Jujutsu is the art of gentle and supple yielding wherein a person uses an opponent’s energy against him.
Some historians consider jujutsu to have evolved among the samurai between the eighth and 16th centuries as an unarmed fighting style. Kicks and punches would have little effect if a warrior lost his sword and had to defeat an armed and armored opponent, so the fighters would use pins, throws, chokes and joint locks on unprotected targets like the neck, wrists and ankles.
Other historians label jujutsu as Japan’s first martial art, originating in 23 B.C. Legend says Emperor Suijin ordered wrestling champion Tomakesu-Hayato to fight Nomi-no-Sukune, who kicked Tomakesu-Hayato to death. Nomi-no-Sukune’s unique fighting style became the predecessor of jujutsu.
Two other possible jujutsu origins include Chinese traveler Chen Yuan-ping teaching three ronin (samurai with no rank or master) the techniques in the 17th century; and after Akiyama Shirobei learned close-quarters fighting in China, he returned to Japan and created jujutsu.
Although short weapons were once stressed during training, most modern training focuses on empty-hand combat. Jujutsu has influenced the creation of other martial arts such as judo and aikido.