Jujutsu: Its Aims and What It Is.

By Stephen Cheney, Sensei

Sensei (Sehn-say) means: Teacher (one who has gone before).

Self Defence is a life saving and life-time vocation.  A short course will serve to introduce you to the contributing martial arts that make up Self Defence.  There you will be shown some of the art and magic and by training enable you to do it also.  To maximize learning time, All students should arrive on time.  Preferably already having done their warm-ups.

At the end of a short course in JuJutsu, given by a Sensei skilled in JuJutsu and also skilled in Teaching, even if you are not very strong nor highly skilled, you will be able to:

  • Escape from some grabs by a much stronger person.
  • Not be overwhelmed in a crowded brawl or panicking crowd.
  • Have good chances of avoiding being hit or kicked.
  • Have practice at some ways of surviving an attack on your life.
  • Have good chances of restraining a violent person instead of knocking them out or killing them.
  • Have good chances of interceding to save another person or child who is being attacked.
  • Know your legal rights and what restrictions the law places on what you are allowed to do when you are being threatened and attacked.
  • Have learned some of the practical strategies used to avoid a fight, or if not able to avoid: then to survive a fight.
  • Learned some ancient breathing arts for health and combat.
  • Experience a little of the magic, beauty and practicality of the Martial Arts through the multiple arts within JuJutsu.

What is JuJutsu?
JuJutsu (Joo-Ju-tsoo) means: The Art of Practical (Combat) Techniques using flexible methods and harmonious minimal force with maximum effect.

Presumably as we are in the internet age, all would have looked it up on the internet.  ‘JuJutsu’ is the proper Japanese spelling for the Martial Art (often confused with Ju Jitsu or Jui Jitsu.  ‘Jitsu’ only meaning the Science, that is, technical aspects of the Martial Art, not the Martial Art itself).  As alternative spellings have come into common use they are accepted as alternate names for the art.

JuJutsu is a martial art that specializes in Self Defence.  JuJutsu is thus a very comprehensive Martial Art as the varieties of attacks are numerous.  It includes many of the other martial arts within its curriculum.  Its prime concern is attacks where you have been grabbed and thus your mobility is restrained, as you cannot then easily get away from an intended attack such as a strike.  Close Quarter Fighting.  However it also deals with other fighting distances such as those of punching, striking and kicking and ground fighting.  It uses strategies that affect the mind, strikes, locks and holds and throws and restraints.  It is not a sport; it is for survival, for Self Defense.  It is the ancestor of modern sports such as Judo and Aikido which have rules and thus restrictions on their ultimate effectiveness in the street.  JuJutsu is concerned with fighting without rules, as attacks in the street do not have rules.  Sport is about fair fighting, but there is no fair fighting in the street.  It originated in Japan as can be seen from its Samurai method of fighting, of conserving energy and not flowing around as is the Chinese preference.  It originated on the battlefield where fighters wore armor and so were not readily defeated by strikes alone, but by attacking weaknesses.  In modern soldiering soldiers are often weighed down with protective gear, as can be Law Enforcement officers.  Like most Martial Arts, however, techniques are shared, borrowed and improved from many other arts and teachers.

JuJutsu comes from the weaponed arts, arts that it assisted when a warrior lost or broke his weapon or otherwise engaged in unarmed combat.  JuJutsu schools often also teach weapons.  It is a multi-sided Art that may one day save the life of you or of your loved ones.

A broad art, it can be differentiated from others by its philosophy, its defensive strategies.  It is classified with the ‘Soft’ or ‘Internal’ arts.  Meaning: instead of matching a dangerous force with an equal or better force or strength of your own (which you will not always have), you weave around a Force.  ‘Soft’ is the common translation for ‘Ju’ but that neglects to mention that it does not meaning ‘weak’ as the word Soft can mean in English.  It better means ‘adaptable’ or ‘flexible’.  Ocean waves are soft but they are not weak; the wind is soft but it is not weak.  It does not train to meet force with force as in some Karate (or ‘Hard’ art) schools, but to redirect force.  Its strategies and relating techniques make it efficient in dealing with opponents who are far stronger, bigger and meaner than yourself.  Not depending on physical strength, it can be practiced for a lifetime from childhood to old age.

