This page is a listing and short description of some Japanese martial arts. Some founding dates on this page may be off, because of bad record keeping back then and other factors. These dates are only from what I have read on these styles if you have dates that are different than the ones listed here please e-mail me them with something to back them up and I will change them. I study mostly Japanese martial arts, that's why there is more information on them than the others. If you have any martial arts that I do not have listed on here please e-mail me them. Click here for Chinese and other country's martial arts.
Japanese Martial Arts
There are two kinds of Japanese martial arts; Gendai Budo and Koryu Bujutsu. Gendai Budo is the modern form of the Japanese martial traditions. Koryu Bujutsu is the ancient form of the Japanese martial traditions, the styles that the samurai originally practiced.
Aikido: Aikido was founded by Ueshiba Morihei, roughly translated aikido means "The way of spiritual harmony". Aikido is a combination of jujitsu and kenjitsu. The main difference between aikido and the common idea of "martial art" and "self-defense" is the absence of fight, competition and application of force. There is no resistance against an attack. The energy of an attack is extended and should end in a suitable technique. That requires not only skill, but also an ethical intention. Aikido also emphasizes achieving complete mental calm and control over ones body to master an opponents attack. Aikido is often practiced with the jo and bokken.
Aikijujutsu: Aikijujutsu is a combat system once practiced by the samurai. Its main principal is harmonizing with the energy of your opponent, while expending minimum energy. Aikijujutsu is one of Japan's most traditional and classical arts, finding its roots in the feudal era. Aikijujutsu stresses maximum combat or defense ability. It is said that Aiki Ju Jutsu was derived from empty handed sword strokes and battlefield techniques. Aikijujutsu was known as Oshikiuchi until the nineteenth century. The aikijujutsu practitioner coordinates himself with attacks. The core principle is Taisabaki, or body positioning. If an attack comes the practitioner steps either to neutralize or parry. Opponents can be controlled by locks, chokes, strikes or throws.
Bojutsu: Bojutsu is a system of combat primarily using the bo, although other staff weapons such as the jo and hanbo are used. Bojutsu was practiced by the samurai. Gripping the bo with two hands, bojutsu is executed by striking, poking, blocking, parrying, deflecting, sweeping, and holding. The position of the hands on the staff determines whether the strike is made from long or short distances, making the weapon suitable for both close and long range combat.
Budo Taijutsu: Budo Taijutsu is the unarmed fighting art of the ninja, now called ninpo. Budo Taijutsu involves, kicks, punches, throws, joint locks, and chokes. It also focuses a lot on proper body movement, and has a unique way of doing so.
Iaido: Iaido is the study of drawing the sword, cutting, and returning the blade to is saya (scabbard), all with minimum exertion. Iaido is practiced generally alone in seiza (kneeling posture) with a real sword. Iaido is a non-combative discipline mainly practiced for an individual's spiritual cultivation.
Jujitsu: Jujitsu is the empty-handed Japanese art originally practiced by the samurai caste of Japan dating back more than 2,500 years. In english Jujitsu means gentle art. At end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, which the power shifted from the Shogun back to the Emperor as the result of an abortive civil war. Many of the samurai had supported the Shogun during the war and as a result, lost much status when power was restored to the Emperor. An Imperial edit was decreed, making it a crime to practice the old-style martial arts of the samurai. Samurai were also forbidden from carrying their swords. The art of Jujitsu was nearly lost during this period, but survived because some masters began to practice the art "underground", or in other countries, until the ban was lifted in the mid-twentieth century. Jujitsu involves many throws, joint locks, and submission holds, there are also some kicks and hand techniques. Judo is the sport form of Jujitsu. Click here to read about some of the koryu jujutsu styles.
Hojojutsu: Hojojutsu is the art of tying up your opponent quickly and securely. It involves complex knots, such as knots that would tighten the more one struggled and knots that would strangle and opponent if he tried to escape.
