Jujutsu Japanese: 柔術, jūjutsu is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon or only a short weapon. The word jujutsu can be spelled as ju-jitsu, jujitsu, jiu-jitsu and ju-jutsu.
„Jū” can be translated to mean „gentle, soft, supple, flexible, pliable, or yielding.” „Jutsu” can be translated to mean „art” or „technique” and represents manipulating the opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force. Jujutsu developed to combat the samurai of feudal Japan as a method for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon, or only a short weapon. Because striking against an armored opponent proved ineffective, practitioners learned that the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took the form of pins, joint locks, and throws. These techniques were developed around the principle of using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it. There are many variations of the art, which leads to a diversity of approaches. Jujutsu schools (ryū) may utilize all forms of grappling techniques to some degree (i.e. throwing, trapping, joint locks, holds, gouging, biting, disengagements, striking, and kicking). In addition to jujutsu, many schools teach the use of weapons. Today, jujutsu 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 jujutsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which was derived from earlier (pre–World War II) versions of Kodokan Judo.
Jujutsu first began during the Sengoku period of the Muromachi period combining various Japanese martial arts which were used on the battlefield for close combat in situations where weapons were ineffective. In contrast to the neighboring nations of China and Okinawa whose martial arts were centered around striking techniques, Japanese hand-to-hand combat forms focused heavily upon throwing, immobilizing, joint locks and choking as striking techniques were ineffective towards someone wearing armor on the battlefield. The original forms of jujutsu such as Takenouchi-ryū also extensively taught parrying and counterattacking long weapons such as swords or spears via a dagger or other small weapon. In the early 17th century during the Edo period, jujutsu would continue to evolve due to the strict laws which were imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate to reduce war as influenced by the Chinese social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism which was obtained during Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea and spread throughout Japan via scholars such as Fujiwara Seika. During this new ideology weapons and armor became unused decorative items, so hand-to-hand combat flourished as a form of self-defense and new techniques were created to adapt to the changing situation of unarmored opponents. This included the development of various striking techniques in jujutsu which expanded upon the limited striking previously found in jujutsu which targeted vital areas above the shoulders such as the eyes, throat and back of the neck. However towards the 18th century the number of striking techniques was severely reduced as they were considered less effective and exert too much energy; instead striking in jujutsu primarily became used as a way to distract your opponent or to unbalance him in lead up to a joint lock, strangle or throw. During the same period the numerous jujutsu schools would challenge each other to duels which became a popular pastime for warriors under a peaceful unified government, from these challenges randori was created to practice without risk of breaking the law and the various styles of each school evolved from combating each other without intention to kill. The term jūjutsu was not coined until the 17th century, after which time it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines and techniques. Prior to that time, these skills had names such as „short sword grappling” (小具足腰之廻 kogusoku koshi no mawari), „grappling” (組討 or 組打 kumiuchi), „body art” (体術 taijutsu), „softness” (柔 or 和 yawara), „art of harmony” (和術 wajutsu, yawarajutsu), „catching hand” (捕手 torite), and even the „way of softness” (柔道 jūdō) (as early as 1724, almost two centuries before Kanō Jigorō founded the modern art of Kodokan Judo)