Science of Softness

Each people have developed in the course of their history their own martial art. Through the passing of time this may eventually have been forgotten, or it may have evolved into religious rituals or into more modern fighting-techniques.

Ju-Jitsu, the Science of Softness, are originally Chinese fighting techniques founded by the Bushi during the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333) in Japan. They allowed an unarmed warrior to defend himself against armed adversaries. The art  developed from old Yawara or Kumi-tachi techniques as found mentioned in an old Boudhist manuscript from the 13th century.

One of the oldest known schools is the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, which used the principles of Zen in its swordfighting. They also used other weapons like the staf, the naginata, etc. During that time the Kashima Shinto Ryu was also well-known.

Through the ages different schools developed from this Yawara style, like Wa-jutsu, Yawara, Kogusoku, Kempo and Hakuda.

Those first simple
Shaolintechniques gradually grew more advanced and melted together with the martial combattechniques used by the local farmers in and around  Okinawa. Those altered techniques were then re-exported to China around 1638 by the Chinese poet and diplomat Chen Yuanbin as he returned to his place of birth.

Ju-Jitsu became an martial art during the Edo period around the 16th and 17th century, a time of peace in Japan. Tradition tells that Akiyama Sinobu, a doctor from Nagasaki founded the Yoshin-ryu in 1732. The name literally means Willow Kernel School. During a visit in China he had studied "Naked Hand" fighting. After his return to Japan he put together 300 Ju-Jutsu movements based on the principle of Yield to Force, like the branch of the willow that will bend under the pressure of the collected snow so as not to break. Another story attributes the style to a doctor from Nagasaki, Miura Yoshin. This is probably one and the same man.

Innumerable schools were founded by Ronin or masterless Samurai. They weren't legalized until the Meiji period (1868 - 1912). During that period the Caste-system was outlawed, the Samurai were not allowed to wear their swords and the murderous feuds between families were forbidden.

The original Jutsu-Art concentrated itself on dangerous and often deadly techniques to eliminate an enemy. Ju-Jutsu was first pursued by Samurai, later by the Ninja. The latter were recruited from the lower castes and trained in special assault-techniques. Their main mercenary activities,  especially at the beginning of the 15th century, were espionage and murder. After the second World War and with the sudden rise in interest for those miraculous oriental martial sports, Ninjitsu was introduced into the Western world. The focus had shifted from deadly techniques towards unarmed combat, swordfighting and survival techniques. Unfortunately the 1980s were a time with many fake schools trying to profit financially from the sudden rise in interest for karate and Kung-Fu. With the quickly fading popularity of Ninjitsu however these schools disappeared fairly quickly.

Ju-Jutsu continued to integrate with the rest of the population, especially as an offensive technique used by bandits and outlaws. Here originates the negative reputation of Ju-Jutsu which it never could get rid of any more until now. This is also one of the reasons why Kano Jigoro called his from Ju-Jutsu developed sport Judo, to make a clear distinction from the infamous Ju-Jutsu.

About 1882, the official date of foundation of the kodokan, only Ju-Jutsu was recognized and taught in innumerable Ryu in Japan and the rest of the world. Even now is the influence of Ju-Jutsu noticeable in some Close Combat techniques used by army- and police-units all over the world.

Ju-Jutsu is at this time largely dethroned by Judo, Karate and Aikido and is seldom considered a sport, but rather a system of actual fighting and defense techniques. Here and there, but especially  in the West tournements are held with specific rules and scoringmethodes. Gradually a revaluation of Ju-Jutsu has set in, making it gradually better known as a sport.