History of Ju-Jitsu

Ju-Jitsu is a traditional Japanese martial art that was practised by the Samurai in ancient Japan. Although Ju-Jitsu is translated as the “Art of Gentleness”, Ju-Jitsu techniques are designed for both defensive and offensive purposes. It is a misnomer that Jujitsu is a gentle martial art because traditionally Ju-Jitsu was utilised by the Samurai for war, and not as an art or sport. Although the principle of “gentleness” serves as the corner stone of Ju-Jitsu techniques, it also refers to the precept of mental and physical versatility, flexibility and adaptability, which are essential for survival in mortal combat. Ju-Jitsu is both a grappling and a striking martial art, comprising a wide variety of techniques that include throwing, joint-locking, choking, striking, ground fighting, kicking and the use of small weapons e.g., daggers and sticks. These Ju-Jitsu techniques are the roots of contemporary martial arts like Judo, Karate and Aikido.

There are different versions on how Ju-Jitsu was developed, including the suggestion that Ju-Jitsu originated from Chinese martial arts. More credible sources advocate that the development of Ju-Jitsu did not occur through a single school or master, but occurred through a long process of evolvement over centuries, with contribution from different forms of ancient combative arts in Japan. Extant records of the older Ju-Jitsu schools (Ryus) can be traced back to the early sixteenth century, during the Edo period of ancient Japan. Historical records of martial art ryus published in the 16th century reveal that there were at least 20 mainstream Ju-Jitsu ryus in Japan and many sub-branches. Many of these ryus still exist today. The manuscripts that contain the techniques of these traditional Ju-Jitsu styles are passed down from one generation to the next through family bloodline or trusted students, and the content of these manuscripts remain highly guarded even today. For this reason, unlike contemporary martial arts that operate through the germination of schools throughout the world, the practice of traditional Ju-Jitsu is still restricted to a select few who are accepted into the Ryu-ha’s of Japan. These traditional Ju-Jitsu techniques remain a mystery, known only to the privileged few.

In the international sporting community, Ju-Jitsu is governed by the Ju-Jitsu International Federation, of which the JJAS is a member. The form of Ju-Jitsu promoted by the Ju-Jitsu International Federation is Sport Ju-Jitsu & Self-Defence. The rules of tournament were developed mainly by Ju-Jitsu practitioners in Europe. The techniques of Sport Ju-Jitsu are designed and practised mainly for tournament, although such skills are also useful for combative purposes. Because of the different focus between modern and Traditional Ju-Jitsu, the techniques and practices are different between these two forms of Ju-Jitsu. This is also obvious from the fact that none of the traditional Ju-Jitsu Ryus are part of the Jujitsu International Federation. However, it is fair to suggest that Sport and Traditional Ju-Jitsu remains connected by the principle of “gentleness”..