History of Jujitsu
History of Jujitsu

History of Ju-Jitsu

Ju, translated means flexible or gentle. Jitsu means art or technique. So the word Ju-Jitsu means Gentle Art.

Ju-Jitsu is one of the oldest forms of hand-to-hand combat in Japan . The ancient art was spawned from combat systems of warfare that were originally exclusive to various types of weaponry. Among some of the weapons used were the long sword (katana), the spear (yari), the weighted chain (manriki kuzuri), various wooden staves (bo and jo), and the dagger (tanto). These systems of combat were primarily, but not exclusively taught, learned, and used by the Samurai, a high class of warriors who at one time were the rulers of Japan.

The beginnings of Ju-Jitsu can be traced to the turbulent period of Japanese history between the 8th and 16th Century. During this time, there was almost constant civil war in Japan and the classical weaponry systems were developed and honed on the battlefield. Close fighting techniques were developed as part of these systems to be used in conjunction with weapons against armoured, armed opponents.

The birth of Ju-Jitsu probably coincided with the origins of the Samurai class in 792 AD. The army at that time consisted of foot soldiers armed with spears. Officers were recruited from the young sons of the high families and schooled in archery, swordsmanship, and unarmed combat. The Emperor Kammu built the Butokuden (Hall of the Virtues of War) as a formal school for these officers who became known as Samurai. Their name comes from the Japanese word for service, saburaui. To be a samurai you had to be born into a family that had samurai history. The samurai worked for their masters, called shogun, who dominated political life from 1185 until 1868. Medieval samurai were generally illiterate, rural landowners who farmed between battles. The progression from rural workers to 'samurai' took many centuries as they were increasingly called and relied on to defend the ruling classes. The word samurai means 'those who serve' and had come into use by the end of the 8th century.

Ju-Jitsu is the term which has been applied, at different times, to the whole of the ancient Japanese national art of unarmed self-defence practised by the Samurai or Warrior Class of Japan. In battle Samurai ran the risk of becoming unarmed while facing armed and armoured enemies. To compensate they developed the certain special techniques, for example:


Punches and kicks are no good against an enemy in armour. However throws were effective since armour offers little protection against blunt impact damage and makes you a very easy target on the ground.

Joint locks

Joints are the weak spots of most, if not all armour. So compromising the integrity of these joints is another good way of causing damage. Crude arm and head locks and strikes into joints would have been paramount to survival and victory. Also, if a samurai found himself unarmed, his chances of survival are vastly improved if he can obtain a weapon, usually from another armed samurai, utilising various wrist locks to disarm and gain control of his weapon

The basic principle of Ju-Jitsu is to avoid or give way before an opponents superior weight and strength in order to overcome him by using his weight and strength to his disadvantage; you learn to use leverage, balance, and continuous motion to maximize your effectiveness against an attacker. Ju-Jitsu uses principles of leverage against force, redirection of an opponents energy and harmony of motion. It consists of, throws, holds, chokes, locks and grappling, in addition to the basic break falls (i.e. techniques to enable us to land safely and without injury when we are thrown), blocks, kicks, and punches.


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