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The Purpose of Jujutsu

This is a discussion page on jujutsu as approached by the shinden yōshin ryū.

It is extremely important to understand that jujutsu is really a very diverse art, or more specifically a diverse series of arts, and that it is not always approached the same way from school to school. But in any event, the primary purpose of jujutsu never really changes.

The purpose of jujutsu, in anyone's approach, is always junbi 準備preparation”. To be ready. To make provision for oneself.

What kind of provision and preparation depends upon the focus of the school in question. Some are schools of sports jujutsu, and these prepare to win or lose the match. Some are self defense schools and these prepare to meet and prevail over the threat. Some are schools meant to assist those whom engage in military or emergency service to their society – these prepare for the duties of that service. Still others inter-combine these various functions, and so can be found carrying out an inter-combination of them. Shinden yōshin ryū is for common class people, a school that seeks to prepare one for military and emergency service and the course of duty. Thereafter, it serves as a self defense school (the duty oriented teachings are redirected to be of use in one's daily life as a form of self protection via preparation for and defense of one's own life interests.) Wherein one does not serve (along paramilitary or emergency service lines) then one practices hoshinjutsu self protection. That is the obvious nature of things. Does shinden yōshin ryū practice sports? No, but some of our instructors did engage in judo practice to cover that aspect of martial arts (the SYR was presented as the self defense tactics in their dojos.) There is no address of sports or sportsmanship in the shinden yōshin ryū.


Junbi, preparation, is extremely important. As a Japanese language term, it has also the connotation of “guarding” so it means “guarding oneself and one's life” just as well. This is exactly how we understand it: guarding oneself and one's life interests. Of this preparation, there is also yobi 予備 reserve or additional preparations, that is to say that one has acted sufficiently so that there is room to spare (alleviating further concern for oneself and household.) And in all of this one must always consider the necessity of 支度金 Shitaku-kin, money to cover the cost of preparations or arrangements. This one, of course, covers any expenses of education and training, supplies and equipment and so forth. You can be fortunate and get free education from such as this web-site to help you... there are all kinds of free stuff, if one pokes around. Cut costs in whatever reasonable fashion that one can, affording more money towards other areas of preparation and provision.

Traditionally, among the preparations one should seek to become familiar with and master are the subjects of the Bunmon or classical education subjects. Among them some form of: Bungei the literary arts, shozoku membership, jinei camp, tenmon and chimon, the study of meteorology and of geography (all of these for paramilitary and personal applications.) Rekigaku the study of Calendars. Medical arts such as Yakujiryōhō, treatment by medicine and diet. Honzōgaku the study of medicinal herbs (of course, all of these for paramilitary and personal applications.) Ekigaku the study of divination methods. Kyōmon study of religion (Buddhism, originally.) Shigaku the study of history and etc (again, all of these for paramilitary and personal applications.) These and many besides are common. Concerning jujutsu practices, the more important of these is of course bungei (文芸), the literary arts, the study of how to read and write, how to make literature and documents. This is so because in order to pursue the studies and practices of the other arts, one needs to be able to read the books and materials written on the subject. Also, one must be able to make and to read proper documents and records. This is elementary to budō (martial arts) even in the West, where the MA schools offer students a variety of documents and certificates of study and participation. Certainly it is true of the Japanese who make a proliferation of (such records as) denshō books, makimono scrolls and etc. Needless to say that some familiarity with the Japanese practices might prove handy if it would allow one to recognize authentic and/or forged documents... but also, document forgery is a standard practice of budō (has to do with paramilitary applications of budō, forging enemy documents is a standard military endeavor, of course.) Bungei as a term not only covers the basic literary arts, but also the refined arts, since usage of these in the compilation of texts and documents is common (for example, to make text illustrations and etc.) Needless to say, the literary arts were employed in the writing of these web pages!

