is the art of defense by an unarmed defender against armed attackers.
In ancient times, jūjutsu was one of the primary defense
systems employed by bodyguards in the castles and palaces of feudal
Japan and the Ryūkyū kingdom. As a security measure against
assassination and rebellion, even the guards were not permitted to
possess weapons while on duty inside the castles and palaces.
Nevertheless, they had to be able to defend the royal families and
warlords against armed attackers, such as ninja. The art of
jūjutsu was created for this purpose.
The word jūjutsu means "gentle art," but in application against an attacker it is anything but gentle. The only gentleness about this art is the fact that it employs no weapons and uses few striking or kicking techniques. Instead, jūjutsu techniques inflict intense pain to nerves and joints, and use joint dislocation, throws, and chokes to immobilize, injure, or kill armed attackers.
The oldest intact system of jūjutsu dates back to around the year 1180, just prior to the Gempei War, which is chronicled in two of Japan's greatest epics: The Genji Monogatari ("Tale of Genji") and the Heike Monogatari ("Tale of Heike"). The Genji were also known as the Minamoto, and it was Minamoto Mitsunaka (aka Daitō Saburō) who is first credited with formulating the jūjutsu system that now carries his name, Daitō-Ryū. The Minamoto won the Gempei War and ruled Japan until the mid-14th century. During that time, Daitō-Ryū was the system of defense used inside all Minamoto castles and residences to protect the ruling family, although leadership of the system passed to a branch of the Minamoto family known as the Takeda. The Minamoto were overthrown by another branch of their family, the Ashikaga (assisted by the Takeda), who continued to use Daitō-Ryū as their system of self defense.
About 200 years after that, after nearly 100 years of continuous civil wars, the most famous of the Takeda family -- Takeda Shingen -- conquered and unified all of Japan. But, after only a few years of rule, Takeda Shingen died suddenly from an infection. Toyotomi Hideyoshi cunningly defeated Takeda Shingen's son shortly thereafter, but was in turn defeated only about ten years later by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Tokugawa family ruled Japan for the next 260 years. Amazingly, however, one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandsons was adopted by one of Takeda Shingen's daughters and was taught the Daitō-Ryū system. Years later, this grandson was given responsibility for the security of all Tokugawa castles and residences, so the Daitō-Ryū system continued to be the self defense system for Japan's rulers until the restoration of imperial rule in 1868.
At the time of the Meiji Restoration, Takeda Sōkichi was the headmaster of Daitō-Ryū. He passed the system on to his son, Takeda Sōkaku. With the samurai officially decommissioned, it was Takeda Sōkaku who first began teaching Daitō-Ryū to the general public. It was students of Takeda Sōkaku (Ueshiba Morihei and Choi Yông Sul) who created the modern derivations of jūjutsu, aikidō and hapkido. It is estimated that Takeda Sōkaku taught some 30,000 students during his lifetime. His son, Takeda Tokimune, became headmaster upon his Takeda Sōkaku's death in 1943. Takeda Tokimune continued to popularize Daitō-Ryū until his sudden death in 1993. Many assert that Takeda Tokumine appointed no successor to the style, and several senior students now claim to be his successor. However, during his lifetime, Takeda awarded only one of his students, Kondō Katsuyuki, a menkyō kaiden ("certificate of complete transmission") and officially appointed him sōke dairi ("headmaster's representative") in 1988. Since no other student possessed such credentials, it is reasonable to conclude that Kondō Sensei was the intended successor.
The overriding principle in the Daitō-Ryū system is aiki -- the practice of breaking the opponent's balance at the very first moment of contact. This is accomplished by the interaction of your ki (energy, will, intention) with that of your opponent. In other words, it is the meeting (ai) of ki that is used to destabilize the opponent; hence the term "aiki". For this reason, Takeda Sōkaku and his successors have used the term aiki-jūjutsu to distinguish Daitō-Ryū from other styles of jūjutsu.
Students of the IWU Budōkai have the opportunity to learn the core techniques of Daitō-Ryū (the 118 Hiden Mokuroku), which constitute its foundation, as preserved by Kondō Katsuyuki Sensei.
To view a
video introduction to Daitō-Ryū