What is JuJitsu?


JuJitsu (also jujutsu, ju jitsu, ju jutsu, or jiu jitsu; from the Japanese 柔術 jūjutsu "gentle/yielding/compliant art") is a Japanese martial art.


   Stated simply, JuJitsu is the gentle art of self-defense.  This is a very simple definition for a very complex art.  It does have a more complex definition.  If we look at the many characteristics of the art it will be possible to come up with a more complete definition, one that is more suitable for the serious student.


   First, JuJitsu is what some would call a parent art.  This is an art from which other martial arts develop.  Since JuJitsu has such a broad history, it was inevitable that other arts, or more correctly, ways would evolve from it.  Judo (gentle/flexible way) and aikido (way of mind and spirit) can trace direct lines to JuJitsu.  Many styles of karate, especially kenpo, can also trace some of their techniques back to JuJitsu.  Therefore, in addition to being a parent art, JuJitsu is also a combination of many of the more popular martial arts taught today.  Upon observng a practitioner of JuJitsu (jujitsuka) one will see flashes of each separate system.  One will also see how many separate moves can be combined into an effective self-defense system.


   JuJitsu is a series or combination of techniques have been separated into other arts.  Why was JuJitsu separated into specific do or ways?  JuJitsu may become too complex as an art or, because there was no single system or systemized way of teaching it, too difficult to learn.  Both Jigoro Kano (Judo) and Morihei Uyeshiba (Aikido) were able to simplify and systemize their ways.  There are perhaps 30 to 50 basic moves in JuJitsu.  However, it is the combinations and variations of the basic moves that make the art so complex and almost infinite in its variety of moves.  By dividing the art into three general areas (Judo for throws and leverage, karate for strikes and kicks, and aikido for nerves and the use of attacker momentum), portions of the art would be easier to teach.  They would also be easier to organize and perpetuate as a system.


    As they become easier (a relative term) to teach, organize, and perpetuate as a system, the way would also become more attractive to potential students.  we should not place a value judgment on the validity of any martial art, as all arts are effective when placed in their proper context.  JuJitsu was in decline in 19th-century Japan, a time period when other martial arts were on the rise.  Jujitsu was a complex art and considered old-fashioned.  The other martial arts were also complex, but because they could be organized and limited in their scope they became easier to teach.  Their growth was inevitable.


    JuJitsu ultimately survived by traveling two parallel pathways.  There were those who continued to teach the art as an art, realizing that students would recognize the virtue of studying JuJitsu and pass that knowledge on.  There were also those who studied one of the systems that evolved from JuJitsu, became proficient, realized that something was missing, and developed proficiency in each of the other systems that make up a major portion of JuJitsu.  In their own way, they put the pieces of the puzzle back together again.  It may not have been quite the same puzzle that JuJitsu started out as, but all the pieces still fit.  They were able to integrate judo, karate, and aikido back into the martial art of JuJitsu to provide an effective system.


    This theory of two paths can be borne out by observing the variety of ryu (styles) of JuJitsu that exist in the United States and throughout the world today.  Despite their differences in terminology (and sequence in which techniques are taught) they are all remarkably similar.  Many, in fact, are identical by the time the Jujitsuka (JuJitsu practitioner) gets to the level of shodan (1st degree Black Belt). 


    JuJitsu is an extremely effective self-defense system.  If jujitsu is taught as an art, then the student will have a vast resource to draw upon to defend himself with.  He/she has learned a series of basic techniques that can be combined in an almost unlimited manner.  His/her only limitation is their own knowledge and understanding of the techniques and how and why they work.  A skilled student can create and control the amount of pain his assailant may feel without any injury taking place.  He can also create sufficient pain and disabling injuries that will make it impossible for the assailant to continue his attack.


    If you give a man a fish then he has enough food for a day.  If you teach him how to fish, then he has enough food for a lifetime.  The saying applies to the martial arts.  If a student learns specific defenses for specific attacks, the he may survive those attacks.  If he learns a variety of techniques as an art, then he will not only survive the attacks but also develop a greater variety of responses to any given situation.  He has been given the tools of survival rather than a simple meal.


     If JuJitsu is taught as an art, then a proficient jujitsuka can use his knowledge to create new and different combinations of techniques based upon the basic techniques that he has learned.  That is how this book is organized.  The student is encouraged to take the basic techniques and combinations in this book, master them, and then reorganize them into other combinations.  It will be like lighting the first candle in a tunnel.  You will be surprised how far you can go.


       Surprisingly, JuJitsu is also a form of relaxation.  There is nothing more rejuvenating than letting your developed KI (energy) control your situation on the mat.  You do not know what attacks are coming at you, and you do not have time to think about them anyway.  It is a pleasure to let your KI control your body, executing techniques smoothly, without your sensing any mental or physical output taking place.  This is a skill that is acquired after much practice and patience.  This is also what makes JuJitsu an art.


JuJitsu Philosophical Dimensions


    Although JuJitsu and the ancient arts in general often do not have the suffix -do or "way" to designate them as paths toward spiritual liberation and inner development, there are some philosophical and mental components, which have significance and application in these systems, at least because of their value in developing the actual combat effectiveness of the practitioner.


    These include: an all-encompassing awareness, zanshin (literally "remaining spirit"), in which the practitioner is ready for anything, at any time; the spontaneity of mushin (literally "no mind") which allows immediate action without conscious thought; and a state of equanimity or imperturbability known as fudoshin.


    Together, these states of mind tremendously strengthen the JuJitsu practitioner, allowing him the utmost potential for effective action. Such effectiveness and the technical competence and mental mastery on which it stands, however, is possible only after a considerable period of serious and devoted training.


    These various characteristics or components, taken together, largely describe the principal elements of traditional Japanese JuJitsu. Shorinji Ryu Jujitsu and Bujin Ki Ryu JuJitsu follows the same cultural philosophy with a more modern approach that includes others aspects of community and respect towards other martial arts. The art of Jujitsu is not to fight at all, yet demonstrating a win-win approach to self defense and a respect towards a human life.

Black Hills Bujin Ki Jujitsu Honbu, Rushmore Mall, 2200 N.Maple Avenue, Rapid City, SD 57701

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