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Jujitsu (Basics)

Very Brief Overview Of Jujitsu

Jujitsu is an ancient system of unarmed combat that developed over many centuries in Japan. Over time, not only did different styles of Jujitsu (e.g., Aikijitsu, Goshin Jujutsu, Brazillian, etc.) develop that emphasized certain techniques over others, but entirely different systems emerged.  For example, Judo and Aikido both have their roots in Jujitsu.  But while Judo was created for the purpose of sport, the primary purpose of Jujitsu has remained constant:  self-defense.

Very Brief Overview Of Jujitsu

Goshin Jujitsu is regarded as a more modern version of the traditional Japanese Jujitsu.  It actually could be considered one of the first Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) by virtue of it’s eclectic and well rounded foundation.  Goshin Jujitsu is a blend of Standing Grappling with defenses against attacks such as headlocks, bearhugs, choke holds, etc; Ground Grappling; Hand Strikes from boxing such as cross, hook, and upper cut; Striking such as elbows and knees; Throwing techniques; Kicks; and defense from Weapons including knifes, bats, guns, etc.  The Goshin Jujitsu practitioner remains well versed in his/her knowledge of what is undeniably a street applicable survival system. Conceivably, all encounters begin in a standing position but may end up on the ground either from an opponent taking a person down, both fighters tripping and falling to the ground, or the Jujitsu practitioner taking the opponent to the ground by choice. Goshin Jujitsu practitioners are very fluent, comfortable and powerful in both standing and ground based applications.

So What Do You Do In A Jujitsu Class, Exactly?

Stretching and conditioning are obviously an important aspect to every class. Techniques include, but are not limited to: Falling/Rolling, Rolling from left or right side, front-fall, back-fall, side-fall, free-fall, etc.  If you’ve ever fallen on ice you’ll recognize that the ability to fall correctly (and safely) can save

you a trip to the emergency room.  Because so many techniques involve falling (e.g., sweeps, throws, takedowns), we practice this every class, plus some reality checks.

Defense from Grabs/Pushes

  • Wrist grabs (cross or same side), lapel graps (1-hand, 2-hand), shoulder, etc.

  • Defense from Chokes

  • Front, side, rear.

  • Defense from Bearhugs

  • Front, side, rear, and over-arms/under-arms where applicable.

  • Defense from Headlocks

  • Front, side, rear.

  • Defense from Hairpulls

  • Front, rear.

  • Blocks

  • Inside, outside, rising, etc.

  • Hand Techniques

  • Punch (jab, cross, hook, uppercut), palm heel, forearm & elbow strikes.

  • Kicks

  • Front, side, roundhouse, knees, etc.

  • Throws

  • Shoulder, hip, head, face, stomach, etc.

  • Sweeps

  • Peels (wrist lock & control)

  • Submissions & Chokes

  • Arm-bar, knee-bar, ankle-lock, shoulder-lock, finger-lock, etc.

Ground Grappling

A Jujitsu practitioner needs to be able to engage an opponent on any level, when necessary. That said, in a self-defense defense situation it is critical to GET UP, which is why we also work “hold-down” drills where the person on the bottom needs to get up in 20 seconds while are taking some punches, for example.


Again, a Jujitsu practitioner needs to be engage with an opponent on any level, and understand how to engage with different types of opponents(e.g., tactical fighters vs. brawlers, etc.) Defense against Knives Side-thrust, front-thrust, slash, etc. Defense against Bats The baseball kind, not the ones that fly.  Top-down, side-swing, point-of-bat, etc. Defense against Guns From the front-high, front-middle, rear-high, rear-middle, etc. Defense against Chains Swinging, attempted garrotte, etc. Generally speaking, techniques are learned in combinations (e.g., outside-block, bridge-kick, sweep, or inside-block, shuto to neck/clavicle, throw), as opposed to standalone entities.  This is done for several reasons:  first, an opponent will rarely stand there and give you an opportunity to ponder what to do next, and second, the student must learn how to adapt and apply whatever techniques are appropriate for the circumstance (e.g., some people are taller, heavier, faster, longer-limbed, or simply have a higher threshold for pain than others).  A common theme of all Jujitsu techniques is that while strength is good, strength with surprise, speed, and smoothness is better. Techniques are typically practiced in pairs:  the uke initiates action (e.g., throws a punch), and the tori performs the technique.  The uke is the one that, for example, is thrown or swept.  We also regularly practice ground grappling so students understand what techniques feel like against live, resisting opponents (i.e., trying to submit someone who is also trying to submit you). While techniques against certain weapons are taught (see above), Hillcrest does not focus on instruction with weapons (e.g., traditional oriental weapons). For video-clip demonstrations of these techniques, see the Technique Examples page.

