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Contrary to what some would have you believe, Jujutsu is not the invention of a single martial arts genius. Nor is any other method of combat, for that matter. Jujutsu is the product of a long evolution which occurred within a changing environment, and with important contributions from many extraordinary martial artists. Some of the key contributors are well known in martial arts history, and others we will sadly never hear about.

Jujutsu is not synonymous with submission wrestling, as is currently seen in various sporting matches. Jujutsu was never intended to be used as a sport, and never will be. Imagine an army of 5,000 men on a middle eastern battlefield, unarmed and dressed in gis, preparing to square off against an opposing army, with a referee in between screaming "Are you ready!" No, this is not a sight you may expect to see, and I can assure you the terms Jujutsu, Jiu-Jitsu, and Jujitsu have been far removed from their historical context.

Any historical study of grappling systems must begin with Egypt. On the walls of the Mahez tomb you can see many pairs of grappling figures. These figures date back to at least 3,000 B.C., which predates the Greek Olympics of 648 B.C. The Egyptian grappling techniques didn’t necessarily spring up as a fully developed style, it probably took many generations to develop a system that would be functional in combat. These ancient grapplers should be considered as our first teachers in the combat grappling arts. During this period, training was tough, and the sporting contests (if you can call them "sporting") had no time limits, no weight levels or limits. Their techniques included all of the locks, holds, kicks, and punches that we have today, plus many that may have been lost in the mists of time. Often these matches were fought to the death, as the purpose of them was to get their warriors prepared for the battlefield not a sporting event with referees, rules, and a ring.

The next grappling method to become historically known in the West was Pankration. The brutal, bloody sport of Pankration was first introduced into 33rd Olympiad in the year 648 B.C. By the way, Greek wrestling was introduced into the Olympics of 708 B.C. Greek boxing, along with grappling, appears to have been practiced as far back as 3,000 B.C. Pankration means "all powers" and that’s exactly what they used. Kicking, punching, elbows, knees, head butts were included along with grappling. The throws in Pankration were of the judo and free wrestling variety. Like the early Egyptian events, Pankration contests were hard-core, to say the least.

The next grappling art to surface were probably Chinese Shuai-chiao. This system of total fighting dates back to at least 700 B.C, and since it took a great deal of time to develop the tactics of this art, we can’t really say for sure when it started. Initially it was termed ch’ih yu-his and chiao-ti, and was performed by wrestlers with horned headgear. They would ram each other until one gave up. Over time this form evolved into what we know now as one of the best grappling systems known. You would be fortunate indeed to find a Shuai-chiao instructor. The throws are similar to judo, and the ground work is close to early Jujutsu. It also includes kicks, punches, head butts, sweeps, and basic trapping tactics.

One particularly hard-core grappling method is the eastern Indian art of Vajra-musti. Very little is known about the dates this vicious wrestling started, but to this day a competitor is allowed to participate in only one match a year. They are allowed to wear a metal weapon with ridges on it. They are allowed to punch to the face and chest of their opponent. As this can cause a lot of damage, you can see why they’re only allowed to have one match a year.

As far as Japan and combat Jujutsu are concerned, we should begin our study with Sumai-Sumo and Kumi-Uchi, both of which are combat forms in their own right. Fully effective in combat, the object of these ancient fighting arts was to cause one of the opponents to surrender unconditionally, but even so, some of the matches ended in death. Sumai was a complete art that included kicks, head butts and short-range punches. Although Jujutsu evolved from Sumai, we need to discuss it along with Kenjitsu, as they were taught together. Kenjitsu taught weapons as well as empty hand tactics. These empty hand tactics from Sumai and Kenjitsu later became know as Jujitsu. Later the battlefield tactics of Jujutsu were watered down to the ring sport we know today where killing blows and foul tactics (biting, eye gouging, small joint manipulations, etc.) are not allowed.

Jujutsu is often referred to as the "mother art," and many sporting forms have descended directly from Jujutsu. In 1882 Jigoro Kano, a practitioner of Jujutsu and Aiki-jujitsu decided that Jujutsu needed to be refined into a safer art which was more appropriate for sporting contests if Jujutsu was to continue. He called what was developed Judo. Although Judo includes a lot of ground fighting, the focus was to be on self-improvement instead of combat. A gentleman named Mitsuyo Maeda, a direct student of Kano, later took these principles to Brazil. I gather that he did not mind a good fight and often competed in full contact matches in Japan, where he was reportedly undefeated in over 1,000 matches. In 1915 he travelled to Brazil, where he met Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian politician. He taught Gastao’s son Carlos Gracie classical Jujutsu along with Judo, so Carlos ended up with the hardcore locks and chokes of Jujutsu, with the solid ground work of Judo. Unless you’ve been asleep for the last few years, or maybe are deprived of cable television, you should know just how successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been.

The fighting methods taught by the Center for Practical Self Defense are rooted in Classical Jujutsu, as well as practical empty hand and weapons-based tactics and techniques from the Filipino fighting arts, and a diverse array of personal experience and other orthodox and unorthodox fighting methods. True self-defense practitioners do not limit themselves to the confines of any static method, nor do they limit their training to the confines of any rules-based sporting event.

The true meaning of classical Jujutsu is a method of close combat, either unarmed or employing minor weapons, which may be used offensively or defensively to subdue one or mor armed or unarmed aggressors. This definition includes two very important elements. First, the person using Jujutsu does not necessarily have to be unarmed. A warrior would hardly ever be completely without weapons, therefore an accurate definition of Jujutsu should not imply that a Jujutsu practitioner must be unarmed. For warriors in centuries past, the weapons of choice would include the sword, spear, or other such instrument. For the modern individual, commonly used weapons would include guns, knives, sticks, rocks, wrist-rockets, and the like.

Second, Jujutsu is not merely defensive, as is often assumed. True combat systems use both attacks and defenses to their advantage. If a potential enemy could be neutralized with a viable first strike, that option would certainly have been considered historically, and is definitely something to think about today. In traditional Jujutsu, there was no such thing as an illegal move. Jujutsu includes throws, takedowns, strikes, eye poking, stomping, and anything else that one could come up with - and that does mean ANYTHING.
I have never seen Classical Combat Jujutsu, that shits hardcore.

That cat got jujutsu'ed.

Jujutsu Mang.

That's karate, no my friend it's jujutsu.
by Rudy Franco April 27, 2006