History of Jujitsu
Fighting forms have existed in
Japan for centuries. The first references to such unarmed combat arts or
systems can be found in the earliest purported historical records of Japan,
(Record of Ancient Matters) and the
(Chronicles of Japan), which relate the mythological creation of the country
and the establishment of the Imperial family. Other glimpses can be found in
the older records and pictures depicting sumai (or
no sechie, a rite of the
Imperial Court in
performed for purposes of divination and to help ensure a bountiful harvest.
There is a famous story of a warrior Nomi no Sekuni of Izumo who defeated and killed Tajima no Kehaya in Shimane prefecture while in the presence of Emperor Suinin. Descriptions of the techniques used during this encounter included striking, throwing, restraining and weaponry. These systems of unarmed combat began to be known as Nihon koryu jūjutsu (Japanese old-style jutsu), among other related terms, during the Muromachi period (1333-1573), according to densho (transmission scrolls) of the various ryuha (martial traditions) and historical records.
Most of these were battlefield-based systems to be practiced as companion arts to the more common and vital weapon systems. These fighting arts actually used many different names. Kogusoku, yawara, kumiuchi, and hakuda are just a few, but all of these systems fall under the general description of Sengoku jūjutsu. In reality, these grappling systems were not really unarmed systems of combat, but are more accurately described as means whereby an unarmed or lightly armed warrior could defeat a heavily armed and armored enemy on the battlefield. Ideally, the samurai would be armed and would not need to rely on such techniques.
Methods of combat (as just mentioned above) included striking (kicking and punching), throwing (body throws, joint-lock throws, unbalance throws), restraining (pinning, strangulating, grappling, wrestling) and weaponry. Defensive tactics included blocking, evading, off balancing, blending and escaping. Minor weapons such as the tanto (dagger), ryufundo kusari (weighted chain), jutte (helmet smasher), and kakushi buki (secret or disguised weapons) were almost always included in Sengoku jujutsu.
In later times, other
developed into systems more familiar to the practitioners of
jujutsu commonly seen today. These are correctly classified as
jūjutsu (founded during the
systems generally designed to deal with opponents neither wearing armor nor
in a battlefield environment. For this reason, most systems of Edo jujutsu
include extensive use of atemi waza (vital-striking technique). These
tactics would be of little use against an armored opponent on a battlefield.
They would, however, be quite valuable to anyone confronting an enemy or
opponent during peacetime dressed in normal street attire. Occasionally,
inconspicuous weapons such as
(iron fans) were included in the curriculum of Edo jūjutsu.
Another seldom seen historical aside is a series of techniques originally included in both Sengoku and Edo jujutsu systems. Referred to as hojo waza (捕縄術 hojojutsu, nawa jutsu, hayanawa and others), it involves the use of a hojo cord, (sometimes the sageo or tasuke) to restrain or strangle an attacker. These techniques have for the most part faded from use in modern times, but Tokyo police units still train in their use and continue to carry a hojo cord in addition to handcuffs. The very old Takenouchi-ryu is one of the better-recognized systems that continue extensive training in hojo waza.
Many other legitimate Nihon jujutsu ryu exist but are not considered koryu (ancient traditions). These are called either Gendai jūjutsu or modern jujutsu. Modern jūjutsu traditions were founded after or towards the end of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). During this period more than 2000 schools (ryu) of jūjutsu existed. Various traditional ryu and ryuha that are commonly thought of as koryu jujutsu are actually gendai jūjutsu. Although modern in formation, gendai jujutsu systems have direct historical links to ancient traditions and are correctly referred to as traditional martial systems or ryu. Their curriculum reflects an obvious bias towards Edo jūjutsu systems as opposed to the Sengoku jūjutsu systems. The improbability of confronting an armor-clad attacker is the reason for this bias.
Over time, Gendai jujutsu has been embraced by law enforcement officials worldwide and continues to be the foundation for many specialized systems used by police. Perhaps the most famous of these specialized police systems is the Keisatsujutsu (police art) Taiho jutsu (arresting art) system formulated and employed by the Tokyo Police Department.
If a Japanese based martial system is formulated in modern times (post Tokugawa) but is only partially influenced by traditional Nihon jujutsu, it may be correctly referred to as goshin (self defense) jujutsu. Goshin jujutsu is usually formulated outside Japan and may include influences from other martial traditions. The popular Gracie jujutsu system, (heavily influenced by modern judo) and Brazilian jujutsu in general are excellent examples of Goshin Jujutsu.
Jujutsu techniques have been the basis for many military unarmed combat techniques (including British/US/Russian special forces and SO1 police units) for many years.
There are many forms of sport jujutsu. One of the most common is mixed style competitions where competitors apply a variety of strikes, throws, and holds to score points. There are also kata competitions were competitors of the same style perform techniques and are judged on their performance. There are also freestyle competitions where competitors will take turns being attacked by another competitor and the defender will be judged on performance.
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