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Advanced Jujitsu Training: How Commitment and Realistic Thinking Can Make All the Difference in Self-Defense

George Kirby demonstrating advanced jujitsu techniques in Black Belt magazine.

Your jujitsu training should consist of commitment and the realization that the techniques you use won’t always work. These concepts are interrelated.

On the street, there are no second chances. If you realize you did a technique wrong and it’s not working, you can’t ask the attacker to stop and start over again.

So, on one hand, you have to commit to defending yourself and finishing the technique if it’s workable. This goes back to training in your dojo. You don’t practice hitting a target — you practice hitting through the target.


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Likewise, you don’t stop going through the movements of a throw just because your opponent starts to move; you finish the technique. Why? Because you’re training your ki (energy) to flow in a direction that will cause your opponent’s ki to be used against him, thus allowing your technique to succeed.

If you have positioned your respective xyz-axes correctly, trained your ki and trained yourself to complete the move, technique, kata, etc., you have commitment. You will be more successful in the execution of techniques because your axes and origin points are aligned in a manner to maximize the use of you and your attacker’s ki. Success is inevitable!

Diagram from George Kirby's Advanced Jujitsu book

The visualization of the three axes — X, Y and Z — going through your saiki tanden (center of gravity) is absolutely essential in understanding the concepts of advanced jujitsu training. Knowing where the three axes cross will give you an awareness of where ki originates and how your head, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs and feet must be aligned for the most effective execution of jujitsu techniques.


Commitment is also essential because you might inadvertently start a technique backward. Rather than turning a wrist to your left, you might turn it to your right. What do you do now?

Again, you cannot start over, and it may not be wise to reverse direction to execute the technique you wanted. Instead, you’ve got to continue with what you’ve got. As my sensei said to his students (and as I say to mine), “Go! Go! Go! Keep going! Keep going!”



Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Small-Circle Jujitsu — Volume 4: Tendon Tricep Armbars and Armlocks

Advanced Jujitsu: The Science Behind the Gentle Art

Jujitsu Figure-4 Locks: Submission Holds of the Gentle Art


Jujitsu is a very forgiving art. If you start a move backward and keep going, guess what? You will inevitably end up with another technique.

If you want to execute a hand throw (te nage) but go the wrong way and instead apply a wrist lock (tekubi shimi waza), you have to continue with that. If, while trying to do a corkscrew (ude guruma),) you turn the arm counterclockwise instead of clockwise, you’ll end up with a shoulder-lock rear takedown (ude guruma ushiro). And that’s OK. Just continue and flow.

An awareness of this concept is an essential element in learning the art. On the street, you have to keep moving. It’s part of your commitment.

George Kirby demonstrating jujitsu techniques from his Advanced Jujitsu book.

Axis alignment is far more critical on the ground, where the fast execution of submission holds is an essential part of effective self-defense.

There are times, however, when you commit to a technique and realize that it isn’t working the way you want. Maybe your and your opponent’s axes aren’t lined up. Maybe his ki is resisting yours.

Whatever the reason, you still don’t get a second chance. What you do get, however, is the ability to change what you are doing to make your defense successful. This is called mushin (“no mind”) — a concept that works only if you have a good technical background and sufficient practice.

A good technical background provides you with a variety of techniques that can be used against a particular attack, and sufficient practice allows you to be competent in the execution of those techniques and no conscious effort is required to use them or switch between them. Practice also creates awareness of your and your opponent’s xyz-axis, their relationship, and how to modify techniques appropriately to execute a workable defense.


About the Author:
George Kirby has been practicing and teaching the art of jujitsu since the 1960s. He was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as the 2007 Instructor of the Year and is the author of several acclaimed and sought-after instructional books, including Jujitsu: Basic Techniques of the Gentle Art — Expanded Edition, Jujitsu Figure-4 Locks: Submission Holds of the Gentle Art and Advanced Jujitsu: The Science Behind the Gentle Art.

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  1. Brian says

    I think that this is a good subject to cover but it to be said that you have to be careful about people who think can confront someone with an type of weapon.People don’t know how dangerous it can be. It takes a lot of training to come up against a idiot who has a weapon.

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