Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Art of Yielding

Welcome to my new blog – my Jujutsu journey. The purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts and reflections as well as my triumphs and failures in my study and training in Jujutsu. I chose to dedicate an entire blog to this aspect of my life because 1. It is important to me and 2. I did not want my regular blog being overtaken with Jujutsu talk. The reason I have titled my blog ‘my Jujutsu journey’ is because I think it aptly reflects what martial arts are about – they say you learn something new every day and this is certainly true in Jujutsu. The martial arts are a life long journey of discovery. In many ways there is no end point – they are a path; a path to greater confidence, to finding greater harmony with your environment or circumstances and to self-discovery. Naturally there are goals and milestones you can reach and accomplish, the most obvious being your Dan Grade (black belt), but even then your journey continues, only then it takes on a new dimension having the added virtue of wisdom gleaned from experience and examination.
Why Jujutsu? There are many martial arts from across the globe; some of a ‘hard’ style, while others ‘soft’, most being oriental in origin but not all. Some have evolved into combat sports; others remain very traditional in their philosophy and practice. Jujutsu has the advantage of being all these things – in its traditional Japanese form Jujutsu is a system of self-defence first created by the Samurai for the battlefields of Feudal Japan. In its modern form it has been exported across the globe namely to Brazil where it was adapted to become a ground based form of submission fighting. Judo and Aikido can also both claim to be modern evolutions of Jujutsu, Jigoro Kano founder of Judo originally calling his system Kano Jujutsu.

Jujutsu has a long and rich heritage being primarily a form of unarmed self-defence against an armed attacker. Due to the nature of Feudal warfare blocks and strikes were ineffective and unpractical for the battlefield, so the Samurai employed throws and joint locks/manipulation in order to unarm their attackers. Thus in Japanese the word Jujutsu means the gentle art, or the art of yielding. It is the latter definition that has captured my imagination and inspired me to practice Jujutsu. It is the philosophy of yielding that I find so powerful. To some people ‘yielding’ sounds like weakness and they may consider Jujutsu ineffective for this reason. But Jujutsu’s strength lies in this principle and its techniques and mechanics are all based on this central concept – it is the axis upon which Jujutsu operates. When one learns how to take someone’s posture and destroy a person’s balance then all strength is negated. Whether it is traditional Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all these arts are variations based on the same principles. Therefore this blog is not just about Aiki-Jujutsu - the particular style of Jujutsu I study - but about all things Jujutsu related.


I am currently a Green belt in Aiki-Jujutsu. Much time and ink could be spent defining what Aiki is and how it relates to Jujutsu, maybe someday I will write a more thorough blog exploring the connection between the two, but for now a short introduction will suffice. Aiki-Jujutsu is a traditional form of Jujutsu that was created by the Samurai of the Minamoto clan in the 11th Century. Due to the social structure of Feudal Japan Samurai were divided into clans, each clan usually developing its own form of Jujutsu to be used on the battlefield. These forms were taught secretly to each member of the Samurai clan – the master passing on the art to his student. These forms later formed the different schools. The oldest school (or in Japanese ‘Ryu’) of Aiki-Jujutsu is Daito-Ryu. Later in the 20th century two other influential forms of Aiki-Jujutsu were developed: Hakko Ryu and Aikido. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba was a Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu master who, influenced by his Shinto beliefs, decided to create his own style developing the Aiki techniques further. But it was the Hakko-Ryu system, created by Okuyama Ryuho that remained truest to the traditional Daito-Ryu system of Aiki-Jujutsu. It is the Hakko-Ryu system that my Aiki-Jujutsu is based on. Thus Hakko-Ryu can be considered a modern form of a traditional art. In look and practice it is very traditional compared to Judo or BJJ.

I do not claim to be an expert just a dedicated student. There will be times when I make mistakes, but we all have to learn from our mistakes. So whether you are a Jujutsuka on your own Jujutsu journey or are just interested in martial arts I hope this blog will inform and inspire you.

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