Jujitsu Before 1882
By Darrell Max Craig
Reviewed by Roberto
Is jiu-jitsu really
just judo, as George Mehdi
claims? Or is judo really jujitsu? Or is
neither one the other? Or are they really the same, but something other
than either judo or jiu-jitsu? Darrell Max Craig answers these
questions and more.
Martial Art opens with a brief historical overview. Apparently, some
time after the so-called Meiji "Restoration" (in 1868), a
certain jujutsu man named Dr. Jigaro Kano formed his own organization,
modifying, codifying, and streamlining the traditional jujutsu
curriculum in the process. On June 10, 1886, a contest was held between
a representative of judo and a representative of traditional jujitsu. The
judo representative (who was also an expert of aiki-jutsu) annihilated
the jujutsu representative, proving that judo reigned supreme. Judo went
on to take the world by storm.
Kano didn't have a billion brothers and
cousins with funny sounding names, but otherwise the story has a
familiar ring to it. Kano wanted his jujutsu to be a way of life, rather
than a collection of techniques, which is what he hoped the "do"
opposed to "jutsu" (術)
would convey. Until 1930, judo was actually known as Kano Ju-Jutsu.
After that the term "jujutsu" fell into disuse and disfavor,
with its connotations of bar brawling and street scrapping. The actual
techniques of jujutsu were preserved in taiho jutsu.(逮捕術).
If you want to explain to a Japanese person today what ju-jutsu is (or
was) you have to describe it as taiho-jutsu, which they know as
the methods Japanese police officers are taught for detaining,
arresting, and taking offenders, culprits, and suspects into
custody--although they don't know what those techniques are. However
they know what Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is, and Rickson Gracie is as well
known in Japan as any man on the planet, better known for sure, and with
good reason, than the president of the United States. (If George W. Bush
would fight and defeat Takada and Funaki, then he would be better known
in Japan too.) To the Japanese, Gracie Jiu-jitsu and traditional Japanese
jujutsu are totally unrelated things, as different from each other as
electric guitars are from banjos, and they are a little perplexed to be
told that Gracie Jiu-jitsu originated in Japan.
Kano eliminated most of
the traditional techniques of jiu-jutsu, those that were especially
effective for hand to hand combat, from his curriculum, retained and
refined those that seemed to lend themselves to safe sport applications,
and incorporated others from Western grappling arts (kata guruma
is actually firemans' carry, and morote gari is a double leg
takedown, for example).
What then was it that
Mitsuyo Maeda supposedly taught Carlos Gracie in the city of Para, Brasil shortly
after his arrival in 1913 or 1914? Was it jujitsu, or was it judo?
Where ever it
came from, Jiu-Jitsu today is much more like Judo than it is to
traditional jujitsu, which is more faithfully preserved in Korean
hapkido (minus the kicking techniques). Jiu-jitsu has retained a few
self defense techniques, although they could just as easily have been
recently reintroduced via hapkido. Jujitsu before 1882 consisted of many
different styles (or ryuu 流), each
emphasizing different techniques. (Jutsu （術）,
simply means technique； the Brazilians
spell it jitsu, but it is the same morpheme. The
remainder of Japan's Ultimate Martial Art describes a few of
these, arranged into more or less cohesive sets.
Basic Self defense
Techniques describes and depicts (with line drawings) 17 techniques
against grabs, bear hugs, kicks, and punches. All of them look
serviceable. The first two involve Dumog-like
head manipulations and the third is a kali push thigh technique, and the
others I have seen in hapkido and sambo, which is to say that they all
derived from the same source. However, none of them are familiar to me
from BJJ, after @ six years of training in three countries (USA, Brazil,
Japan). If Carlos learned these techniques from Maeda, either they have
been lost somewhere between then and now or for some reason no one is
Te Waza (hand
techniques) are also self defense techniques and include wrist locks.
Wrist locks are not taught in jiu-Jitsu or as far as I have seen, in
judo. The rationale is that they don't work because a determined
attacker can withstand the pain of a broken wrist and keep attacking.
That is a flimsy excuse. Why not throw everything out and only learn
rear naked chokes? By the way, wrist locks do work and some BJJ guys
know them. I rolled with Mario Sperry and he tapped me with a wrist
lock. There are in fact a lot of techniques that wouldn't work on a
skilled prepared opponent that would work very well on an unskilled
unprepared opponent, which is what you are more likely to encounter
outside of the competition arena.
Nage Waza are the
throwing techniques, which include a few that are no longer taught in
judo, such as kote maki and kani basami, and a couple that
would probably be hard to pull off. Basic hip and shoulder throws are
shown. This chapter contains a section on first aid and resuscitation.
