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What is Jujitsu?

JU (gentle, soft, to give way) JUTSU (art, technique)

Jujutsu is one of the oldest forms of hand-to-hand combat in Japan. Records of Jujutsu date back over 2000 years. 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.

Over the years, the ryu, or schools, where Jujutsu was taught, were passed down from generation to generation. During later times when peace was restored to the country, many schools died out. Those that remained were treasured by their keepers.

In approximately 1603, Japan came to a fairly peaceful period following the formation of the Tokugawa military government by Tokugawa Ieyasu. During this time, known as the Edo period (1603-1868), the feudal civil wars and unsettled feelings and emotions within many people had plagued Japan for centuries had started to disappear. Forms and techniques displaying weapons skills of fighting began to yield to weaponless styles, which incorporated many of the grappling ground fighting techniques of the weaponed styles. Universally, these techniques were known as Jujitsu. It has been estimated that over 750 systems of Jujitsu were in existence in Japan during the Edo period.


At the end of the Edo period originated the beginning of the Meiji Restoration period in which power had transferred from the Shogun back to the Emperor as a result of an abortive civil war between the different groups of people. Many samurai warriors had supported the Shogun during the war and as a result, lost much status and esteem when power was restored and reinstated to the Emperor. An Imperial Law was introduced, making it a crime to practice the old style or method of martial arts of the original samurai. Samurai were also forbidden from carrying their swords or similar weapons. The art of Jujitsu had nearly disappeared during this period, but had eventually survived because some masters began to practice the art underground in hiding, or in other countries, until the ban was lifted in the mid-twentieth century.


Jujitsu has become the basis for other fairly new martial art styles and is referred to as the calm and gentle art whereby pressure points, kicks, sweeps and throws, grappling and other effective techniques are combined to counter an attacker with ease. It has been said that to attack a true Jujitsu Master is like attacking yourself

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Jean Carlos and Edgard Castellanos