Small Circle Jujitsu

Prof. Wally Jay – June 15, 1917 – May 29, 2011

Prof. Wally Jay: A Celebration of Life

Services will be held at 1:00 pm Sunday, June 26, 2011.
Kofman Auditorium, Alameda High School 2200 Central Ave.
Alameda, California 94501
Friends, students and family are invited. Aloha attire,
The Jay Family

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the
Prof Wally Jay Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 2246 Alameda, California 94501

Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Master Judo Coach/Instructor, Founder of Small Circle Jujitsu™, Author and President of Organizations Professor Wally Jay, internationally recognized martial arts legend, head instructor of the Island Judo Club in Alameda and Founder of Small Circle Jujitsu passed away peacefully Sunday morning in Redwood City, California after having suffered a stroke four days earlier. Born Wah Leong Jay in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii to Tim Chang and Albert Yat Jay on June 15th 1917, the third of six siblings: Mew Quon Ho; Mew Yung Chu; Alfred Jay of Honolulu; Elsie Sniffen and John Jay. A long-time resident of Alameda, California, Wally was 93 years old.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Bernice Jay, his children Alberta Jay of Alameda, Alan Jay (Pam) of Alameda, Antoinette Mussells (Jim) of Orinda, Leon Jay (Sandra) of Epsom Downs, England, hanai’d daughter Winona Purdum (John) of London, Ohio, fifteen grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and many thousands of students/friends worldwide.

He began his training in the fighting arts when he studied boxing at the age of 11 under Billy Mitchell. Later he trained in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu under Juan Gomez, and also Judo under Hawaiian Judo champion Ken Kawachi. In 1948 Wally and his wife Bernice were each awarded Menkyo Kaiden (Certificate of Mastery) by Seishiro Okazaki, founder of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu in Hawaii.

In 1950, Wally and Bernice moved to Alameda, California. Wally built a small gym behind his house on Eagle Avenue. The Island Judo Jujitsu Club was born. This tiny, legendary gym was to produce many national judo champions over the next several decades.

This was the start of his martial arts career proper that would propel him to national and international acclaim. Wally’s unassuming, down-to-earth personality put all who met him at ease. His always encouraging, open-minded positivity allowed even the most inhibited of students to blossom and fulfill their potential. A natural, easy, non-stressful and empowering style of teaching was the trademark of his genius. Every student was “Champ”. Every student felt good about what they were accomplishing. Many of his students were destined to become notable martial arts practitioners and teachers in their own right. Countless students became his close, life-long friends.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Island Judo Jujitsu Club formed competitive teams that toured the United States, including Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. The exposure to other places and cultures were great experiences for many, many students. The competitive touring usually included a number of parents and siblings as well as the competitors themselves. It was during this period that Wally became widely recognized on a national level for his very successful touring teams as well as his many junior and high school national champions.

Wherever Wally and his teams went, he would seek out other martial arts practitioners. Early friendships were made with Willy Cahill, George Harris, Gene LaBelle, Jack LaLane and Jimmy Lee. In 1962, while en-route to Vancouver with a judo team, he sought out an unknown young kung fu teacher in the basement of a Seattle church named Bruce Lee. They were to become close friends and later, when Bruce and Linda moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, they would train together and exchange techniques and martial concepts. Some called Wally Bruce’s teacher, but he said we taught each other, and in truth Wally’s role was as mentor, friend and collaborator.

The list of the martial arts notables with whom Wally collaborated, or who he befriended or mentored is too long to include here: in the early 1960’s, he found Jim Bregman, the first American Olympic Judo Medalist, living at that time in a small apartment in the Bronx and they became close; then there was Frank Hatashita of Toronto, Canada; and Ed Parker of Hawaii, one of the most notable American martial artists of the last century, himself another promoter of Bruce Lee, Dan Inosanto’s teacher and of course, Elvis’ also.

In 1972, at the age of 55, having retired from the U.S. Postal Service, Wally, not satisfied with his many martial arts and life accomplishments, returned to education, going on to earn his B.A. degree from Sonoma State College. Once ‘retired’ his work-rate would have exhausted a man half his age – his workshops and seminars took him to 36 countries spread amongst: New Zealand; Australia; Africa; Europe; Asia; Central and South America and all over North America. In 1985, he was a special guest of the Chinese government as captain of a ten-man American Martial Arts team, composed of other notable teachers, the first to be invited to China, called The Friendship Tour. He demonstrated at the Dai Nippon Butokuden (the ‘Mecca’ of ancient and traditional martial arts in Japan) in Kyoto, on Emperor’s Day April 29th in 1992.