Naturally, the classical examples above are modified for modern context, but the job of doing so is simple and quite logical. In fact, much of this reorientation [of the classical material] has been reflected in the pages of this web site. One can see from what was recorded here how to do it, and what sort of subjects to focus on. One's own person, life and life interests.

Is this kind of material more 'jujutsu' than the physical methods of self defense technique? Well, it is all co-equally jujutsu but it is a fact that the self defense techniques resulted first from the study and application of the literary arts. All ryūha and systems resulted from the study and application of the literary arts. No school or system of budō actually ignores or does not apply the literary arts, but focus upon them differs as does the approach to jujutsu. Rather than to say that this is more jujutsu than the mere physical techniques of self defense, it is appropriate to say that the literary arts are as much jujutsu as are the techniques themselves. It is all co-equally jujutsu.


Our school has a unique approach and emphasis to the martial traditions and subsequently to it's jujutsu. The emphasis of junbi, preparation, is specific and profound. Shinden yōshin ryū seeks to prepare it's adherents for the relevant role(s) and duties of (para-) military service, which includes emergency service (firemen, medical attendants and personnel so on and so forth.) This preparation is structured very logically (as indicated in the documents of this web-site) so that, in the event that one does not serve society in such capacities, then the teachings equate back into one's own daily life and affairs as a useful corpus of information that helps the adherent live. Shinden yōshin ryū is certainly not alone in this approach to the martial arts, but it is one school which profoundly insists upon this approach and frankly if this isn't apparent: it's probably not really the Shinden yōshin ryū being taught.

The preparation being structured so that if one does not serve society in any (para-) military capacity, then the teachings equate directly back into one's own daily life and affairs as useful assistance to the adherent's life and household is a paramount matter of importance. Due to military conscription and similar non-voluntary services, it is considered possible, if not likely, that one would encounter service anyway (and even if you do not, your son probably would.) So the school tries to prepare, via instruction, for this probability. Even if you do not thus serve, likely one of your sons would, and that by receiving the teachings you might be able to better adjust to service-life or to help your son to do so – and thus strengthen our nation or society's efforts. But also, wherein we do not serve, the very same teachings are perfect life assistance to us. This also strengthens our nation or society, but better yet, provides us with much personal help and advice!!

The emphasis of this junbi, preparation, is not in such a fashion as suggests or demands the putting aside of one's own life or life interests (NEVER, the tradition is quite specific about this.) But instead it accepts the probability of service as part of that life (part of life as a member of society.) Case in point, it teaches that an end to the service, or conscription (when non-voluntary), must come and even that transition (back to regular civilian life) must be prepared for. On this subject, from the documents of another school associated with SYR, it quotes [something along the lines of]: “...when it's is over, the battlefield is just a farmer's field.” This means that, even despite that the war occurred there, the land is usually only where agriculture or commerce is practiced. Likewise, one's life returns to normal after service time is finished.

The jujutsu fighting techniques within our curriculum are viewed only as useful and necessary means of bodily protection to be employed if and when we are threatened during the course of service, or daily life. They are said only to constitute 1/5 of the relevant corpus. By some reckonings, only 1/7 of the relevant corpus.

That is to say that the approach of Shinden yōshin ryū is such that fighting techniques (as opposed to these other relevant vectors of preparation) makes up only a mere 1/5 to 1/7 of the junbi (preparations.) To provide an example, for clarification, the following three components of preparation are always practiced and taught, no matter which instructor (or their personal approach):

  1. Isshinjō no keizai “Personal business affairs”

  2. Kinkyū'iryō “(Emergency) medical assistance”

  3. Jikitō hoshinjutsu “Personal self protection”

These demonstrate three of the five components of junbi as taught by our school. What comes after these components is sometimes dictated by who the instructor is (since the needs of the student body may differ, some flexibility is practiced.) In some branch schools, there are seven categories, in others, only five. I was taught five categories (seems to me that often the others are just a rehash of one of the five anyway!!)

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