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Jujutsu

Jujutsu By Jigoro Kano and T. Lindsay, 1887
In feudal times in Japan, there were various military arts and exercises which the samurai classes were trained and fitted for their special form of warfare. Amongst these was the art of jujutsu, from which the present judo has sprung up. More information on the judo information web site.
Jujutsu
By Jigoro Kano and T. Lindsay, 1887 (Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Volume 15)
The word jujutsu may be translated freely as "the art of gaining victory by yielding or pliancy." Originally, the name seems to have been applied to what may best be described as the art of fighting without weapons, although in some cases short weapons were used against opponents fighting with long weapons. Although it seems to resemble wrestling, yet it differs materially from wrestling as practiced in England, its main principle being not to match strength with strength, but to gain victory by yielding to strength.

Since the abolition of the Feudal System the art has for some time been out of use, but at the present time it has become very popular in Japan, though with some important modifications, as a system of athletics, and its value as a method for physical training has been recognized by the establishment of several schools of jujutsu and judo in the capital.

We shall first give an historical sketch of jujutsu, giving an account of the various schools to which it has given rise, and revert briefly in the sequel to the form into which it has been developed at the present time.

Jujutsu has been known from feudal times under various names, such as yawara, tai-jutsu, kogusoku, kempo and hakuda. The names jujutsu and yawara were most widely known and used. In tracing the history of the art, we are met at the outset with difficulties which are not uncommon in similar researches--the unreliableness of much of the literature of the art. Printed books on the subject are scarce, and while there are innumerable manuscripts belonging to various schools of the art, many of them are contradictory and unsatisfactory. The originators of new schools seem often times to have made history to suit their own purposes, and thus the materials for a consistent and clear account of the origin and rise of jujutsu are very scanty. In early times, the knowledge of the history and the art was in the possession of the teachers of the various schools, who handed down information to their pupils as a secret in order to give it a sacred appearance.

Moreover, the seclusion of one province from another, as a consequence of the Feudal System of Japan, prevented much acquaintance between teachers and pupils of the various schools, and thus contrary and often contradictory accounts of its history were handed down and believed. Further, it is to be noted that the interest of its students was devoted more to success in the practice of the art than to a knowledge of its rise and progress in the country.


Turning to the origin of jujutsu, as is to be expected various accounts are given.

In the Bugei Sho-den, which is a collection of brief biographies of eminent masters of the different arts of fighting practiced in feudal times--accounts are given of kogusoku and ken, which is equivalent to kempo these two being distinguished from each other, the former as the art of seizing, and the latter as the art of gaining victory by pliancy. The art of kogusoku is ascribed to Takenouchi, a native of Sakushiu. It is said that in the first year of Tenbun, 1532, a sorcerer came unexpectedly to the house of Takenouchi and taught him five methods of seizing a man; he then went off and he could not tell whither he went.

The origin of the art of ken is stated thus: There came to Japan from China a man named Chingempin, who left that country after the fall of the Min dynasty, and lived in Kokushoji (a Buddhist temple) in Azabu in Yedo, as Tokyo was then called. There also in the same temple lived three ronins, Fukuno, Isogai and Miura, One day Chingempin told them that in China there was an art of seizing a man, which he had seen himself practiced but had not learned its principles. On hearing this, these three men made investigations and afterwards became very skillful.

The origin of ju, which is equivalent to jujutsu, is traced to these three men, from whom it spread throughout the country. In the same account the principles of the art are stated, and the following are their free translations:

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