Although Professor Jay, as he was later known, acquired the rank of 6th degree in Judo, and served as president of the United States Judo Association, he attained his greatest recognition as a Jujitsu expert. He attained the rank of 10th degree black belt (the highest possible) in Jujitsu. During his nearly eight decades in the arts he was awarded the American Jujitsu Institute Outstanding Coach of the Year in 1963-64; he was the Co-Founder and President of Jujitsu America; the Founder and President of the Kamaina Hawaiian Club; inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ of Black Belt Magazine (arguably the world’s leading martial arts magazine for the last 50 years) for Judo in 1969, for Jujitsu in 1980, and as ‘Man of the Year’ in 1990. He was named by Inside Kung Fu magazine as “One of the Most Influential Martial Artists of All Times.” He has been featured in numerous national and international magazines and books. Amongst his many accolades was his listing in ‘Who’s Who in Martial Arts’ in 1977 and 1985, and in 2006 he was honored by induction into the ‘Black Belt Museum Hall of Fame’.

His friends and contemporaries included: Prof. Tony Gonzales; Prof. Sig Kufferath; Prof. Lee Eichelberger, Prof. Chow Hoon; Grandmaster Ed Parker; Willy Cahill, Grandmaster Remy Presas; Si-gung Bruce Lee; Guro Dan Inosanto; and Prof. Don Jacob. He authored 2 books “Dynamic Jujitsu”, and “Small Circle Jujitsu”™, wrote the foreword for Bruce Lee’s first book “Gung Fu the Philosophical Art”, and created a series of instructional videos.

Of all his accomplishments he is best known for his quick wit and corny jokes, his ability to see beyond the faults of others and find the best in them. He was deeply loved as a person, coach and mentor, by family, friends and generations of martial artists. A friend said of him, “Prof. Wally had an extraordinary quality of ‘grace’; he had an innate natural dignity, combined with enormous good humor and a respect for others, that just made everyone he met want to be a better man or woman in order to live up to the faith he seemed to have in them. The martial arts world has lost one of its brightest ever lights, but the world is richer for the humanity he brought into it.” His son, Professor Leon Jay of England continues his legacy as head of Small Circle Jujitsu.

Your thoughts...

31 Responses to “Prof. Wally Jay – June 15, 1917 – May 29, 2011”

  1. Y. A. Smith, Jr


    June 16th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

    God Bless Professor Wally Jay!

  2. Arnaud Esclangon


    June 16th, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    All my prayers and toughts to his familly. God bless Pr Wally Jay.

  3. H. Tadao Imoto


    June 16th, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    Got to talk to Prof.Wally Jay on one of his birth dates. 85th I think.
    We talked about the days that he delivered our mail at the old Kalihi-Kai address in Honolulu. I never personally met Prof. Jay during my adult life but I trained,very shortly, at the dojo of Prof. Okazaki where Prof. Jay was a Black Belt. Prof. Jay was a living treasure of the Martial Arts. God be with him and take care of his family. A Hui Hou

  4. Master Shamim Haque


    June 16th, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

    I am sad to hear of the loss of such a legendary master of the arts. My thoughts goes out to all his family, friends and worldwide students. I only wish I had the opportunity to meet him as I have heard so many great things about him. R.I.P.

  5. Jann Aki


    June 16th, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    I have had the opportunity to twisted by this incredible man.
    He always has that smile, something most would agree drew you in.
    To the Jay family, my deepest condolences.
    Profeesor Jay… you will always be in my heart and on my mine.

  6. Armando V Gonzales


    June 16th, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

    I only know Prof. Wally Jay thru his videios and books. He struck me as a righteous and caring man. I pray that the Heavenly Father will look favorably on this son of Hawaii. God Bless.

