History of Jiu Jitsu

               There is confusion today when speaking in the history of Jiu-Jitsu. Books, magazines and practitioners always say (wrongly) that Jiu-Jitsu was born in India around 2000 years ago. This concept is wrong and distorted. There is confusion today when speaking in the history of Jiujitsu. Books, magazines and practitioners always say (wrongly) that Jiujitsu was born in India around 2000 years ago. This concept is wrong and distorted.

Problems in translation

                The confusion begins at its own name, the correct spelling for the word (柔 術) in Japanese Jujutsu would be (for English-speaking language) which means "gentle art" or "gentle art". The pronunciation in Portuguese is close to díuu-di-tsu (pronunciation for us who speak Portuguese is alienígna and unnatural).

The term Ju in Kanji means smooth. Kanji "jitsu" means true, so it would be something like "true light," what is wrong, right is "Jutsu" which means technique. Ignoring the correct spelling in Portuguese became known in Brazil as Jiujitsu since it pronucie "Djiuu-djii-tsu".

Confusion Historical

                The confusion which arose in saying that India would be the mother of all martial arts of the East comes from the fact Bodhidharma, Indian, have entered the Shaolin temple in China, Vajra exercises Mushti (old-style fighting Indian nobility ) as official techniques to the monks endure the long hours of meditation.

                Bodhidharma found that the monks constantly passed out and did not have a good physical preparation needed to stay for hours motionless form of wire, just meditating. Thus introduced exercise required all monks, influencing the temples so that henceforth hone the physical part. It is noteworthy that some monks have practiced some styles of Kung Fu, but it was lonely and unrelated to the discipline of the temples. The Vajra Mushti is an ancient art, with reports dating from the 5th century BC, but nothing reminds the Japanese or Chinese arts. This confusion happened with the Kung Fu as well, since it was associated as a specialization of these exercises. This confusion already dissipated because it has been proven that long before existed styles of Kung Fu, from the time doImperador Yellow (around 2000 BC).

Because of this confusion sofismável, he credited the Kung Fu would have been from India, have been exported to Japan by merchants and Buddhist monks. The unique style of Kung Fu that could remember Jiujitsu would Shuai Jiao, a kind of Chinese Wrestling known since the time of the Yellow Emperor. There are reports of Chinese traders demonstrating Shuai Jiao around 1600 in Japan, so it may even be that some Jiujitsu style has been influenced, but this time the samurai long time already had a refined jiujitsu.


Jiu-Jitsu Origins


From the earliest times man knew fighting styles based on grappling as accounts in the Bible, Greek philosophers, Egypt of the pharaohs or in caves of France in the time of mammoths and dandelion sabers tigers around 10,000 years before Christ. Hercules was known as an accomplished wrestler in ancient Greek mythology.


Alexander the Great, during the campaign in India sponsored several challenges wrestling between his soldiers and officers against the world champions, we might even say that Indian styles would come from the Greek Pankration, but we would be assuming without concrete evidence.


Anyway the ancient world provided contact between different cultures through wars and challenges and it would be natural that such different styles were exported, known and improved by other people. If we look at history, all the old people had some wrestling style, from the Greeks, through the Babylonians to the Persians japonses.


There is nothing to discredit the genuine origin of the Japanese Jiujitsu, ancient styles were already mentioned in ancient chronicles books as Nihon Shoki, Kokki or Kojiki.

In the book of chronicles Nihon Shoki, there are reports of a competition called Chikara-Kurabe, it was a competition where fighters confrotavam rule that resemble both the Sumo as Jiujitsu. This competition was held on the 7th year of Emperor Suinin (29AC-70AD), around the year 22 BC.


The Japanese feudal system was based on the samurai caste divided into clans. A clan was formed by several families of both samurai and farmers, both were vassals of a daimyo who in turn was subjected to a Shogun who was who actually ruled Japan. The emperor for many centuries was just a display piece such which today the queen of England means to Britain.


A clan had several samurai families, these families were noble and only they could practice the arts of war as bojutsu (stick with art), kenjutsu (art with the sword), jujutsu (unarmed technique), among others.


Each clan had its own style and Jiujitsu during the clashes and the technical challenges were known by opponents. It was treason if a samurai teach the techniques of a clan to a member of another clan, if that happened he should practice Harakiri (suicide).

