History Overview of Jujitsu -----
" Jujitsu's origins have been largely lost in Japan's prehistory. Even before
the Samurai of ancient Japan existed, jujitsu-like forms were being developed
and used in combat. The first records of combative grappling can be found
shortly before 750 A.D. This is an historical and well-documented fact. Another
fact is a samurai was seldom, if ever, without a weapon. That leads to the
question of why a group of warriors who were always armed would devote the time
and considerable effort and energy to develop a system of empty-hand combat.
Classical jujitsu maintained a balance of weapon and empty-hand methods with a
great deal of overlap and blending. Therefore, jujitsu was designed originally
as an auxiliary skill to be used in conjunction with weapon arts, not as a
Samurai of pre-Tokugawa Japan were
required to be adept in a vast range of combat skills. Kyujitsu, kenjutsu,
bajutsu, sojutsu and kumi-uchi were among the basics, these being the techniques
of the bow and arrow, the sword, horsemanship, the spear and grappling in armor.
These skills were part of a vast array of bugei or martial arts, essential to
combat in feudal Japan. The term bujutsu also means martial arts but came into
use much later and tends to be used today when listing such non-sport arts as
kenjutsu, iaijutsu and aikijutsu. Under a daimyo (a regional authority) or
within a family clan, instruction was offered to retainers or family members in
the weapons and skills of the Samurai as taught by their particular ryu. While
ryu is usually translated as school or style, there were often many different
arts taught within any one ryu. In order to adequately prepare their members for
combat, the ryu instructors would have needed to teach a wide variety of bugei.
Most ryu contained some jujitsu methods.
Click here for a detailed list of various ryu or schools of bujutsu from feudal
Terminology varied from system to system, taijutsu, wajutsu, torite and yawara being just a few of the names used for
various jujitsu-like systems. Regardless of the name used, the underlying
principle remained the same with jujitsu being a secondary study and a part of
the whole, not separate unto itself. It was not until the Edo period (1603-1867)
that jujitsu became a generic term used to describe this wide range of
techniques. This period is considered the “Golden Age” of jujitsu, when the
major schools flourished and technique was brought to its highest level. With
the coming of the Tokugawa shogunate and its control of Japan at the beginning
of the 1600's, battlefield combat largely became a thing of the past. As the
need for standing armies and the mobility required by war declined, many ryu
began to reflect this change. Samurai were able to concentrate on one aspect of
combat and attempt to master all aspects of it. As duels to the death were
frowned on by the government, the severity of the techniques began to lessen and
the ability to control or disable an opponent using non-lethal methods became
respected and valued.
During the more than two hundred years of
the Tokugawa rule, a general peace existed in Japan. Shut off from the rest of
the world and tightly controlled and regulated to the smallest detail, Japanese
society was prevented from returning to its former state of civil unrest by a
government that severely punished nonconformity and political activism. It was
during this period that jujitsu reached its zenith and much of what we recognize
as jujitsu today was developed."