View Full Version : New Book on Koryu Jujutsu?

johan smits
15th May 2001, 10:33
Dear Mr. Amdur,

First of all I would like to say that I enjoy your writings very much. Duelling with O-sensei has been constant company for a long time. In some way it helps me keep a proper perspective on martial arts, I don't now how it works but that is what it does.

About jujutsu. I have read your answers on questions about jujutsu somewhere along the net.
Haven't got a clue now where that was but that is not my question.
My question is have you ever considered doing a book on jujutsu? It would be good for the jujutsu community at large if you would be willing to share the insights you have on this art.

Best Regards,

Johan Smits

Ellis Amdur
15th May 2001, 18:51
Mr. Smits -

Thank you for your kind words on my book.

In regards to your question on me doing a book on jujutsu. Truth be told, it's too huge a subject with far too much research involved for me to be the one to do that. First of all, jujutsu, in the sense that most people think of it, is a relatively modern phenomena. For most of Japan's martial history, there were a variety of ryu, which "specialized," to some degree, even when using a variety of weapons. The most basic split was between ryu which preferred to maintain combat spacing where cutting and thrusting, without much or any body contact occured. I think it is fair to say that the Shinto, Kage, and Chujo ryu lines of bugei (the three primary "mother" ryu of most kenjutsu) all favored this style of fighting. Other ryu, however, began to prefer close combat in which one established control through positioning, trapping of a limb, body and pugilisitic strikes (tai-atari and atemi), and a lot of work on what to do when rolling or struggling on one's feet or the ground. This caused a development of close spaced use of small weapons (Examples would be Yagyu Shingan Ryu, Takenouchi Ryu). There are a myriad of these ryu, which go by such names as koshi no mawari, kogusoku, torite, etc. Most used a number of weapons, and the grappling was part of weapon's use.

Jujutsu developed in peacetime and was what I would call a "grey area" practice - still using a variety of weapons, which, over time, began to be abandoned, and gradually the development of more and more lightly armed and unarmed combat technique - still very culture bound, however. People still tended to carry blades, so pugilism was not very sophisticated.

Then we come to modern times with not only judo, but other competitor ryu which went down the same road, with less success, focusing on unarmed grappling. It is modern times (last 150 years or so) where jujutsu/judo became a form of wrestling.

Then you get truly modern developments such as Gracie/Brazilian Jujitsu, sambo (influenced by judo), all the modern "arms-length" non-Japanese systems such as Kodenkan, and modern combat grappling.

Finally, moving in it's own eccentric orbit is Daito Ryu and it's off-shoots such as aikido - probably not that old in it's consolidated form and fundamentally different from other Japanese grappling systems.

I know a fair amount "about" this area - but to flesh out the details would require a lot of historical research using primary source materials. I not only don't have the time, but I couldn't afford it.

Ellis Amdur

Ellis Amdur
15th May 2001, 19:03
To continue my last post, I am working on a second (probably last) book on the subject of Japanese martial traditions. It has the working title of Old School, and will include both previously published and new material, with a fair amount of photos and illustrations:

As it stands right now, I will have slightly revised essays on:
1) Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu
2) Maniwa Nen Ryu
3) Higo Ko Ryu
4) The History of the Naginata
5) Women Warriors of Japan

I will expand my essay on the chigiriki to become
6) The Chigiriki and the Kusarigama

New essays will probably include:
7) A History of Araki Ryu (not technical nor 1st person - simply to get my research on origins and various lines down on paper) This essay will probably have an expanded version of the last post on the trajectory of the development of close-combat systems - but I will leave a detailed, accurate history of the various jujutsu ryu to a scholar, which I am not (hopefully an individual who actually practices)

Two or three yet to be decided essays with a more opinionated slant. If all goes well, I will have it ready to publish in less than a year. I may make a limited number of copies. Dueling with Osensei sells slowly but, to date, I've only distributed about 1/8th of the printed copies.

I will be happy to store a list of individuals who want to "reserve" a copy of Old School, particularly if I make a limited edition. In that case, please send me an E-mail with the title Old School!! - I will make a mailing list to notify people when it is completed.

While you are at it, why not order a copy of Dueling with Osensei :).

Ellis Amdur

johan smits
16th May 2001, 07:43
Mr. Amdur,

Now that is good news!!

You can put me down for a copy of old school for certain. Will send you an email.

"Two or three yet to be decided essays."
Does my mind's eye become aware of the term jujutsu above one such essay?
You never know with mind's eyes so I will just wait and see.

johan smits
16th May 2001, 07:53
OOps something went terribly wrong. Sorry for that.

ANOTHER copy of duelling with O sensei? It is an old and venerated custom in The Netherlands that second copies of books are provided with the compliments of the author.
The idea is to give your first copy to a good friend and keep the second copy.

Best Regards,

Johan Smits

Mark Tankosich
15th June 2001, 04:09
One of the most thought-provoking and interesting martial arts books I've read in a very, very long time. If you haven't bought it yet, you should.

Mark Tankosich

Ellis Amdur
15th June 2001, 04:28
Mark - Russ

Thank you very much for the kind words. For anyone who is now prompted to buy the book, my web site is down. Lightening strike reduced my webmaster's disc to random electrons. So e-mail me at eamdur@koryu.com.


Ellis Amdur