Jiu Jitsu

On Tuesday was my first Jiu Jitsu class. It was great! I think I'm going to enjoy this component of my Batman training more than I had expected.

So before I get started I should clear up a few things. When I mentioned that my quest to become Batman would soon include martial arts training, I posted a link to Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is a Brazilian variant that is descended from Judo. This IS NOT what my dojo teaches. The class that I'm attending teaches Jujutsu; however, they spell it Jiu Jitsu. As I understand it, Jiu Jitsu is a more archaic term and Jujutsu is the more accepted term.

Out of respect for my dojo, I'll refer to the tradition as Jiu Jitsu, ok?

Batman SamuraiTo get an idea of the spirit of Jiu Jitsu, let me give you a brief historical tour of it's development. In feudal Japan, the combination of heavy armor and a highly tuned offensive techniques made samurai warriors the ultimate tank of the era. If one were to meet such an opponent unarmed and unarmored, one would need specialized techniques to be victorious. Striking an armored opponent wouldn't do the trick and allowing them the room to utilize a katana or yari would be a very bad idea. Jiu Jitsu is martial art for neutralizing enemies through grappling, throwing, locks and chokeholds. In this regard, it is far more akin to western wrestling than other eastern martial arts; however, there is a substantial difference: whereas wrestling seeks to pit strengths, Jiu Jitsu is literally the "art of softness" or the "way of yielding". Wikipedia says it quite well: "These techniques were developed around the principle of using an attacker's energy against him, rather than directly opposing it."

We began with exercises and stretches. These weren't so bad except for the squats. Those are muscles that I have not invested in and they were stiff until this morning. We were then introduced to falling techniques. Since Jiu Jitsu is a grappling art, absorbing the impact of falls is crucial.

We then learned three locks and two chokes. Although I've been practicing them every day I won't try to explain them to you yet. Don't worry though. I will as soon as I feel more comfortable with them and have found a reasonable body of resources on the internet to point you to.

PS If anybody does know of good resources that I should be familiar with please leave me a comment.


M.C. Elroy said...

Well said, sir.
But I have a few points to make, if you don't mind.

The phrase "Jiu-jitsu" is useable for any variation, really. Interestingly, the phrase "Jiu-jitsu" has become mostly associated with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu here in the West. This is interesting because it is a rather recent development (moreso for N. America and Europe than S. America, of course). BJJ was mostly unknown outside of S. America (particularly Brazil, of course) until the Ultimate Fighting Championship came about. Prior to that (particularly from the '30s to the '60s), Jiu-jitsu was well known as a Japanese art alongside its "child" Judo. Nowadays, though, the Japanese have to remind people that Jiu-jitsu is of Japanese origin!

As with many martial arts, and foreign phrases in general, there are variations in English spelling. Ju-jitsu, Jujutsu, Jiu-jiutsu, Jujutsu, Jujitsu, and others are (in my opinion, at least) acceptable spellings. However, I think to avoid such confusions, a general concensus has been reached that the Brazilian variety should be spelled "Jiu-jitsu" and the various ryu ("school/style") of the Japanese variety should be spelled "Jujitsu" or something like that. This has had a lot to do with the insane rise of popluraity of BJJ over the last 15 years.

(As a martial artist, I'm quite curious about what ryu you've taken up.)

Now, here's the deal with BJJ. When Jigoro Kano was going around learning different styles of Jujitsu, there was often a preference that each school had for either standing and throwing or rolling around and wrestling. Kano, being an early version of Bruce Lee or any mixed martial artist, combined these styles and streamlined them to his liking to form Judo. Originally Judo was fairly evenly split with a combination of ground and standing techniques. However, as often happens, even Judo started to split up. Different teachers of Judo would have different preferences and in the early '20s, the throwing techniques even started to lose much popularity to wrestling! Kano couldn't have this (he himself preferred throwing/standing), so he started emphasizing throwing over ground fighting.

One of the teachers who had preferred ground fighting, however, was Mitsuyo Maeda (a.k.a. "Count Coma"). Maeda was the victor of many tournaments, so Kano sent him on a "Judo is great" tour that ended in Brazil. He opened a school in Brazil, where he taught his personal blend of Judo, Jujitsu, and striking. In 1925, Brazilian politician Gastao Gracie hired Maeda to teach his sons Carlos and Helio. While Carlos was big and strong already, Helio was tiny but tenacious. He was the more devoted and driven of the two brothers, so he wound being the better fighter. Gradually, the Gracie brothers adaoted what they learned to fit their own tastes (and Helio's diminutive stature). They challenged many people, typically won, and ...blah blah blah... Royce Gracie, UFC, Dana White, and so on.

I currently spend two hours every Tuesday learning at the UCF BJJ club. I'm not sure if the club officers/advanced students have learned Gracie, Gracie Barra, Machado, or some other BJJ style. I should ask the club president. What I do know, though, is that I can trace many of the moves I'm learning back to Helio Gracie, then to Mitsuyo Maeda, then to Jigoro Kano, then to various Jujitsu schools, and eventually to the Samurai.
*(the information about BJJ's origins in Judo comes from a great article, "Maximum Efficiency Minimum Effort", in the June 2009 issue of Fight Magazine)*

M.C. Elroy said...

Additionally, I think Japanese Jujitsu is not only a great art, but also a good choice for anyone emulating Batman.

In Detective Comics issue 38 (first appearance of Robin), Bruce is shown teaching Dick boxing and Jiu Jitsu (page 3, panels 7 and 8).
In "Batman: Death Mask" (the manga by Yoshinori Natsume), a young Bruce Wayne trains in Japan in an art that "had roots in Judo and Aikido" (so we can tell that the art had roots in Jujitsu).
In the animated series episodes "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai" (both in season two), we see a young Bruce Wayne training in a style that seems to be a blend of Jujitsu, Aikido, and Karate, with some Samurai and Ninja stuff thrown in for good measure.
And, of course, our most modern idea of Batman includes him having mastered as many styles as possible, so we know he would have studied at least one ryu of Japanese Jujitsu extensively under a highly skilled sensei.

So, good choice, sir.

Kytsunei said...

Just stumbled across your blog and if I had the time (and maybe the dedication), I'd be doing something very similar, I think, though maybe not using Batman as a model. However, comics\superhero geek that I am, and practioning martial artist, I'd love to throw in two cents.

While Jiujitsu is a fantastic idea for anyone aiming for Batman-style combatives, I feel the need to mention that in many Jiujitsu cirriculums, there is a serious lack of striking pracice. Locks, strangles and chokes are all key law enforcement techniques, but against multiple assailants (like Batman seems to always be,) that would get you quickly killed. Just as you start to apply that nasty choke and your target begins to sag, I'm sure his buddy will be happy to show you the point end of a shiv.

After you gain some proficiency in this art, I would suggest picking up some Krav Maga, or maybe (hate to say it) Keysi, as they have settled on for the new string of Batman movies.

Krav Maga is a good art for multiple assailants- it is quick and ugly takedowns through and through, and the schools that teach it are often notorious for pressure conditioning their students, which will harden your mental state during combat.

Keysi works, I think, particularly well for batman because it adopts a realistic outlook on fighting: You're GOING to get hit. might as well take it somewhere it won't hurt you much, and make it so you can transition instantly into a hard and sharp counter. Also, the head-forward stance seems appropriate for anyone wearing a mask. Shoving a scary mask in ANYONE's face is bound to get you the moment of hesitation you're looking for to get a clean shot in.

Unfortunately those schools are few and far between, with Krav Maga being a only little more widespread. If you can't find one of those, a Boxing or Karate school would probably suffice.