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History of Jujitsu
                                                                           Unlike many martial arts, the history of JuJitsu does not have
                                                                   a clear beginning, or one individual founder.  The history and
                                                                   origins of Jujitsu are instead a small cross section of the history
                                                                   of Japan and its military history.  Founded by many samurai and
                                                                   propagated throughout all of Japan, JuJitsu integrates techniques
                                                                   from the various martial arts of the islands, as well as drawing
                                                                   from many other Asian countries and cultures.  

                                                                          The history of JuJitsu can be traced back over 2,000 years
                                                                   into Japan’s ancient past. The earliest recorded mention of
                                                                   JuJitsu in Japanese mythology occurs during the period 771-481
                                                                   BCE when open-hand techniques were used in the Choon Chu
                                                                   era in China.  The “first or earliest” known school of JuJitsu in
                                                                   Japan’s records was organized by Prince Teijin Fujiwara, the sixth son of
Japan’s 56th Emperor Seiwa Fujiwara (850-880 A.D.), and then passed on to his son Tsunemoto, who was later named
Minamoto.  Minamoto’s descendents included General Minamoto Yoshimitsu, who is credited with the development of
many of the wrist and joint locking techniques used in JuJitsu today.  This system eventually became known as Daito
Ryu Aiki JuJitsu, the predecessor to modern Aikido, after the name of Shihan Minamoto’s home.   Originally created as
a system of unarmed combat for the battlefield, JuJitsu did not begin its detailed refinement we know today until the
subjugation of Japan by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (February 2, 1536 – September 18, 1598), and the subsequent unification
of the country by Tokugawa Ieyasu (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616).  The modern art of JuJitsu has been refined to
focus purely on unarmed combat techniques instead of weapons, and a focus on Do (the Way) instead of Bu

The title of “the father of JuJitsu” is most often attributed to Takeuchi Hisamori (also, Takenouchi) who is given the
most credit for founding the formal art of Japanese JuJitsu.  His system of JuJitsu, Takeuchi Ryu, is believed to have
been formed completely inside of Japan without any outside influences by 1532.  Most systems of JuJitsu in Japan,
however, have been heavily influenced by Chinese martial arts.  Around 1530 it is believed that a man by the name of
Shirobei Akiyama went to China to study medicine, bringing back with him a number of techniques that are included in
most JuJitsu systems.  The 28 methods of resuscitation, bone setting, body massage (Japanese shiatsu), joint
manipulation, and Chinese combative methods were all quickly integrated into JuJitsu and the other combative arts of
Japan.  Then in 1644 a Buddhist monk by the name of Chin Gempei, came to live at the Kokuseiji temple in Edo,
Japan.  This Chin Gempei brought the art of Kenpo with him to the temple where he shared it with three ronin.  These
three ronin each went on to found their own schools of JuJitsu, thereby integrating Chinese striking techniques into the

When Taiko Hideyoshi Toyotomi came into power in the late 1500’s
further enhanced the art of JuJitsu when Hideyoshi’s armies returned from
their conquest of Korea bringing with them the Korean arts of Chuan Fa
and Tang Su, which include both punching and nerve striking skills.  
Hideyoshi’s efforts and those of his Lord, Nobunaga, began the process
of the unification of Japan which was completed by Tokugawa Ieyasu.  This
time of great piece, which lasted from 1603-1868, is known as the “Golden
Age of JuJitsu.”  During this time, JuJitsu grew in popularity throughout
Japan, as weapons were outlawed to anyone who was not a samurai.  This
era brought about the development of the art of Yawara, TaiJutsu,
Kumiuchi, Kenpo, Torite, Kogusoku, Taido, and many others.  Each system
had its own speciality such as utilizing a small stick for atemi and applying
pressure to nerve points, the grappling arts, or specialized striking arts.  All
the systems included joint locking, throwing techniques, strangling, and
striking techniques and focused on using ju (pliancy or flexibility) in their

The next major era of development for JuJitsu was in the late 1800’s
and early 1900’s with the founding of the arts of Judo and Aikido.  Judo was
founded by Professor Jigoro Kano as a sport that utilized the techniques of
JuJitsu to throw or hold an opponent down to win a match.  Professor Kano
is responsible for the development and integration of ukemi or break falls
into Japanese martial arts, as well as removing many techniques that were not scientifically valid or were overly
dangerous.  Aikido, founded by Morihei Ushiba, was developed not as a sport like Judo, but instead, as a way to
develop the martial artist’s mind and spirit (ki).  Once again using techniques drawn from the art of JuJitsu, Ushiba
Sensei developed and refined an art that was designed to blend with an opponent to control and/or throw them without
causing sever harm.  Ueshiba was responsible for refining many of the throwing and locking techniques we use today
to at the advanced levels of JuJitsu.

The development of JuJitsu continues today as we integrate and refine techniques from martial arts around the world.  
The kicks of Muay Tai Kickboxing, the punching of Boxing, the joint locking of BJJ, and many other techniques of the
Mixed Martial Arts are all coming together to make JuJitsu even better.  The art of JuJitsu is a constantly evolving
system, which will continue to add new techniques and refine old techniques every year.  


1. Alexander, G.W., & Penland, K. (1998). Warrior JuJitsu: A Complete Training Guide in the Art of JuJitsu. West Palm
Beach, Florida: Yamazato Publications.

2. Usera, J., (1994). Jukite Ju-Jitsu Student Training Guide. Rapid City, South Dakota: Dynamic Martial Arts.
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