THE ORIGINS OF JU-JITSU

There are many varying accounts as to the origins of Ju-Jitsu but some historians say that Ju-Jitsu (the oldest form of all martial arts), also known as “The Mother of Martial Arts”, can be tracked back to India where it was invented by Buddhist monks. These monks developed movements based on balance and leverage, in a manner that would avoid reliance on strength and weapons. 

Ju-Jitsu later found its way through China and all the way to ancient Japan where it gained even more popularity. Adopted by the Samurai’s (Japanese Royal Guards) as a superior form of self-defence and as a way of life, the art form highlighted their own code of conduct known as “Bushido” (aka ‘The Way of the Warrior’). 

Centred around a number of core values including loyalty, justice, manners, purity, modesty, honour, self confidence, and respect the Japanese named the smooth techniques Ju-Jitsu “The Gentle Way” 

With the end of the feudal system in Japan, Ju-Jitsu was brought to an end and different forms of the art emerged out of it such as Aikido, Karate, and Judo. However, these new forms lacked the essential pieces of what the true art initially stood for. 

Japanese old style Ju-Jitsu or Nihon koryu jujutsu was developed and practiced during the Muromachi period, in Japan, between 1333-1573. This old style of martial arts training was focused on teaching the unarmed (or very lightly armed) Warrior to fight a heavily armed opponent. This eventually led to a significant amount of grappling, throwing, restraining, and weaponry skills being taught to Samurai, the most effective of which was dependent on the given situation.

The term Ju-Jitsu began to take hold in the 17th Century. At the time, it really described all of the grappling related disciplines being used and taught by the Japanese Samurai. Ju-Jitsu translates as the "art of softness," or "way of yielding", which reinforces the notion that it is an art that uses an attacker's aggressiveness - and momentum - against them.

Eventually, this style of Ju-Jitsu morphed - changing with the times - to become the more commonly practiced Nihon Ju-Jitsu seen today. Generally, this more contemporary style is often referred to as EdoJu-Jitsu, since it was founded during the Edo period. The striking in these styles would be less effective against armour, for example, but far more appropriate against a plain-clothed assailant.

Ju-Jitsu is characterized by using an attacker's momentum or strength against them by guiding it in a way that the applier would prefer (and not the attacker). Methods taught in Ju-Jitsu circles include striking, throwing, restraining (pinning and strangling), joint locks, weaponry, and grappling. It is truly best known for its effectiveness against weapons, use of throws, and its locks (armbars and wrist locks, for example).

Today, Ju-Jitsu is practiced in both traditional and modern sport forms. Derived sport forms include the Olympic sport and martial art of judo, which was developed by Kanō Jigorō in the late 19th century from several traditional styles of Ju-Jitsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which was in turn derived from earlier (pre–World War II) versions of Kodokan judo. 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 formalised.