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Combat Ju Jutsu

The Story of Jujutsu A brief History of Jujutsu

By Kevin O'Hagan

The origins of the Martial Art we know as Ju Jutsu are very sketchy. Some say it originated in China, others India or even ancient Greece. But most will settle for the fact that the term Ju Jutsu is certainly Japanese and this is where the art flourished, particularly in the feudal times. What was to become coined Ju Jutsu was a fragmented art with no real structure. Its early name ranged from yori-kamiuchi, Ya-wara to taijutsu.

Kamiuchi was an early form of grappling on the battlefields with or without weapons. Normally it was used to down an opponent making it easy for the killing stroke administered by sword or knife, because of the protected armour Samurais wore, bare handed strikes were not really effective, so grappling became the unarmed system to help defeat an enemy particularly when weapons were broken or lost in the heat of the battle. As long as military dominance was a focus of Japan the battlefield arts flourished but when decline of the battlefields began, the need for these warrior arts were not as important. The arts were then taught more for self-defence and many of the combative techniques were eliminated. As peacetime arrived, more emphasis was put on empty hand techniques than weapons.

Many ryu's (schools) began to develop teaching their methods of self-defence. This is really where Ju Jutsu became more structured. The Takenouchi Ryu was one of the main ones in the period of early 15th Century. Japan was gradually moving towards the Western World Culture and as this happened the need for feudal fighting skills became less and less and finally most feel into decline or went underground. The word Ju Jutsu became associated with the old days and the feudal era that many no longer wanted or needed.

By the 18th century Ju Jutsu was almost unfounded in Japan and a young man called Jigoro Kano went about trying to develop an 'acceptable' system from the ruins of many Ju Jutsu Ryu. This resulting in the modern art of Judo. Judo was a structured system of the best of Ju Jutsu that could be practiced without serious injury and eliminating the more dangerous and combative technique. This is not to say Judo is not a formidable art, just a different one and a progressive one. On our times Judo is nearly always practiced as an Olympic sport. Much of the self-defence applications are no longer taught. By the 19th century Judo was spreading its word right across the world. Many students were being sent from Japan to teach the art. Many came to the UK to fight and demonstrate in the old time music halls like the legendary Tani. The art became a popular alternative to boxing and wrestling because of its leverage and un-balancing skills that could see a small person beat a larger one.

Ju Jutsu did still seem to re-appear particularly in the era of World War One and two British troops were taught these skills for C.Q.C. so to did the Americans. Famous C.Q.C instructors like Fairbarn and Applegate taught many Ju Jutsu techniques in their programmes. So as wartime re-appeared so too did Ju Jutsu technique. There are many books and manuals describing all manner of Ju Jutsu techniques or Combat Judo as it was sometimes coined. Police also were schooled in these techniques and even today most police and military unarmed skills are based on Ju Jutsu technique.

In the UK Ju Jutsu really had a big rebirth in the early 70's when modern day Ju Jutsu masters like Prof. Blundell, Clark and Morris started spreading Ju Jutsu techniques around the country. The system stronghold was in the North and they had many, many great Ju Jutsu men. All the combative techniques re-appeared to be taught as a structured Martial Art and Ju Jutsu again flourished and still does.

Again in the early 90's Ju Jutsu received another boost when the Gracie family introduced their Brazilian Ju Jutsu to the world. Although different from Japanese Ju Jutsu its roots were certainly from Japan. But the system that predominantly features groundwork was refined and improved in Brazil. Today this is a massively popular art and was responsible for putting grappling back on the map as an essential skill. This was proved time and time again in the Ultimate Fighting Championships and other cage events.

Back to Combat Ju Jutsu Articles | Part 2



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