Ju Jitsu a swordsman's backup?

Discussion in 'Ju Jitsu' started by David, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    Yesterday, I met a guy with some unconventional ideas, one about ninjas and one about ju jitsu.

    Regarding jj, he said that it was a sword-fighters' backup method of lasting long-enough to retrieve a weapon after being disarmed in a fight, or to win from that predicament.

    This sounds plausible to me; the art seems fundamentally too gentle as if it must be used for avoidance (of a sword-wielding enemy) first and fighting second. Even t'ai chi (which is considered soft) is more aggressive than jitsu methods in application.

    I don't normally post in this area so I'll say I'm not your typical troll.

  2. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    It's where a lot of the techniques come from (fighting in armour against armed attackers for long enough to get a sword), but there are also a lot of self defence techniques as well, and it all depends on the origins of the style.

    So in other words, maybe.
  3. fanatical

    fanatical Cool crow

    Incidentally, I've wondered a lot about JJ myself lately. I'm getting a perverted interest in the art :p . I've been reading up on some stuff and checking out various books and sources.

    What I've figured so far: (taken from various sources. Anyone want to check them out, just PM me and I'll scrounge up a list)
    As early as the Heian period (A.D. 794- 1191) there are mentionings of Kumiuchi (loosely meaning grappling skills) The Emperor Kanmu wanted the most prominent fighters to gather in what was named Butokuden "the hall of martial virtue" and the classical fighting "schools" gained a kind of beginning. Techniques were developed for the battlefield and this is the reason (some believe) that much of JJ contains throws and grappling more than strikes and kicks. Because this stuff has to work in full armor. Later the development of armor helped make lighter more flexible types, and yet again the styles change somewhat. Even the earliest styles of JJ suffered decline though, and there were about as many lousy styles as there were good styles , much like today ^^ .

    Of course the inevitable. Japan moved into a time of more "peace" and a strong class divided society emerged, leaving some schools set aside for Samurai and other high classes of society. While some where more "peasant"-JJ for the masses. And as things would have it, these types focused on different aspects naturally. The Edo period (A.D. 1603- 1867 )Even though initially boosting and aiding the multitude of JJ styles (reported to have numbered at least 700)the Edo period was a strong factor in the (if I dare say) decline of JJ. As class differences grew and a pacifist trend started rising from a country finally settling from war, JJ and other such arts were seen as old and barbaric. A sport of thugs and such like, and lost a lot of popularity. The Tokugawa rule began to solidify its power by isolating the country completely (causing the mentioned problematic class society to preserve the rights of the samurai etc.) and ruling with a bit of an iron fist. This was ended by American "gunboat diplomacy" and sparked the beginning of the Meiji period (1868 - today :D)

    What happened after the Meiji periods revolution of modern technology and industrialisation? It's contact with the rest of the world after 300 years and the following culture shock? A genious called Jigoro Kano sought out many hard to find JJ ryu and wanted to preserve them. He trained vigorously and attained prominence in several styles. He even founded his own style called it Judo, to enable people to not think of it as the thuggist, brutal Jujitsu, and introduced a more "western" pedagogical training and teaching method. The rest is history.

    Discussing the warrior perspective :

    The battlefields of Japan were won with these weapons, in line:

    - Guns
    - Bows
    - Spears
    - Swords
    - Knives
    - Unarmed fighting

    Exactly the same as a modern soldier, they would first rely on their weapons. If all else failed then yes they would of course fight unarmed. And like I mentioned, there was a reported knowledge of the so called Kumiuchi which obviously was strong enough that the emperor took notice to help it's growth.

    However. I doubt that any JJ would not help win a war. But it might help save some lives.

    Flashback to some of the things I mentioned. Several directions of styles emerged, ranging from class to class in society. Most JJ today is most likely the results of these changes. And I'm guessing since there are fewer weapon techniques, than unarmed ones in modern JJ. That most JJ styles come from the latter "peasant" versions.

    But in a sense, yes in a way JJ was the swordsmans backup.

    Factual errors and typo's may be prominent. But ask away if any other questions arise from my rambling. I'll scour my books for info if there's anything to find.
  4. Dao

    Dao Valued Member

    I am new to this forum so I hope it is appropriate for me to post here without a formal introduction. Apologies if I have disrespected any rules or anyone.

