DOES BJJ USE WEAPONS?
There are many different forms of Jiu Jitsu that have evolved over the last few centuries. Japanese Jiu Jitsu has been the catalyst for many other versions of Martial Arts in the modern era. Although most forms of Jiu Jitsu do not use weapons, most of these arts do train in some form of weapon defense tactics. The Jiu Jitsu system was designed as a self defense and hand to hand combat, used against heavily armoured assailants that usually carried weapons. Each different form of Jiu Jitsu has slightly different concepts, and has its own syllabus of different techniques, ranging from throwing, striking, and submission.
What This Article Covers:
- The Origin of Jiu Jitsu
- How BJJ Originated from JJJ
- BJJ for Self Defense
- Weaponised Forms of Jiu Jitsu
Many of the modern forms of Jiu Jitsu have traditional elements within their own art, as all of them can attest to the spiritual nature within their style. Jiu Jitsu was a form of combat that was designed for the smaller and weaker person, to defend themselves against the larger and stronger opponent, this also means a civilian against an armoured warrior. Traditional grappling uses a series of intricate components like jiu jitsu striking, throwing opponents, pinning opponents, and securing submissions on opponents. Many of the more modern versions of Jiu Jitsu have taken this Martial Art and evolved it to meet their own expectations of what they think the art should look like. This is apparent in the form of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as Grandmaster Helio developed the art into a much more comprehensive system of ground fighting techniques. BJJ has taken a more direct path towards the sporting aspect, but it still does train in traditional self defense elements, including tactical scenarios, multiple attackers defense, and weapons defense.
THE ORIGIN OF JIU JITSU
Japanese Jiu Jitsu dates back centuries to feudal Japan, as the Samurai were heavily engrossed in battles across the lands. Due to the nature of the battles, many of the warriors wore heavy suits of armour, and carried many dangerous weapons including swords, and bows. After the realisation set in, that striking an armoured opponent was futile, the thought of combat between two opponents was only done if both opponents carried weapons. This brought about change, as civilians began training with Samurai warriors, as they developed a grappling system that was successful in neutralising an armoured, and weaponised opponent. The samurai began wearing lighter clothing, making them more nimble, and able to use many of the throwing and submission techniques they had developed. The thought of is jiu jitsu safe became a real concern, as over the next few centuries this art developed into a more substantial grappling form, that many generations added their own developments to the combat system.
The form of Japanese Jiu Jitsu was developed further into a more modernised version, by a Japanese educator named Kano Jigoro. Kano spent several years training under some of the most influential Martial Artists of his time, as he would combine elements of Tenjin Shinyo Ryu and Kito Ryu. This was how Kano pieced together a more comprehensive version of Jujitsu. Kano trained extensively in the randori section of Jiu Jitsu, as this is where he felt the Martial Art had its strength. Many of his students would ask is there punching in jiu jitsu, and as Kano trained extensively in many of the throwing techniques, as he looked to solidify all of the aspects including atemi, which was the striking component. Kano was also heavily intrigued by weapon defense, as he looked to incorporate different ways of disarming, when encountering an opponent with a weapon. Kano would evolve his Martial Art into what would eventually become Kodokan Judo, where he trained many Japanese students, including the famous Mitsuyo Maeda.
As Mitsuyo Maeda became one of Kano Jigoro's top students, Kano sent Mitsuyo around the world spreading his Martial Arts. As Mitsuyo visited places all over Europe, and South America, he passed on the knowledge to many other interested cultures. Mitsuyo's most notable culmination of this Martial Art was when he taught the Brazilian, Carlos Gracie all of the aspects of Kodokan Judo. This spawned a new evolution of Jiu Jitsu, that would become an extremely comprehensive system of ground fighting aspects, which was later named Gracie Jiu Jitsu after its forefathers, Carlos and Helio Gracie. Mitsuyo travelled around the world, which spurred on other forms to evolve like Hapkido, Aikido, Kenpo Jiu Jitsu, and Judo as we know today.
HOW BJJ ORIGINATED FROM JJJ
In the early 1900's a Japanese Martial Artist named Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to Brazil in order to spread Kodokan Judo, which was Kano Jigoro's form of Japanese Jiu Jitsu. After Carlos Gracie attended a demonstration of Judo at the Da Paz theatre in Rio de Janeiro, he approached Mitsuyo Maeda in order to become his student. Mitsuyo agreed to teach Carlos, as he became one of Mitsuyo's most accomplished students for the next five or six years. After learning this comprehensive art of grappling, Carlos decided to share this Martial Art with his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao, George, and Helio Gracie. The brothers trained hard, and learnt all of the movements that Carlos showed, but Helio seemed to struggle, with the execution of many of the throwing techniques that were incorporated.
