Danzan Ryu Jujitsu Martial Arts Class located in the City of Rocklin, CA

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History of Jujitsu
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Across time and cultures, man has developed ways of defending himself from others and even attacking when necessary. Japanese Jujitsu is said to have begun in ancient times when one man killed another by throwing him to the ground and kicking his ribs in a duel.

The Japanese martial arts went through various stages of development such as Chikara Kurabe (strength wrestling), Sumo, Yoroi Kumi Uchi (grappling in armor), and others. According to legend, in 880 AD Prince Teijun of the Minamoto clan is said to have begun formal development of an unarmed system of combat. This system would later pass through Minamoto Yoshimitsu to become known as the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujitsu of the Takeda clan (an offshoot of the Minamoto clan). It was a student of Daito Ryu, Morihei Ueshiba, that founded Aikido in the 1930s, and his art remains popular today.

More reliably documented combat systems begin to appear in the 16th century. In 1532, Hisamori Takeuchi, a skilled general, systematized his own form of combat called Takeuchi Ryu. This system contained methods for using the staff, sword, dagger, and unarmed arts. The Takeuchi Ryu went on to greatly influence the development of other schools of Jujitsu.

Our own style of jujitsu is an off-shoot of the Yoshin Ryu. Founded around 1650 by Akiyama Yoshitoki, a Nagasaki physician, this school is known for its vital point striking, joint locks, and chokes. It may or may not be that Akiyama visited China to study martial arts, but it is clear that his medical knowledge is present in his system. While at a mountain retreat developing his art further, Akiyama was inspired by watching the willow trees give way to the building weight of falling snow and avoid broken branches unlike other types of trees. This is where the name Yoshin Ryu, “Willow Spirit School,” comes from.

In the early 1600s, peace came to Japan, and the Samurai had more time to develop fighting systems than to actually use them. At one time, more than 700 documented styles of Jujitsu existed. Most of these were family arts which taught the use of battlefield weapons and tactics, as well as unarmed arts should one be caught without a weapon. Because of this, many Jujitsu techniques are based on motions used elsewhere, such as sword techniques.

Then, in 1868, the Samurai were disbanded as a class and carrying swords was prohibited. This period began the waning of Jujitsu from popularity. Lower class Samurai, who now found themselves without an occupation, often misused their skills to make money. Fights in the streets became common and Jujitsu fell into disrepute. It is for this reason that Jigoro Kano established his own system of Jujitsu but called it Judo—to distinguish it from Jujitsu.

Today in Japan, Jujitsu is rare compared to Judo and Aikido, as they are formulated for mainstream consumption, and do not try to preserve battlefield arts.

 

Copyright © 1996-2011 Jason Spencer