    Jujitsu has often been credited as being a soft art but rather it is a highly efficient one. Working in accord with the maxim "softness overcomes hardness" or "in softness there is strength" does not neccissarily denote a gentle or soft art... in fact in the case of Japanese Jujitsu quite the opposite can be said to be true.
    The use of gentle tactics in classical Jujitsu can be traced back to the most efficient combative movement. When someone charges you with a spear it is most efficient to be offline of the spear rather than exert energy and risk injury trying to deflect it. This exemplifies the first Jujitsu principal of Taisabaki or "body movement/management".
    The second Jujitsu principal is that of Kuzushi or "controlling balance", which can often be percieved as a soft movement. This is actually the most efficient way of controlling an opponent to the point of them being under absolute control. This is not a soft movement for the sake of softness, it is the most efficient way to dominate an opponent absolutely.
    The third principal of Jujitsu is Waza or "technique" this is the most outwardly non-soft aspect of Jujitsu in that the majority of classical Jujitsu techniques were designed during war time under battlefield conditions, meaning that the majority of Jujitsu techniques are designed to neutralise the percieved threat from the aggressor. This translates to chokes, strangulations, dislocation or destruction of joints, heavy use of atemiwaza, and throwing techniques that are designed to either KO or kill and opponent. These techniques are not the hallmark of an inherently soft art.
    What makes Jujitsu appear to be such a soft art then??
    Well the answer to this can be found in efficiency and control. Once the efficient movements of Taisabaki and Kuzushi have been applied correctly then the Jujitsu operator possesses a high degree of control over the opponent. This means that a suitable level of force can be used in order to utilise any level of force on a spectrum from "no force" to "extreme force", but of course this is in a perfect world.

    As for Jujitsu being reserved for those times when a warrior was found without a weapon. This is absolutely true! There was not many times when a warrior would be without a weapon but in those instances the warrior should be highly proficient with their hands in order to deal with the adversary swiftly and obtain their weapons. One need look no further than the Hagakure to find documentation of warriors being frowned upon for opting to fight unarmed when the possibility to use a weapon was available. This is because the warriors of Japan (Bushi) were expensive and their conduct represented the state or their lord so if a warrior was killed in a scuffle with a drunk then this would be a major expense and an embarrassment for the state/lord and would demonstrate they had more concern with ego than with being able to perform their duty.
    It is for this reason that Jujitsu is so closely related stylistically to weapon work. It would be foolish to have soldiers train in different systems operating from different theoretical models, thus risking their skills in batlle when found either with or without weapons.

    Anyway I could go on, but at risk or boring you good folks too much I shall stop here.
    I hope I have conveyed my point adequately.
  5. benkei

    benkei Valued Member

    What you must remember is, most modern (ie western) jujutsu has no roots to traditional Japanese jujutsu, many are based on judo and have kempo/karate influences. The Japanese jujutsu styles founded in the Edo period were generally heavily based on existing styles (which had been founded in the warring period) with certain changes made by the founder. Also, from the Edo period on, ryu tended to be far more specialised, generally focusing on one or two weapons, or in jujutsu's case, grappling and possibly some tanto or iai etc. It wasn't really a matter of class that caused styles to became so different, but the lack of warfare. There really wasn't much point teaching a warrior a full curriculum of weapons when the shogunate kept an eagle eye on keeping the peace.
  6. fanatical

    fanatical Cool crow

    Good point. This also brings up the way JJ has continued to develop and how it's still branching out today.

    I'll just rant a little :p With myself and what I train as the subject (please indulge my ego ^^; ) What little I've gained from some research is this. (Hope no one from my club reads this, finds me wrong or thinks I should shut up complains :p)
    The style I train I would say is a light blend of Judo/JJ and Kickboxing/karate. Also differenciates itself by writing it "Jujitsu" instead of the more correct romanization "Jujutsu". Being that it's origins are not so much linked with a classical Japanese style.

    Although deep down, it hails from a swede, Kurt Durewall who learned Yoshin-Ryu (shinyu-kai) in hawaii from Henry Sieshiro Okazaki. Durewall gave it his spin and in turn taught this to a Norwegian called Nils Erik Løvstad, sometime in the 1960-70's. Rune S. Henrichsen started training with Løvstand and founded this style with Runar Omland. The names aren't of great importance to the focus of what I'm writing, but I might as well get it all in there. Name of the style is JuJitsu Norge (JJ Norway) Although there are traces of JJ otherwise in Norway in some small notices before, this is where it seriously sprouted from. And it's quite new as you can probably figure out. Founded in 1983 (the year I was born. Haha) and has incorporated many modern training elements along the way to take a rout of developing the style in a direction they saw fit as a self defence and competition oriented style more than taking care of tradition. It's also heavily incluenced by Richard Morris' style. Although our instructors are usually quite eager to let us know where this comes from, and how many curteous classical martial art cultural traits have survived. Bowing, gi's and ranks, the whole package.
    It's identified in a large way due to the fact that compared to many other styles of JJ we keep a very high guard because of the adaptation of many modern training methods. There is also a large quantity of straight punches and kicks compared to many classical styles.

    Then there are more serious survivor styles like Takenouchi Ryu that you can clearly see has a totally different focus and indeed was a swordsmans backup. JJ is a very wide definition.

