Who's Who in
Professor Wally Jay
with other enthusiasts
Jujutsu (柔術, jūjutsu?), literally meaning
the "art or science of softness", is a Japanese martial art consisting
primarily of grappling techniques. Jujutsu evolved among the samurai of
feudal Japan as a method for dispatching an armed and armored opponent
in situations where the use of weapons was impractical or forbidden. Due
to the difficulty of dispatching an armored opponent with striking
techniques, the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took
the form of pins, joint locks, and throws. These techniques were
developed around the principle of using an attacker's energy against
him, rather than directly opposing it, and came to be known as jujutsu.
There are many variations of the art which leads to a diversity of
approaches. Jujutsu schools (ryū) may utilize all forms of grappling
techniques to some degree (i.e. throwing, trapping, joint locking,
holds, gouging, biting, disengagements, striking, and kicking). In
addition to jujutsu, many schools taught the use of weapons.
Today, jujutsu is still practiced as it was hundreds of years ago, but
it has also been modified for sport practice. The Olympic sport and
martial art of judo was developed from several traditional styles of
jujutsu by Kano
Jigoro in the late 19th century. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ("Jiu-Jitsu"
is a common informal romanization of "jujutsu") was developed after
taught judo in Brazil, but at that time was still referring to it as
Jujutsu was first developed by Samurai.
Fighting forms have existed in Japan for centuries. The first references
to unarmed combat arts or systems is in the earliest purported
historical records of Japan, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and
the Nihon Shoki (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 sumo) no sechie, a rite of the Imperial Court in Nara and
Kyoto performed for purposes of divination and to help ensure a
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 include striking, throwing, restraining and weaponry.
These systems of unarmed combat began to be known as Nihon koryu jūjutsu
(Japanese old-style jujutsu), 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 systems to be used with the more common and
vital weapon systems. These fighting arts had various names, including
kogusoku, yawara, kumiuchi, and hakuda, all under the general
description of Sengoku jūjutsu. They were not systems of unarmed combat,
but means for an unarmed or lightly armed warrior to fight a heavily
armed and armored enemy on the battlefield. Ideally, the samurai would
be armed and would not need to rely on them.
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), kabuto wari (helmet smasher), and
kakushi buki (secret or disguised weapons) were almost always included
in Sengoku jujutsu.
In later times, other koryu developed into
systems more familiar to the practitioners of Nihon jujutsu commonly
seen today. These are correctly classified as Edo jūjutsu (founded
during the edo period): they are generally designed to deal with
opponents neither wearing armor nor in a battlefield environment. Most
systems of Edo jujutsu include extensive use of atemi waza
(vital-striking technique), which would be of little use against an
armored opponent on a battlefield. They would, however, be quite
valuable in confronting an enemy or opponent during peacetime dressed in
normal street attire (referred to as "suhada bujutsu"). Occasionally,
inconspicuous weapons such as tanto (daggers) or tessen (iron fans) were
included in the curriculum of Edo jūjutsu.
Another seldom seen historical side 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. Since the establishment of the Meiji
period with the abolishment of the Samurai and the wearing of swords,
the ancient tradition of Yagyu Shingan Ryu (Sendai & Edo lines) has
focused much towards the jujutsu (Yawara) contained in it's syllabus.
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 (1868), when 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, very few gendai jujutsu systems have direct historical
links to ancient traditions and are incorrectly 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. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, having been
developed from Judo, with emphasis on ground grappling (ne waza), is an
excellent example 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, the original and most popular
being judo, now an olympic sport. 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, where
competitors of the same style perform techniques and are judged on their
performance. There are also freestyle competitions, where competitors
take turns attacking each other, and the defender is judged on