Jujutsu (English:/dʒuːˈdʒʊtsuː/joo-JOOT-soo; Japanese: 柔術 jūjutsulisten(help·info)), also known as Japanese Jujutsu, JJJ, Jujitsu or Japanese Ju-Jitsu, is a family of Japanese martial arts and a method of close combat for defeating an opponent in which one uses either a short weapon or bare hands. A subset of techniques from certain styles of Japanese jujutsu were used to develop modern martial arts and combat sports, such as judo, sambo, ARB, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts.
Jujutsu, the standard spelling, is derived using the Hepburn romanization system. Before the first half of the 20th century, however, jiu-Jitsu and ju-jitsu were preferred, even though the romanization of the second kanji as Jitsu is unfaithful to the standard Japanese pronunciation. It was a non-standardized spelling resulting from how English-speakers heard the second short u in the word, which is pronounced /ɯ/ and therefore close to a short English i. Since Japanese martial arts first became widely known of in the West in that time period, these earlier spellings are still common in many places. Ju-jitsu is still a common spelling in France, Canada, and the United Kingdom while jiu-jitsu is most widely used in Germany and Brazil.
Some define jujutsu and similar arts rather narrowly as “unarmed” close combat systems used to defeat or control an enemy who is similarly unarmed. Basic methods of attack include hitting or striking, thrusting or punching, kicking, throwing, pinning or immobilizing, strangling, and joint locking. Great pains were also taken by the bushi (classic warriors) to develop effective methods of defense, including parrying or blocking strikes, thrusts and kicks, receiving throws or joint locking techniques (i.e., falling safely and knowing how to “blend” to neutralize a technique’s effect), releasing oneself from an enemy’s grasp, and changing or shifting one’s position to evade or neutralize an attack. As jujutsu is a collective term, some schools or ryu adopted the principle of ju more than others.
From a broader point of view, based on the curricula of many of the classical Japanese arts themselves, however, these arts may perhaps be more accurately defined as unarmed methods of dealing with an enemy who was armed, together with methods of using minor weapons such as the jutte (truncheon; also called jitter), tantō (knife), or kakushi buki (hidden weapons), such as the ryofundo kusari (weighted chain) or the bankokuchoki (a type of knuckle-duster), to defeat both armed or unarmed opponents.
Furthermore, the term jujutsu was also sometimes used to refer to tactics for infighting used with the warrior’s major weapons: katana or tachi (sword), yari (spear), naginata (glaive), jō (short staff), and bō (quarterstaff). These close combat methods were an important part of the different martial systems that were developed for use on the battlefield. They can be generally characterized as either Sengoku period (1467–1603) katchu bu Jutsu or yoroi kumiuchi (fighting with weapons or grappling while clad in armor), or Edo period (1603–1867) suhada bu Jutsu (fighting while dressed in the normal street clothing of the period, kimono and hakama).
The first Chinese character of jujutsu (Chinese and Japanese: 柔; pinyin: róu; rōmaji: jū; Korean: 유; romaja: yu) is the same as the first one in judo (Chinese and Japanese: 柔道; pinyin: róudào; rōmaji: jūdō; Korean: 유도; romaja: yudo). The second Chinese character of jujutsu (traditional Chinese and Japanese: 術; simplified Chinese: 术; pinyin: shù; rōmaji: jutsu; Korean: 술; romaja: sul) is the same as the second one in traditional Chinese and Japanese: 武術; simplified Chinese: 武术; pinyin: wǔshù; rōmaji: bujutsu; Korean: 무술; romaja: musul.
The written history of Jujutsu first began during the Nara period (c. 710 – c. 794) combining early forms of Sumo and various Japanese martial arts which were used on the battlefield for close combat. The oldest known styles of Jujutsu are Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu dated at AD 780-1200, Shinden Fudo-ryū (ce.1130), Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū (c.1447), and Takenouchi-ryū which was founded in 1532. Many jujutsu forms also extensively taught parrying and counterattacking long weapons such as swords or spears via a dagger or other small weapons. In contrast to the neighbouring nations of China and Okinawa whose martial arts were centered on striking techniques, Japanese hand-to-hand combat forms focused heavily upon throwing (including joint-locking throws), immobilizing, joint locks, choking, strangulation, and to lesser extent ground fighting.
In the early 17th century during the Edo period, jujutsu would continue to evolve due to the strict laws which were imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate to reduce war as influenced by the Chinese social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism which was obtained during Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea and spread throughout Japan via scholars such as Fujiwara Seika.
During this new ideology, weapons and armor became unused decorative items, so hand-to-hand combat flourished as a form of self-defense and new techniques were created to adapt to the changing situation of unarmored opponents. This included the development of various striking techniques in jujutsu which expanded upon the limited striking previously found in jujutsu which targeted vital areas above the shoulders such as the eyes, throat, and back of the neck. However towards the 18th century the number of striking techniques was severely reduced as they were considered less effective and exert too much energy; instead striking in jujutsu primarily became used as a way to distract the opponent or to unbalance him in the lead up to a joint lock, strangle or throw.
During the same period the numerous jujutsu schools would challenge each other to duels which became a popular pastime for warriors under a peaceful unified government, from these challenges randori was created to practice without risk of breaking the law and the various styles of each school evolved from combating each other without intention to kill.
