Self-Defense: What Is Combat Jiu-Jitsu?

January 8th, 2014 by admin

Hi Grandmaster Freedman, my friend wanted to know what is combat jiu-jistu and so I wanted to get your thoughts on this. Thanks, Irusha.

Wow, what a cup of tea this question is. Before we begin our journey on tea tasting we must first empty out our tea cups to the last drop. We do not want any of the old left over tea inside the cup so when I start pouring in my type (flavor) of tea there will be no mixing of flavors. If the cup is completely empty you will be able to get a good taste (good idea) from what I am sharing with your friend, in this moment of time.

Well, our journey starts in Japan a few thousand years back. You see when people went off to battle (war) they brought their weapons, their armor, and their mind. On the battlefield your opponents (the enemy or bad guys) also wore armor. Now when the two armies met out in the middle of the battlefield they first would use their weapons. If their opponent got around their weapon or their weapon broke or dropped they would have to use their empty hand. Now in Okinawa this was called Karate, but back in the day in Japan it was called Jujutsu. Before we can understand what jujutsu is, lets first break down the word jujutsu and learn what it actually means.

Ju in my mind feels like a concept. A concept if you look it up in a dictionary says idea or thought. So this means that the first half of the word ju-jutsu (JU) is the idea part. The idea behind this meaning of Ju is “gentle, giving way, yielding, blending, or moving out of harms way, but it is only a concept (idea) not an action.

Jutsu is the principle or the action part of ju-Jutsu. In Japanese this word means science or art. Science is the understanding of how, why, where and when something works. Art means the type of method that is used like the format of how you move your body or how you posture your body while moving during confrontation. So the meaning of jutsu also feels like it stands for war or some thing very serious and violent in nature in terms of fighting in a war or to preserve your own life via self protection.

So when you couple or put the two together and it becomes ju-jutsu, we now have what I feel or know it as the art or science of giving way via crippling or killing your opponent. In my opinion ju-jutsu is a very complete martial art. What this means is that in Ju-jutsu we have many different skills or little methods of martial arts, like a mixture of different fighting philosophies that blend well together that helps make Jujutsu such an effective fighting method back then on the battle fields of Japan and here in modern times on the streets in the USA.

Here are some examples of what I mean about Jujutsu having many different skill-sets or methods:

  • Evading(Tai Sabaki) is one of the main concepts that makes up the core of most ju-jutsu methods or systems (styles) of jujutsu being taught today all over the world. There are many ways to evade the attack. You can move your feet to move your body out of harms way (ashi sabaki). ASHI = means foot / SABAKI = movement. You can sway your body left or right to slip on coming head shots just by leaning. You can bob and weave to evade angular attacks. You can pull your hips way back to evade a belly slash from a knife attack. You can turn your right shoulder backwards to go with your opponents shove or push to your right shoulder by twisting your waist.
    You can also step up invading your opponents space (get right in his face) to evade a baseball bat swing or a roundhouse kick to your head. You can fall to the ground to evade a sword attack or you can dive roll over a wall or high fence to avoid being shot.
  • Ate Waza / Atemi Waza is striking as can be seen in Karate. How to punch properly, how to use open-handed strikes. How to use knee and elbow strikes. How to kick with your ball of your foot or heel, ankle , shin etc.. How to hip check, head butt, strike with your shoulders, back, belly, and even your neck. Forearm smashing and hitting with your biceps and tricep muscles. How to body slam into someone using your entire body like a battering ram which was a very popular thing to do back then with your armor on after getting out of the way from a spear attack or sword attack.
  • Atemi Jutsu is the ability to use ate waza along with strategy and science of anatomy and pressure points. Also to use your strikes in combination with every thing else. “Atemi” means to strike.
    Note: Atemi waza only means striking techniques and the study of anatomical pressure points on the human anatomy, but Atemi Jutsu is the science of all these striking techniques coupled together with fighting strategy (science of how it all fits together during violent encounters of life and death.
  • Joint Locking techniques (Kansetsu Waza) is how to control an opponent that does not want to be taken alive. Back in the day when everyone was wearing body armor punching and kicking did not do so well. Joint locks, however, worked great with someone wearing armor. The armor didn’t stop their joints from being twisted but did protect them against punching and kicking attacks. So today this is what most police personnel use all over the world today.
  • Throwing techniques (Nage-Waza) is one way of ending a fight fast and using your opponent’s weight against himself. Throws and foot sweeps along with reaps work really well when practiced properly. You can throw a person double your weight and size. This can be a major plus when defending against more than one opponent or an opponent wearing body armor or a winter jackets.
    A throw can and will end a fight quick or give you that added advantage over stronger people. With a little practice anyone can learn good throws and foot sweeps or reaps.
  • Escapes (Fusegi) is a very effective set of skills to have. This is where others grab you and place you in a headlock or bear hug or even place you into a painful joint lock. You can get out of just about any lock or hold. This knowledge is a great confidence builder when you can escape choke holds, arm bars, and more. “Fusegi” also means defense.
  • Rolling & Falling (Ukemi) is very important. I cant believe how many people have thanked me already for teaching them how to roll and fall. This past winter there were a lot of people who automatically tucked their head when they slipped out on the ice without taking injury. Rolling and falling also helps you get out of joint locks and grabs. They can be ways of countering different joint locks. If someone picks you up and throws you to the ground (SLAM) you can fall without injury and then counter them. Rolls are also used in ju-jutsu ground fighting to actually fight by rolling into your opponent, breaking his lower limbs or taking down multiple opponents by rolling around and slamming into your attackers. Remember you were wearing armor and movement on the ground was limited. Log rolls, triangle rolls, forward and backwards rolls are all great for fighting with.
  • Bone Breaking (Kopo Jutsu) in Jujutsu is very important. We learn how to strike and break bones. A broken bone is no joke. Sometime fights were ended with just a broken collarbone or tailbone etc. How about a broken rib — ouch! Breathing would become difficult. In Jujutsu we have, but are not limited to bone breaking and bone shattering.
  • Disarming played a major role in combat. Being able to take your opponents’ weapon away from them and then use their own weapon on them. Again, this is great for law enforcement.

