Total Ryu Martial arts, Fort Collin CO

What is the difference between what you teach and jiujitsu? 

That is a question I have been asked regularly for the past ten years or so.  At least since the popularity of MMA and the perceived dominance of Brazilian Jiujitsu practitioners in that type of competition.   Usually, the explanation of what is Jiujitsu and what it is not, takes longer than a phone conversation can answer.  So, I put the following explanation together that includes Total Ryu Jujitsu, Judo, and Brazilian jiujitsu.  The whys, wheres, hows and the spellings.

Judo:  Jigoro Kano is credited with Judo’s founding about 1880. 

In Kano’s own words “In my youth, I studied under many eminent (jujutsu) masters.”  Also, his own words, speaking of jujutsu “Also called taijutsu and yawara, it was a system of attack that involved throwing, hitting, kicking, stabbing, slashing, choking, bending and twisting limbs, pinning an opponent and defenses against these attacks.” Kano was not a big man, and upon his studying of various jujutsu arts under different teachers and masters, he comes to understand that some of the underlying and maybe the essential principles of jujutsu are motion and off balancing.  With this increased understanding and desire for someone his size, about 100lbs and a little over 5 feet tall, to be able to defeat an opponent twice that size or maybe even larger, he started on perfecting his idea of what the art of jujutsu should be, according to him.  During this time he created or refined many different types of throws and techniques that fit his new desire.  Kano also rejected many excellent techniques that were not needed unless one was in combat.

Kano reformed or changed jujutsu into Judo and focused on two types of training, kata or a series of techniques taught in a specific pattern, and Rondori.  Competitions ensued, and dangerous techniques were gradually eliminated from those allowed to help ensure the safety of the participants.  Though in the early days’ many students were still seriously injured.

Judo is a fantastic martial art but has lost its combative roots in favor of competition.  Today’s judo is also different from Kano’s judo.  The difference is evident in how practitioners perform the throws O soto gari, tao otoshi, and Seo Otoshi.  In today’s judo, the hip rotation, drop or set step in the techniques mentioned above is cut sort or not completed at all.  The technique is still executed but not with finesse or kuzushi as Kano taught.  Today’s practitioners rely more on power and strength to complete or perform the throw which is contrary to Kano’s vision of the art.   So the evolution started by Kano continues, and some will argue not in a good way.  There are judo systems and practitioners that still do what Kano taught, but the competitive drive has changed most throws to the quick short cut technique that usually doesn’t work the way they desire in practice or competition and of course in the real world.

While Total Ryu does include many of the throwing techniques created, or refined by Kano, it also retains many of the original combative techniques, not allowed, or rejected due to competition safety or other reasons.  Total Ryu does not train for competition.  Everything Total Ryu does in training is geared toward self-defense.

Jiu jitsu (brazilan): 

While Carlos Gracie has been given credit with founding the art, the credit should be given to a Japanese man named Maeda who was a student of Kano.  Maeda was tasked to demonstrate the art of Judo to the United States and other locations worldwide.  He gained immense experience in doing so.  He lost some matches and won others, and still, others were undecided.  Demonstrations matches were arranged with practitioners of western wrestling, boxing, and other sports.  Maeda learned early on that the rules in these matches that decided the winner were different than Judo.  One demonstration that should be mentioned is a match at West Point, against a football player, who upon the start of the match rushed Maeda and tackled him and pinned him in seconds.

Maeda started teaching Carlos Gracie in Brazil in the early 1900s.  He called his art Jiu jitsu and the following quote from Renzo and Rolyer Gracie’s book Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Theory and Technique, gives us the reason why a different name was chosen, sort of.  “Information is scarce about Maeda’s teaching method and the technical changes he made to jiu jitsu and judo as a result of his combat experience.  We have seen that Maeda insisted on describing his art as jiu jitsu rather than judo and his probable reasons for doing so.  Maeda does note that he had to modify his technique for MMA competition.  He discerned, for example, the principal weaknesses and strengths of his main opponents, Western boxing and wrestling and fought in a way that negated their strengths and exploited their weakness.  His principal fighting method involved throwing a low kick or elbow to set up a clinch from where he would throw his opponent to the mat. Once there, he focused on ground grappling submission holds to finish the fight.”