  7. Rick 3 Chopsticks Wong


    June 17th, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    My great teacher, mentor, close friend, inspiration who embodied “Transitional flow and Effortless effort”. He overcame many obstacles – always with his great wife, Bernice by his side. I will always remember Professor’ Jay kind words, advice, personal teaching, diplomatic demeanor, funny jokes and stories, his singing, his techniques, his priciples, his ability to see so much behind the waza, his profound abilty for simplicity – “It’s the little things.” he always reminded me. Practice correctly. TheGreatest Master of the Seminar. Superman on the mat who seemed ten feet tall. He did it his way – as he was fond of the Frank Sinantra song. I had the priviledge to to among his caregivers – those that massaged him. He needed very deep massage. – I was among the very few who heard his words ” Wow. You really worked me over.” He always had us smiling and thinking. He once asked me what he could do for me in return. I said, “You are known as the Teacher’s teacher. You see what others miss. Please teach me how you “see”. He paused, Bernice lookwd over, and he nodded. It was the beginning of the revealing of many decades of experience – his amazing genius unfolding. Truly he was the greatest innovator and teacher. Mahalo nui loa my mentor, Professor Wally Jay.
    Much aloha, farewell rest in peace and honor.
    Much love to you and Bernice. Thank you for the best memories.
    sRick 3 Chopsticks Wong
    San Francisco
    June 2011
    Happy Birthday Professor!

  8. Prof. Richard Bunch


    June 17th, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    “My deepest sympathy and condolences to the entire Jay family. Wally was a great man who profoundly impacted not only me, but also everyone he came into contact with. I first met Prof. Jay in the early 1960’s where his direction way back then changed the course of my martial arts pilgrimage. Through the years Wally was more than a mentor to me, but a source of constant inspiration with his guidance and support. Prof. Jay will be missed more than spoken word could ever express. This marks the end of an era, but Prof. Jay’s legacy will continue. Lots of love to the ENTIRE Jay family.”

    Mahalo nui loa

  9. Kenneth Bell


    June 18th, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    The year was 1980 and I was 15 years old when Professor Jay and Small Circle Jujitsu came into my life. I was a transfer student beginning my first year at Alameda High school and was thrilled to discover that I could take a martial arts class as my P.E. elective. What I quickly discovered through Professor Jay and Sensei David Fairfield was not an athletics class but a philosophy, a way to live one’s life.

    As I rose up through the ranks and ‘dirtied’ my obi with knowledge, skill and ability I had the pleasure and pain to attend many of Professor Jay’s classes and seminars. Often, when attending, Professor Jay would use me as one of several demonstrators. His gift of touch with this art was profound and after participating with him, you could not help but be changed forever. He knew exactly how much effort to exert to keep you as his willing subject, ready to obey his every command. You sensed that, like a dancer, he knew which steps he intended to lead you through but was fluid enough to adapt should the reality of the moment dictate a different course of action. He was always in control, always communicating, and manipulated you like a seasoned puppet master. But like a true master, his goal was always to control the situation, not to harm or injure.

    He often spoke of Hawaii and two words which held significance to the art and philosophy of Small Circle Jujitsu; kokua and ohana, or caring for and about the family. I am very proud to be a member of this family and honor what I have been taught in all things. His gifts to the art and all those he touched over these great many years are both a tribute and legacy to the man. His enthusiasm and passion will live on with all of us and we, in turn, must share these simple tenets with everyone we can inspire as well. Never forget his lesson to teach anyone willing to step upon the tatami as an empty cup, waiting to be filled.

    After successfully managing people, processes, and businesses for 25 years; the passion for sharing knowledge, the enthusiasm for inspiring others and the willingness to take risks and try something new all came seeds sown in a supposed athletics class many years ago.

    Mahalo, Professor Jay. Mahalo.

  10. John Mellon


    June 18th, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

    You’ll always be at my side, Prof. Wally and I know that Prof. Leon is going to continue your legacy the way he is now, despite his personal loss. All our thoughts are with you and the family – still ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’! God Bless.

  11. Tony Jupp


    June 18th, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    As one of many students who ‘enjoyed’ the dance of pain on several occasions, I can truly say that, in over 30 years in various arts, I have never met a more knowledgable, technically skilled yet humble master of the arts than Professor Jay. Rest in peace.

  12. David Burke


    June 19th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    My thoughts are with the Jay family at this time. Professor Wally Jay has inspired so many people with his talent, enthusiasm, and love of the martial arts. His passing is a great loss but our lives and our own martial studies have been enriched for having known him. Professor Wally Jay was a true ambassador and master of the arts and I am proud to be a part of his Small Circle Jujitsu. Under Leon Jay’s leadership his father’s spirit and teachings will live on. Sleep well Professor Wally Jay.