It is an art that gives you options.  Unlike a weapon or a power strike from Karate or Boxing that may kill, JuJutsu techniques allow you to break away and run, or to lock and restrain an aggressor, not only to incapacitate them.  Killing is an option against a killing attack on you.  Thus it is an art ideal for Law Enforcement and those who in their jobs need to restrain violent people or patients, but not by using less force to do so end in losing and becoming victims themselves.

JuJutsu has absorbed the philosophy of Zen Buddhism for its conduct and understanding of combat and also of daily life.  JuJutsu is about Life and Death, which ultimately are inseparable.  Valuing Life, which is so transient, especially valuing your own life.  Acknowledging Death, and that Dangers come to you, and test you on the choices that you make in a crisis.

Being skilled at JuJutsu does not mean that you will win every fight.  No world champion boxer or other combat sportsman wins every fight.  Seeking out fights is dangerous to your health.  But you will through JuJutsu be dangerous to tackle, and hopefully that will show in your attitude and body language, upon which the eyes of an Aggressor watch intently.  Needing a victim, he has decisions to make that are all his own.

In battle, you are only as good as your level of practice.  As one day your life or that of a loved one may depend on your level of skill, it is prudent to practice Self Defensive arts as much as you can.  Better a few minutes every day rather than hours once a month.

The prime skills that one learns from any real martial art are Balance and Coordination of body movements and power from various combat Techniques; and from the Mental aspects of the martial art you learn to enhance your Awareness and Perceptions, not only of your surroundings and the dangers there of your opponent, but as well an enhancement of the perception and understanding of You, and thus your Control over yourself.


  1. Very informative piece, I have two questions though: how long before we master this art and at what age must we start its practice?

  2. Mr Cheney, it may be an art suitable for law enforcement but cops many times forget that when they use these techniques they aren't supposed to kill those they have to restrain. Yes, soft doesn't mean weak, good explanation! In west we have a twisted notion of weakness, what we see as weak others may see as an opportunity to strike in a different way nevertheless effective, yes?

  3. Strange that you use this forum to write about JuJutSu! What is now getting to be very popular in India, is krav maga! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krav_Maga

    1. Not strange at all. Plus krav maga contains jujutsu elements.

  4. @ Anonymous
    You can start to practice JuJutsu from nearly any age, say 6 to 60, for JuJutsu is not strength dependent, it is practice dependent. Training of children of course requires a selective curriculum and the teacher having a child-teaching ability.
    As with all combat arts you adjust the teaching to the abilities of the student. As a abductor prevention, for a 4 year old, I taught him how to throw his obliging combat-trained father by using just one knuckle. Onto a soft surface of course, the fall is hard. Safe for the child, and a confidence builder, and doesn't kill anyone (think: safety of school mates). The teaching of a martial art normally accelerates the maturity of a child, and that is valuable for school, parent, child and community. As Self Defence, JuJutsu is a defensive art: its techniques kick-in not from the student attacking, but only from being attacked by others. So safer in the playground than a bashing art such as boxing or Karate (though they do help to mature a person).

    Mastery: in general you do not master an art that is as all encompassing as is JuJutsu, JuJutsu masters you. That is, the better you are taught and the more that you can practice the better you become and you metamorph into a nobler person. All true martial arts seek to obtain mental and spiritual change and development through arts that involve the body and a knowledge of the importance of life and death. You affect the mind by way of the body. How the body feels the mind feels. A well trained body sure of its automatic safety abilities in a bad situation, transmits calmness to the mind. You don’t worry about You when you just worry about what you can do to your opponent. Care for your opponent. Thus controls and safety measures and restraining is preferred to killing.

    There are traditional schools with involved curriculums that can take years of study including the culture, there are modern schools that only teach techniques and are poorer for that. One should wish to become a black belt and train for that aim, but the more that you are in a hurry to obtain goals the longer it may take to get there. Determined practice takes patience. Anything worthwhile takes time. The Self Defence aspect extracts strategies and techniques from a more comprehensive course and so it can take much less time to become adept. This is so for every art. However what is missing from just repeating techniques is the valuable essence of the art; if you only do the martial in a martial art then you do not get to the Art in the art. In higher levels of combat it is the Art that conquers the Martial.

