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What is Jiu-Jitsu?

Although the exact origins of Jiu-jitsu are a topic of debate, most historians agree that it's the oldest and most complete of the martial arts. A commonly-held school of thought is that its origins are in India, where it was created by Buddhist monks around 2,500 years ago.

The scholar and sage who is accepted as the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama was born in the north of India, on the banks of the Ganges. He became known as the "enlightened one" - the Buddha - and devotees from monasteries all over India would travel miles to see him.

The travellers had to defend themselves against attacks by bandits en route, so they created a fighting style that encapsulated self-defence, without using any weapons, as this would have violated the Buddhist beliefs. Jiu-jitsu was based on momentum, leverage and studies of the human body's vital points to create a form of scientific fighting.

Jiu-jitsu spread outside of India and throughout Asia in later centuries, becoming a major part of Japanese culture over the passage of time. Widespread in Japan during the Sengoku period (which dated from around 1467 to 1603), it was used on the battlefield by Samurai warriors during close combat in situations when weapons were ineffective or if the warriors found themselves disarmed and on foot.

Fighting whilst wearing armour caused restricted mobility, so jiu-jitsu evolved from its original form and included joint-locks, throwing and strangles, in addition to striking moves. In peace-time, soldiers and schools trying to earn extra income began to teach jiu-jitsu techniques to the civilians.

Today, these techniques are known as Japanese old-style jiu-jitsu. As the years went by, other techniques and forms of this complex martial art were developed. They have formed the basis of many military unarmed combat techniques such as those used by US, British and Russian special forces and some police units.

The techniques used in today's modern jiu-jitsu include throws, take-downs, chokes, strikes, twists, pressures, pins and various positions, using momentum of attack, avoidance and posture, both standing up and on the ground.

As the oldest martial art, jiu-jitsu is recognised as having been the basis for other martial arts such as judo, Kenpo-jitsu or Chinese boxing and Sumo, which use the unbalancing techniques and take-downs from jiu-jitsu.

A television programme made in Rio in the 1950s called Heróis do Ringue (which translates to Heroes of the Ring) brought old-style jiu-jitsu from the times of Imperial Japan to a wider audience. People had seldom seen such violent fights before and the programme was eventually banned, despite jiu-jitsu enthusiasts campaigning for it to be screened.

Today, there are many different styles and schools all over the world teach different techniques. Enthusiasts have long been campaigning to have jiu-jitsu recognised as an Olympic sport by the IOC but so far without success. When Brazil hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics, it wasn't even showcased as an exhibition sport. Pressure groups continue to campaign for its inclusion in future Olympic Games.

When you practice jiu-jitsu or any other martial arts, it's essential that you have the correct safety equipment. Coruba supplies a top-quality range of rubber gym mats that promote safety in a gym environment. They are also beneficial for yoga, Pilates, high-intensity interval training, cross-fit sessions and more. Our gym mats are available in various materials, designs, sizes and prices. Please contact us for further information.

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