Japanese Ju-Jitsu is the mother of all Martial arts! It is as simple as that!
Originally, it started off as a lethal system to keep the samurai alive in unarmed combat. Today, Japanese Ju-Jitsu, in most gyms, is in a traditional form of martial arts practice. Although one different from the military version.
So, what is Japanese Ju-Jitsu? To understand this martial art, imagine that you were a Samurai during medieval times. That’s a big stretch, right? Still, if you were, you would need to know how to use a sword. But what if you didn’t have that sword with you and the attack came from someone who did? What would you do then?
Japanese Ju-Jitsu, that’s what! In other words, you would stop that sword strike from coming by throwing your adversary, pinning him or using a chokehold. By the way, the Samurai used to play for keeps. In other words, they practiced moves designed to kill their opponents.
While current practitioners don’t fight to the death, Ju-Jitsu remains a popular form of self-defense. We’ll discuss the facts about this discipline, including its history, goals, and sub-styles.
Japanese old-style Ju-Jitsu, or Nihon koryu ju-jitsu, dates back to the Muromachi period in Japan between 1333 and 1573. This old style of martial arts training was focused on teaching the unarmed or very lightly armed warrior to fight a heavily armed warrior. This eventually led to the teaching of a significant amount of grappling, throwing, restraining and weaponry skills to Samurai.
The term Ju-Jitsu began to take hold in the 17th century. At the time, it described all of the grappling-related disciplines in Japan that were used and taught by the Samurai. The name ” Ju-Jitsu ” means the “art of softness” or “way of yielding.”
Eventually, Ju-Jitsu evolved, changing with the times to the Nihon ju-jitsu seen today. Generally, this more contemporary style is termed Edo Ju-Jitsu, since it was founded during the Edo period. The striking in these styles is not designed to be effective against armor since no one really wears armor anymore. However, it would most certainly be effective against a plain-clothed person.
The Characteristics of Ju-Jitsu
Ju-Jitsu is characterized by using an attacker’s momentum against him by guiding it in a way that the applier would prefer (and not the attacker). Ju-Jitsu methods 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).
The Goal of Ju-Jitsu
The goal of Ju-Jitsu is simple. Practitioners hope to disable, disarm, or even kill opponents, depending on the situation.
There are many schools of Japanese Ju-Jitsu. They include older styles such as:
- Daito-ryu aiki-ju-jitsu
- Hontai Yoshin-ryu
- Kashima Shin-ryū
- Kyushin Ryu
- Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu
- Tenjin Shinyo-ryu
- Yagyu Shingan Ryu
- Yoshin Ryu
Here are the more modern schools, sometimes termed self-defense Ju-Jitsu schools. They include:
- Danzan Ryu
- German Ju-Jitsu
- Goshin Ju-Jitsu
- Hakko Ryu
- Hakko Denshin Ryu
- Kumite-ryu Ju-Jitsu
- Miyama Ryu
- Sanuces Ryu
- Shorinji Kan Ju-Jitsu (The Jitsu Foundation)
- Small Circle Ju-Jitsu
- World Ju-Jitsu Federation (WJJF)
Japanese Ju-Jitsu Origins
The precise origins of Japanese Ju-Jitsu are quite unclear. Speculation points to the Buddhist monks in India, as the first to develop the art centuries ago. What’s known is that it was used as a survival tool for the Japanese Samurai and Ninja warriors. The idea was that in unarmed combat, striking would be completely ineffective because of the warriors’ armor. In such cases, grappling methods that involved throws and joint locks proved to be a superior method of combat.
Japanese Ju-Jitsu has come a long way from its original military form. The traditional values of the art have survived as the knowledge of the art was passed from generation to generation. As time went by, the art developed into a more sport-friendly format, despite it being the art of choice for military and law-enforcement personnel to this day.
A major change in traditional Japanese Ju-Jitsu was the introduction of Randori or free sparring. It took the creation of Judo by Dr. Jigoro Kano to introduce this change in the art. As such, Judo later pulled apart from Ju-Jitsu as a separate grappling martial art. Judo, though, specializes mostly in the throws department, while traditional Ju-Jitsu is still a very diverse martial art with plenty of elements.
Today’s Japanese Ju-Jitsu
Today’s Japanese Ju-Jitsu still has a lot of the traditional elements held in high regard. It is much stricter discipline-wise. However, it does incorporate many different disciplines from striking to practicing throws and locks that are considered dangerous. It is faster in terms of defeating an opponent and is more self-defense oriented.
Japanese Roots of Ju-Jitsu Gi
The kimono originates from feudal Japan, where it was the traditional outfit of the Japanese samurai. The samurai wore different colored kimonos back then, each color representing a clan. The kimono had an undergarment role, worn under the armor which meant strikes were hardly efficient. That’s where grappling came into the picture and spurred the growth of arts like Judo and Ju-Jitsu. Imagine a Karate uniform of today, only baggier. The original kimono consisted of an additional third part compared to the modern Gi. The samurai also wore Hakamas, or wide pants today worn by Aikido Black Belts.
As Judo developed, in the early 1900s the traditional samurai kimono was deemed impractical for the art. Dr. Jigoro Kano decided to change the usual design and came up with a sturdier version. The result was a tighter, shorter uniform that was sewn together differently than the traditional model. That’s how the Ju-Jitsu Gi that is known today, first came to be.
Evolution of The Modern Ju-Jitsu Gi
The first colored Gi`s emerged during the ’70s, courtesy of Reylson Gracie, Carlos’ son. Along with color came the third modification, now returning some length in the sleeves due to competition requirements.
About a decade later, patches followed in the footsteps of colors, as sponsors became prevalent in the sport. With the growth of the competition scene, came an increase in financial demands for aspiring athletes.
This led to advertisements of everything, from local restaurants to barber shops displayed in the form of Gi patches. This practice became even more prominent during the 90s. The growth of Ju-Jitsu and its worldwide spread brought about the emergence of various Gi brands.
In the 90’s it was down to a couple of brands, which worked well for both brands and sponsored athletes.
Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Gi manufacturing soon turned into a profitable business venture, leading to a huge increase in brands.