    Heh. at least I managed to stay sort of on topic :D
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2005
  7. Trinity

    Trinity New Member

    Nice post Dao.............not boring, i could have keeped on reading...............very true and interesting.
  8. Archibald

    Archibald A little koala

    Welcome to the forum Dao - the more aussies the better, hehe.

    You summed up Jujitsu perfectly. When exponents had to deal with armed, highly skilled opponents, control was the number one factor.

    I usually explain the whole 'soft art' thing by telling people that its soft on the person using it - quite often its extremely hard on the person its being done on. Nothing soft about a snapped elbow, lol.

    Ciao for now guys
  9. Dao

    Dao Valued Member

    Hahaha never thought of it in those words before, gave me a bit of a chuckle!

    I prefer to translate Jujitsu as "flexible art" rather than "soft or gentle art". The actual word is probably a combination of these words plus a few more but I think "flexible art" gives rise to less preconceptions than "gentle or soft art". Although I guess this could give rise to images of jujitsu men doing the splits and TKD style kicks, so maybe I just won't bother trying to translate it hahaha

    Send me a private message Archibald if you like, I hail from Perth myself and am over there training about every 6 months.

  10. Sheyja

    Sheyja Valued Member

    My JJ instructor used to tell me that it was the art of the unarmed samurai. If samurai were without a weapon, it was JJ that they relied on. I've also read that many consider JJ to be the grandfather of all Japanese MA, whether this is true I don't know, but it can help to explain how it so versatile when facing pretty much any kind of attacker.
    JJ also shows a few ways to deal with a sword weilding character. Whilst it can be gentle, or as I agree would be a better word, flexible, it mainly appears so because of the circular flowing motion that so many of the moves have. This is designed to give maximum results from minimum effort.
    Also, there are very few arts that are 'softer' than Tai Chi. It can be amazingly devastating, but still it's so soft and yealding. Like fighting a pool of water! I love IMA!
  11. Jutsuka

    Jutsuka New Member

    Hi everyone, Im new to the forum and Jujitsu. I've been training for about 4 months and absolutely love it.

    However I gotta say Jujitsu is so far from a soft art. It is brutal, and when the moves are executed properly they are so fluid. But as with any MA it all comes down to the practitioner.

    I agree with whoever it was that said jujitsu is soft on the person applying it. When moves are pulled off using proper technique, it is truly amazing. I got to see a black belt grading just after I first started and my god they were amazing. The precision and control the tori always had of the uke. It is a great art.

    As some one else said, JJ covers everything, ground fighting, striking, locks, you name. And the most important thing, the falling. I love break falls, being able to launch yourself into the air and land on your side or back or roll up onto your feet, its great.

    But if your into fancy kicks JJ isn't the way to go. Try Wushu.

    I learn Sakura Ryu Jujitsu under Shihan Reg Ellis, 6th Dan.
  12. Shorin Ryuu

    Shorin Ryuu New Member

    Yes and no, to the above comments.

    Jujitsu was just one of the many tools in the arsenal of the classical samurai. It was meant to be used if a samurai was unarmed or lightly armed. Lightly armed could mean something like a tanto. At any rate, as samurai wore armor, it is a lot harder to use something like karate on them. Therefore the emphasis was on joint manipulation and balance destruction, as the armor did not offer protection against that. Restraining a person was useful as you could then use a weapon or strike to kill them. Dao did an excellent job of describing that.

    Perhaps there could be a leap and assume it was useful in tying up hostages on the battlefield. There was a whole discipline to this, with varying methods of tying a person depending on their social class. I think this may be a bit of a stretch, as the person most likely already surrendered or was subdued...it's a little tricky to do all that elaborate ropework with a resisting opponent.

    Regardless, it wasn't simply just for an unarmed samurai, but for minimally armed ones as well. They would obviously use their sword if they had a choice.

    As far as jujitsu covering rolling and breakfalls, yes and no. Those are essential skills, I suppose. On the battlefield, your jujitsu never gave the opportunity for people to break fall and roll out, as does modern jujitsu. This was a purposeful evolution of the art: you'll run out of practitioners if you allow everything.

    I think it would be going too far to say JJ is the father of all Japanese martial arts (no matter what JJ teachers say). It was merely one piece of a combined whole. The perception that it was most likely comes from the logic that empty handed fighting systems in many cases predate those of weapon fightings systems. But I think you would have difficulty identifying a direct link from the crudest, earliest forms of those on Japan to the classical fighting arts of Japan. The only one I think you could find would be chronological, and that doesn't mean much.
  13. Dao

    Dao Valued Member

    The term Jujitsu was only applied relatively late in the history of Japanese martial arts as a kind of unbrella term to describe many various unarmed and lightly armed combative combative systems that existed in japan sinse the beginning of recorded history. Looking at these ancient combat systems we can see many similarities to the modern arts of Jujitsu but in many cass more so to the art of Sumo.
    It is a self-satisfying statement for us Jujitsu folk to claim that all arts sprang forth from the loins of Jujitsu, but with so much diversity, amongst the arts which later became classed as Jujitsu, there is no more truth to this than there was in the outdated theory that all japanese martial arts came from the Shaolin monastery.