  13. Alise Cerruti


    June 19th, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    I Remember Professor Jay very well as a teacher and mailman. I am sorry to hear of his passing,My prayers to the Jay Family.

  14. Jim Hill


    June 21st, 2011 @ 12:08 am

    Aloha, Sensei. Rest in peace.

  15. Rick 3 Chopsticks Wong


    June 21st, 2011 @ 5:07 am

    I have found that “Pain makes believers.” everytime. It took me years to stop laughing to myself at how amazingly effective Professor Wally Jay’s system is. The ten principles, the wrist action – the tightening circle, the effortless effort, feeling, flowing and transitioning.
    It dramatically improved my Wing Chun, Shorinryu Karate-do, chi sao and push hands. I highly recommend martial artists and athletes of all styles invest themselves in the foundation of knowledge that Professor Wally Jay left. Seek out his students and especially Professor Leon Jay. Professor Jay’s legacy has been proven time and again to be the catalyst which unlocks the true potential of each art.
    Thanks to Professor’s kokua and bringing everyone into ohana – we cross train, we share, we improve, we innovate.
    I have met and learned from so many different martial artists from across the globe while attending Small Circle and JA and Camp Danzan Ryu events – all because of O Sensei Jay.
    So much to be thankful for and humbling to realize how vast his influence spread.
    Osu, Jay Hanshi.

  16. Larry Junsay


    June 21st, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

    Met Professor Wally Jay in the early eighties after my own 10 years experience with judo and karate. His personality approached me as if we had known other for years. Made me feel comfortable on the onset of introducing each other. I attended several of his clinics and each time was easily impressed by the poetic flow of his character, instruction, and artistic skill of the art he loved and innovated. He encouraged me to continue to innovate, create, and expand this dynamic art of self-defense. Professor Wally Jay will be greatly missed, no one will ever be like him, he is one of a kind.

  17. Michelle


    June 22nd, 2011 @ 12:21 am

    Rest in peace Profesor Wally

  18. Stan Miller


    June 23rd, 2011 @ 5:23 am

    To the Jay family: It was my honor to be a part of Prof. Jay’s life. We traveled together, we shared stories, and saw many sights.

    I saw in Prof. Jay, A man that would accept you for who you are without hesitation and treat you as family.

    I will never forget the time I spent with him.
    He would introduce me as his friend and that is something I will always be proud of.

    Stan Miller

  19. Carl Totton


    June 26th, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet Professor Jay, but many of my teachers and mentors knew him well and spoke of him with near reverence.

    These include Ed Parker, Ming Lum, Remy Presas and many others. Wally Jay’s ability to see the positive in everything and everyone was legendary which allowed him to contribute to all arts and styles by sharing his vast wealth of knowledge freely. It has been said that “by their fruits you shall know them”. If so, then we all know Professor Jay as a man among men, a true treasure who’s legacy will last into eternity. Thank you Prof. Jay for a life well lived, I salute you sir.

  20. Wallace W Kamahele


    June 27th, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    I remember Wally and his family back in the late 40’s and early 50’s having lived with his sister (my aunt) while attending high school in Honolulu. Great family! Good to hear of his great achievements in the marital arts world. And I know having a wonderful wife and family help him to achieve that greatness. Rest in peace Wally. Your legacy will live on.

  21. Spencer Taw


    June 27th, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

    I was a student of Professor Jay in the ’50s. His skills in martial arts were just amazing and what I have learned from him I have treasured for life even though I did not pursue a career in this art. In addition to his skills and knowlege of martial arts, I also admired him for his kindness, milded manner, and just great pleasant person to associate with. As superior as he was, you would never never detect that in his ego. He was tops in his field yet he was everyday man like all of us. I am proud to have been associated with him and my thoughts to the Jay Family. Spencer Taw

  22. Shihan Gary White


    June 28th, 2011 @ 2:31 am

    My thougts and prayers are with the family of this most amazing man. The martial arts world has lost a man of true greatness that it will never see again.

  23. Daryl Johnson


    June 29th, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    You will truly be missed. Though I have not seen you in several years, I have always kept you on my heart. Wally, you are responsible for my successes since we first met in 1991. RIP

  24. David Meyer


    June 30th, 2011 @ 2:01 am

    Professor Jay was a great man, a great teacher and a great friend. I miss him tremendously and he contributed to who I am today. Love to him, Bernice, and to the whole family.

