An ancient art of self defense, Juitsu can be traced back 2500 years, although much of the history of jujitsu has been lost over the centuries with other Asian cultures combining to form what we now call Jujitsu. The first mention of Jujitsu can be dated around 772-481 BC in Choon Chu, China. During this era empty hand techniques were used as opposed to the later jujitsu weapons. Legend has it that the gods Kajima and Kadori used the art against the people of an eastern province as a punishment for their crimes.
It was in 525 AD that a Zen monk known as Boddidharma visited the Shaolin monastery and combined Japanese -Kenpo and a form of yogic breathing to form Shaolin chuan. Legend has it that he kept developing this style and came up with go-shin-jutsu-karate, which translates to self-defense art of the empty hand. It is believed that between 794 and 1185 AD, during the Heian period the empty hand technique was taught to Samurai warriors as well as their weapons training, although weapons did dominate during this period. In 880 Ad Prince Teijun formed a school and taught the use of circular hand motions to help in the defense from attackers with weapons. But it is Hisamori Teninuchi who is given the credit for formalizing jujitsu in Japan in 1532 and Jigoro Kano developed Judo in 1882 and this set the tone for a combining of many skills used in competition today.
Today there are many forms of jujitsu, all based on the original forms. Some styles using only hands and feet, others using weapons and some a combination of all. Jujitsu weapons, especially the swords are very ornate with expertly carved handles. The longest of the jujitsu weapons is the bo or kon, which is a long staff, originally made of tapered hard wood or bamboo. The art of wielding the bo is called bojutsu. The bo is used to increase the force delivered in a strike, through leverage. The Bo may also be thrown at an opponent. This weapon mainly used for self-defense and can be used in combination with kicks and blocks or in combined with other weapons or techniques. Other weapons include the hanbo which is a three-foot staff, a katana or long sword , wakizashi or kodachi which is a short sword, tanto knife, or a jitte -short one hook truncheon. There is also an array of other weapons used in jujitsu. Using and practicing with traditional weapons of jujitsu needs excellent first hand instruction and involves a lot of repartition to come somewhere close to perfecting the techniques.
Although there are three main forms of jujitsu today there are actually many styles with completions at all levels. Jujitsu weapons also have their place in competition under very controlled rules and regulations as with all martial arts codes which ensures safety for competitors.
Yoshi E Kundagawa is a freelance journalist. He covers the mixed martial arts industry. For a free report on jujitsu weapons visit his blog.