    Jujitsu was certainly used with light weaponry, such as a tanto, which to some is considered to be unarmed as on a battlefield full of naginata, yari and katana a soldier armed with a mere tanto could consider themselves to be virtually unarmed.
    Jujitsu was and still is used in cases where one finds oneself in posession of weapons but unable to access those weapons within a suitable defensive timeframe. In such a case Jujitsu skills would be used in order to evade, subdue or control an aggressor in order to gain access to ones own weapons.

    As for using Jujitsu in order to restrain someone in a manner suitable for applying rope bindings, this is an intrinsic part of many classical jujitsu ryu. One might surmise that more elaborate bindings were applied, with regard to prisoners rank, only after a basic restraint and tie had been completed to secure the prisoner. I can attest that these more basic tying methods can be taught to soldiers in a matter of minutes and take only seconds to apply, most being able to be applied with one hand whilst the other maintains control of the prisoner. It would have been in the prisoners best interest to then comply to a reasonable degree to an experienced practitioner upgrading their bindings to reflect and respect their position of rank.

  14. SwordOfDamocles

    SwordOfDamocles New Member

    One also has to consider that on a battlefield, most of your opponents wore armor, so striking and kicking without a weapon would not be terribly effective. On the other hand, armor has to be articulated at the joints so that the wearer can move, so it just makes sense that an art was developed to attack the weakest points of the armor.
  15. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    One of Japans most famous samurai's was trained in JuJutsu and used it in his first life and death encounter at the ripe old age of 13! :eek:

    Miyamoto Musashi in his duel with Arima Kihei. Musashi charged him with a wooden staff... Arima drew his sword and went to counter but Musashi shot in and got the take down... he recovered his staff and beat Arima Kihei to death.
  16. firecoins

    firecoins Armchair General

    Wow, an atypical troll! That makes 2 of us.
  17. Developing

    Developing Valued Member

    In my jui jitsu class which is under the lineage of Professor Vistacion I was always taught that jui jitsu is made up of karete, akido, and judo. I was the taught that the empty hand aspects of karete, the circular movements of akido and the throwing aspects of judo were all taken from jui jitsu. I was also taught that jui jitsu is unquestionably the oldest art.

    HOWEVER since I'm on a forum and not in class I can debate a little and say that I agree with some of the previous posts that it is really hard to determine in this day in age that jui jitsu is the without question the oldest art. Dao makes an excellent point in stating that jui jitsu itself can be traced back to a collection of ancient japanese forms of combat. I'll cite the text, "Secrets Of The Samurai," by Oscar Retti and Edele Westebrook as one example of evidence of this.

    And also there are other sources that trace the unarmed form of combat later called jui jitsu as being a component of samurai training. I believe one art form of a particular Samurai class was known as Hakudo which would be in some respects a grandfather to jui jitsu. Unfortunatly I am at work right now and cannot pull out the texts to give a 100% definite statement but I am almost positive one of the forms of samurai unarmed combat was referred to as Hakudo.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2005
  18. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    Hmm, this makes jujutsu sound like it is cobbled together from these three other arts, which is not the case. But I think you already understand that much.

    Of the four arts listed that is undoubtably the case, but jujutsu is by no means the oldest martial art.

    However, something to consider is that karate actually had no (or almost no) roots in jujutsu, as it was developed independent of the samurai and their arts in Okinawa rather than on mainland Japan. In fact, sources seem to agree that karate comes froma combination of an original fighting style of Okinawa and influence from Kung Fu.

    I've not heard of hakudo... It sounds similar to both Hapkido and Hikuta, both of which are much more modern arts than jujutsu, and the latter of which seems to have exceptionally dubious claims.

    A useful start if you want to look at the history of jujutsu would be this page.

    If you could get back to us on that one it would certainly help me research it myself.
  19. Jutsuka

    Jutsuka New Member

    Hi guys. I have found an article writen by Jigoro Kano, stating that one of the other names for jujitsu in feudal times was hakuda. It is on judoinfo.com


    I had never heard of it either then found this article by accident and as I was reading found this sentence.

    "Jujutsu has been known from feudal times under various names, such as yawara, tai-jutsu, kogusoku, kempo and hakuda. The names jujutsu and yawara were most widely known and used. "
    -- Jigoro Kano.
  20. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    Thanks, will take a look as soon as possible!

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