founder of Small Circle Jujitsu was taken off life-support. He then silently passed away in peace.

Wally Jay will always be fondly remembered for his vast contribution to the art of Jujitsu.

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