So when we read this description from the Gracie’s, they do not precisely say why he called it Jiu jitsu instead of Judo, but I think I know why.  Maeda’s task was to grow his master’s art by demonstrating Judo.  Instead, he learned that Judo was not going to work as effectively as he or the others would like.  He mentions that he would include a strike then a takedown or throw of some sort, finishing with a ground or a Ne Waza technique.  Judo matches do not include striking. These types of techniques are not allowed and never have been allowed in competition.  So what Maeda was doing in the demonstrations was not Judo. It was a version of traditional jujitsu or jiujitsu.  The spelling doesn’t matter the art is the same.

Upon continued study of the history of Brazilian jiu jitsu using the Gracies own books, we learn that the Gracies and other students of Maeda competed in Judo matches in their area along with other mixed discipline matches.  Because of the size of Maeda, the Gracies and other students the ground game or Ne Waza was their forte.  The general strategy in these one on one matches was to let the fight go to the ground or take it there.  Using their competition experience and continued practice of ground techniques, Brazilian Jiu jitsu began to separate itself from Judo and traditional jiu jitsu or jujitsu into what we see today in MMA matches, submission wrestling matches.  The art is exceptionally effective at what it was designed to do, and that is to win at a sport or competition style match against someone who doesn’t know what to do on the ground.

What we can infer from the above quotes from the founders of Judo and Brazilian jujitsu is that both were created for competition and continued to evolve into a competition only art.  They both came from the same root, and both were created as a result of the founders need for something that fit their own needs, body stature and specific use.  Both still have similarities to their combative root art of Jiu jitsu and even combative jiu jitsu practitioners today have aspects and techniques from both these arts present in their systems.

So now that you have read the above on Judo and Brazilian Jiujitsu I will bring it back to where both of them came from, traditional jujitsu or jiujitsu. 

 The spelling and origin of the pronunciations can be found here.     Total Ryu Jujitsu has evolved just like all the other martial arts out there. One of the significant differences that you will find with us is that we do not compete.  Competition does do some good for the martial arts practitioner, but the bad overcomes the good.  Here are some reasons why:

  • What you focus on is what you do under adrenal stress. 
  • Point sparing is not effective in combat or self defense. 
  • One on one matches where both are prepared for the fight is not realistic and doesn’t happen very often in a self defense situation.
  • The ground is not a safe place or where you want to be in a real life engagement
  • Adrenal stress training is essential for self defense and real martial arts

A  greek philosopher is quoted as saying, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training” 

This quote drives Total Ryu to:

  • Keep the techniques real and not theoretical. 
  • Test and apply the techniques under adrenal stress
  • Not Train for completion
  • Improve the teaching method and technical understanding. 

Total Ryu is a traditional system that has roots that go back a long, long time.  However, we do include modern techniques that address modern types of attacks and methodologies.  Some examples:

  • Traditional punching as opposed to modern punching
  • Western wrestling attacks or low body attacks to takedowns
  • Modern knife and gun use

Total Ryu uses traditional tactics, techniques and principles combined with modern ideas to come up with defenses and offenses against the above types of attacks and many more.  Many traditional techniques with small tweaks work wonderfully in current situations and many times nothing needs to be changed.  This is because Total Ryu comes from a nonsport or combative martial art.

We do have ground survival applications, and we look at the ground tactics as precisely that, surviving the ground.   We also strike from the ground, sweep, lock, choke and do whatever is needed to get into a better place, on our feet.  When one is on the ground in a real fight, the asphalt, concrete, rocks, etc, play havoc on one’s body, not to mention the other guy that will more than likely be kicking you in the head.  However, sometimes going to the ground is what is needed.  That is why traditional Jujitsu or Jiu jitsu has what is known as sacrifice techniques.  These techniques use one’s body weight and the motion given to throw an opponent.  The finish in these situations almost always uses a swift and destructive joint break or choke and then moves to a stand-up position.

So there you have it.  I could go on and on, and maybe I went on for too long.  However,  if you want to learn what works in the real world and learn an art that will keep you learning and growing for a long time, then look no farther than Total Ryu.