  25. Renshi Jake Klaus ( CANADA)


    July 1st, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

    I met Prof Jay in 1979. and several times after that. In 1980, I spent a week with him in Trinadad. He always found time to remember friends. For many years I received a Christmas card every year from him personally.
    I still have a medallion he gave me over 30 years ago. I wish marital artists these days could be even half as humble and caring as he was. My condolences to his family and students. AN amazing man has left us, but he will always be our hearts. It surely was an honour to have known him . RIP my friend

  26. prof steve heremaia/black dragon jiu jitsu academy new zealand & shihan dave millar(president new zealand martial art hall of fame)


    July 24th, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

    we have only just heard of the sad loss of grandmaster wally jay whom we first met in 1984 at the world jiu jitsu championships canada,prof jay gave the new zealand team some of his valuable time and from that first meeting we then invited him to new zealand the following year to conduct a series of seminars,it goes without saying that his visit changed the whole landscape of jiu jitsu in our country and we will be eternally greatful for the friendship that was developed over the years,our hearts go out to bernice and the family

  27. Bruce Smith


    October 25th, 2011 @ 2:54 am

    Hey Al Jay/Pam … my friends I am a bit late I know…… I met your dad for the first time in 1974 he was truly “Magic” I can remember sorry for your loss but he must live on very proudly in your family’s life …” a Family that I am proud to call my friends! ” I lost your number……hey I will find you I don’t give up that easy…..I will track you down….your dad can be

  28. Dan Haney


    November 22nd, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    I have had the pleasure of participating in 3 Professor Wally Jay seminars. One with Ju-jitsu America in the early 90’s (also included was Master Willy Cahill)
    The other two was at Master Ernie Reyes’ boot camp. Grand Master Leon was there too. What an honor it was! I will cherish those pictures forever and I still teach some basic principles of SC Ju-jitsu today! Professor Wally will be missed and remembered forever!

    –Dan Haney
    Ernie Reyes’ World Martial Arts – Hillsboro, Oregon

  29. Abel O. Arellano


    December 4th, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

    Though this page I heard of the sad passing of grandmaster Wally, sorry so late but, I offer my condolences Bernice, family and Professor Lee Eichelberger . He is one of my favorite professors; the loss is great for all Martial Artists and the world, his particular style of creative teaching: Technique, discipline, combining pain and comedy will be missed. I can’t stop my eyes from watering… For the one who showed me the difference between the big circle (Danzanryu) and the small circle theory, the benefits that the “push pull theory” and small circle had for self defense applications, competition and life.
    I was looking Prof. Muro and him up so I could get them to do a seminar in Mexico. I had no Idea…for some odd reason I thought he would live forever, but his concepts will live on through all of us and his teachings.
    Professor Wally Jay Descansa en Paz – E hoʻomaha me ka maluhia,
    Abel O. Arellano (Mexico)
    Arellano Submission Fighting – Arellano Fight Cub

  30. Steve Hawkins


    January 31st, 2012 @ 10:25 am

    I enjoyed the Honor and Pleasure of meeting Wally Jay in the early 90’s at Stan Millers Dojo in Portland,Oregon. I was invited to take photos of a weekend clinic. I have a photo of Wally Jay and myself shoulder to shoulder…and im not in a submission hold. Whew!… when introduced to Wally Jay i instinctively thrust my hand forward to shake hands, as a friendly gesture, my wrist was suddenly,yet gently twisted like a pretzel. With a Big Warm Grin, and a kind voice, Wally said, always know your opponent. WOW…!!! Glad he didnt thrash me. Over 20 years ago and i still remember and cherish that day. I will never forget this Fine Gentleman. God Bless you Wally Jay.

  31. Andre' Paige


    March 15th, 2012 @ 5:35 am

    My deepest condolences to the Jay family. Professor Jay came to the Mark Tripp Academy in the Detroit area on more than one ocassion and mesmerized us all with with his knowledge, skill and HUMOR…truly one of the funniest people ever. I can still hear him saying, as he performed techniques on people…”up up up “. I still get a kick out of a video I have of Professor Jay manhandling me in a “full impact padded suit”. Rest in Peace Professor Jay and thank you Jay family for sharing him with the WORLD!

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Small Circle Jujitsu is a precise and practical system that I often taught to my soldiers. What I like most about Small Circle is speed; soldiers in combat situations need to resolve an encounter quickly and Small Circle Jujitsu training fits that need.

Robert A. Guihan,


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