Around the year 1600 AD, there were about 2,000 schools (RYU) Jiujitsu in Japan, which corresponds to more than one per clan. The most famous were:



Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu

Hontai Yoshin-ryu

Kashima Shin-ryū

Sekiguchi Shinshin-ryu




Tenjin Shinyo-ryu

Yagyu Ryu Shingan

Yoshin Ryu


After the end of the feudal period with the advent of the Meiji era (Restoration), the samurai were marginalized and had to survive by opening schools for lay people, joining the recent imperial army or taking technical positions in foreign companies (as they were well educated and had knowledge in painting, writing, poetry and other Japanese arts, something that ordinary citizens do not possuím for being illiterate mostly).


During this time many schools merged, the most celebrated of all as the Kodokan, joined various masters in different styles Jiujitsu and unified various techniques from styles as diverse as Daito-ryu (giving rise to Aikido) by Shiro Saigo , through the Fusen-Ryu (where a fighter appeared at the Kodokan and rowed all students of Jigoro Kano with soil techniques, which he left most current ne-waza techniques) to Kito-ryuque Kano himself studied (specialized in technical projections or nage-waza). Daito-ryu also gave rise to the Korean style of Hapkido, its founder, Choi Yong Sul, merged with oTaekwondo.

Note below that image Kodokan the meeting of various masters in different styles Jiujitsu who joined Kodokan:


In the low sat line from left to right:

..Masamizu Inazu of Miura Ryu

... Yazoo Eguchi of Kyushin Ryu

... Takayoshi Katayama of Yoshin Ryu

... Kumon Hoshino of Shiten Ryu

... Jigoro Kano of Kodokan

... Hidemi Totsuka the Totsuka-ha Yoshin Ryu

... Jushin Sekiguchi of Sekiguchi Ryu

... Koji Yano of Takeuchi Ryu

... Katsuta Hiratsuka of Yoshin Ryu


Standing, from left to right:

... Kehei Aoyagi of Sosuishi Ryu

... Mogichi Tsumizu of Sekiguchi Ryu

... Hikosaburo Ohshima of Takeuchi Ryu

... Hoken Sato of Kodokan

... Kotaro Imei of Takeuchi Ryu

... Mataemon Tanabe of Fusen Ryu

... Shikataro Takano of Takeuchi Ryu

... Hidekazu Nagaoka the Kodokan

... Sakujiro Yokoyama of Kodokan

... Hajime Isogai the Kodokan

... Yoshiaki Yamashita of the Kodokan


We can say that the Kodokan became the best school jiujitsu the early 20th century, Jigoro Kano not only studied other styles as invited several teachers from other schools, in addition to that sent students to study other styles in other regions and even other countries. But by emphasizing competition and struggle mainly with rules that favored the fight standing (with projections of blows) plus the withdrawal of several blows considered dangerous, the Jiujitsu was wasting away and disappeared from the world.


Jigoro Kano came to study and adapt techniques of Western Wrestling (which influenced the rules of the Kodokan in the years to hold back the opponent to the ground during a given time), as well as boxing and other oriental martial arts training at the Kodokan.


Thanks to Gracie family who kept the samurai spirit and favored ground fighting taught by Mitsuyo Maeda, considered extinct and unknown blows of modern Judo practitioners were rescued. Now with the success of Jiujitsu in Vale-all tournaments around the world, Judo blows that were lost are rescued from old books and videos around the world.


Special mention to the video "The Essence of Judo" of Kyuzo Mifuneque shows a close Judo their origins and closely resembles the Brazilian Jiujitsu displayed mainly in soil techniques.

Mataemon Tanabe, Fusen Ryu master in the image below:


All famous techniques of Brazilian Jiujitsu were already known to the Kodokan and came from a specific style of the old Jiujitsu as Armlock (ude hishigi Juji gatame), triangle (sankaku juji jime), kimura Key (Gyaku Ude Garami), American (Ude Garami) Ezekiel (Sode Guruma Jime), Wood-lion (rear naked choke), Clock (Koshi Jime), Bahia (Morote gari), scapula (Ashi Garami), Guillotine (Tate hishigi), Guillotine on guard (Giaku hishigi), Scissors ( Kani Garami), foot switch (Ashi Dori Garami) and even called gogoplata (Kagato Jime) that Nino Shembri said to have created.


We investigate in another article Jiujitsu the pioneers in Brazil and how this art has been preserved in our land and disappeared from Japan.


Main source: Several blog articles:




Other sources: Some CombatSport issues of the magazine of the 80s, wikipedia, forums and ebooks.