Atemi Waza are the
striking and pressure point techniques. Some of these can be deadly,
such as the # 3 koko hand to the throat (Darrell says that
"you will most likely fracture the thyroid bone [he means hyoid
bone--there is no thyroid bone] or cricoid bone", which in turn
will rupture the jugular vein, the carotid artery, the vagus nerve, and
the phrenic nerve. None of this is good. Neither Darrell Max Craig nor
Charles E. Tuttle, Co., Inc. will be responsible if you kill someone.
Kansetsu Waza are the
joint locking techniques (some wrist locks are taught separately as self
defense moves, and some as atemi waza, since nerve compression is
also applied.) These are all done from standing. Darrell shows four
techniques, come-along type holds.
Resisting a Handgun is
about how to disarm someone with a handgun pressed against your belly,
neck, or head. Darrell shows three methods. He recommends not practicing
with real loaded weapons. He also says that there is no guarantee that
they'll work. Instead, concentrate on not getting into the situation in
the first place.
Hostage Situations and
Kubudo (weapons and defenses against them) concerns escaping when you
are the one being held with a knife to your throat. The hostage is you.
The fact that you are a hostage implies that the attacker doesn't intend
to kill you, but rather use you as a bargaining chip. I'm sure what
Darrell says about gun disarms would apply equally here. Prevention is
better than cure. Knife disarms are probably not as problematic as some
people claim, assuming the blade enters at a predictable angle and you
can stay calm. The first might happen if the attacker were unskilled,
and the second might happen if, as Dan Inosanto once said, you are
"either crazy or insane". (Try this experiment: practice all
your disarms on your girlfriend using a wooden or rubber knife. Then
have her wield a butcher knife as though to attack you in the same ways
that you had just so expertly disarmed her. Not even to execute a
fake attack, but merely hold the knife in an attacking position (and
tell her to look as if she had just found out you were two-timing her).
Now observe your emotional condition. If you are as cool and calm and
collected as you were the first time, then you may be either crazy or
insane, but in any event, stay away from people with knives.)
techniques for wrapping an opponent up with a rope or belt.
Yawari describes four
techniques for striking with a yawari (which is a short (about 6")
stick with with pointed ends). Technique # 2 will be familiar to
students of kali.
Jo Jutsu (4' stick
techniques) is the longest in the book, out of respect for Darrell's
teacher Chiba Harutane. Interestingly, GTR's Roberto Pedreira met Sensei
Chiba in San Francisco. In 1980, Roberto was working as an English
tutor to a certain Japanese gentleman, who turned out to be Chiba
Harutane. Mr. Chiba said he was in the United States to establish a
kendo association. Roberto had no special interest in kendo (its self
defense value being dubious in view of the fact that at that time the
SFPD would stop you for carrying anything that even remotely looked like
it could be used as a weapon, such as a cane (the favorite of hapkido
guys) or stick of any length or kind, much less a 6 foot long razor
blade, and would confiscate without a word of apology your chucks
if they found a set on you.) However, Roberto wanted to go to Japan,
because his next door neighbor Joe Henderson (the three time Grammy
winning tenor sax player) told him that the Japanese shower American
musicians with money (Roberto was a locally successful performing and
recording artist, but what Joe didn't mention was that before the
Japanese will shower you with money, you need to already be world famous
and have 25 LPs out. They don't shower guys they never heard of with
money in Japan, even back during the bubble economy). Nonetheless,
Roberto wanted to find out more about Japan, and Chiba didn't mind
telling him. Roberto sipped hot sake, and Chiba scotch, as
they talked about this and that. Mr. Chiba also taught Roberto some
Japanese. The only thing that remains in memory is the phrase "`私はあなたに惚れる”、watashi
wa anata ni horeta" (I am enchanted by you). Chiba
recommended saying this to bar hostesses.
The book includes a
glossary of Japanese used in jujutsu. There are only a couple of typos: aita
should be aite; hoppo should be happo.
Videos have rendered
how-to-do technique books redundant. Japan's Ultimate Martial Art
contains techniques, but much else as well. It is one of the few books
on any martial art that deserves to be a called a book, rather than a
collection of illustrations with extended captions.
A final note: Darrell
isn't trying to cash in on the UFC boom. Publishers reserve the right to
decide on the titles of books, as part of their sales strategy.
Experience teaches them that catchy titles and grabby pictures on the
cover enhance sales.
Buy Japan's Ultimate
Martial Art below:
more on the history of Jiu-Jitsu (in Brasil and the USA), see:
(c) 2001, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.
Revised November 20, 2009.
Revised February 1, 2015.