Karate: Karate in english means empty hand. It is an unarmed-combat system employing kicking, striking, and defensive blocking with arms and legs. Emphasis is on concentration of as much of the body's power as possible at the point and instant of impact. Striking surfaces include the hands, the ball of the foot, heel, forearm, knee, and elbow. All are toughened by practice blows against padded surfaces or wood. Timing, tactics, and spirit, however, are each considered at least as important as physical toughening. Karate evolved in the Orient over a period of centuries, becoming systematized in Okinawa in the 17th century, by people forbidden to carry weapons. It was imported into Japan in the 1920s. Many schools and systems developed, each favoring somewhat different techniques and training methods. Karate, like other Oriental fighting disciplines, stresses mental attitude, and rituals of courtesy. For a list of some of the different styles of karate click here.
Kenjitsu: Kenjitsu is the art of sword practiced by the samurai of Japan. In english Kenjitsu is simply sword art. Iaido and Kenjitsu go hand in hand, Iaido is practiced when you draw the sword from the scabbard, saya in Japanese. Kenjitsu is what you do with the sword when it is out of its saya. Kenjitsu is as old if not older than Jujitsu. Kendo is the sport form of Kenjitsu. Click here to read more about Kenjutsu
Kobudo: Kobudo is an Okinawan martial art that involves the use of and training with different weapons, most of which were first farmers tools. Such as the tonfa which was originally a grinder handle, the nunchaku which were wheat flails. Other weapons used in kobudo are the kama, sai, bo, jo, hanbo, and a few others depending on the style of kobudo studied.
Kyudo: Kyudo or "Way of the bow" is the traditional Japanese form of archery, closely associated with Zen Buddhism. It was also practiced by the samurai. When firearms supplanted the bow and arrow in warfare, the art of archery was retained by Zen monks and some members of the Japanese upper class as a mental and physical discipline. In kyudo the primary aim is not to hit the target, as in Western archery, but to achieve through spiritual and physical training an intense concentration on the act of shooting and a style expressing perfect serenity. In the apparently continuous movements leading to the release of the arrow, there are eight recognized stages, each of which must be learned and practiced until the archer can move through them smoothly and effortlessly.
Ninjutsu: Ninjitsu, can be translated a few different ways, such as "The art of invisibility" or "The art of perseverance". It is a martial art which includes a style called Budo taijutsu which includes: Strikes, throws, joint locks, kicks. Taihenjutsu or tumbling techniques. Stealth, and weapon techniques. This was the art practiced by the ninja.
Taihenjutsu: Taihenjutsu is another art inside the art of ninjutsu. It involves acrobatics, and falling correctly. Yes there are even proper ways to fall. By falling correctly you greatly reduce the risk of injury from the fall. The acrobatics include rolls, cartwheels, flips, doing all of these with one or no hands, or with weapons in your hands, and other tumbling techniques.
To Ei Do: To Ei Do is a martial art founded by Shawn Housler sensei. It is basically a combination of all of the martial arts he has taken over the course of his life. There are many different techniques in this style that come from such arts as Wado Ki Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Budo Taijitsu, Taihenjitsu, Juttajitsu, Koppojitsu, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, and Hapkido. In the higher ranks students also learn weapons such as tanto, ninja-to, hanbo, bo, jo, shuriken, shuko, manriki, and Cane. I think that the reason the students learn so many different techniques is so that the students can find the ones that works best for them, and work best with the students specific body type. It is also useful because you can adapt much easier to your opponent, because by learning these different styles within the style, you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Which will make the student a more well rounded fighter. If you would like to know more about this art click here.
Yari-jutsu/ Naginata-jutsu: Yari-jutsu is the Japanese art of spear fighting, and naginata-jutsu is the art of the naginata, which is similar to a halberd. These two styles went together in feudal japan, now days naginata-jutsu is a more popular art than yari-jutsu. Naginata-jutsu is practiced a lot by women, naginata-do is the sport form of naginata-jutsu and is much like kendo.
Last updated: 6/06/02