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Which Martial Arts Were Created From Principles of Jujitsu?

I've been training in martial arts since the 1980s and consistently since the '90s. I am a 2nd-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.

The meaning of that word Jujitsu is "gentle art", giving many people the impression that, if it were used on someone, its techniques won't hurt. Nothing could be further from the truth. With its basis on throws, joint locks and chokes, application of a Jujitsu technique could cause concussions, joint dislocations, broken bones, unconsciousness and even death. Gentle, in the context of Jujitsu, is not about not hurting someone.

Granted, a punch or kick, if executed correctly, are quick to do damage. However, we should understand the meaning of the term "gentle" when applied to Jujitsu. In this context, it means that you are not meeting force with force, but rather going with the force of an attacker to off-balance him and put him in a compromising position for a throw, lock or choke. It is a reference to that old school martial arts term "soft style". Soft, in martial arts, generally refers to fluid circular movements; for instance, parries or circular footwork that evades and redirect attacks rather than meeting them head-on or bucking them with hard blocks. Hard is linear, soft is fluid.

But the base of Jujitsu involves throws, joint locks and chokes. You use minimum effort to get in position for these techniques, but the techniques themselves are deadly and painful when you are on the receiving end.

Jujitsu has a lot to offer: It offers control of the opponent, which is obviously necessary when you are being attacked. It offers conservation of energy, because you are letting the attacker do half the work by using his force to throw him off and lock him up.

Consequently, many martial arts have borrowed from the sound principles of Jujitsu. Some of them have borrowed heavily from the art, others have borrowed what is directly relevant or useful for the purposes of the particular system making use of Jujitsu.

Here we explore the systems that have made use of Jujitsu.

Jujitsu practice, circa 1920.

Jujitsu practice, circa 1920.


Judo is well-known as a sport martial art. It's emphasis is on throws, with some chokes and locks too. It's also a rather well-rounded art that does, like Jujitsu, include strikes. It's basis is in Jujitsu.

The meaning of that word Judo is Gentle Way. Founder and proponent, Jigoro Kano, wanted his system not just to emphasize a gentle art but also a gentle way of life.

Kano was bullied in school so sought out Jujitsu instruction. This was in the mid to late 1800s, when Jujitsu had greatly gone out of fashion in Japan, as times were changing then. After much search, Kano was referred to a teacher of Tenjin Shin-yo ryu Jujitsu in 1877. His teacher, Fukuda Hachinosuke emphasized application of the art over formal exercises and this is why Kano emphasized sparring and hands-on training in his form of Judo.

After Hachinosuke passed away, Kano continued to train in the art of his teacher under the instruction of Iso Masatomo. When Masatomo passed away, Kano went on to study another art called Kito-ryu.

It was in 1882 that Kano founded the Kodokan, or Place for Expounding the Way, at which he taught Judo.

The emphasis in Judo, like Jujitsu, is in the use of minimum effort for maximum results. This, of course, is that soft principle of "going with" the opponent's force to thrown him, lock him, choke him, etc.

Jujitsu, Judo and Aikido:

  • Emphasize minimum effort for maximum results
  • Uses opponent's energy against him
  • Makes use of joint locks, chokes and throws


The techniques of Aikido are basically Jujitsu techniques with particular emphasis on using practically no force at all, and making heavy use of angles and circular footwork to evade and redirect opponents' attacks. Aikido has a strong spiritual component, as emphasized by founder Morihei Ueshiba, as the meaning of the word Aikido is Way of Unifying with Life Energy.

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Like Jujitsu and Judo, Aikido emphasizes using the least amount of energy possible for the greatest results possible. In simple terms, you use the opponent's energy against him.

Martial Arts that Use Jujitsu

JudoAikidoDefenduKenpoKrav MagaEskrido

Emphasis on using opponent's force against him to throw him, choke him or lock him up

Uses redirection and fluid movement to throw opponent, using minimum effort

Fighting system of British Commandos during WW2, emphasized practical application of Jujitsu joint locks and throws.

Early in its inception, Kenpo involved the trading of information and has Jujitsu in its system

Another system of practical self-defense, used in special forces, makes use of very practical application of Jujitsu technique

Developed by Cacoy Canete, Grandmaster of Doce Pares Eskrima, involves throws, locks and chokes with the stick

Aikido throw.

Aikido throw.


