You know that old saying, 'don't bring a knife to a gunfight'? Chances are, you'd be at as much of a disadvantage if you brought only your fists to a knife-fight. This is where Jujitsu comes in. Self-defence is a pretty key skill wherever you go, and if you find yourself in a sticky situation on the way home from fun night at the SU, you're probably going to find it comes in pretty handy for getting yourself out of trouble. It’s more important to think how to avoid a bad situation than how to escape one, but you’ll still need to know how to defend yourself if you find yourself in trouble.
Of course, just acting to stop someone hurting you could be called self-defence, but Jujitsu goes a little further than that. Literally, it translates to ‘soft art’, and focuses on using your enemy’s strength against you, making it super effective for fending someone off. It’s difficult, though, to condense an art that’s probably been around for over 2000 years into just a few words – I’d applaud anyone who could – it’s important to know some of the history as well.
However old Jujitsu may be, it was certainly old enough to be practiced by the Samurai, Japanese warriors who go back as far as the 15th century, the beginning of a period known for its political unrest and military conflict, and it is around this time the formal art of Jujitsu was founded. It wasn’t the first school to be formed, however, which was a few hundred years earlier - but if we talked about the whole history, we’d be here all day. The techniques of this art were used by the Samurai as a means of defeating an armed opponent without needing to use a weapon. This continued up until the Meiji Restoration, where the Shogunate was dissolved and Jujitsu was adopted by the rest of Japan, where it became integral to their navy, military and police force.
It reached the west in the early 20th century, but you might not recognise it as the same art it started out as. Towards the end of the 19th century, Jujitsu had waned in popularity, so to fix that and at the same time make a safe sport, Judo was developed using techniques taken from the original. The branches spread out even further, evolving into Aikido and Karate. You could call it a way of simplifying a very complex art, both making it easier to teach and putting it on equal ground with other martial arts that were on the rise at the time. It seems a shame to break something so old apart, but it meant Jujitsu was able to survive long enough for people to put the pieces back together and recreate it.
Luckily, there’s a class every Wednesday evening on the Bishop Otter campus in Gym 1. It’s run by Steve Moxey, head of British Jujitsu Ryu and a 6th Dan Black Belt in Jujitsu who’s studied and mastered several martial arts. One of the great things about the classes is that he puts a strong emphasis on the self-defense side of things, and often relates some of the manoeuvres to real-life situations. It’s especially important for women - though it still applies to everyone - who statistically speaking are a lot more likely to be attacked than men when walking home at night. Now that it’s getting dark so early, it’s good to keep protective measures in mind, like keeping to well-lit areas and avoiding a walk home alone. It can even be little things, like having a spare purse in case you get mugged - keep a small amount of money in it and give them that one instead. In Jujitsu, even when we’re using something like a bokken - a wooden sword - Steve has shown how some of the maneuvers can translate to real life. Yeah, I know you won’t normally be carrying around a wooden sword, but a nearby stick can come in handy if you find one.
The class itself is well worth your time. Steve is fairly strict and places a lot of emphasis on the etiquette of the dojo, but he’s always straight with you and is happy to help when needed. Also, he’ll give you a thorough grounding in the basics, especially on how to fall safely, something that has proven invaluable over the past year I’ve been taking his classes. Not only that, but the classes are a lot of fun as well, and I’ve made several good friends in the process. It’s £5 a lesson, but the first one is free so you’ll have plenty of time to decide if the classes are for you. If they’re not, never fear - Steve has been considering starting a short class that focuses purely on self-defense. While unfortunately there’s no equivalent class on the Bognor Campus, it’s only £1.20 for a return ticket on the U7 bus or Flyer to the Bishop Otter campus, so there’s no major difficulty in getting there if you don’t study or live in Chichester. The best times to catch the bus are at 3:34pm and 5:09pm leaving the Bognor Regis campus, and the Flyer leaves the campus library at 4:30pm.
As a final reminder, the Jujitsu classes are for an hour every Wednesday starting at 6pm in Gym 1 on the Bishop Otter campus. It’s a good idea to arrive early, if you’re getting changed, and if you’re coming from Bognor, the transport allows you plenty of time for that - leaving the Bognor campus at 3:34pm, 5:09pm, and you can catch the Flyer at 4:30pm. It’s also a good idea to remember this: whatever you learn in the classes, try to avoid using it unless there’s no other choice. It’s always better to settle conflicts without violence, if you can. Hope to see you there!