The History of Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu is one of the oldest forms of martial arts known to man. It is said to have originated in India more than 2,000 years before Christ, spread through China and eventually settled in Japan.

On a beach at izumo, in Shimane Prefecture, in the year 23 B.C., before the Emperor Suinin, Nomi-no-Sukune killed his opponent Tajima-no-Keyaya in the first recorded contest. This was the beginning of Combat Sumo (Sumai), in which the origins of Jiu-Jitsu lie.

Jiu-Jitsu is a Combat martial Art developed by the warrior class (Bushi) of Japan. It is a generic or collective term used to describe the numerous systems which, when fused, form Jiu-Jitsu. It is often erroneously described as a "weaponless" or "empty hand" Martial Art. While stressing unarmed techniques, the use of small weapons was an important part of its structure. Jiu-Jitsu, as part of the classical Bujutsu, means it is the Art of Flexibility, the translation of the character "Ju" is "flexible", "pliable" or "adaptable". Jiu-Jitsu was never a purely defensive Art. The developers were not so naïve as to restrict techniques to purely defensive tactics only. They realized that attack at the appropriate moment would have better assurance of victory and was legitimate within the broad concept of "Ju". Although there is some limited value in the axiom "in yielding, there is strength," complete reliance on this factor in combat would lead to a complete loss of effectiveness.

Although techniques and training methods varied from school to school, striking techniques (Atemi) were always the most important part of Jiu-Jitsu as originally developed by the Bushi. The use of throwing techniques (Nage-Waza), joint locking techniques (Kansetsu-Waza), strangulation techniques (Shime-Waza) and the use of weapons encompassed the whole combat spectrum, making Jiu-Jitsu the most effective and complete Martial Art.

Jiu-Jitsu is a Japanese Martial Art, although Chin Gempin (1587-1674) had some influence on it. Historical records clearly show that Jiu-Jitsu was being practiced long before he arrived in Japan. Jiu-Jitsu is a product of Japan.

Historically, Jiu-Jitsu is the singularly most important Japanese Martial Art Because of the Martial Ways of Aikido, Judo, Hapkido, Nippon Shorinji Kempo and some systems of karate all have their roots in Jiu-Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a cutting edge fighting art developed from traditional Jiu-Jitsu by the Gracie family of Brazil. Even though Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu contains standup techniques for winning a fight, it is famous for its devastating ground fighting techniques. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was specifically developed to allow a smaller person defeat a larger person by sophisticated application of leverage and technique. Gaining superior position on your opponent and applying a myriad of chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations becomes the foundation for this fun martial art.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu History

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art indigenous to Brazil. It was founded and developed by the Gracie family. Carlos Gracie learned jiu-jitsu from a Japanese judoka named Maeda who immigrated to Brazil. The art's roots are derived from pre-war Kodokan Judo, western wrestling, and Maeda's own insights into combat. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prefers bringing an opponent to the ground and then relying on grappling techniques to subdue the opponent utilizing holds, armlocks, chokes, leglocks, and strikes. This strategy takes away the advantage of an opponent with superior striking abilities. It can also mitigate the advantage of a stronger and much larger opponent relying on wrestling or grappling.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu favors pragmatic techniques that were tested in numerous challenge matches by the Gracie clan and their students. In Vale Tudo (which means "anything goes") tournaments in Brazil, Gracie family members and their students have fought in these no-holds barred fighting matches for over 65 years and have fared very well against a multitude of combative arts both western and Asian. Many martial arts have lost their combative rationale. In Japan, for example, the arts of war (Jujutsu) were corrupted into Judo which means "martial way." With peace and the modernization of Japan, dangerous and pragmatic techniques gave way to martial arts that emphasized art over practicality as well as emphasizing self-improvement or socialization and eventually sportive competition. Those familiar with pre-war Kodokan Judo understand the rapid transition of Judo towards sport and less on purely combative effectiveness as Kodokan Judo itself veered away from the "old" schools of jiu-jitsu and their often "dangerous" techniques as deemed by Judo's own founder Jigoro Kano.

The sportive aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is embodied in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. Competitors wear judo "jackets" and pants just like their Judo counterparts except the rules favor strategies and techniques that are oriented towards combat effectiveness. The closest equivalent of Brazilian or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is Ko-sen Judo. The Ko-sen tradition refers to the network of the oldest high schools and universities in Japan which include Tokyo and Kyoto Universities. They hold their own competitions, and their tournaments favor "groundwork" or newaza (in Japanese) just like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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