Japanese Jiu-Jitsu or Jujutsu is a style of martial arts which was traditionally used for self-defense by Buddhist monks in ancient times.
In the 1900s, the ancient art was further refined by Carlos Gracie and renamed Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.
The discipline and technique of Jiu-Jitsu has since became a global martial arts phenomenon, as it is one of the most popular styles used among MMA fights in modern martial arts promotions such as the UFC, Bellator, and Pride.
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The Basic Technique of Jiu-Jitsu
The name itself was derived from the Japanese word Ju which means gentle or yielding, and Jutsu means a technique or art. The technique of manipulating the opponent is through the use of a gentle and smart approach. The idea is to study the opponent’s force and redirect it against them. This allows a smaller martial artist to defeat a much larger opponent.
Over the years of refining this practice, Jiu-Jitsu masters utilized various concepts such as using angles to minimize the impact of strikes, or the fact that punching somebody larger could possibly cause more damage to yourself than your opponent. They took this knowledge and created an ecosphere of defense, grappling, and submission techniques which minimized harm to the practitioner.
A prime example of the mind being the strongest tool we have.
The Early Days of Jiu-Jitsu
The early techniques of Jiu-Jitsu were first documented in Japan during the Nara period (710 – 794). Jiu-Jitsu was born out of the spirit of other martial arts disciplines like Sumo, which were commonly used in the early combats on the battlefield at the time of wars. One of the oldest styles that are still practiced today is Shinden Fudo-ryu (1130), Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu (1447), and Takenouchi-ryu (1532). Some of these ancient arts even incorporated weapons such as daggers or swords.
During the 17th century, the Edo period continued developing, practicing, and implementing additional strict laws about Jiu-Jitsu by the influence of Tokugawa shogunate to avoid future wars developing with China. When the Chinese introduced the social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism, Japan accepted the ideology by putting away a history of what used to be comprised of armor and weapons and instead turned it into a work of true art. A vast number of Jiu-Jitsu schools were facing the challenge of training students focusing only with hand to hand combat to implement the change from the newly accepted ideology. At this point, different striking techniques were introduced which targeted sensitive areas such as the neck, throat, groin, and even the eyes.
However, during the 18th century, many Jiu-Jitsu practitioners deemed some of the newly introduced striking techniques to be ineffective. Some of the techniques were also off-limits in martial arts competitions. It was decided that distracting the opponent to lure them into a throw or joint lock was a better option, instead of forcing too much effort into striking the opponent.
The Evolution of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu
Fast forward to the 1900s, and Jiu-Jitsu has gained extreme popularity in the US, British and Russian military forces as a basic discipline for practicing unarmed combat techniques. The course is still implemented up to this day to promote the principal teachings of the martial art as part of the military defense. The Tokyo Police Department has also enforced the foundation of Gendai Jiu-Jitsu in their special police operations called Keisatsujutsu and Taiho-jutsu, an art of arresting criminals.
Nowadays, Jiu-Jitsu is a popular Olympic sport. Jiu-Jitsu competitors join in mixed-style martial arts competitions where they can showcase their talent and expertise. Freestyle competitions are also organized worldwide, wherein the two competitors are judged upon their martial arts performance.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the few martial arts disciplines which have been able to adapt and stay relevant in modern times.
Nowadays, it’s considered to be one of the most effective martial arts for both self-defense, as well as recreational sport.