The term Jūjutsu dates back to around the 1630s. However the techniques with the characteristics of what would come to be associated with jūjutsu can be found in early writings in Japan with reference back to the year 23 B.C. during the Yayoi period.
As a classical fighting art of Japan, jūjutsu can be defined as: “A method of close combat either unarmed or employing minor weapons that can be used in defensive or offensive ways to subdue one or more unarmed or armed opponents”.
A simple translation of the two Japanese characters is Jū (柔): gentleness, suppleness, flexibility, yielding; and Jutsu (術): (sometimes spelt jitsu) art, technique, or skill. Students may also wish to research the term yawara (柔) which has the same character as jū.
In more modern times since the late 1800s and early 1900s and with the introduction of jūjutsu to the Western World the focus shifted toward emphasising jūjutsu as a gentle art, a system of self-defence, and a system of physical education. Notable forms of endeavour that developed from jūjutsu during these times include both Kōdōkan jūdō (柔道) in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, and aikidō (合気道) in the late 1920s – 1942 by Morihei Ueshiba.
Jūjutsu truly can be a life-long activity and is practised by all ages from children to seniors both men and women around the world.
Introduction of Jujutsu to Australia
The introduction of systems of jujutsu, judo, and kendo to Australia are recorded as occurring during the period between 1881 and 1906, initially through demonstrations by officers from visiting Japanese naval vessels.
In 1906 at the invitation of Mr. Cecil Elliott and Mr. Robert Young, who had established Young’s School of Physical Culture in Angel Place Sydney, Mr. Jinkichi Okura and Mr. Ryugoro Fukushima came to Australia to demonstrate their style of jujutsu. Mr. Elliott had become interested in jujutsu while as an officer in the Royal Navy he was stationed in Japan and in 1904 graded to 1st Dan.
Ryugoro Fukushima (1885-1958) (aka Ray Shima) stayed on in Australia until 1923 when he returned to Japan – this was the year of the Great Kantō Earthquake that devastated Tokyo, Yokohama, and surrounding prefectures. He returned to Australia in 1933 before moving to New Zealand in 1936 where he gained naturalization in 1939.
Mr Leonard (Len) Noyes (1903-1991) (aka Sid Neil), was a friend and student of Ryugoro Fukushima, and was graded by him to the rank of Black Belt 3 bars. In 1938 at the same venue as where Ryugoro Fukushima had taught from 1917–1923, Len founded the Mercury Jujitsu Club. During the post war years the idea of forming a national jujutsu organisation were fostered and on 28th August 1956 jujutsu practitioners from different schools came together to form under a common bond, a new organisation that was to be named the Australian Society of Ju-Jitsuans (ASJJ) recognising the lineage to Ryugoro Fukushima. And on 26th August 1960 a formal committee was established with Len as the first President and the annual membership fee set at 5/- five shillings.
The bond between members of the ASJJ brought about a common jujutsu syllabus and standardisation in the grading assessment criteria. As the peak body for jujutsu the ASJJ was granted authority in 1982 to administer the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) for all jujutsu instructors throughout Australia.
In the year 2000 members of the ASJJ took a major decision to separate the teachings of the original system of the ASJJ from the national administration, culminating in the formation of the Australian Jujitsu Federation (AJF) a federation of member schools or organisations that today include jujutsu and related martial arts; while the graduate members of the ASJJ retain ownership of the archives prior to the year 2000 with all documented history of the ASJJ.
To focus on the development of our student members (mudansha), the ASJJ graduate members formed Koshinryu Jujutsu Australia (KJA), recognised as the principal member school of the AJF.
A research thesis is progressing within the ASJJ on the history of jujutsu in Australia detailing events from as early as 1878 and covering the live and times of Ryugoro Fukushima both in Australia and New Zealand. This thesis records details from the ASJJ archives including a complete register of Black Belt gradings and a chronology of major events, plus identifies many of the significant schools of jujutsu involved with the ASJJ.
The grading authority of the ASJJ and Koshinryu Jujutsu Australia passed down over the years is preserved in perpetuation with our Grandmaster and administered in accordance with the rules of grading, by the senior graduate members.
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