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Updated on January 25, 2013

Jujutsu is the Japanese method of unarmed combat, originally used by samurai, or warriors, in battle, when themselves disarmed or when fighting a disarmed opponent. Brought from China in ancient times, this "art of suppleness" (as the word means) was highly developed in Japan; by the 19th century there existed many methods, the master of each having his own variations.

The tricks of jujutsu were of two general types. The first comprised methods of gaining an advantage over an opponent by yielding to his attack or otherwise getting him off balance, and then throwing him to the ground or immobilizing him with a hold he could not break; in this way an opponent's strength was used to his own disadvantage, and a weaker man enabled to prevail against a stronger. The second involved methods of temporarily paralyzing and even maiming or killing an opponent through pressure or blows against vital nerve centers or vulnerable bone structures throughout the body.

Although the terms judo and jujutsu are often used interchangeably, judo derives from jujutsu. Jigaro Kano, a Japanese teacher, studied many styles of jujutsu. During the 1880's he adapted two distinct forms of judo, using techniques taken from among the old schools of jujutsu. For sport and physical education, he adapted and modified throwing and grappling techniques. For self-defense, he selected and modified hand and foot blows and holds and locks.


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