XTreme Urban Concepts

    Ju Jitsu & Self Defence Trainers



 During the reign of the emperor Minmyo (833-856AD) annual martial art contests were being held and two very distinct grappling forms had developed. The first, combative grappling for warriors, the other a sport form known to us as Sumo. The Sumo wrestler was bred to wrestle where as the warrior grappled to maintain the advantage in combat. It was that a method of grappling was formulated by Teijun Fujiwara, sixth son of the emperor Seiwa Fujiwara (850-880AD). He passed this to his son Tsunemoto Fujiwara and so it passed down through the families generations until it became revised and improved by General Shinra Saburo Yoshimtsu Minamoto, under him it took the name Daito Ryu. He and his brother, Yoshiie Hachimantaro No minamoto did some research into the bone structure and the functioning of the human body by dissecting cadavers to learn how the bones and the related tissues functioned. From this knowledge more techniques were developed.

Before the Tokugawan era the term ju Jitsu did not exist, Yoshimitsu called it Ai-Ki-Jitsu which roughly translated means to ‘Harmonise the Soul’. Yoshimitsu’s son Yoshikiyo moved to the town of Takeda where he taught the art to his servants, retainers and members of his own family. Then in 1574 kunitsugu Takeda took his entire family to Fukushima province and entered the service of the Aizu family. The Takeda family then developed a system know as Takeda Ryu Aikijuijitsu.

Other styles sprang up from the bujitsu ryu which had methods of the Samurai, this was known as Kumi-Uchi which involved actual locking methods with the foe and then using a dagger to exploit the spaces between the foes armour. Other terms for grappling include Kogusoku and Tori-te which roughly means to grapple whilst possessing arms and to retrain the enemy with the use of Hojo Jitsu as is the case with the Takeuchi ryu. There were other terms such as kempo and Kakutojitsu which put emphasis on striking and kicking techniques. The generic term used to cover the full range and scope of all the practices was yawara or yawara Jitsu. The Calligraphy for Yawara jitsu can also be read as jiu jitsu. Jiu is the ‘On’ or Chinese reading of the character for pliability or gentleness where as the yawara is the ‘Kun’ or native Japanese reading for the same character.

During the Tokugawan era the two lineages of Ju jitsu become interwoven. The first lineage being purely Oshi-Ki-Uch modes of the daito ryu, and the yawara Gi methods of the bujitsu ryu. Also the kogusoku and koshi-no-mawari methods of the Takeuchi ryu and Torido methods of the Araki Kempi ryu. The second lineage came from the Chinese; the first point of transmission was within the Yoshin ryu. It was written that a physician and herbalist, Yoshitoki Shirobel Akiyama travelled to a coastal town south of Peking, his purpose was to study Chinese healing methods. It was here he learnt bone setting, Joint manipulation, massage and resuscitation, these things were known as Kwappo or Kuatsu in Ju Jitsu circles.

He went back to Japan and founded his own school, he retired to a monastery and trained until he had mastered 103 techniques, he took the name of his school by watching the snow land onto a cherry tree, eventually the trunk broke under the weight. Close by stood a willow tree, as the snow built up the tree bent and sprang back casting the snow away, thus from this he called his school Yoshin ryu. The Yoshin ryu incorporated into its style the Chinese principles of non resistance that was to become a feature of Tokugawan Ju jitsu. From Yoshin ryu many other off shoots started to spring up, like Shinnoshindo ryu and Sosuuish ryu just to name two.

Many ju Jitsu ryu had their beginnings in monasteries; one of these such monasteries was the Kokuseis monastery at Azabu where the monks and their guests would practice Yawara. It is here the second connection with the Chinese comes about. A Buddhist of the cha’an left China due to the invasion of the Mongols, like so many scholars, nobles and officials did and went to Japan, during his years in Japan he become a retainer for 21 years, he wrote poems and made fine pieces of porcelain for the Daimyo of Owari. He travelled to Edo-machi and stayed as a guest at the Kokuseis Zen Buddhist monastery.

