Jûjutsu is a generic term used from the beginning of the Edo period to define a group of techniques ranging from empty hands to slightly armed to fully armed. It also includes a variety of strikes, percussions, parries, dodges, torsions, joint locks, chokes, controls and breakfalls.
It is important to note that the meaning of Jûjutsu is to use flexibility (body and mind), not "flexible technique".
In classical Koryû, the term defines more the use of a flexible body than a specific martial art technique itself. What we call Sôgô Bujutsu (総合武術) (composite combat techniques), uses Jûjutsu as a central axis to handle different weapons. Therefore, the Jûjutsu aspect is an important part of any art that requires a flexible body (柔, Jû) that allows oneself to deal with an armed opponent, to control his body (joints, tendons, muscles, etc.) and finally to be one with any given weapons.
Origin & changes
It is said in a few different Densho of pioneer Jujutsu schools such as Shosho Ryu (諸賞流) and Takeuchi Ryu(竹内流), that the empty hand system, mixed with the use of different weapons, made their appearance during the Muromachi Period.
Before the Edo Period, only a few Jûjutsu schools existed and its existence was known only to a few selectives.
The arrival of the Edo Period, a somewhat newfound peace and the opening of Bujutsu to different social classes other than the Buke class, gave a new form to Jûjutsu. The classical art was, little by little, giving way to a different form of combat, where survival, adapting to various situations and the use of multiple weapons were rare. With time, the multiplication of schools, dôjô and the public teaching removed the essence of Jûjutsu, based on adaption techniques and the use of weapons.
But the classical way continued to exist with a reduced number of practitioners, from surviving schools.
- Zoughari, Kacem. Origin of Jujutsu article, FightSport magazine, March/April 2005, French Edition, Antigua.