There was an article I read somewhere about an interview with someone named Mr. Newsome. Denis Newsome is supposedly one of the worlds leading authorities on Jail house rock and the African martial arts.
It came from Africa, it might come from the same parent art as capoeriia, it ight not no one is sure, rummor is it was a bantu art. When the slaves were freed, the whites in south began to put them in jails as a form of prosecution. In jail some of the inmates knew this original art. In jail it evolved due to special limits and specific needs
The name is jail house rock---but thats general like grappling, or karate. there are alot of styles of it. they all developed in different places, under different conditions, and accordingly look different and have different techniques.
Some of the styles Mr. Newsome mentioned are named after prisons, the streets, or other metaphors. Comstock, Mount Meg, are named for prisons, 42nd is named after a street, and barnyard, "52" and closing gates are named for metaphors. the 52--the style Mr. Newsome does is called 52. because of the card game...you throw the cards and they "land where ever they may" thats a metaphor for the tech.
Mr. Newsome said most are striking styles, but there are some more wrestling oriented, like mount meg. the 52 is the one he is most familiar with. It uses the hands, elbows, knees, head butts, some kicks (Always low) and the "entire" body to strike with. Practitioners learn in depth knowledge of pressure points and vital strikes. Also there are swipes (foot sweeps) and Gangsta Locks (mr.newsome likened these to wingchun trapping) which are immobilization techniques. Another interesting thing is the "L". It is an offensive and defensive posture. From his description I can only think to compare it to the "frame" used in combat sombo. I talked to another guy who claimed to have seen it, and he says it does look like a combat sambo stance. Mr. Newsome said the art is very deceptive and free moving. There are no set techniques like in karate, but there are governing underlying principles. He said there is a method to the madness of jail house rock.
Mr. Newsome was asked if it looked like any other art, he said no. he did however say that some elements of Thai boxing is similar, but crude in comparison. Also he said that in viewing a silat demonstration he saw some elements that were vaguely similar.
I guess if you go to the video store and rent lethal weapon, you'll see it. He along with cedrick adams and rorion gracie, choreographed it. He says it doesnt look like straight jail house rock, but Mel Gibsons scenes have the flavor. Also go rent Tyson V Bone crusher smith. THATS RIGHT!! Tyson knows some of the art. Mr. Newsome said that if you look closely you see Tyson when he gets frustrated slip in some jail house rock. Look for unorthodox moves and you'll spot it. Also if you rent the movie rooftops. they show "UpRocking" which is the dance aspect of jail house rock. It can still be used for combat and is much less secretive than JHR. Ulrocking is similar to capoeria but it uses hands more than feet, and the foot work pattern is a reverse "Ginga" or capoeria foot work pattern.
Well, I would assume that this is an underground system. Unless you go to jail, hang out at underground fights or are family to an ex con, chances are you will never learn it. If you are not of African heritage chances go from slim to virtually none. The art is the art of the African who needs it for survival. Much like the Asians decades ago, who would not teach outside their race. the analogy is that you do not give your enemy your best weapon. in prisons no matter who you are cool with, when stuff hits the fan, the teams get together based on color, bottom line fact. In fact some styles of JHR wont teach people who know other styles. for the same reason. for example....mr.newsome said that he could not learn the system affiliated with the gang known as the black guerilla family because he was not a member of the gang (or any for the record he is a hard working man who is not a criminal or ex con).
Mr. Newsome said that in all his years he has heard of only two white people learning the art, and thats just rumors. OH he is also featured in the book martial arts around the world. thats about as close as most of us will ever get to the art. He said that if you want to learn it word of mouth and being a member of certain circles is the only way. there are no commercial schools. Mr. Newsome teaches a hand full of students but it is closed door at his invitation only. He MUST know the person and their character.
all in all.....I think that this guy might have been pulling words out of his butt and hyping himself up. He doens't want to teach it because he probably can't. How is this any different from just "street fighting"? I've never been in jail, but i've seen many jailhouse fights.....there's no technique whatsoever, it's just a flat out brawl....maybe even a shank or two