The Japanese Samurai Essay, Research Paper
The Japanese have always been known throughout the world for their excellence in battle and warfare. Since Japan is such a small country they needed to use their situation to their advantage. For example, to get an edge over invading attackers they had to use there island as a defense fortifying defense. But that was the strategy of it. What everybody thinks about when they hear “Japanese warfare” is the Samurai.
The samurai were the members of the military class, the Japanese warriors. Their importance and influence grew during Heian Period (794-1185) when the powerful landowners hired them for the protection of their properties. In the latter phase of the Heian period, the most powerful military families, the Minamoto and Taira, had taken over political control over Japan and fought wars for supremacy. When shogun Minamoto Yoritomo established a new government Kamakura in 1192, the shogun (the highest military officer) became the ruler of Japan. The samurai stood at the top of the social hierarchy and had many privileges. On the other hand, he was supposed to be a good example to the lower classes by following the principles of Bushido (the way of the warrior). Some of a samurai’s most important principles were loyalty to his master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behaviour. After a defeat or another dishonourable event, many samurai chose to commit suicide by cutting their abdomen with a sword in order to preserve their honour. Such ritual suicide is called seppuku (or harakiri). The samurai s most prized possession was his sword. The samurai s sword was to the samurai what a limb is to any human. The sword was part of the samurai and without it not only did the samurai lose his fighting skills but also his honor. So in essence a samurai was nothing without his sword.
A Japanese sword is not only a sword. As a chief instrument of “Samurai warriors”, it had been handed down with great care from generation to generation at all times in the history. As one of the most sophisticated Japanese cultures, it is priced a high value in overseas as well as in Japan.
For 1000 years of Japanese sword’s history, the most advanced technique had always been introduced into the craftsmanship of a sword. And the related techniques –such as gold processing, lacquer art, MAKIE (gold or silver lacquer picture), textiles, design, etc.– are still live on ornaments and fashion today.To own MEITOU (noted sword) for Samurai warriors could have equivalent value to own “Porsche” or “Ferrari” now. Originally, a sword is an arm, and a car is a vehicle which carries a man. Therefore, a sword has been reformed so t hat it could cut better and won’t bend, on the other hand, a car has been re formed so that it could run faster and safely. However, generally speaking, a man isn’t satisfied with using a instrument only as a means, and becomes desiring a feeling of satisfaction and a superiority complex by owing them. This consequently produces added value to them. A person who like cars call an Italian prestigious car, “Ferrari” a top-quality work of art. Likewise, a Japanese sword, now collected and appreciated not only in Japan but also widely in the world, is also recognized as an work of art. Different from paintings and earthenware, it is a very tough and hard work of art, which have been made with a risk of a man’s life and got through a scene of bloodshed. A Japanese sword on the other hand, has an exceedingly flexible aspect at the same time. Its structure is the most complex in the world, and only the highly skillful sword makers can accomplish a genuine Japanese sword. This complex and flexible characteristic heightens the value of Japanese sword to an work of art.
But what is an Incredibly deadly sword if you cant use it correctly, or in fact use any part of yourself correctly? Thats why the Samurai learned the art of self defense called Jiu jitsu. What is the meaning of Jiu Jitsu? The name Jiu Jitsu can be written in several ways:
+ Jiu Jitsu
+ Jiu Jutsu
+ Ju Jutsu
The translation is always generally the same. Where English can often have two meanings (like the word ‘Read’ – “to read a book”, “to have read a book”), Japanese can often have several translations. ‘Ju’ conveys the idea of relaxing and yielding. Taking the classic analagy of the Willow tree with it’s supple branches…If you apply a force to a Willow branch, it bends yet it does not break. It yields to the force and yet is strong enough to survive undamaged.
‘Jitsu’ conveys the image of a style and art form, and again taking the Willow analagy…As the wind blows the Willow bends and sways with each gust, its branches whirling in the breezes. This leads to an interpretation of “the gentle art”, or “the yielding art”. The art of jiu jitsu is such that although strength is not a mojor issue, it still has its place. Overcoming an opponent may be accomplished through a soft yielding technique, but to advance it to a more effective technique requires a modicum of power. How much depends on the technique. Strangling someone with a belt does not require as much power as pummeling someone into unconsciousness. The technique should always attempt to utilise the opponents own strength against them. This can be summed up like so:
The Principle of Yielding
See the attack.
Accept and yield to the attack.
Take control of the attack.
Redirect the attack.
Increase the attack.
Now that you know what Jiu Jitsu means lets get into what it is. Jiu Jitsu is a system of martial techniques that dates back to the feudal Samurai of Japan. It was developed to allow combatants to fight at close quarters on the battlefield in a more effective manner than simply brawling. Jiu Jitsu was instigated amongst the Samurai primarily as a way of defending themselves should they ever be disarmed, but this is a relative interpretation. Samurai were proud warriors whose weapons were considered to be their swords. If a samurai were to pick up a knife or stick to defend themselves, then these proud warriors would not really consider themselves to be armed. Jiu Jitsu as well as including unarmed combat techniques also includes basic combat techniques with smaller weapons. Some styles even include the use of larger weapons such as staffs and swords. This is often simply because the movements involved in the use of such weapons often lend themselves to unarmed combat techniques.
There are no exact origins for the art of jiu jitsu, its true beginnings being lost to ages past. What is evident is that Jiu Jitsu seems likely to have developed from Sumo. Sumo is an advanced wrestling style where competitors attempt to overcome the balance of another and grapple them to the ground or out of a circular ring. Sumo became a popular sport and warriors began to develop it for use on the battlefield. Jiu Jitsu began as a mainly wrestling style of combat, but many basic strikes and kicks were included initially and more advanced techniques over time. Of course striking techniques were not particularly effective against armored foes, and so the style tended towards throwing an locking techniques. Immobilizing the opponent or using a technique that was not affected by armor allowed the Samurai to remain effective warriors even when disarmed. Jiu Jitsu proved to be a highly effective combat technique and through necessity could be used even whilst wearing armor. Over time, the art was adopted by various groups of people who took different aspects and developed them much further than before. Karate (strikes), Aikido (locks), and Judo (throws & pins) all have a fundamental descendancy from these ancient techniques, and Jiu Jitsu is sometimes referred to as the ‘Mother Art’. Although Jiu Jitsu is not as specialized as any of these particular styles, and could not hope to compete in the same areas. However Jiu Jitsu retained its effectiveness because it encompasses all combative techniques. Variety can often be an effective form of attack/defense. If an opponent does not know how to defend or bypass a technique, then they become open and susceptible.
Modern forms of Jiu Jitsu have progressively employed less and less emphasis on the use of weapons, since most people may not carry them due to lawful restrictions. However it is often from people who flaunt the law that danger comes, and so Jiu Jitsu still incorporates a variety of weapon disarming/defending techniques. From sticks to guns, there are common techniques to give a defender a greater chance of surviving unscathed if assaulted by such weapons. Jiu Jitsu has also spread around the globe and is practiced by men and women, both young and old. It has become an all encompassing combat system directed at allowing the combatant to defend against a single untrained assailant through to a group of trained combatants. I myself have taken a Jiu Jitsu class. It was very demanding and strenuous. I learned a few techniques as well as the 3 main stances: The horse stance, the Cat stance, and the “ready” stance (as my sensie called it). The whole experience was enjoyable and I am thinking of Joining the class full-time.