It was here that he met three ronin, one was a master of Ju Jitsu and the other two were students of his. The master’s name was Fukuno and the other two were Isogal and Muira, Fukuno was a master of Ryoi Shinto yawara and soon they were all having discussions of the various aspects of the art. The monk (Chen) himself was a master of the Chinese version known as Chiaco-Ti-Sha known to the Japanese as Kakutojitsu. He demonstrated some of his techniques which could be consided as Kempo or Atemi. It was at the monastery that Chen taught the three ronin what he could before they all went their separate ways. Fukuno kept the name of his school whereas his two students went their own way and founded their own schools. Miura joined Yoshin Ryu and eventually founded Yoshin Miura Ryu and Isogal eventually founded the Seigo Ryu which maintained its Kumiuchi form. Fukuno passed the leadership onto Sadayashi Terada whom studied tenshin Ryu Yawara. Sadayashi named his style Kito Ryu.

One school alone is hailed as a merging point for the teaching and traditions of both the Yoshin Ryu and Ryoi Shinto Ryu, this school was called Tenjin Shin Yo ryu, which meant ‘utilising the harmony between man and nature style. This style was founded by Sekizal minamoto Ne masatari Yanagi. Yanagi had studied both Yoshin ryu and shinnoshindo dojo, he then took himself on a traditional warrior’s pilgrimage through the country. He then started to study Miura Ryu and Ryoi Shinto Ryu, he defeated all challengers from other ryu. By the time he was thirty, he had built himself a reputation of great prowess in Ju jitsu. In 1845 he settled down and changed his name to Mataemon, he started teaching techniques of the Tenjin Shin Yo ryu. This school was formulated around Atemi waza or concussion striking techniques as well as applying immobilizing locks and grips of the style. In 1862 he died and his son (Masatomo) took over the leadership. In 1877 a student of mataemon iso’s hachinosuke Fukuda, who ran a Tenjin Shin yo ryu dojo at Daikucho, in Nihonbasi a slender seventeen year old enrolled into his class. This youngster was Jigora Kano, who trained until he obtained a Menkyo Kaiden teaching license in Tenjin Shin Yo ryu. When his teacher died in 1881 he then joined the Kito ryu dojo.

In 1882 kano has his own Kito ryu dojo at Eishoji temple, kano also made a study of both Sekiguchi and Seigo ryu, he was so wrapped up in Ju jitsu that he found it distressing to think that Ju Jitsu schools were slowly closing down due to a lack of students and master’s dying and taking their teachings with them. As time went on kano eventually become a member of parliament and decided that there should be a Ju Jitsu system that consisted of the best techniques taken from various Ju jitsu ryu. He called his system kodakan Jiu-do, this style consisted mainly the throwing techniques of the kito ryu and the striking and locking techniques of the Tenjin Shin Yo ryu but removing the dangerous techniques from the various Ju jitsu ryu’s.

During this time Kano placed great emphasis on its use in education and as a way of character building. However he was making little head way as his style had many deficientcies and was no match against genuine combat effective Ju Jitsu, It was during this time he met Shiro Saigo who was an expert trained in Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu. He used saigo to prove the supremacy of his own Jui-do methods. Whenever a challenger came along they would come face to face with Saigo, who would overcome his opponents with techniques that were not included in the kano school, because they were consided too dangerous to people. Rivalry between Kano’s school and other schools grew until 1886 when a contest was arranged. Each side had fifteen men, kano made sure that his team had converts from our other schools and they were all fighting under Kano’s rules with no strikes or dangerous techniques, so it became a purely grapping and throwing competition. The outcome was that kano’s school won thirteen, lost two and drew one.

