Here at Masters of Martial Arts Academy in Blackburn we teach traditional Japanese Ju Jitsu. This may come as a surprise to some as we regularly get parents asking about how their children’s karate is coming on. We understand that the world of martial arts may be confusing to those outside of it, but most martial arts ultimately teach valuable life skills.
So what is Ju Jitsu and what are its origins?
Ju is interpreted as ‘gentle’, ‘to give way’ or ‘yield’, and Jitsu as ‘art’ or ‘technique’ as the Japanese write in Kanji, (a series of characters), the translation into English is an interpretation of these two little drawings. As they have been interpreted differently, this has resulted in different spellings, such as Jiu Jitsu or Jujutsu.
So what does the art of giving way mean? It means manipulating an attackers force to use against them, rather than directly opposing it.
Developed in Japan from around the 15th century, it was used for hand to hand combat focused heavily upon throwing, immobilizing, joint locks and choking. Striking techniques were generally ineffective towards someone wearing armour on the battlefield, but the use of joints to effect a take down were.
And the battlefield warriors from Japan were the Samurai, hence the influence of the Samurai on our classes and teaching syllabus. At black belt level we develop our understanding and skills of the traditional Japanese weapons which the Samurai trained in, such as the katana, known more popularly as the Samurai sword.
We teach Ju Jitsu as a practical self defence, where upon being attacked or threatened, students deflect or parry an attack, perform a counter strike to an attackers vulnerable area and then immobilise them by the use of a throw, taken down, strike or lock.
As we use an opponent’s size or momentum to our advantage and against them, a jujitsuka (specialist at a Ju Jitsu) does not rely upon strength. It can therefore be practised and used regardless of age, size, sex, height or strength.
So practically, how does that translate into training in Blackburn in 2018?
We practice in our full time ‘dojo’, specifically designed for our use and train barefoot on mats, whilst wearing a white gi or uniform. Once the basics of stances, kicks, strikes, blocks and breakfalls are mastered, students are given set techniques to practice. In order to ensure the safety of all concerned, specific attacks, counter strikes, take downs and locks are identified for each technique to reduce the risk of injury. That way both students are fully aware of what is about to happen.
So what do you do when being strangled by a person in front of you?
One technique will involve an ‘attacker’ placing their hands on the neck of the student, who will respond immediately by raising their left hand to prevent a headbutt. A counter strike by the defender, in this case a simulated kick to the kneecap, would cause the attacker to temporarily lose focus on the attack, allowing the defender to take hold of an arm and use a strike to the elbow joint to force the attacker to break their grip. Then having control of the arm, the defender would use the the elbow joint that has just been struck to place the attacker into a shoulder lock, where, whilst bent over, a knee strike to the face could be delivered, thus rendering the attacker unable to continue.
By breaking the technique down into several parts, and then putting them together, it becomes a very simple process which is easy to copy.
There are of course numerous different ways of dealing with an attack like this, and as students progress, they develop a range of options as to what could be done.
Whilst self improvement is an integral part of a students training, it is not necessary to be super strong or fit to be a great student. All we ask is a level of commitment by attending regularly and some motivation to improve oneself in all aspects - such as health, fitness, knowledge and coordination.
The hardest part is turning up for that first session - we have many students who will testify to this. The rest is a breeze!
Keigu (Kind Regards)