Jujutsu: The Evolving Art
Part 4 - Other Jujutsu Derivatives: Judo & Gracie Jujutsu
By Tom Ross & Christopher Caile
work of an enamored and well educated student of jujutsu also evolved
the jujutsu into a new art now practiced the world over - Judo. Jigoro
Kano began studying the jujutsu system of the Tenshin Shin'yo ryu (a system
known for its techniques of percussion in addition to grappling skills)
where he quickly became fascinated and fell in love with the art.
Seeking as much knowledge as possible he went on to study the Kito Ryu.
This jujutsu system emphasized self-perfection and specialized in throwing
techniques, practiced in kata and by a method known as Ran O toru, meaning
to take free action. Kano adopted this training method (known today as
randori) into his new system which stressed the practice of safe techniques.
Kano did not stop there, however. He continued to research various systems
and methods throughout his life (such as the Seikiguchiryu, a system influenced
by Sumo) as well as the seigo ryu. Kano truly loved jujutsu and saw it
as a national treasure. But, he also feared that its disorganized and
dangerous methods of training and practice would lead to its extinction.
thus set about to create a new method which would in essence preserve
the important principles while adapting them for safe use in order to
serve multiple objectives. He brilliantly preserved the percussive (striking)
techniques of the Tenshin Shin'yo jujutsu but kept them separate from
regular practice. They were reserved for advanced practice due to their
danger. He also modified and adapted the throwing techniques of the Kitoryu
with the strangulation, joint locking and immobilization techniques of
the Tenshin Shin'yo, sekiguchi, and seigoryu (amongst others). He did
so in a manner which enabled them to be applied in free practice. He also
kept the practice of Kata which were the mainstay of most classical systems.
Kano thus developed a method which he envisioned as an entire way of
life. In his "Judo," he developed an art whereby the trainee
kept physically fit, perfected himself spiritually and mentally, and also
learned effective self-defense skills (albeit modified to be more humane).
Kano's new system was not without obstacles, however, and many of the
old line classical systems held back no criticism. This criticism was
largely silenced by a match in 1886 between his Kodokan Judo School and
that of the Yoshin ryu (jujutsu) organized by the Tokyo police department.
Kano's school won thirteen victories, one draw and only two losses out
of fifteen individual matches. This event paved the way for acceptance
of the Kodokan Judo, and it was eventually adapted into Japanese public
school instruction as well as various law enforcement academies and military
One of Kano's greatest legacies was his adoption of uniforms for practice,
standardization of ranking (kyu/dan systm), adoption of a belt system
(white and black belts) and development of systematized teaching methods.
So successful were his innovations, that they were adopted throughout
most all modern Japanese martial arts (jujutsu, daito ryu, kendo, kyudo,
karate, etc.) as well as many other systems around the world.
The other great innovation of judo was the standardization on techniques
that could be safety practiced against others, and in competition. As
a result, the techniques themselves became highly refined. Practitioners
benefited too. Continued hard practice allowed them to develop a level
of personal skill and reflexes difficult to achieve with former jujutsu
arts which could be dangerous if practiced at full speed and power.
Kano's efforts to reform jujutsu may have been inspired by an earlier
and similar transition that happened to sumo. In Edo (present day Tokyo)
Sumo had by the mid-1600s degenerated from ceremonial contests to rough
and tumble brawls in tournaments and street corner pickup bouts. To check
the problems the government briefly outlawed the contests in the mid-1600's,
and they were only allowed again when an elaborate set of rules and regulations
to reduce the violence were developed.
A Second Generation Jujutsu Derivative: Gracie Jujutsu
It is largely the result of the development and promotion of judo that
jujutsu became known in western culture, and it is fair to say that many
jujutsu systems in existence in the west today derive from Kodokan Judo.
In fact a great resurgence of interest in judo/jujutsu has recently occurred
in the west due to the brilliant efforts and innovation of the Gracie
family of Brazil.
Gracie Jujutsu stems from Kodokan Judo and was inspired by the effort
of a young traveling fighting instructor by the name of Mitsuyo Maeda.
Maeda, using a Nom de Guerre, traveled throughout the world taking on
all comers, earning a living and testing the effective application of
the techniques and principles he learned at the Kodokan. Maeda eventually
settled in Brazil and became the teacher of Carlos Gracie. Gracie's family
made further innovations and brilliant adaptations to that which they
were taught by Maeda, particularly in the area of ground fighting.
This new branch was courageously championed and promoted by Helio Gracie
and family in the United States and throughout the world. It can thus
be said that jujutsu is a practice that will long endure in its varying
forms and that perhaps a new meaning to the character of "JU"
may be applied in its ability to yield to the ever-changing needs of its
About the Authors:
Tom Ross is a retired NYC Correction Officer who specialized
in the Handling of Security Risk group prisoners. A Yudansha in Shorinjiryu
Kenzenkai Karatedo (an Offshoot of the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan founded
by Masayoshi Hisataka), he also spent six years studying Jujutsu (classical,
modern and Brazilian). Possessing an avid interest in the history of
martial arts and traditions he currently serves as the Research Coordinator
for FightingArts.com as well as moderating its Martial Arts Talk forum.
He additionally serves as the moderator of the Sabaki List (which is
dedicated to various martial artists and full contact stylists) and
is a member of the International Hoplology Society.
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of FightingArts.com.
He has been a student of the martial arts for over 40 years and holds
a 6th degree black belt in Seido Karate and has experience in judo,
aikido, diato-ryu, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts. He is also
a long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong.
He is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture
Dr. Zaiwan Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International
Chi Medicine Association. In Buffalo, NY, he founded the Qi gong Healing
Institute and The Qi Medicine Association at the State University of
New York at Buffalo. He has also written on Qi gong and other health
topics in a national magazine, the Holistic Health Journal and had been
filmed for a prospective PBS presentation on Alternative Medicine. Recently
he contributed a chapter on the subject to an award winning book on
alternative medicine, "Resources Guide To Alternative Health"
produced by Health Inform.