JuJitsu is a soft martial art. Its name literally means the “art of softness”, or “way of yielding”. This does not mean soft or yield in the normal sense.. a more accurate translation is needed.
Soft, in a Japanese martial sense, implies using an opponent’s strength, weight and balance against them. Hard, bone-on-bone style impacts are avoided, replacing them with economical blocking and manipulation. However – this softness does not mean a lack of deadliness. Techniques can be devastating, with JuJitsu offering a range of responses to simple disengagement to extremely painful and damaging moves.
Techniques and style
JuJitsu has many moves and techniques, but the teachings have at their core:
- Break falls – techniques of falling appropriately, ensuring safety and avoiding injury
- Blocking – methods of stopping or avoiding strikes and attacks from an attacker
- Strikes – ways of attacking or striking an attacker
- Throws – techniques that take your assailant to the ground
- Locks and Dislocations – these methods put pressure on joints and pressure points to restrain and control opponents
- Strangulations and Chokes – as above, these holds are used to control opponents, possibly to the point of unconsciousness
- Kata – learning and repeating a predetermined set of movements to practice perfection of form
Bushido and the Samurai
The Samurai were the elite warrior class in feudal Japan. JuJitsu is part of Bushido, which can be literally translated to “the path/way of the Samurai”. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Suffice to say; Bushido covers not just unarmed combat, but armed. Many of the traditional values such as discipline, fitness and acquiring/perfecting a good temperament are part of this. In fact, much of this seeps in to every day life.
Thus, learning JuJitsu and Bushido offers many paths of learning and improvement. The improvement of body in learning and perfecting self defence moves onward and perfects character and attitude/spirit. For many this can even become a way of life, as discussed in the famous samurai book Hagakure. This may seem strange to western thinking, but it is how a structured physical activity can cultivate a complete world view of balance and respect.