What Is Any Single Class Like?

Classes are usually divided into 2 parts.  The first half of class consists of…

  1. Warm Up, stretching, and calisthenics

  2. Rolling and breakfall drills

  3. “Basics” (core combinations of kicks, punches, elbows, knees & blocks). These are done every class to develop proper technique and muscle memory.

  4. Either grappling or sparring… and then the second half of class focuses on learning techniques (see above), and then running them back in front of the class. Occasionally, classes deviate from this format when teaching specific principles such as a class on movement and footwork drills, or if we have a class on punching & kicking technique and work out on the bags in the basement.

Anything Else?

Training in Jujitsu promotes good health, agility, balance, concentration, self-control, positive self-esteem, among other things.  It requires commitment, and especially trust and respect.  As Jujitsu is a grappling system, the student is in physical contact with other students in every class. Injuries can happen under the best of circumstances in any activity (not just Jujitsu), but the last thing anybody wants is an injury because of a “loose cannon” in the dojo. Jujitsu is an extremely practical and hands-on system.  It is self-defense.  It was designed for combat, but there are some very important points to emphasize given that we live in a civil society. The modus operandi for any ethical (and sensible) Jujitsu practitioner is trouble avoidance, and the peaceful resolution of conflict whether it be for yourself or for those around you.  Only where this is not possible should a situation devolve to a matter of “self-defense” – and use the force necessary to defend yourself based on the situation. While a little Jujitsu can be employed to fend off a “too friendly drunk hug” at a bar to get some personal space, and knowing how to grapple can be useful on somebody being a jerk and trying to push you around at a party (either to control, keep away, or get away from), neither of these are in the same category as, for example, getting jumped in a parking lot – which might require a far more forceful response. It cannot be overstated that the Number One goal of self-defense is to defend and get away.  If this is not immediately possible, then the Number Two goal is to defend and restrain your attacker until help/police arrive. Self-defense is not about continuing to “duke” or “grapple” it out when you have an alternative.  Jim Meola likes to say that “self defense is a pass-fail test.  If you make it home, you passed.  You might get a broken nose and get a ‘C’, but if you make it home you still passed the test.” This is the ethos of Jujitsu instruction at Hillcrest.


In Conclusion

Every person should know how to defend themselves, and it is not difficult to learn.  The instructors at Hillcrest believe that using your own body as a weapon is probably the safest approach, as relying on other weapons can be dangerous and used against you.  A dependence on external weapons can also take away from the concentration and self-assurance needed to defend yourself successfully.  It is a matter of learning what parts of our bodies are our best weapons and how to use them most effectively. One of the most important aspects of study at Hillcrest is that it inspires self-confidence.  It might be knowing how to fill in that ‘blank’ space in a crisis situation, or simply the ability to project a sense of confidence and being more aware of one’s surroundings.  In today’s society anyone can be a victim of any type of crime.  The reality of being threatened by physical injury, coupled with the reality of being immobilized by fear itself, gives an attacker a significant edge over the victim. Hillcrest Academy of Goshin Jujitsu welcomes you, and has all the professional instructors and facilities to provide you with a working knowledge of self-defense. For anything else, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact the school.  


For information on preparing for a belt test check out the Belt Test Preparation page.

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