Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Arizona Jujutsu Schools

Jujutsu (also spelled jiu jitsu or jujitsu) is a combat martial art developed by samurai. The art has many traditions and had a completely different evolution than karate. Karate, which focuses on kicks and punches, is a martial art indigenous to Okinawa and was likely a combat for peasants and Okinawan royalty. As such, karate was very different from jujutsu: Japanese peasants were never allowed to train in samurai arts until after 1868. At the time of development of karate and jujutsu, Okinawa and Japan were independent kingdoms.

The uninitiated sometimes confuse MMA with jujutsu. MMA cannot be classified as a form of jujutsu since it is not even a martial art. MMA provides no traditions and no ethical or moral path that is ingrained in martial arts. Martial arts by definition are complexly intertwined with Zen Buddhism and Shinto and provide a path for self-improvement.
Soke Hausel demonstrates te waza at Casper, Wyoming dojo.
Karate includes many jujutsu nage waza (throws), grappling, chokes etc. Some were likely derived from Japanese samurai, others from Chinese Chu'an Fa (kung fu), and still others developed independently for Okinawa Karate. This is likely because karate was designed to not only defend against the criminal element on Okinawa, but also to defend against Japanese samurai who had invaded Japan in 1609 AD. Being that samurai were well-armed with bladed weapons and often weighted down with armor, karate was developed to take advantage by employing powerful strikes to generate considerable focused power to allow the energy to penetrate armor into a body of a samurai, (this is one reason we see karate demonstrations where practitioners break tile, cider blocks and even rocks), but it also employed techniques to up-end samurai clad in armor with unusual strikes (atemi) along with foot-sweeps, leg drops, foot stomps, knee stomps, etc. that are all present in modern day karate kata.

Jujutsu had a different purpose. It was designed as hand to hand combat for samurai to defend against other heavily armed samurai on the battlefield. Punching an enemy in armor with bare hands and feet does not seem like a bright idea, thus samurai developed throwing techniques (nage waza). The samurai also used strikes (atemi) to disturb the balance of other samurai (whether armored or unarmored). These atemi were designed to unbalance an opponent and generate a shock wave propagated through armor similar to karate.  
Katie Wilson Urbanek applies ude garuma (arm bar).
Today, we recognized two general categories of jujutsu and both are practiced in Arizona: (1) Koryu (ancient) traditional jujutsu designed to defend against armed samurai with or without armor, and (2) modern Gendai jujutsu that favors self-defense applications used in sport and modern self-defense. Many Gendai schools lack lineage and tradition (i.e., Brazilian jujutsu). 

If searching for a traditional martial arts experience, search for a traditional jujutsu school. You will learn traditions and history; and certifications will be recognized through an international martial arts association. Such martial arts schools may include training in classical samurai arts associated with jujutsu such as kenjutsu, hojojutsu, hanbojutsu, sojutsu, etc. In Arizona, there do not appear to be many koryu schools.

Traditional jujutsu practitioners wear a traditional judo gi with hakama. These are available at most martial arts outlets such as KarateMart in Phoenix. If you are starting out at a Koryu jujutsu school, such as that at Arizona State University, be sure you check with the instructor before you purchase a uniform. Very similar to jujutsu are traditional arts of ninjutsu, ninpo and Okinawa tode.

Before one can effectively throw an attacker, the aggressor’s balance needs to be disturbed. Thanks to another of many questionable federal grants, the fed discovered people in Arizona tend to sweat more than people in other states. To grab and throw someone in Arizona is difficult in the summertime simply because sweaty people are slippery and difficult to grasp.

According to the Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary, atemi translates as "body trikes". It refers to "…a method of attacking the opponents pressure points". In A Dictionary of the Martial Arts there is a more detailed description. It states that an atemi is... "…aimed at the vital or weak points of an opponent's body in order to paralyze by means of intense pain. Such blows can produce loss of consciousness, severe trauma and even death…the smaller the striking surface used in atemi, the greater the power of penetration and thus the greater the effectiveness of the blow". This may be true in modern jujutsu, but in the ancient styles of jujutsu, pressure points for armored samurai were not important on a battlefield. A samurai covered with armor, had few if any exposed pressure points.
Melinda applies choke on Neal.
Today, atemi is used to provide a distraction before leading to a throw, joint lock, or choke. This is done by redirecting an opponent into a throw through attacking vital points to cause pain or loss of consciousness. In other words, it is easier to throw a disoriented aggressor. One common atemi is a palm strike along the jaw line, ear (mimi) or neck (kubi). This was likely used against armored samurai. Even with a helmet, a powerful open hand "teisho uchi" strike to the side of a helmet would ring one’s bell.

The term ‘jūjutsu’ was coined in the 17th century, after it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling combat forms. Jujutsu (柔術) translates as the 'art of softness' or 'way of yielding'. The oldest forms are referred to as Sengoku jujutsu or Nihon Koryu Jujutsu developed during the Muromachi period (1333–1573 AD) that focused defeating unarmed, lightly armed, and heavily armed and armored samurai – thus a greater emphasis was placed on joint locks and throws.

Later in history, other koryu developed that are similar to many modern styles. Many of these are classified as Edo jūutsu and were founded in the Edo Period (1625-1868 AD) of Japan. Most are designed to deal with opponents without armor. Edo jujutsu commonly emphasizes use of atemi waza. Inconspicuous weapons such as a tantō (knife) and tessen (iron fans) are included in Edo jūjutsu curriculum.

Heather applies yubi waza (thumb throw) at University jujutsu clinic in Wyoming.


Weapons training were important to Samurai. Koryu schools included the bo (six-foot staff), hanbo (three-foot staff), jo (4-foot staff), tachi (sword), wakizashi (short sword), tanto (knife), jitte (short one hook truncheon), yari (spear), naginata (halberd), ryofundo kusari (weighted chain) and bankokuchoki (knuckle-duster).

Edo jujutsu was followed by development of Gendai Jujutsu at the end of the Edo Period. Gendai, or modern Japanese jujutsu, shows influence of traditional jujutsu. Goshin Jujutsu styles developed at about the same time, but the Goshin styles are only partially influenced by traditional jujutsu and have mostly been developed outside of Japan.

Today, many Gendai jujutsu styles have been embraced by law enforcement officials and continue to provide foundations for specialized systems by police officials. The best known of these is Keisatsujutsu (police art) or Taihojutsu (arresting art) formulated by the Tokyo Police.

Jujutsu is the basis for many military unarmed combat training programs for many years and there are many forms of sport (non-traditional) jujutsu, the most popular being judo, now an Olympic sport. Some examples of martial arts that have been influenced by jujutsu include Aikido, Hapkido, Judo, Sambo, Kajukenbo, Kudo, Kapap, Kempo and Ninjutsu as well as some styles of Japanese Karate, such as Wado-ryu Karate, which is considered a branch of ShindōYōhin-ryū Jujutsu.

The training uniform (keikogi) provides an excellent indicator of traditions in a jujutsu dojo. Traditional schools wear plain white gi often with a dark hakama (the most colorful uniform might be plain black or the traditional blue of quilted keikogi. Lack of ostentatious display, with an attempt to achieve or express the sense of rustic simplicity is common in traditional arts. The use of the traditional (Shoden, Chuden, Okuden, Kirigami and Menkyo Kaiden) ranking system is also a good indicator of traditional jujutsu. These are parallel to the common dan-i (kyu/dan) ranking used in traditional karate.

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