Japanese systems generally place less emphasis on punches and kicks than the adjacent systems in China, Korea and Okinawa (there are exceptions such as Shuai Jiao, Qinna etc.). The Japanese jujutsu systems emphasizes throws, control grips, joint breaks and fractures and attacks, what we in summary call crude wrestling.
Atemi (striking techniques; 当身) are of secondary importance in most Japanese systems, while Chinese Chuan Fa (jap: Kempo) have punches and kicks as their primary method of action. It is thought that the Japanese systems koppojutsu (Science of Bone Methods; 骨法術), kosshijutsu (Science of the bones of the hand; 骨指術), dakentaijutsu (Science of striking with the fists; 打拳術), hakuda (Rhythmic strikes; 拍打), kempo (Principles of the fist; 拳法) Shubaku (Seizing with the hands; 手搏) and others are influenced by various Shaolin and Wudang systems in their use of close combat and hand striking, while systems with roots in Japanese Chikara Karabe and Sumai (roots stretching to the Chinese mainland and the Chou dynasty Jiao Ji) is little affected by such techniques, but uses them when necessary.
There are three basic reasons why the Japanese systems were developed in this direction.
- During the Sengoku Jidai (1467 – 1568) it had been necessary to fight in armor on the battlefield, an environment where punches and kicks were used only for approaching the opponent and raw wrestling techniques were used in order to subdue him unto unconsciousness and then be able decapitate him. This reason is valid even today for people who are physically smaller and/or weaker than their opponents. A lightweight can not expect to be able to knock out a heavyweight.
International statistics on Lethal Head Injuries (LHI) shows that unarmed brawling is the cause of 85% of deaths in fighting. LHI occurs at 80% of these situations when the victim falls and hits his head against something hard, such as curbs, etc.
- Another reason was that even if the opponent is not encumbered in body armor, it was hard to beat him unconscious with hands and feet because he was probably battle experienced and could evade. If one fails his surprise attack, the opponent will have time to deploy their weapons.
While this reason has validity in today’s acute emergencies. Everyone, regardless of experience in street fights, thanks to the media a heightened awareness of how an attack can be carried out and therefore most have built readiness to react (flinch reflex) away incoming punches and kicks.
The most common and dangerous form of knife attack is a blow in the hand, a blow that comes surprisingly from below while the attacker is approaching the victim with the knife concealed. This happens probably just because of a heightened awareness also of the aggressor to the victim may be able to protect themselves and fight back.
The criticism that can be leveled against many of today’s self-defense systems is that they do not have methods for dealing with this type of attack, despite it being so common.
3. The main reason was probably correct, is that the raw wrestling was the most effective way to prevent the opponent to use his weapon on the battlefield. If he had a sword, it was important to prevent him from drawing it. On the other hand, if one was armed with a sword, it was important to be able to free themselves from the opponent so you could use it.
In today’s emergencies, it must be assumed that the attacker is armed, even if the weapon is not worn visibly. Moreover, one must assume that he has friends in the neighborhood who can jump in as reinforcements if the battle is prolonged.
For these three reasons, one can conclude that what was useful 500 years ago are highly topical today.
In martial arts, the victor is the strongest, fastest and and one with initiative, because the rules throttle and control the options.
On the battlefield one could intensify the situation with weapons and tools to improve their situation against faster opponents with tactical game and strengthen their weaknesses with armor and helmet. This resulted in the development of systems that emphasized maneuver and decisive battle with the raw wrestling.
Our Taijutsu is the engine that drives the techniques and tactics of raw wrestling. The Japanese names we use for our form of raw wrestling is Kumiuchi (Close grappling; 組討), Torite (Seizing with the hands; 捕手) and Jutaijutsu (Science of the flexible and subtle body; 柔體術) and derives first and foremost from Gyokko-ryu, and to some extent from Koto-ryu.