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Jujutsu is an all encompassing term for predominantly (but not entirely) unarmed martial systems of mainland Japanese origin. The majority of systems that refer to themselves as jujutsu came from Japan's feudal period before 1868. Examples include the Takenouchi ryu, Yoshin Ryu, Sekiguchi ryu, Fusen ryu and Asayama Ichiden ryu. However, there are also examples of systems founded after that using the term, such as the Hakko ryu.

The word jujutsu can be translated in many ways such as »the art of yielding« »techniques of pliability« and »the science of softness« but the main emphasis of the term is on the efficient way that its techniques do not directly resist an opponent's power but instead bend with it and redirect it. The »-jutsu« suffix gives the word a technical, practical aspect.

Historically, the term jujutsu was only one of a number of words used for unarmed combat systems and a good number of styles referred to as jujutsu today originally used other names such as yawara, wajutsu, koshi no mawari, shubaku, torite or kempo. In addition, before the moderen era it was very rare to find dojo that specialised in jujutsu alone Schools where it was taught as an adjunctalongside weapons skilly were far more prevalent.

The techical content of different jujutsu styles varies tremendously but there are several common therms. As most were developed by the samurai they concentrate on unarmed methods of dealing with attacks from armed adversaries when one has lost their primary weapons. Due to the ineffective nature of striking against armed and armoured adversaries, most jujutsu techniques rely on grappling, throwing and joint manipulation.

Classical jujutsu curricula are usually recorded on scrolls of transmission divided into progressive levels, with the techniques at the higher levels reinforcing and building upon the principles introduced in earlier ones. In the modern era a number of jujutsu styles have adopted the well known dan/kyu rankings system but many still use traditional certificates of mastery known as menkjo.


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