History Of Jujitsu
How Jujitsu Began
Traditional Jujitsu’s long recorded history first began during the Nara period (710-794 CE) combining early forms of Sumo and various other Japanese martial arts which were used on the battlefield for close combat after a samurai was disarmed in battle. The oldest known styles of Jujitsu are, Shinde Fudo-Ryu, Tenshin Shodan Katori Shintō-ryū, and Takenouchi-ryū, which was founded in 1532. Many jujutsu styles of the time extensively taught parrying and counterattacking long weapons such as swords or spears to disarm then kill or maim their opponent. Unlike neighbouring nations such as China and Okinawa, Japanese hand-to-hand combat forms focused heavily upon throwing (including joint-locking throws), immobilizing, joint locks, choking, strangulation, and to lesser extent ground fighting.
In the early 17th century during the Edo period, jujutsu would continue to evolve due to the strict laws which were imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate to reduce war as influenced by the Chinese social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism which was obtained during Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea and spread throughout Japan via scholars such as Fujiwara Seika. During this new ideology, weapons and Armor became unused decorative items, so hand-to-hand combat flourished as a form of self-defence and new techniques were created to adapt to the changing situation of unarmoured opponents.
This included the development of various striking techniques in jujitsu which expanded upon the limited striking previously found in jujitsu which targeted vital areas above the shoulders such as the eyes, throat, and back of the neck. However, towards the 18th century the number of striking techniques was severely reduced as they were considered less effective and exerted too much energy; instead striking in jujitsu primarily became used to distract the opponent or to unbalance him in the lead-up to a joint lock, strangle or throw.
During the same period, the numerous jujitsu schools would challenge each other to duels which became a popular pastime for warriors under a peaceful unified government, from these challenges randori was created to practice without the risk of breaking the law and the various styles of each school evolved from combating each other without intention to kill.
The term Jujitsu (Gentle art) was not established until the 17th century, after which time it became a blanket statement for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines and techniques. Prior to that time, these skills had names such as:
Kogusoku Koshi (short sword grappling)
no mawari, (Grappling)
Kumi Uchi (Body art)
Yawara (Art of harmony)
Wajutsu, yawarajutsu (Catching hand)
Jūdō (Way of softness)
The traditional form of Judo was developed as early as 1724, almost two centuries before Kanō Jigorō founded the modern art of Kodokan judo. Today, the systems of unarmed combat that were developed and practised during the Muromachi period (1333-1573 CE) are referred to collectively as Japanese old-style jujitsu (Nihon koryū jūjutsu).
At this period in history, the systems practised were not systems of unarmed combat but rather means for an unarmed or lightly armed warrior to fight a heavily armed and armoured enemy on the battlefield.
Early years of Jujitsu
Striking in Jujitsu
How the name Jujitsu came to be
How the art has evolved
The art form known as Jujitsu (Gentle art) has evolved over countless centuries taking lessons learned on and off the battlefield to improve and develop into what we know as Jujitsu today. The evolution of Jujitsu is somewhat unique in the sense of adaptability, effectiveness and reliability in real-world scenarios, This has been proven over countless centuries of recorded history. The reason behind this is the ever-improvement of the art to suit the needs of modern-day society, whether that's dealing with an unprovoked attack, from one or more attackers. Whilst Traditional Jujitsu involves a lot of Locks, Holds, Throws and chokes, The more modern aspects added to the art form involve the use of striking, in the form of elbows, knees, kicks and punches as a means to distract, allowing the defender to deal with the attacker in the most efficient way possible.
Alongside the modern take on striking, Jujitsu still incorporates the traditional forms which involve ridge strikes and palm strikes to vital areas of the body as a means to put your opponent down, whether to restrain them or to escape the situation.
The traditional ways of dealing with an attacker during the time of the Samurai haven't changed as much as you may think, the techniques and methods first adopted back then can still be implemented nowadays, all being changed slightly to deal with different forms of attack such as from a strike as most situations these days start from a strike as oppose to a grab. However, we still practice defence from a grab as much as we do a strike, as you never know what your opponent will attack you like.
The beauty behind Traditional Jujitsu is as previously stated, the ability to change depending on the situation you face. Unlike other martial arts which predominantly focus on one aspect of defence, traditional Jujitsu focuses on multiple forms and provides the ability to shape yourself into a well-developed Martial artist, with the skills and knowledge to remain safe in modern-day society.
Why Jujitsu is still effective in todays society
The reasons why Traditional Jujitsu is still effective in today's society vary from person to person place to place, as there is a multitude of reasons behind this, the major reason being, the ability to effectively defend yourself or family members from a range of attacks/attackers. Now a lot of people will argue that there is no point in studying martial arts as it's a waste of time when you can study MMA or another combat sport as such. This is understandable in a way, as you can learn a lot in a short time which yea is good in some aspects. However, the downside to this is when learning a combat sport, you practice and fight people the same weight and sometimes height as you, which is all good in the ring, but out in the real world you have no idea who you're gonna be defending yourself from, they could be extremely small or twice the size of you the variables are too many.
This is why in Traditional Jujitsu you learn how to deal with an attack from anyone, Height, Weight and Gender, it doesn't matter as you gain the skills and knowledge to apply the techniques to them, Alongside stress testing to see what works for you. There is a reason why Most Military Special forces in the world practice Combat Traditional Jujitsu. That reason is the art is ever expanding and developing as time goes on, As well as the ability to form your own defence style with the skills and knowledge you learn.
Unfortunately, the world we live in today isn't like the time of old when you would have a 1 on 1 fight with an attacker, these days you are either going to be attacked with a weapon or by a multitude of attackers and if you are really that unlucky a group with weapons, which is why Traditional Jujitsu practitioners practice defence against a group and weapons.
Now, this isn't me saying that other Martial arts and combat sports are a waste of time because they are not, Each style has its pros and its cons as does everything in life, which I and the other instructors at Hei-Jo Shin Jujitsu have found in other martial art styles. However, there is a reason why we have all stuck with traditional Jujitsu and that's the ever-expanding knowledge and defensive skills that go with it.