A History of Danzan-Ryu Ju Jitsu

The root of the martial art we study is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt approximately 4000 years ago. From there the art traveled the Fertile Crescent of ancient Mesopotamia through Asia Minor to India and Tibet.

Historians have credited a Bhuddist monk from India, Bodhidharma, with introducing martial arts into western China. As the Chinese martial arts evolved, they split into two distinct styles: northern (or soft) and southern (or hard). The hard style (karate) eventually made its way through Indonesia and the Philippines to Okinawa where it finally progressed to Japan in the late 1800s. The soft style traveled east and north across China to Korea, where it was taken back to Japan by Shinto monks during the Japanese "War of Conquest" in 1592. The soft style brought to Japan was called Yawara.

In Japan, clans striving for supremacy embraced the knowledge the monks brought and evolved their own family (or clan) systems of techniques (ryus) for armed and unarmed combat. An individual's (more importantly, a clan's) very survival depended on mastery of these systems and the successful application thereof in battle. Good instructors were therefore quite highly regarded as keepers and transmitters of the clan's secrets of martial prowess. The generic term for these techniques was Jujitsu.

Toward the end of the Tokugawa era (1576-1876), traditional weapons fell into disuse due to the introduction of firearms and the associated new methods of fighting.

The science of Jujitsu was rapidly disappearing until Jigoro Kano, a student of many of the old masters, set out to revive, organize, and unify the sciences into a systematic course of instruction. In 1882 he established his school, the Kodokan, in Tokyo. Today's sport Judo is the direct descendant of the system Kano developed.

Judo means the gentle way and Kodokan school of studying the way. Jujitsu is an older term and is translated as gentle art. Today, the word Judo denotes the sport based on Master Kano's codification of Jujitsu techniques; Jujitsu continues to denote the entire art.

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Last modified: September 6, 2014