What do the names Jiu Jitsu and Judo mean? Both words actually begin with the same word Ju which pertains to a soft and yielding way of manipulating the opponent’s force. What you may find of interest is the following words. Jitsu refers to a skill or technique while Do represents the path or way of life. Together Ju Jutsu was likely used to refer to the art of fighting without weapons, while Ju Do means “The gentle way”.
When and where did Jiu Jitsu originate? While it is unclear as to when Ju Jutsu originated exactly, it is said to have possibly come from China to Japan dating back to as early as 1532 (Some say early 1300s but it is hard to be sure). Ju Jutsu was developed by the samurai warriors who engaged in battle on horseback, in the event they found themselves disarmed or on foot. Although there were different styles, much of Jiu Jitsu’s emphasis was towards throws, joint locks, and strangles with minimal emphasis on striking techniques.
How did it evolve to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)? Towards the end of Shogunate Empire and the samurai class in 1868, during the Meiji Restoration period, Japan began to shift it’s focus towards industrialization. During this time, the fighting arts were viewed only as something practiced by gangsters and thugs. Until a man by the name Jigoro Kano came along. Kano was a weak and sickly kid whose parents searched for something to make him stronger and healthier. Upon discovering Ju Jutsu, he was fascinated by the art that allowed a smaller man to defeat a larger man using leverage and technique. He also saw tremendous benefits for the every day person due to the physical, mental and spiritual development that came as a result of training. This is what led him to eventually create Judo. Kano’s mission to spread the art resulted in him recruiting many teachers, one of whom was Mitsuyo Maeda, who through his emigration to Brazil began teaching George Gracie’s son Carlos who would share it with his brothers. Although Kano’s teachers went far and wide, the Gracie family contributed to spread and refinement of Jiu Jitsu through challenge matches. In 1993 Jiu Jitsu burst onto the scene through Royce Gracie’s ground fighting dominance in the UFC tournament which led to the sport and lifestyle we now know today.