  5. @ Pietr.
    When Law Enforcement confuse killing with restraining then their training has been faulty and too little. The aim of all martial arts is to achieve self control under stressful, even dangerous, situations, and from that self control: achieve control of the opponent. That achievement takes time and makes the art worth all your efforts. A poorly trained officer in a struggle might slip from a safe strangle to a choke situation and kill the resisting suspect. The difference in killing techniques and restraining techniques and how one can go too far and how to recognize the signs, watch for them and avoid them: is proper training. You only need or have a right to kill if the attack on you is a killing attack itself. If you are skilled enough you may be able to lessen the killing attack on you without killing and that is a demand on all officers who are not military, and is called the Force Continuum, a sequence of using minimal force. Not to kill a killer is asking a lot and would often result in the officer being killed by a determined aggressor. In order not to kill a deadly attacker you would need to gain control over the opponent, for only then can you safely use less strict techniques.

    Krav Maga is an eclectic art borrowing effective methods and techniques from many arts, mainly from JuJutsu. This is not unusual. All fighting arts need to cope with the varieties and changeables met on the battlefield in war or street. Thus adept masters and instructors borrow what they need from each other. There is no copyright in combat, only that each art specializes and knows its own techniques best, and borrowed techniques might not be completely learned in all their intricacies. It all comes down to the teacher, the practice and the student's willingness to learn.

  6. Hi Cheney,

    Jujutsu seems like the kind of martial art I need to learn and practise. I do Tai Chi everyday but I always wondered how it can ever help me to defend myself.
    So, you teach martial arts; is there anything you don't do? :)
    Great job, as usual.


  7. @ Max
    Well, for pleasure I teach five martial arts, although I know a little more. They are combat arts not the sports. I do teach Tai Chi, but the Tai Chi art that I teach is a combat form, and very unusual as it is from Northern India and not from China. It includes a process of moving the consciousness into different parts of the brain and mind, areas not usually visited, to unlock what abilities are there. It is useful when teaching children who have learning disabilities for they can operate from those other regions in the mind when normally used areas have been blocked by damage or malfunction from birth. Damaged minds cannot efficiently receive input nor communicate well (if at all) along the normal channels, thus why not use a different path? As to India, the Shaolin Schools of China from their own history originated in India; although all migrating martial arts merged with pre-existing local ones.

    Tai Chi is a widely practiced art, but originally it was a combat art. As a combat art (and some masters still use it as so), it is extremely advanced and effective. Of the main schools of Tai Chi, the Wen Wu School still displays openly some of the combat nature of the art. The original name for the combat art was Tai Chi Chuan, way of the ultimate fist; ultimate combat method. I am at present, when I can, teaching a Tai Chi student the combat meaning of his movements as his teacher, unfortunately, does not know them. Always much is lost in the combat arts when advanced teachings are not passed on, then they have to be reconstructed or discovered all anew. Any martial art such as those with Kata (like Tai Chi Chuan) can be practiced for a combination of health, breathing, balance and flexibility alone, to great benefit. However that was not what the art was just created for. All martial arts are about a mature acceptance of the fact of life and death, the awareness of the meaning of those essences and thus: reaching for an ultimate realization and way of life including survival under any threat of terminating one’s life. All life has value and is precious, as when it is lost: so is lost all that individual’s unique experiences. The duty of all is to pass on one’s experience to the benefit of others and that is what teachers do. You pass on the torch so it grows greater and glows brighter. Whatever of value that you don’t pass on, truly dies.

    I know a little about martial arts, enough to teach some of it. Most important though is to continue to learn. It is only when you stop learning that the dying process begins. What you don’t use becomes useless. The more that you master the more you come to know that there is no End, that you are a student at the edge of a wonderful Beginning and beyond lies a vast Universe waiting for you to join it. We are at the Dragons’ Gate. We are explorers of the Universe; all life forms explore the environment that surrounds them. And we need to look after each other, for we are all from One.

    1. Cheney,

      Five martial arts, that's amazing!
      Indeed, if a road is blocked we can try and build a different road to pass from. Thanks for teaching me something new: I had no idea that Shaolin Schools had originated in India; which is not surprising.