    Note: What most people do not know about ju-jutsu today is that back in the day of the Samurai there were NO ju-jutsu dojos (schools) only schools of weapons. So first you would learn the sword and then after mastering the sword you would learn an empty handed methods of killing or crippling your opponent to then take their weapon away to replace what you had lost during battle.

    Also there were schools in spear fighting (so-jutsu) or schools in staff fighting (bo-jutsu or Jo-Jutsu or hanbo-jutsu) or yawara (hand stick) and there was also knife fighting (tanto-jutsu).
    So here is the philosophy behind the thinking back then and behind the thinking of our method as well. You can’t do a good job defending against something you don’t understand. So if you did not know how a knife or sword was used, then how will you ever be able to properly defend against it? You must first learn to fight with a knife so that you can learn how it will be used against you so you can properly defend yourself against that weapon of choice being used against you.
  • Multiple opponents (Randori) training was the focus. In jujutsu we learn how to deal with more than just one person. Some times there can be five or six opponents. Body positioning and angles and timing are crucial. Timing is a must! Every time we teach anything here we always make sure to remind each student to always keep in their mind that they are never just fighting one opponent even though it may look like one opponent. We teach to always cover your back and be aware of your surroundings. Treat one opponent as two and two opponents as three, etc.
  • Ground Fighting (Ne-Waza) in our method of Jujutsu (Freedman’s Method Ketsugo Jujutsu) differs from popular sports today. We learn to try our best to get right back up onto our feet as quickly as humanly possible. The faster the better. But on those days when we can’t get up and we are stuck there, no worries, we learn to deal with these issues of ground defense. We do not like to tie up with just one opponent on the ground (wrestling around) trying to submit the person or make him give up. By doing this my question would be, what about his three buddies standing by while you wrestle around on the ground trying to submit him? You either become a human kick ball or worse, a pin cushion! Our method of groundwork is finish him off quickly and roll up to your feet.

These are just a few things that ju-jutsu has to offer. I am speaking from a Japanese jujutsu point of view. Jujutsu mixes all these elements together and when you learn how this is done you can go and hang with the best of them. Remember all jujutsu students are also students of anatomy. If you don’t know anatomy, well then you are not doing jujutsu properly.

To me the art of jujutsu is the art of war – the art of killing.

Jujutsu was designed to kill and cripple the opponent. It was not invented to be a sport and that is why Sensei Jigoro Kano invented Judo (sport jujutsu) so you could practice full speed with out injury. He kept the crippling and killing (jujutsu) separate and that was known as (Goshin-Jutsu) but today even this was lost.

Well, that is it for now as I am working on a book series, six books actually.

Have your friend visit the combat science website or email me at if he would like more information or would like to set up a private lesson in person or via Skype.

– Grandmaster Peter Freedman

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