Monday, October 11, 1999

JAIL HOUSE ROCK INTERVIEW PART 2 – Questions to be asked


If I missed a post/thread on Jailhouse Rock, please email me at When I have time I will scan in an article by Dennis Newsome about Testa, which is a Latin word which means "head" and is an African art on headbutting. The article was published in 1982 or so in Inside Kung Fu.

Thanks to Underground forum member Dempsy for re-interviewing Dennis Newsome using these questions from UG forum members.

JAIL HOUSE ROCK INTERVIEW PART 2 – Questions to be asked

From: Stovall

  • Does JHR incorporate striking to vital points? If so, are we talking obvious easy-to-hit targets (eyes, throat, sternum, groin), or does JHR incorporate more intricate striking like what can be found in some Asian arts (most noteably Chinese)?
  • I know that all of JHR's kicks are kept on the lowline, but what kind of kicks are we talking about? Hooking roundhouse kicks like Muay Thai, or low stomping oblique kicks like what can be found in many Southeast Asian styles?
  • Does Newsome object to sharing his art with non-Blacks, or is he more open than other JHR people?
  • Does JHR address the multiple opponent issue, and if so, what are the underlying principles and techniques?
  • In Lethal Weapon, there is a scene where Gary Bussey's character is being handcuffed and led away by two police officers. He uses what appears to be some sort of locking technique coupled with zoning and misdirection to free himself and disarm one of the policemen. Did Newsome choreagraph this sequence, and if so, is it an example of some of the "anti-cuffing" techniques that I have heard rumored to exist within some systems of JHR?
  • It's common knowledge that using weapons fashioned from whatever materials are available in the prison environment is very common. Does JHR teach methods of fashioning weapons as well as the efficient use and defense against such weapons?
  • In the book, "Martial Arts from Around the World", Newsome can be seen demonstrating a series of JHR techniques. One of the striking techniques he employs involves clasping one's hands behind the head and striking with the elbows. I'd like to know what this particular manuever is called, and is it (as it appears to be) one of the "staple" moves of JHR? Also, why are the hands kept clasped behind the head? Is this to put the arms into a position so as to block/cushion the head from wild hooking blows (common in the street) while keeping oneself in a position to return elbow strikes in an efficient manner?

From: Jinxer

  • Ask him if he has ever used JHR in a real prison. Ask him what the repurcussions were.
  • Ask him if there are any JHR techniques that defend against getting shanked. Actually, ask him how you use JHR to defend against a 2 man hit, which is common.
  • Ask him if he has or would use JHR against a member of Mexican Mafia, New Structure, BGF, White Pride or any other prison gang. If he would use JHR, how does he feel JHR would help him with the negative shit that would follow?
  • Ask him why people I have asked that did prison time have never heard of JHR.
  • Ask him when JHR is used, against cell-mates? On the yard? On work furlows? Ask him how the Shu program works with people that know JHR?

These are serious questions from somebody that knows a thing or two about doing time.


From: Smoke

Dempsy,could you ask Mr. Newsome if:

  • JHR teaches gun and stick disarms?
  • Also what it's approach to ground fighting?

From: Tim

  • I would like to know why if it is a secret African American fighting style and that no nonwhites can be taught it would he choreograph fight sequences in a movie were the star was white? It seems contradictory to not allow white people to learn it, but when it comes to making money, that is all out the window.
  • Also, ask him if JHR is (or has been0 featured on OZ (the show on HBO)?
  • Also I have come in contact with police officers (Jim Grover, writes for Guns and Ammo mag.) who know some of the techniques, how is that possible?

From: Stickgrappler

  • Please ask Mr. Newsome about "testa". I read an article from 1982 Inside Kung Fu in which he was interviewed about this African headbutting style. Does JHR incorpate testa?
  • Also, ask for an example of a "gansta locking" sequence. Mr. newsome likened gangsta locking to wing chun but can he describe a specific sequence?

From: Ron_RPL96

  • Be sure to ask where there is anything in writing on Jailhouse Rock/ Jailhouse Boxing.
  • Also, are there any styles of JHR/ JHB that originate from Huntsville, Texas? I go to school at Sam Houston State University, and we are just a few blocks away from the main prison.
  • Please ask Mr. Newsome if he can verify that the technique described to me (which I in turn shared with the forum) is a JHR technique.
  • Also ask if there are any JHR styles originating in Texas.
  • I am also curious as to the 'anti-handcuffing' techniques. Do they exist or was that Holiwood fantasy for Lethal Weapon??

From: Kirik

  • Is there any other unarmed styles that are taught in prisons? I don't want to upset a soul with this line of questioning, but it is a simple fact that prison populations split up along racial lines. JHR is clearly the devise of black inmates. From what I understand, Hispanic inmates box.
  • I guess my question is, what do the palefaces do?

From: Iceman

  • How is JHR taught? In other words, how has it been kept alive in the prison system and passed down.
  • Different Prison systems apparently have their own "styles"...why and how?

From: ripsnorter

  • what do these jhr guys do IF the fight does hit the ground?
  • do they have a particular style of knifefighting?
  • do they spar?how do they spar? do they incorporate boxing into the style?
  • do they use closed fists or open hand strikes?
  • will jhr always be a preserve of the african american??
  • is jhr so devestating that they wanna keep it under wraps??
  • any war stories to underline the effectiveness?
  • finally i am skeptical about jhr-it's being portrayed as another "secret deadly fighting art" and we all know how effective those type of arts are

From: slowmo

  • When in prison, what would be the most common attack you would have to watch out for, and how would you defend against it?
  • Where is the most common place for an attack?
  • Based on your knowledge of different fighting styles, which would probably be the most beneficial if you didn't know JHR in prison?
  • What is your #1 priority when fighting in prison? To kill? if you DO kill someone in prison, even in self-defense, and he is the member of a gang (duh) what kind of backlash can you expect? (kinda hard to put what I'm trying to find out in words, but is it smart to kill a guy if it just means that you'll have another 200 guys lining up to kill you?)

Other 52/Jailhouse Rock posts:

NOTE: Posted 10/12/2015 as of 10/11/1999 to mirror date of my original post from my old archives which has been deleted by Tripod without my knowledge. You can see the Internet Archive's link JAIL HOUSE ROCK INTERVIEW PART 2 – Questions to be asked of its snapshot of my old archives.



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