      Yes, that's my understanding of Tai Chi Chuan (understanding the meaning of life and death and other elements of existence) and practising it helps me a lot; but I haven't applied it to combat yet and that's what I was wondering about, when I asked you the question.

      "And we need to look after each other, for we are all from One."

      I couldn't agree more.
      You sound like a wonderful teacher, Cheney. What a privilege.


  8. As a woman I should learn how to defend myself but I need to find a discipline that fits my lack of physical flexibility. Thank you for the advice, Mr Cheney!

  9. People, I feel bad for not knowing Tai Chi, Jujutsu, Karate or whatever! Not fair! Stephen, don't take this the wrong way but now that I know you're a sensei I find you extremely appealing! Not coming on to you, I swear, it is what it is!

  10. @ Leila.
    As discussed, to defend yourself, at a minimum, you need to take a Self Defence course and practice regularly. JuJutsu is the comprehensive Self Defence art and most Self Defence courses borrow heavily from it, such courses being a selection of techniques and strategies due to time constraints rather than the full art which takes years, but worthwhile years. A bit of Dim Mak added for confidence building is useful. For JuJutsu, as you do not need to be stronger than your opponent, you do not need an extreme fitness, but practice any martial art and you will get fitter and healthier.

    @ Max.
    As you already have training in Tai Chi you can adapt it for defending yourself. Ask your master to teach you the combat aspects. These are often called ‘Applications’. To get a taste of the combat use of tai Chi: practice with a partner. Your partner needs only to offer a body shape and some resistance, as in the Tai Chi Push Hands exercise.
    Have your partner lightly grip both your wrists and push a little, and you simply do your Tai Chi form while lightly restrained. You will find that as you add in your body to the movements that your partner will be off-balanced. Of course you practice with the usual very vertical head and upright body, your knees bent, shoulders down, breathing, posture, centering, you move as one, etc.
    Do the same when your opponent grips your shoulders. And also when your opponent reaches out and presses a fist to your chest. You will get some idea of what your Form can do and the opportunities for a counter strike.
    This is similar to the first technique that I teach for self defence, where in a brawl or panicked crowd someone larger presses on you, for if you go down you can get trampled. You accept them and drop them. The second part of the technique is another lesson and that is to float or ‘levitate’ the opponent and off the ground send them at high speed in the air to crash into a wall. It is only a stage one ‘levitation’, as a stage three is totally useless for combat. The subject flies through the air screaming as they realize they cannot stop the crash, and it is face first so it is scary. I can only teach that where there is a thick padded wall for safety, such as that at the UNSW. The screaming stops when they hit the wall. To overcome student fear of participating, I arm them with the knowledge that they also will get a turn as the Sender, that keeps them happy. Small girls can easily project large men into a far wall.

    @ Ana.
    Appealing? Not necessarily; anyway, I am currently unavailable. My best wishes to you finding a partner trustworthy and loving. You need to be careful as to who you give devotion. Human beings are complex unities and the unity is mainly for themselves. Not all decorative boxes hold treasures. Some when opened hold nothing. Love needs to be both ways, for when you love only or it is not equal, then your love is a one way street and it is you who gets run over. True love is an amazing thing, it multiplies meaning.

    1. Cheney,

      Thanks for the advice: it's super and I will follow it.
      Question: what does UNSW stand for exactly, please?

      Don't mind Ana Raquel; she's kidding. You know the technique she's employing, I'm sure...

    2. Stephen, Ana is my girl so you no sweat.

  11. @ Max.
    UNSW: The University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.

  12. Cool post. Apart from the political posts, this type of article is my favorite, cheers Stephen for a job well done.
    I learned how to fight in my neighborhood but a bit more discipline could've done me a lot of good, you know? Maybe in my next incarnation. Keep it up, Stephen.

  13. Thumbs up, Stephen. One of your best posts so far.


Post a Comment

Dissecting Society welcomes all sorts of comments, as we are strong advocates of freedom of speech; however, we reserve the right to delete Troll Activity; libellous and offensive comments (e.g. racist and anti-Semitic) plus those with excessive foul language. This blog does not view vulgarity as being protected by the right to free speech. Cheers