Jiu Jitsu is the unarmed martial art of the medieval warriors of Japan – the Samurai.
To understand the history of Jiu Jitsu is to first understand the history of the Samurai.
The Samurai were men of noble families and were somewhat akin to the knights of Europe.
Each Samurai was a military man which meant that he must study the art(s) of war.
This in turn led to each family developing its own particular style of fighting. These styles
were based around the weapons of the era – swords, polearms, staff and bo. Supplementary
arts were also developed – horse riding was very important (joba jitsu) and killing was not
always desired leading to arts like hojo jitsu (restraints with rope).
This was of course how Jiu Jitsu became into being. Jiu Jitsu was developed from many of
the more weapon oriented arts drawing upon thrusting, cutting and importantly disarming
and restraining techniques. The art of Jiu Jitsu was developed so that a Samurai who found
himself without his weapon(s) could still defend himself effectively. Jiu Jitsu was the battle
field art of unarmed combat.
As well as the majority of the armed arts, Jiu Jitsu is also believed to owe many of its
fundamentals to influence from the Chinese martial arts, though the style is typically not as
flowing and quick as the Chinese arts. This is probably because as well as carrying
weapons the Samurai also wore armour into battle. Thus Jiu Jitsu is an art that was
compatible with fighting in armour and against armoured opponents. This caused the
development of Jiu Jitsu to include locking, throwing and pinning techniques as well as the
more common place kicking and striking techniques of other martial arts. Jiu Jitsu was
heavily refined over the years and through a survival of the fittest process techniques were
refined and improved upon.