The term jūjutsu was not coined until the 17th century, after which time it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines and techniques. Prior to that time, these skills had names such as “short sword grappling” (小具足腰之廻, kogusoku koshi no mawari), “grappling” (組討 or 組打, kumiuchi), “body art” (体術, taijutsu), “softness” (柔 or 和, yawara), “art of harmony” (和術, wajutsu, yawarajutsu), “catching hand” (捕手, torite), and even the “way of softness” (柔道, jūdō) (as early as 1724, almost two centuries before Kanō Jigorō founded the modern art of Kodokan Judo).
Today, the systems of unarmed combat that were developed and practiced during the Muromachi period (1333–1573) are referred to collectively as Japanese old-style jujutsu (日本古流柔術, Nihon koryū jūjutsu). At this period in history, the systems practiced were not systems of unarmed combat, but rather means for an unarmed or lightly armed warrior to fight a heavily armed and armored enemy on the battlefield. In battle, it was often impossible for a samurai to use his long sword or polearm, and would, therefore, be forced to rely on his short sword, dagger, or bare hands. When fully armored, the effective use of such “minor” weapons necessitated the employment of grappling skills.
Methods of combat (as mentioned above) included striking (kicking and punching), various takedowns, throwing (body throws, shoulder and hip throws, joint-locking throws, sacrifice throws, unbalance and leg sweeping throws), restraining (pinning, strangling, grappling, wrestling, and rope tying) and weaponry. Defensive tactics included blocking, evading, off-balancing, blending and escaping. Minor weapons such as the tantō (knife), ryofundo kusari (weighted chain), kabuto wari (helmet breaker), and Kaku shi buki (secret or disguised weapons) were almost always included in Sengoku jujutsu.
In later times, other ko-ryū developed into systems more familiar to the practitioners of Nihon jujutsu commonly seen today. These are correctly classified as Edo jūjutsu (founded during the Edo period): they are generally designed to deal with opponents neither wearing armor nor in a battlefield environment but instead utilize grips and holds on opponent’s clothing. Most systems of Edo jujutsu include extensive use of atemi waza (vital-striking technique), which would be of little use against an armored opponent on a battlefield.[original research?] They would, however, be quite valuable in confronting an enemy or opponent during peacetime dressed in normal street attire (referred to as “suhada bujutsu”). Occasionally, inconspicuous weapons such as tantō (daggers) or tessen (iron fans) were included in the curriculum of Edo jūjutsu.
Another seldom-seen historical side is a series of techniques originally included in both Sengoku and Edo jujutsu systems. Referred to as Hojo waza (捕縄術 hojojutsu, Tori Nawa Jutsu, nawa Jutsu, hayanawa and others), it involves the use of a hojo cord, (sometimes the sageo or tasuke) to restrain or strangle an attacker. These techniques have for the most part faded from use in modern times, but Tokyo police units still train in their use and continue to carry a hojo cord in addition to handcuffs. The very old Takenouchi-ryu is one of the better-recognized systems that continue extensive training in hojo waza. Since the establishment of the Meiji period with the abolishment of the Samurai and the wearing of swords, the ancient tradition of Yagyū Shingan-ryū (Sendai and Edo lines) has focused much towards the Jujutsu (Yawara) contained in its syllabus.
Many other legitimate Nihon jujutsu Ryu exist but are not considered koryu (ancient traditions). These are called either Gendai Jujutsu or modern jujutsu. Modern jujutsu traditions were founded after or towards the end of the Tokugawa period (1868) when more than 2000 schools (ryū) of jūjutsu existed. Various supposedly traditional ryu and ryuha that are commonly thought of as koryu jujutsu are actually gendai Jūjutsu. Although modern in formation, very few gendai Jujutsu systems have direct historical links to ancient traditions and are incorrectly referred to as traditional martial systems or koryu. Their curriculum reflects an obvious bias towards techniques from Judo and Edo Jūjutsu systems, and sometimes have little to no emphasis on standing armlocks and joint-locking throws that were common Koryu styles. They also usually don’t teach usage of traditional weapons as opposed to the Sengoku jūjutsu systems that did. The improbability of confronting an armor-clad attacker and using traditional weapons is the reason for this bias.
Over time, Gendai jujutsu has been embraced by law enforcement officials worldwide and continues to be the foundation for many specialized systems used by police. Perhaps the most famous of these specialized police systems is the Keisatsujutsu (police art) Taiho jutsu (arresting art) system formulated and employed by the Tokyo Police Department.
Jujutsu techniques have been the basis for many military unarmed combat techniques (including British/US/Russian special forces and SO1 police units) for many years. Since the early 1900s, every military service in the world has an unarmed combat course that has been founded on the principal teachings of Jujutsu.
There are many forms of sports Jujutsu, the original and most popular being Judo, now an Olympic sport. One of the most common is mixed-style competitions, where competitors apply a variety of strikes, throws, and holds to score points. There are also kata competitions, where competitors of the same style perform techniques and are judged on their performance. There are also freestyle competitions, where competitors take turns attacking each other, and the defender is judged on performance. Another more recent form of competition growing much more popular in Europe is the Random Attack form of competition, which is similar to Randori but more formalized.