The History of Jujutsu

The History of Jujutsu

The roots of Jujutsu can be traced back to the earliest historical records of Japan, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan – 8th century). The sumo tradition, thought to have common origins with the ancestor systems of Jujutsu, is said to be validated by these Chronicles. The ancestor systems of Jujutsu can be classified into two broad categories. Those systems developed during the Sengoku Jidai or Warring States period (1467-1568), and those developed during the Edo Jidai or Edo period (1600-1868).

During the Sengoku Jidai, many of the Bujutsu Ryu (Martial Art Schools) developed grappling systems to supplement their weapons systems, and these earlier systems generally included the use of some sort of minor weapon, such as the jutte (truncheon), tanto (knife), and ryofundo kusari (weighted chain). These methods were generally classified as the katchu bujutsu or yoroi kumiuchi (fighting with weapons or grappling while clad in armour).

The Edo Jidai was one of peace. With the establishment of the Tokugawa bakafu, a long period of war was halted, and consequently martial arts became increasingly available to the common people. During this period, many schools were founded that focused on unarmed combat techniques for civilians. These schools were classified as: Suhada bujutsu or fighting while dressed in the normal street clothing of the period, kimono and hakama.

Although these grappling arts are commonly referred to as “Jujutsu”, the art has been known by different names, during different periods, at different ryu (school or tradition): Hakuda, yawarra jitsu, and wa jitsu to name a few. The style of Jujutsu also differed from school to school, some schools focusing on many kanetsu waza (joint-locking techniques), or nage waza (throwing techniques), others focusing on many atemi waza (hitting vital-point techniques). Compared with the martial arts of China, Korea and Okinawa, Japanese Jujutsu systems place more emphasis on nage and kanetsu waza than on atemi waza. But some schools – such as the SAIUC’s Atemi-Jujitsu and the schools of Hakuda, Kempo, Tenjin Shinyo Ryu – also emphasise atemi waza.

The History of Jujutsu in South Africa

Jujutsu was brought to South Africa by a Japanese sailor, Seishi Teppi, who formed the Kodokwan Jujutsu school in 1928. The school became the South African Jujutsu Association, the oldest Japanese martial arts association in South Africa. The school taught Tenshin Shinyo Ryu Jujutsu or “School of the Natural Way”. Tenjin Shinyo Ryu was famous for atemi (hitting vital-points), kanetsu (joint-immobilization), and shime waza (strangulation). The founder of the Ryu was Iso Mataemon who created Tenjin Shinyo Ryu from the Jujutsu of Akiyama Shirobei Yoshitoki (physician) and Yamamoto Tamizaemon (police officer). Iso Mataemon fought many Jujutsu masters and was NEVER defeated. In 1822 – at the Kyoto Temple (the foremost Zen Buddhism Temple in Japan) – Iso Mataemon taught his skills to students for the first time influencing both the development of judo and aikido. When Seishi Teppi returned to Japan in 1948 he handed the kwan (school) to Charles Johnson. Soke Mängels studied Kodokwan Jujutsu.

Jujutsu is the ideal art to study for self-defence purposes. It is suited to all types of hand-to-hand situations, and is used by military forces in its original meaning as a close combat system, and is used by police forces to fulfil certain police tasks, or is taught as a civilian method of self-defence.

Source: Philip’s post on

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