As a result of Helio's failings, he decided to develop the ground fighting aspect, in order to help the smaller and more weaker athletes conquer the largest and stronger opponents. Helio's system of leverage based joint locks, choke holds and transitional movements, which led to positional controls, was elaborate and became first class. This new art form Helio had created, became Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and quickly became the number one grappling art in Brazil. Gracie Jiu Jitsu did keep many of Mitsuyo Maeda's techniques as a baseline, but now with Helio's intricate series of technical movements, his art began to develop. Helio would teach all of his son's and nephews, as they would carry the torch, and continue to evolve the sport far beyond what Helio could have ever imagined. Nowadays the art has evolved even further past the old traditional forms of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, as it incorporates a modern style of grappling which has been successful in all types of Martial Arts contests. MMA was the main stage that set BJJ off on a journey of popularity throughout the United States of America. This caused a massive induction of Americans wanting to learn this comprehensive grappling art, which led to all sorts of questions like can you slam in bjj, is striking allowed in BJJ, and how many illegal bjj moves are there, as they began to develop an Americanised version of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
BJJ FOR SELF DEFENSE
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has now begun heading back towards its origin of self defense, even though the popularity of its sporting aspect is huge, many instructors are teaching the value of real life situational combat. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is becoming one of the premier forms of Martial Arts to use in real life self defense situations. The developments in the art have seen exceptional innovation by many high level BJJ athletes like Renner Gracie. With the versatility of BJJ, comes the systematic approach to how techniques will work in a self defense aspect. Many of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu movements can work in a real life situation, and this is mainly due to the heavy focus on control positions. Now with new developments in weapons defense, and defending multiple attackers, BJJ is front lining self defense combat. Renner Gracie has even developed programs to help women become safer in real life situations, as well as new law enforcement programs aimed to help police officers neutralise perpetrators, and deal with real life aspects. Many of these include; how to handcuff, how to control an assailant whilst keeping their weapon safe, and how to restrain the perpetrator without using excessive force. The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a crucial element in the world of real life self defense.
WEAPONISED FORMS OF JIU JITSU
Japanese Jiu Jitsu is one of the earliest grappling forms that used weapons in its curriculum. Considering that back in feudal Japan, wars were breaking out where warriors would use many different types of weapons, it is understandable as to why Jiu Jitsu was practised with weapons. Japanese Jiu Jitsu practitioners would practise the art of many different weapons like the tanto, which was a single edged Japanese short sword. This weapon was popular due to its smaller size so it could be used in close quarters combat, and was able to penetrate through different types of armour. Other weapons that were trained were the kubaton, which was a short weapon attached to the end of a chain. The katana, which was an extremely sharp sword, and weapon of choice by The Samurai. The yawara, was a short bo staff used for close quarters combat. The wakizashi was another short bladed sword used as a backup for the katana.
Hanbojutsu is the art of wielding a weapon called the hanbo. This weapon is similar to a walking cane as it can be used like a Kendo stick, or swung like a katana. Many of the techniques include hooking or pulling their opponents to the ground. The Hanbo can also be held in the middle like a staff, so it can be used to strike and block from either end. The hanbo can be used as a way of striking, restraining, or even throwing an opponent. This art form became extremely popular, as its combination of grappling and weapon attacks were flawless.
Iaido and Iaijutsu are Japanese Martial Arts, these forms of Jiu Jitsu have a heavy emphasis on quick reaction times. The art of being capable of drawing a short sword in response to an attack from a katana or a kendo stick. This Martial Art uses a short sword called an iaito, and for the more experienced practitioners they use a sharper sword called a shinken. Iaijutsu is simply the combat version of iaido, as it applies to the teachings of iaido in real life situational combat.
Bojutsu is a Japanese Martial Art that incorporates using a staff weapon called a bo. The philosophy behind the bo is that the weapon is an extension of the limbs, as it is used to thrust, swing, and strike opponents. The art of bojutsu has been incorporated into empty handed fighting styles like Karate, and traditional Jiu Jitsu. Another similar form to bojutsu, is another Japanese version called Jojutsu, which is basically just a different type of staff called a jodo. Modern jojutsu has two distinctive branches, one is more traditional, which emphasizes on the older teachings, and a modern version called seitei jodo, which is a modernised version used to combat situations in the modern world.
Naginatajutsu is the Japanese Martial Art of wielding the naginata, which is a special pole, that is similar to a medieval european glaive. Most naginatajutsu is practiced in a modernised form, which is gendai budo, as it also holds competitions. In Japan this martial art is mainly practised by women, as more men practise it in other countries around the world. This martial art is popular in Europe, Northern and Southern America and Australia.
Sojutsu is another formidable Martial Art which focuses mainly on using a Japanese spear. This weapon is called the yari, as it was one of the most popular weapons used in feudal Japan during war conflicts. The modernization of this martial art has seen many practitioners refining their techniques through the kata format, as the yari has still remained a popular weapon.
Taiho jutsu is a term for Martial Arts developed by Japan’s feudal police to help them arrest dangerous criminals. Many of these desperate criminals were armed and dangerous, giving the Japanese police the need for a comprehensive Martial Arts system. The art of taiho jutsu was to apprehend criminals without injuring them. The police specialized in using non lethal force, by using batons, similar to the ones used in keijojutsu. Taiho jutsu originated from classic Japanese Martial Arts like kenjitsu because of the use of swords, and jujustu which was the prolific practice of unarmed combat.
There are many forms of Jiu Jitsu that do specialise in using weapons, as the need to defend our lives is increasingly important. This is still apparent in the modern world, as the increase of violence around the nation is exponential. Luckily, different forms of Martial Arts will always be available to the public, so civilians can learn comprehensive close quarters combat, an tactical survival techniques.
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