(Originally published at Kajukenboinfo)
The Philosophical Differences
In looking at the differences between judo and jujitsu one needs to understand the difference between a “Do” and a “Jutsu”. (Note: Jutsu is spelled jitsu at times, both are now commonly used.) These two terms are used in the Japanese language to define the philosophy behind the two types of arts. The use of these two terms is why we see style names such as Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, Aiki-Jitsu, Karate Do, Karate Jitsu, Kendo, Kenjutsu, and so on.
“Jutsu” is a term used to link a fighting method with the martial disciplines of war, rather than with the sporting or aesthetic practices of modern Japan. The Samurai or warrior arts are referred to as “jutsu’s”.
“Do” or “Way”, describes a martial art that stresses philosophy with moral and spiritual connotations; the ultimate aim being enlightenment and personal development. One could perhaps summarize and simplify the difference between the two by saying that “Jutsu” styles are concerned with defeating the opponent; while “Do” styles are concerned with defeating one’s self.
The Historical Differences
Both judo and aikido have their origin’s in the Japanese fighting system known as jujitsu. Although jujitsu has not had a neat, organized history like many of the more modern martial arts, it can be traced back 2500 years. Some historians claim that it has it’s origins in China, while others insist that it is a native Japanese art.
One of the earliest sources of jujitsu were the teachings of Prince Teijun (also known as Sadagami). Sadagami formed the “Daito Ryu Aiki-Jutsu” school in 880 A.D.. This school was based on the secret teachings of “Shukendo” (shu means search, ken means power, do means way). Although jujitsu means “The Gentle Art”, it was a warriors art, practiced by the Samurai of Japan.
Over the centuries hundreds of jujitsu styles evolved. Because of the devastating nature of jujitsu techniques, it was not at all suited to sport competition.
With the closing of the Tokugawa era in the 1800s, the quality of some of the jujitsu schools started to decline. In 1882, in response to this decline, Jigoro Kano developed the system now known as “judo”. His purpose was to increase the popularity of the martial arts, and to provide a safe sport using selected techniques taken from the warrior’s art of jujitsu. Kano choose to call his school judo instead of jujitsu because he wanted his style to be more of a way (do), than a war art (jutsu). He observed that many of the jujitsu schools had become undisciplined and that their students were thought of as nothing more than ruffians. He also saw that many schools were teaching techniques that were dangerous and caused their students to be unduly injured. He felt that he needed to separate his school from the numerous schools that had acquired unethical reputations. Eventually most of the existing jujitsu schools joined Kano’s Kodokan (school of judo). The remaining jujitsu schools either faded away or worked diligently to improve their teachings and strengthen their style.
The Physical Differences
Judo and jujutsu share many similar techniques such as throws, joint locks and choke holds. The physical difference between the two martial arts is how the techniques are executed, and the emphasis that each art places on certain techniques.
Although many consider the Samurai to have been the greatest swordsmen of all time, they also had to be highly skilled in unarmed combat. Their jujitsu was created by warriors and tested in life and death battles. It was a complete fighting system containing strikes, kicks, throws, joint locks, and strangulation holds. The early jujitsu practitioners also trained with the sword and the naginata (long bladed spear). In battle, if disarmed, the samurai utilized his jujitsu skills in a life and death struggle. When faced with a armed opponent, the samurai would most likely have only one opportunity to disarm and kill him. For this reason the samurai would attempt to evade the opponent’s lunge, and then seize the arm that held the weapon. He would then apply a joint lock to the limb.
These joint locking techniques were designed to destroy the limbs by disjointing them and tearing apart the connecting muscles and tendons. The joint lock would most likely be followed up by a strike or kick to a vital area designed to quickly kill or disable the opponent. If the fight went to the ground the samurai had the skills to quickly strangle his opponent with a variety of choke holds.
Most modern day jujitsu schools have kept the warrior ways in their philosophies, while changing the physical techniques just enough to allow safe training.
While jujitsu was created on the battlefield by warriors, judo was created in peacetime for peaceful purposes. In it’s early years judo was considered nothing more than one of the various styles of jujitsu. Eventually judo became the accepted name for the system taught at Kano’s Kodokan.
Jigoro Kano had an extensive knowledge of jujitsu and always professed that the physical techniques of judo, with the exception of atemi waza (vital point striking), came from jujitsu. The most prevalent jujitsu styles influencing the development of judo were the kito ryu and tenjin shinyo ryu. Although judo contains all of the techniques of jujitsu, it’s emphasis is placed on throwing techniques. The key to all throwing techniques is in the ability of the defender to unbalance his opponent. Another strong point of judo is it’s strong ground fighting techniques (Newaza). Atemi Waza (vital point striking) is normally only taught to black belt students. The many strikes and kicks that make up judo’s atemi waza are the direct result of the 1921 collaboration between Kano and Gichen Funakoshi. Funakoshi in turn added various judo techniques to his shotokan karate system.