Koryu: Jujutsu | Kenjutsu | Battojutsu | Bojutsu | Iaijutsu/Iaido | Naginatajutsu | Sojutsu | Kyujutsu
With the many powerful weapons of the samurai, it is surprising how the style of unarmed combat became a significant curriculum for the warriors of Japan. The Muromachi period (1333-1568) termed this style of martial arts as jujutsu.
Many people classify jujutsu as a close combat empty-handed art to control or defeat one who is similarly unarmed. The fundamental offensive methods of the style include “hitting or striking, thrusting or punching, kicking, throwing, pinning or immobilizing, strangling, and joint-locking. Great pains were also taken by the bushi (classic warriors) to develop effective methods of defense, including parrying or blocking strikes, thrusts and kicks, receiving throws or joint-locking techniques (i.e., falling safely and knowing how to ‘blend’ to neutralize a technique’s effect), releasing oneself from an enemy’s grasp, and changing or shifting one’s position to evade or neutralize an attack.” In some cases however, jujutsu was utilized as a method to combat with those who were armed, while battling with minor weapons. These weapons included the tanto (knife), jutte (truncheon), or kakushi buki (hidden weapons), which were weapons such as the bankokuchoki (type of knuckle duster) and the ryofundo kusari (weighted chain). In addition, jujutsu was also applied to major weapons (sword, spear, glaive) of the samurai as it was used in conjunction with them.
The jujutsu of Japan, as opposed to Chinese and Korean emphasis on punching, striking and kicking, primarily focused rather on “throwing, immobilizing and or pinning, joint-locking, and strangling techniques.” Atemiwaza (striking techniques) was also very significant, as they were only second to the main focus of Japanese jujutsu.
Large-scale battles were the type of warfare associated with the Sengoku Jidai period. Whenever a battle took place, the battlefield for Bushi was chaotic and filled with melee situations, which were not ideal for unarmed combat. Yet the close combat during battle required immobilization and throwing down of the enemy to finish them off. This was one of the main reasons why the Japanese jujutsu developed as so.
Furthermore, there was a major reason as to why Atemiwaza was of secondary importance. Even when trained warriors did not garner armor, it was not an easy task to defeat them with one blow. If your attempt resulted in failure, you provide your enemy with an opportunity to strike back at you with his weapon. Then, to live, what you must be able to do is stop him from using his weapon. This may be done by grabbing and controlling his hands, yet if one’s enemy did manage to draw his weapon, one must be able to obstruct him from using it against you. As a result, this placed a great emphasis on strangling and immobilization techniques. Also, if there was a case where you were in control of the weapon, and were immobilized, you must be able to free yourself from your opponents grasp, distance yourself, and have ready an effective counterattack.
Another utilization of jujutsu by samurai was when high-ranked warriors were in battle with lower classed warriors. For example, if an ashigaru (foot soldier, lowest level of bushi) were to attack a general armed with a sword, it would be unbefitting of the general to fight with the sword, so he would have to be able to battle with things more decent of the fight and the status of the enemy.