Various martial Arts of Japan are either named after Weapons or type of methods used or used the name of the founder who invented the art, however one such martial art “Jujitsu” was an exception, which took its name from its principles inherent in its techniques. The word “JU” stressed on the principle of good techniques that the gentle can control the strong. A weak can control a giant if one uses one’s strength efficiently. The Chinese character “JU” meant soft or weak thus Jujitsu was interpreted as a group of techniques that are soft, submissive and gentle, however the earlier name of Jujitsu was “Yawara” for the character “JU” in Japanese is read as Yawara.
Jujitsu is well known in the world today, but there is no clear definition among the different schools. Almost all forms of Jujitsu have many similarities; all forms though trace their history back to a period in Japan some four hundred years ago. Thus jujitsu was an Oriental Martial Arts, was a systematize form of military combat practiced by Samurai Warriors formed in Japan during the later half of the 16th.Century. One of the first Jujitsu schools was established in 1532 and soon hundreds of other Jujitsu schools were formed and organized under Japan’s feudalism continuing for nearly three centuries. For several years it was a closely guarded secrets, taught only to the families of Imperial class, taught by a group of masters who guarded this ancient secrets believed to have passed down to Japan, as early as 700 A.D. by Chinese travelers and visitors who learned from Chinese Monks using as a protection against thieves and robbers on lonely roads.
The real development of Jujitsu with its rigid ceremonial and formal grades of mastership, flourished under Tokugawa Dynasty. The Emperors were merely puppets living in mystical seclusion in Kyoto, while the Tokugawa Shoguns ruled the land from Edo (now Tokyo). Beneath the Shogun was a network of feudal princes with their private armies of Samurai Warriors who were well versed in Horsemanship, Archery, Swordplay and Jujitsu, which became their favorite recreations and no one below the Samurai rank was allowed to practice them. Every Samurai clan had their own school of Jujitsu who passed on their knowledge from generation to generation by word of mouth or in manuscripts that were hoarded as priceless treasures. By the end of 18th.Century over 100 schools existed, each differing widely in their codes, but all based upon the same fundamental principles.
The old name “JIUJITSU” (now Jujitsu) was a yielding art with its theory little common to traditional Western Combats of boxing & wrestling, in which opponents pitted strength against strength. However the object of Jujitsu was to exploit the weakness of the human body by using opponents own strength and attacking the weak points in the human body. The Jujitsu masters studied every nerve and sinew of the body and than off balancing a man with a throw in a split second, applied joint locking techniques or paralyzed the arm or leg by gripping the muscle while crashing down on the opponent to the ground.
The principle of “JU” they strived in different school differed in their practice. The SHIBUKAWA- RYU maintained the “JU” meaning “tractable or submissive”. The JIKISHIN- RYU taught “JU” as gentleness without and hardness within, meaning softness within hardness & hardness within softness. The KITO- RYU reflected its name “KI” meaning to rise was +ve, and “TO” meaning to fall –ve, similar to Chinese “IN” meaning shade +ve & “YO” meaning light –ve and principle being shade could be conquered with light and light could be conquered with shade.
The TENJINSHINYO –RYU stressed “JU” meaning submissive which the body must obey the mind. Thus many of the explanation in the documents of the old JUIJITSU schools tended to be too abstract or exaggerated and the general view is that the explanation of “JU” as understood by the majority is based on concrete techniques. Thus the roots of Jujitsu rest with Samurai Warriors. The empty hand grappling and striking techniques used by Samurai in combat took only a secondary part as compared to Weaponry skills.
Many Jujitsu techniques were influenced by Chinese fighting traditions or fist techniques of Chun-fa came to be known as Atemi. Great many factors influenced the development of each style and were part of the process that took hundreds of years to mature. Over the centuries schools of Jujitsu began to develop as separate entities to the Ryu of the Samurai class. These schools taught Jujitsu but it was later known by many other names such as Yawara, Kenpo etc. It is important to realize that within the various systems many weapons were taught as well as just empty hand techniques. However if emphasized on empty hand skills, being major part were thus classified as empty hand system.