In subsequent years Kodakan propagandists pointed to this match saying that it was a brilliant victory for jui-do over the older Ju Jitsu styles and that the older styles were less effective and that people who had learnt the old methods should forget their knowledge and take up instruction in the kano method. Kano knew that the majority of the old schools of ju Jitsu would not break with tradition and openly teach their methods to all and sundry, so he could challenge them with impunity, secure in the knowledge that few would respond and those that did would have to contend with the Daito ryu techniques of Shiro Saigo, thus Kano’s style become popular. The techniques associated with Judo as it is today, did not come about in the Kodakan syllabus until 1906. It was in this year that the Dai Nihon Butokukai pronounced the formal kata’s of the Kodakan system. The kata’s were formulated by fourteen Ju Jitsu masters and six members of the Kodakan on 24th July 1906. The meeting was held in an atmosphere of intense rivalry and mistrust between the older schools of Ju Jitsu and the emerging Kodakan system.

Instructors first came to Britain in the last years of the nineteenth century, they did not come as instructors, but as bank clerks, military men, students and business men. Some of them taught Ju jitsu as a means of making ends meet while others took to the old music halls and demonstrated their art. One such person was Yukio Tani, who gave demonstrations under his stage name of “ The pocket Hercules and was famous through all levels of London society. He then went into business with a William Bankie and opened a Ju Jitsu school in Oxford Street. This was not the only Ju jitsu school that opened, there was quite a few that opened at the time but did not last long due to the lack of interest or nobody quite understood what ju jitsu was.

By the outbreak of the Second World War nearly all the Japanese Ju jitsu instructors of the British Ju jitsu society disappeared back to Japan, some overnight. After the war with the allied occupation of Japan all the martial arts were banned for a time because it was considered that the arts were ‘unacceptable’ because they trained people for war and the U.S. forces did not want this, so the Japanese turned them into ‘acceptable’ sports. People like Kano eventually showed their art was taught for personal development and fir spiritual development, this was the case for Judo, Karate Do, Aikido and Kendo. After the war many service began training in the many Do forms and some were even taught Ju Jitsu and thus carried the seeds of Ju jitsu’s international development back to their own countries.

The Traditional ryu did not only teach Ju Jitsu, the ryu was a tradition of all martial practice that would include Ken-Jitsu, Iai-Jitsu, Bo-Jitsu and Kakushi-Jitsu. Other weapons were closely associated with Ju jitsu from the time of the Ji-Samurai were taught Ju jitsu. The Ji- Samurai were farmer warriors who were banned from carrying or possessing swords. The Ji-Samurai developed their own weapons, these included the following,

Manriki        -         Kusari Weighted Chain

Musari         -        Gama Sickle and chain

Maskari       -        Axe

Kumate       -        Rake

Tekken-Zu  -          Iron ring

Jutte           -         Iron truncheon

Nawa           -        Rope

Shuriken     -        Darts, Spikes and Needles

Shaiken       -         Throwing stars and discs

Chigiriki      -        Flail

Kusari-Gama        -        Sickle and chain   

Ju jitsu was initially taught as a backup to the samurai in case they lost or broke their primary weapons, i.e. the sword. Or in the case of a Tanto they would use it in conjunction with their grappling. Some of the weapons above are rarely taught due to the weapons being banned from use or the original teachings lost.

Ju jitsu has influenced the ‘Do’ forms, that of Karate Do, Aikido, Judo and various Sword and weapon ‘Do’ forms. All the founders of Karate, Aikido and Judo at some time practiced Ju Jitsu and dismembered it and kept certain key features for their ‘Do’ forms.

The founder of Wado Ryu practiced Shinnoshindo ryu Ju jitsu and based his style on Ju jitsu techniques. Masutatsu Ayama practiced kakuto-Jitsu and copied the legend of how the Ju jitsuka Sasagawa Shigezo had attacked a fully grown bull and defeated it. Oyama did the same thing one hundred years later and become the founder of Kyokushin Karate style. Ueshiba gained a menkyo kaiden from Tenjin shin yo ryu and Daito ryu and eventually become the founder of Aikido. Kano has studied Tenjin shin yo ryu and Kito ryu and eventually become the founder of Judo.  And even today we see elements of Ju jitsu in evolving martial arts such as Hapkido and Krav Maga( just to name two)where the founder must have been influenced in some way by the art of Ju Jitsu





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Brief History of Ju Jitsu