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.
We finally succeeded in registering the Ju-Jitsu Association (Singapore) in 2002 after many trials and tribulations. Khalil and Paul were to make many trips out to Singapore to guide and inspire us. Paul also arranged for 2 team from Sweden to visit Singapore and demonstrate the Fighting and Duo System to us.Most memorably, he arranged for a number of Swedish Jujitsu textbooks to be sent to us and we could finally understand how to formalise our own teaching syllabus and methods! We spent many hours mulling over old texts and studying the teaching curriculum of Sweden, Pakistan, Canada and France!
It was an exciting moment when we first started classes in 2002 at Tanglin Community Club dojo. Our chosen colours were blue gi top and white gi pants and more than a dozen students signed up for the first class. We shifted to a temporary dojo while our permanent dojo was being constructed. However, it was not to be plain sailing as in 2003, the main instructor left to pursue his own business interests, Fabian Lim left to do his PhD in Australia and Laurent left for Japan!
There was also no Sports Council support as Jujitsu was not an Olympic Sports and we did not have NSA Statues. During this time, Paul, despite his obvious painful disability, made a few trips out to encourage us to carry on. We were cheered by the visits of Sensei Rinaldo and Frank Furst! We still remember the demo of a wrist lock given by Rinaldo which had us all cheering as he brought down one of our fit, big and strong student! We can also recall Paul’s tireless efforts to promote Jujitsu in East Asia and we were visited by the Japanese representatives. Thus, it could be said that 2003 was the real start for the Singapore Jujitsu Association.
The first batch of students recruited were all Black Belt holders from Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Silat and Muay Thai! Students from other martial Arts also joined us over time and we had practitioners of Wu Shu, Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu and even Ninjado. We were very lucky to have the assistance of senior Judokas sensei Wong Kin Jong and Lee Loo Sen. It was not easy as ego tends to get in the way of sense and the attrition rate was high.
Ju-Jitsu International Federation
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.