Sambo is a Russian martial art which combines elements of Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, Asian striking arts, Judo and Jujitsu. Its creators, Vasili Oschepkov and Victor Spiridonov, had been commissioned in the 1920s to create a fighting system for the Soviet Red Army. Oschepkov had trained with Kano, founder of Judo as previously discussed, and Spiridonov had training in wrestling, including native styles of Eastern Europe. Spiridonov also investigated fighting arts of Mongolia and China to include in the new fighting system of the Soviet military. Eventually this system was taught to and used by the police, the secret police and special forces of the Soviet Union. Over the years, the system has been modified and added to by its many proponents and practitioners. It involves strikes, chokes, throws and joint locks, including leg locks. It is a well-rounded system of fighting, involving both grappling and striking.


William E Fairbairn worked for the British police in Shanghai and taught the police how to handle a rough crowd. He had trained in Judo in Tokyo and also had knowledge of various Asian and Western fighting arts. He put together a system called Defendu, making use of the simplest technique of the fighting systems he knew. The techniques emphasize controlling opponents with joint locks, throwing them to the ground to finish them quickly, and striking where the most damage and debilitation can be done. It's down and dirty fighting and this is why Fairbairn ended up teaching special forces during World War Two, including the British Commandos and the American Colonel Rex Applegate from the Office of Strategic Services. Applegate went on to train American special forces and secret police.

Rex Applegate Book on his Military Fighting System

Kenpo makes use of locks and throws.

Kenpo makes use of locks and throws.

Kenpo Karate

Kenpo Karate was brought to Hawaii by the Mitose family and James Mitose taught William K. S. Chow and from there it was passed on to various practitioners. Hawaii was a cornucopia of martial arts and was home to Filipino arts, grappling arts and Karate arts. Famed Jujitsu practitioner Henry Okasaki taught in Hawaii and an exchange of information between Kenpo and Jujitsu schools was common. There was a time when Kenpo was actually called Kenpo Jujitsu and there was also a time when it was heavily laden with Jujitsu techniques. Ed Parker in particular changed the art significantly, adding elements of Eskrima and Kung Fu. However, the Jujitsu is still in there and known to those who practice the art seriously. Much of it is found in techniques against Jujitsu techniques. Some of it is not in the techniques but taught to students nonetheless.

Kenpo definitely makes use of redirection, circular movement and using the opponent's energy against him, cornerstones of Jujitsu. It also makes use of throws, locks and chokes.

Kenpo Technique Returning Storm: Using redirection, circular footwork and the opponent's energy

Krav Maga joint lock and disarm.

Krav Maga joint lock and disarm.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga was created by street fighter Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian Jew who wanted his people to be able to defend themselves against Nazi brutality around the time of their unfortunate reign. He had knowledge of various Asian and Western martial arts, including Judo and Jujitsu, which he included in his art called Krav Maga. He went on to train Israeli special forces.

Krav Maga is quick and deadly; like many arts that emphasize the necessity to end the fight quickly, like Defendu, it emphasizes hitting vital targets, controlling the opponent and ending the confrontation by any means. It uses Jujitsu where practical and easy. Like Defendu, it's a stripped down system that keeps it simple and brutal. It should be stated here too, that these special forces systems emphasize close-quarters combat, where real fighting takes place and this is one of the reasons that Jujitsu is used. Jujitsu is all about close-range fighting, in tight and grappling, making use of heavy control of the opponent. The closer you are to the opponent, the more the need for control, because he is in range to hit you. Also, like Defendu, being down and dirty and practical, it has to involve disarms, which means controlling and manipulating the opponent; essentially, joint locks are important when it comes to controlling a weapon and disarming the attacker. Jujitsu, of course, is all about the joint lock.


Eskrido is a system created by Grandmaster of Doce Pares Eskrima Cacoy Canete, which makes use of Eskrima stick for locks, throws and chokes. Emphasis is placed on not fighting the opponent's energy, but going with it to put him in a compromising position for a lock, throw, disarm or choke. Sparring involves feeling energy, not resisting it, and going where the opponent goes to apply technique that disables him. I've personally trained in this art and can verify that resisting the opponent's energy is counter-productive and going along with it to position for locks and throws is much more constructive.

Cacoy has heavy training in Eskrima, Karate and Jujitsu and Judo. He's developed a well-rounded art that involves strikes, boxing and grappling.

Cacoy Canete Using Eskrido

As you can see, Jujitsu has been borrowed by many martial arts because of its emphasis on control of the attacker and close quarters combat, in tight where real fighting occurs. It has definite practical applications that has been recognized for many years and continues to be a part of practical fighting arts.

© 2014 Nathan Bernardo

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