Saturday, June 26, 2010


Finger lock applied with hanbo
Jujutsu is a combat art developed by samurai centuries ago. The martial art had an evolution separate from karate. Karate, which focuses on kicks and punches is indigenous to Okinawa and became combat form and later an art for peasants and Okinawan royalty. Jujutsu, indigenous to Japan, had a different purpose. It was designed as hand to hand combat to defend against a heavily armed samurai with armor. Punching an enemy wearing armor with bare hands and feet does not seem like a bright idea, thus the samurai developed throwing techniques (nage waza), foot sweeps (ashi barai) and trips to defend against other armored and armed samurai.

An armed samurai (Kyoshi Rob Watson, 8th dan) wearing
armor at the 2009 Utah Gassuku in East Canyon.
Along with throws, the jujutsuka learned unique strikes (atemi) to disturb the balance of the samurai (whether armored or unarmored). These atemi were designed to unbalance an opponent and generate a shock wave propagated through armor.

Today we recognized two general categories of jujutsu: (1) Koryu (ancient) traditional jujutsu which was designed to defend against armed samurai with or without armor, and (2) modern Gendai jujutsu that favors self-defense applications used in sport and modern combat martial arts. Many Gendai schools lack lineage and traditions (i.e., Brazilian jujutsu). Then there are arts, such as Juko Ryu jujutsu, that would have been at home on any Japanese battlefield

In both old style and modern jujutsu, atemi is important. Before one can effectively throw an attacker, the aggressor’s balance should be disturbed. In Arizona we find (thanks to a questionable grant - after all we did not need some government research project to tell us what we already know in Mesa and Gilbert in the East Valley of Phoenix) people sweat more than in any other state. To grab and throw someone in Arizona is much more difficult than in Wyoming (where it is dry and cold), simply because sweaty people are slippery and difficult to grasp. But then again, in Wyoming, throwing someone while standing on ice or snow may not be the best idea.

According to the Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary, atemi translates as "body strikes". It refers to "…a method of attacking the opponents pressure points". In A Dictionary of the Martial Arts there is a more detailed description. It states that an atemi is... "…aimed at the vital or weak points of an opponent's body in order to paralyze by means of intense pain. Such blows can produce loss of consciousness, severe trauma and even death…the smaller the striking surface used in atemi, the greater the power of penetration and thus the greater the effectiveness of the blow". This may be true in modern jujutsu, but in the ancient styles of jujutsu, pressure points for armored samurai were not important on a battlefield. A samurai covered with armor, had few if any exposed pressure points.

Today, atemi is used to provide a distraction leading to a throw, joint lock, or choke. This is done by redirecting an opponent into a throw through attacking vital points to cause pain or loss of consciousness. In other words, it is easier to throw an unconscious or disoriented aggressor and one who is already moving in the direction of the throw. One common atemi is a palm strike along the jaw line, ear (mimi) or neck (kubi). This also was likely used against armored samurai. Even with a helmet, a powerful open hand "teisho uchi" strike to the side of a helmet would ring one’s bell.
Hanshi Andy Finley is under arrest using the old samurai art of hojojutsu to produce an unusual
type of hand and leg cuffs at the Casper dojo.


The term jūjutsu’ was coined in the 17th century, after it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling combat forms. Jujutsu (柔術) translates as the „art of softness‟or „way of yielding‟. The oldest forms of jujutsu are referred to as Sengoku jujutsu or Nihon Koryu Jujutsu. These were developed during the Muromachi period (1333–1573 AD) and focused on techniques that assisted samurai in defeating unarmed, lightly armed, and heavily armed and armored samurai – thus a greater emphasis was placed on joint locks and throws.

Later in history, other koryu developed that are similar to many modern styles. Many of these are classified as Edo jūutsu and were founded in the Edo Period (1625-1868 AD) of Japan. Most are designed to deal with opponents without armor. Edo jujutsu commonly emphasizes use of atemi waza. Inconspicuous weapons such as a tantō( knife) and tessen (iron fans) are included in Edo jūjutsu curriculum.

Another interesting art taught in Sengoku and Edo jujutsu systems is known as hojojutsu. This involves a cord used to restrain or strangle an attacker. Such techniques have faded from most modern jujutsu styles, although Tokyo police units still train in hojojutsu and carry a hojo in addition to handcuffs.

Weapons training were extremely important to Samurai. Koryu schools included the bo (six-foot staff), hanbo (three-foot staff), jo (4-foot staff), tachi (sword), wakizashi (short sword), tanto (knife), jitte (short one hook truncheon), yari (spear), naginata (halberd), ryofundo kusari (weighted chain) and bankokuchoki (knuckle-duster).

Edo jujutsu was followed by development of Gendai Jujutsu at the end of the Edo Period. Gendai, or modern Japanese jujutsu, shows influence of traditional jujutsu. Goshin Jujutsu styles developed at about the same time, but the Goshin styles are only partially influenced by traditional jujutsu and have mostly been developed outside of Japan.

Today, many Gendai jujutsu styles have been embraced by law enforcement officials and continue to provide foundations for specialized systems by police officials. The best known of these is Keisatsujutsu (police art) or Taihojutsu (arresting art) formulated by the Tokyo Police.
Jujutsu is the basis for many military unarmed combat training programs for many years and there are many forms of sport (non-traditional) jujutsu, the most popular being judo, now an Olympic sport. Some examples of martial arts that have been influenced by jujutsu include Aikido, Hapkido, Judo, Sambo, Kajukenbo, Kudo, Kapap, Kempo and Ninjutsu as well as some styles of Japanese Karate, such as Wado-ryu Karate, which is considered a branch of ShindōYōhin-ryūJujutsu.

Special training in kiogajutsu. 
The training uniform (keikogi) provides an excellent indicator of traditions in a jujutsu dojo. Traditional schools wear plain white gi often with a dark hakama (the most colorful uniform might be plain black or the traditional blue of quilted keikogi. Lack of ostentatious display, with an attempt to achieve or express the sense of rustic simplicity is common in traditional arts. The use of the traditional (Shoden, Chuden, Okuden, Kirigami and Menkyo Kaiden) ranking system is also a good indicator of traditional jujutsu. These are parallel to the common dan-i (kyu/dan) ranking used in traditional karate.
Training with tanto (knife) at the
University of Wyoming. Hanshi
Andy Finley attacks Sensei Kyle Linton.


Ryan Harden applies yubi waza on Neal Adam

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    Melinda applies choke on Dr. Adam

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