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What is Ju-Jitsu?

Ju-Jitsu, which means "Gentle Art" is a system of combat whereas a smaller person may defeat a person of greater physical stature. The term "Gentle Art" in no way implies that Ju-Jitsu is a gentle, dainty art. Indeed, Ju-Jitsu was the primary unarmed combat method of the Samurai and could devastatingly brutal on the field of battle.

The term "Gentle Art" is really a description of the principles and techniques which are the foundation of the art. A more accurate translation of "Ju-Jitsu, would be "Way of Flexibility". The smaller person cannot rely upon brute force and strength to overcome someone who is bigger and stronger. The smaller person must instead use his opponents strength and momentum to add to his/her own technique to gain victory in combat. When the opponent pushes, the defender would pull. When pulled, the defender would push. This is the principle of "Ju no ri" as taught in Ju-Jitsu.

Ju-Jitsu, because it was designed as a combative art, relies upon many techniques, some of which are similar to those found in other Martial Arts like Karate, Aikido and Judo. Both Aikido and Judo are modern day descendents of Ju-Jitsu. Some of the techniques found in Ju-Jitsu are:

Atemi-Waza (striking techniques)

Nage-Waza (throwing techniques)

Kensetsu-Waza (joint manipulation)

Shime-Waza (strangulation or choking techniques)

Katami Waza (ground techniques),

Vital and nerve point striking and manipulation

Although perceived by many to be aggressive, the real purpose of a martial art is to be able to defend oneself against an assailant. It is far less dangerous to be able to repel an attack with minimum force than it is to become entangled in a situation which, if only by accident or stroke of bad luck, slight or mortal injury can result. In any confrontational situation there are four responses:

Do nothing and become a victim
React immediately without thought and become the aggressor.
(This option would seem to be a reasonable course of action, but it is not without hazard - injury, imprisonment or even death?)
Stand your ground and make it clear to the attacker, through body language and by what you say, that it is not acceptable that you should have to be assaulted and be forced to retaliate
Use self defence techniques that are assertive and proactive and which allow you to immobilise the attacker, de-escalate the violence and escape in safety

Fighting back should be a last resort, when you cannot withdraw through talking or through simple escape techniques and when it is a matter of life or death - either yours or someone else's- and when there is no other option left open.


In other words a Ju-jitsoka can immobilise and control an assailant in a speedy and effective manner with minimum threat to him or herself.

©David Deer 2002