There were many hundreds of schools of Jujitsu styles in existence throughout Japan’s late history, most of which vanished into extinction. Today only a few of these classical Jujitsu styles of the Warrior class exist. As most commoners started learning Jujitsu, due to lack of public interest and support many masters found themselves on the bread line. Some took on all comers; others turned to crime, some taught and gave instruction to police. Often there were rival gang fights between two contenders for a contract. The results of these conflicts and decline of Jujitsu schools itself gave rise to the public attitude that only thugs and ruffians indulged in such base practices. However the essence of Jujitsu sprang the fruits of modern “DO” forms. Great Masters like Morehei Ueshiba and Dr, Jigoro Kano who studied Daito –Ryu, Kito-Ryu, and Tenjin Shinyo Ryu forms of old Jujitsu who invented modern Aikido and Kodokan Judo respectively , formulating their own systems that is known to-day.
Ninjutsu today is a synthesis formed by various schools of Jujitsu such as GYOKKO- RYU JUJITSU KOSSHI JUTSU, KUKI-SHINDEN- RYU DAKENTAI JUJITSU, TOGAKURE NINPO TAIJUTSU, TAGAKI YOSHIN- RYU JUTAI JUTSU, KOTTO- RYU KOPPO JUTSU, SHINDEN FUDO-RYU DAKENTAIJUTSU, SHINDENFUDO-RYU JUTAIJUTSU, GIKKAN KOPPOJUTSU, GIKKAN JUTAIJUTSU, and KUKISHINDEN-RYU BO JUTSU/JO JUTSU/HANBO JUTSU/BIKEN JUTSU AND KUMOGAKURE GYOKUSHIN RYU. Although these might not be widely known schools, but they are still authentic and authorative traditions which formed together are part of the NINPO TAIJUTSU curriculum studied today.
Examining Ninjutsu – NO – Taijutsu the Ninja Unarmed combat techniques involves the following skills consisting of 1) TAIHENJUTSU – The Art of Body Movements comprising of break falls, leaping, rolling, jumping, tumbling with Taisabaki –that is moving the body away with silent movements and evasion skills. It also consists of 2) Jujitsu / Kenpo the art of Yielding Body defense methods and 3)Jutaijutsu the art of Grappling & Trapping Body for defense, escape & counter techniques with Nagewaza throwing methods, Gyakuwaza joint locking & control techniques, Shimewaza choking and strangulating which is very similar to the present style of Jujitsu practiced today. But in the case of 4) Dakentaijutsu the art of striking, punching, blocking and kicking are many and varied in this portion of Taijutsu. From this Dakentaijutsu was the modern Sumo
Developed. 5)Kosshi Jutsu the art of muscle & organ joint locking destruction techniques & lastly 6)Koppo Jutsu the art of Bone breaking are elite techniques used and taught only to top class
Ninja, Samurai and Martial artist. The Ninpo Taijutsu has nearly thirty six curriculums within this one system, but in the case of using common sense the primary purpose is only for self-defense, there is nothing inclusive for extreme harm or destruction. The main principle of Ninjutsu are concerned with true heart, spirit of Martial arts for protection, courtesy, service, humanism and love of God & nature.
If these qualities are not inherent in Martial artists than it ceases to be one with only empty drill. Ninpo Taijutsu has the theory, spirit and history located in each and every technique, for Ninpo is the purpose of living or understanding life. It began 1000 of years ago and it is still active and alive even in this modern age today. Looking at historically and introspectively the source of Jujitsu is Ninpo Taijutsu, so it is we have the connection. Ninpo Taijutsu does a detail study of attacks with knives, swords, sticks, spears, shuriken, chains and a whole list of myriad weapons. Including tactics, strategy, philosophy, meteorology, geography, invisibility, etc. encompassing over 36 different skills that form this unique form of Martial arts, all this are studied deeply to develop a defense pattern, a true Ninja follows a strict observance of behavior and ethics with the study of philosophy which almost takes him a life time to master.
Even though there are places of some seeming similarities between Ninjutsu and Jujitsu, but there are vast differences. So even though some one in Ninjutsu might recognize some Jujitsu, but a Jujitsu person would be lost in the true depth and understanding of true Ninpo.
By Sensei Cyrus Rustomji
9th. Dan Black Belt.