Japanese Martial Arts started during the medieval period in Japan. It was mainly practiced by the Samurai class. It was a period of fighting, struggling and war. A samurai was gifted with this art, as it could save him from enemy attack. The word “Martial” means fighting. It was really a fighting skill rather than a recreational sport during that period. It helped people protect themselves in case of combative attack. It can’t be denied that, Japanese Martial Art was a powerful weapon for common people in medieval Japan.
Most of the martial arts were imported from China. They were gradually modified by the Japanese until more arts were developed. Archery and sword-fighting are the main two arts amongst them. Some of them became rituals in Zen Buddhism. Japanese Martial Arts differ from it’s Chinese counterpart in style. Japanese Martial Arts involves straight-line attacks, whereas Chinese techniques are more circular. The martial arts of Japan have a wide range starting from empty hand–to–hand techniques, to fighting with several weapons.
Japanese arts can be categorized generally in to 5 different arts of fighting. They are Karate, Aikido, Juijutsu, Judo, and Kendo. Karate is the most popular amongst all of these. Karate was originated in Okinawa. Karate means empty hand. This isn’t irony, because the people of Okinawa fought empty handed using this famous Japanese Martial Art.
Gichin Funakoshi invented Karate. He impressed the then Emperor of Japan by showing his skill and started teaching this Japanese martial art in Japan in 1921.Within five years, Karate became the most popular Japanese Martial Art. Funakoshi also opened a training hall (dojo) in Tokyo. Thus, Karate gained popularity inside and outside of Japan.
Aikido is another popular Japanese Martial Art. It is a purely traditional art and a very strict one at that! It is a self-defensive type of art. The name “Aikido” defines the characteristic of this art. “Ai” means harmony, “Ki” means source of energy, & “Do” means the way. These three words together mean that it is a way of keeping harmony in the body by using the spirit of energy. Aikido has a religious influence and practitioners believe that it’s the way to save mankind from danger or evil.
Juijutsu is an ancient art. The word “Juijutsu” means gentle art. Ironically, it is a martial art based on several joint locks & throwing techniques of the body to attack enemies. It is very effective method of defense against an armed opponent. Many Japanese martial arts advocate’s believe that Jujutsu is the ancestor of all martial arts in Japan.
Additional martial arts include Kendo and Judo. Kendo is a martial art which utilizes words. It’s a fencing martial art that requires a lot of discipline and skill. This art differs greatly from Judo, which is a unarmed combative sport. It’s rules are very complex and it is one of the most popular Japanese martial arts practiced globally.