This Japanese art (whose more philosophical counterpart is Judo) grew out of the integration of the weapons techniques of katori shinto ryu and grappling techniques during the 15th century. The roots of the art lie even earlier, in the Heian period (about 794-1185 A.D.), but until the 15th century empty-hand techniques tended to be considered an aspect of whatever major weapon form(s) they supported, and not a separate jutsu. The name jujutsu (or jiu-jitsu) was first used in the late 17th century. Knowledge of Jujutsu was spread world-wide by traveling Japanese practitioners in the early years of the 20th century.

The usual Jujutsu technique involves bearing an opponent to the ground and then pinning him there or rendering him unconscious. The art utilizes hip throws, sweeping throws, shoulder and neck locks, and a sacrifice body drop. In the past, Jujutsu was more of a fully-integrated fighting art than it is today—it included a variety of punches, kicks, nerve strikes, and weapons techniques. Strike-based maneuvers are still taught by some schools or substyles.

Judoka (and some jujutsuka) wear a gi like that worn by karateka, but made of heavier cloth and made without many seams (Judo is harder on the clothes than many other martial arts).

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