What do I need?
All you need to start Jitsu is a tracksuit and t-shirt. Beginners are welcome at all our sessions. The first session is free!
What will I learn?
You will learn many different techniques as you progress. Throwing is a major part of the Jitsu syllabus, so learning how to fall safely is an important foundation. Break falling is taught from your first session; as you progress through the grades your break falling skills will prevent you from getting injured.
In Jitsu you will learn to defend yourself against unarmed and armed attackers using their movement and balance to your advantage. Defences are based on practical attacks such as punches, bottles, knives, and baseball bats, to name but a few.
Jiu Jitsu as a self-defence system
Frequently people start Jiu Jitsu to learn self-defence and indeed for many this is the mainstay of what they do. Jiu Jitsu incorporates many locks, strikes throws and restraining techniques as well as their counters to defend against a very wide variety of attacks-from wrist grabs to baseball bats and knives. It is not system that is based upon physical strength and is therefore suited to people of many different statures. Jiu Jitsu allows for a very measured response to the situation, rather than an all or nothing response, which could get you into trouble with the law.
There is however another side to the practice of Jiu Jitsu that is not always apparent to the casual observer. That is the mental and emotional control and also the character development that occurs through the rigorous and frequent practice of Jiu Jitsu, and eventually through the teaching of these hard learned lessons to others.
What are the Martial Arts?
The term martial art is used in Western idiom to describe a wide variety of Asian combative systems and sports. However not all of these could be truly be said to be either martial or arts. Although some did develop from warrior combat systems, for example those of the feudal Samurai class of Japan, many developed from either religious or civil settings (Karate is an example of the latter) as methods for physical and spiritual development, as well as personal self-defence and sport. The former tended to focus on use of traditional weapons: sword, archery, as well as horsemanship and, of course, unarmed combat.
These days the term Martial Arts is taken to mean any combative systems. Even so, I think we would still exclude those that are predominantly practised for a sporting purpose. The closer a system aligns itself to a sporting application, the further it removes itself from a true Martial Art, due to the replacement of the need to defend your life with the need to score points within the rules allowed by the sport. Sporting applications of Jiu Jitsu allow for certain aspects of the art to be practiced against resisting assailants, however it is not the overriding goal of Jiu Jitsu practitioners to win sporting bouts against each other.
Bugei/Bujutsu and Budo Systems
The Japanese group their systems into two distinct categories. Those developed by warrior groups are purely for the use of combat are called bugei or bujutsu. On the other hand budo systems are usually directed towards goals beyond the effectiveness of combat. Goals are usually mental, physical and spiritual improvements.
The concept of Martial Arts as methods of self improvement or Martial Ways is a relatively modern concept. Samurai studied martial arts-methods of combat as a means for self-preservation not to improve their minds. It was not until after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the formal dissolution of the Samurai class that the more peaceful use of the martial arts as methods of self improvement came to the fore. It was shortly after this time that Jigoro Kano proposed the system of Judo, Morehei Ueshiba formulated Aikido, there are countless examples of Asian combat systems becomes Do-s around this time. In fact, the whole of Japanese culture underwent a major change with many traditional art-forms becoming Do. Our style of Jiu Jitsu falls into the latter group and would be classified as a Budo system.
Jitsu as a Do or Way
Jiu Jitsu to give it its longer title means "gentle truth" and while Jiu Jitsu is an extremely practical form of self defence it is also a system for self-improvement, linking the mind and body in the fashion of the classical budo systems of Japan. Aside from the purely physical side there is a development of the mind/spirit through rigorous exercise and through the development of teaching skills and the fostering of those skills in others.
Jiu Jitsu as non-commercial and On/Giri
While you are practising Jiu Jitsu you will be expected to pay mat fees. These mat fees contribute towards the running expenses of the Dojo/Club and organisation (The Jitsu Foundation). It also contributes towards the expenses incurred by your Sensei (Instructors-see below) while travelling with you to competitions and other nationally organised events. What it does not pay for is the instruction that you are receiving. All of your Sense give freely of their time as their Sensei did for them. Your relationship with them is not a commercial one. Any additional funds that are collected from Mat fees are eventually returned to you as subsidies on courses that you attend or used for the benefit of the club in general.
The Japanese concept for this is called On and Giri. On is the debt that you build up to people that do a favour for you. Giri is the means by which you repay that debt. In Jiu Jitsu you build up On to your instructors and seniors which is eventually repaid through helping your juniors. If you practise Jiu Jitsu for long enough you will be expected to teach a club and raise your own students. In short, Jiu Jitsu is not something that you can learn purely for yourself, but rather there is a real expectation that you will share what you have learnt with others. You will gain a better insight into Jiu Jitsu by doing this. Senior members of the Dojo (Sempai) also have a responsibility to junior members of the Dojo (Kohai).
Part of practising Jiu Jitsu is about respecting each other. Often this is expressed through the traditional etiquette that is practiced in the dojo. This can be as simple as the small bow performed to each other before beginning practise and again at the end (this is equivalent in the west to shaking hands). Further than this, it extends to agreeing to practise diligently, getting to the Dojo (training room) on time to put out the mats and to letting your Sensei know if you will be absent at the next session, looking after your training partners etc. Your instructor will reciprocate this relationship as you would expect, and take care of your training in a safe and welcoming environment.