During the reign of Emperor Saga (r. 809-23) the practice of sumo was encouraged as a martial art and rules were established and techniques cultivated. It is impossible to determine whether the art of sumo is a completely native sport or whether similar forms of grappling from other parts of Asia and Eurasia influenced it. Grappling is a rather basic, instinctive sport practiced mostly by men. In fact, the first grappling match ever described went as so, ‘lowly mortals grappled for quite a while until one finally rendered some devastating kicks to the other’s stomach and solar plexus. The one who was kicked was mortally wounded, and the victor went cheered.’ The earliest written mention of sumo is found in the Kojiki, a book from the year 712.
According to the book, about 2,500 years ago, the gods Takemikazuchi and Takeminakata grappled along the Japan Sea coast in what is now Shimane-ken, until the latter finally lost. Takemikazuchi, who is said to have established the imperial family from which emperors could trace their roots, gave control of the archipelago to the Japanese people. The Japanese did not keep any written records until the 8th century. This means it is impossible to know, aside from the legend, exactly when the art of sumo first developed in Japan. However, ancient wall paintings indicate the origin is very old.
Jujitsu is a 3,000-year-old martial art. It originated from a blending of native sumo and fighting techniques in Japan with the soft aspects of Kung Fu from China. Jujitsu incorporates empty hand defence and offence as well as bone setting and healing techniques for use by the instructor to fix any injuries occurring during training. It is also the predecessor of Aikido and Judo.
One popular style of jujitsu is Danzan Ryu. Seishiro Okazaki founded Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. He got tuberculosis and sought to build his strength in martial arts. Affecting a cure due to the 6 days per week workout, massage and healing by his sense, he dedicated his life to the study of Budo and healing.
Another style of jujitsu is ninjitsu. Ninjitsu is the art of invisibility. Along with its jujitsu background, it can also be traced back to Chinese spying techniques. Ninjas were used in the sixth century to gain information about the enemy and sabotage his operations. However, we now call ninjas anybody who practices this art. Ninjas can be both male and female, but must possess three abilities. They must be a hunter, a wizard and a warrior. As with many Eastern martial arts, there is an emphasis of meditation in order to cultivate the mind and body. Ninjas place as much importance on spiritual and mental aspects of their art as on the physical.
Aikido was developed from Jujitsu. It is said to be founded from Prince Teijun, the sixth son of Emperor Seiwa. From here, many generations later, in 1868, Sokaku Takeda began teaching the art to people outside the family. Takeda’s most outstanding pupil was Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba added his own techniques from other arts and became a teacher of Aikido. World War II spread Aikido greatly as soldiers were taught techniques and brought them back to their own countries. One major principle of Aikido is that strength consists of a straight but flexible mind and a body tempered by hard practice. Through aikido, one can become perfectly attuned to his opponent. One can sense his intentions and turn his movements to one’s own advantage.
Judo is translated as the gentle way It can be described as a fun sport, an art, a discipline, a recreational or social activity, a fitness programme, a means of self-defence or combat, or a way of life. Judo is best known for its spectacular throwing techniques, but also involves considerable grappling on the ground utilizing specialized pins, control holds, arm locks, and Judo choking techniques.
It provides the means for learning self-confidence, concentration, and leadership skills, as well as physical co-ordination, power, and flexibility developing complete body control, fine balance, and fast reflexive action. Training gives a person an effective self-defence system if the need arises. Skill, technique and timing, rather than the use of brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in Judo. Judo was founded from feudal Japan in 1882 from art of jujitsu. It was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1964. There are separate weight divisions for men and women and boys and girls.
Kendo can be described as Japanese fencing. The goal of Kendo is to develop one’s character, i.e. self-confidence, courtesy, and respect for others. Kendo is demanding both physically and mentally. The equipment used for Kendo is the bamboo sword (shinai) and a set of protective armor (bogu). There are four general areas to attack, sub-divided into left and right sides of the body – each worth one point. An official Kendo match is a three-point match and has a five-minute time limit. The player who scores two points first is the winner. For practice, the repetitive practice of basic movements is stressed in order to acquire the ability of moving without thinking. Japanese arts encourage a higher awareness of mind, body and spirit.
This brings about one’s consciousness of their environment. It can also give one a stronger sense of concentration. The arts started as simple methods of attack and defence used in serious combat that consisted of primitive hand-to-hand and stick fighting techniques. At times, a small and comparatively weak mm would overcome a bigger opponent; and when the reason for his victory was appreciated, a new method would be created. Over the years, these techniques were refined and developed and still stand today