Just as people commit to learning a profession, the serious jujitsuka needs to commit to the art of jujitsu. You cannot learn jujitsu in a few months. The best you can hope for is mastering a few selected mechanical tricks. You cannot learn jujitsu from books, videotapes, or DVDs. Truly understanding jujitsu requires a lifetime, studying under a master who is qualified to teach and has the credentials to do so!
A jujitsuka’s basic goals should be to:
work diligently towards mastery of techniques to defend without weapons against all attacks, along with incidental defensive devices, such as using a chair as a shield against a knife.
become familiar with other martial arts to understand their strategies, weaknesses, and strengths in order to use these against them. Study at a club where other arts are taught to learn how they work. Adapt and absorb so you can use their specific styles against them.
commit a lifetime to following the path of jujitsu. There is no short course to proficiency.
To attain these objectives, you must master techniques based on jujitsu principles. Only by training both physically and mentally can you achieve such proficiency. There are no short cuts.
Quality demands repeated practice of techniques. Repetition trains the mind to interact with the muscles. Speed mostly is a function of familiarity with the action and thus automatically follows repetition process. One must guard against substituting speed for quality. A bad move performed quickly is still a bad move. Conversely a good move slowly performed is easily blocked.
Not all techniques are applicable to everyone. What works for one individual might not work on or for another. Body structure, strength, speed, and ability affect techniques. Consequently contact art practitioners develop favorite techniques, techniques that work better for them than for their opponents.
One should seek, train, and master techniques compatible with the specific opponent and situation. Generally if you are of slight build, do not over train in power moves. Concentrate instead on speed. If you are large, do not concentrate on speed actions limited by your own inertia.
In almost all things physical, follow a distinct pattern to achieve the best results.
Defense in jujitsu has three distinct though not always used stages.
Defense: Avoid the attack or extricate from the attack.
Control: Stop the attacker from repeating an attack.
Compliance: Apply pain to make your attacker follow your directions.
The cycle of learning jujitsu can be divided in four sequential components:
The Step stage. Slow movement only, with little or no power; imprint the motions on the subconscious. (learning speed)
The Fluid stage. Faster action, with moderate power. (practice speed)
The Dynamic stage. Improved technique, speed, and power. (contest speed)
The Reality stage. Real world conditions with qualified opponents. (battle speed)
Clearly this process requires a partner who fits in with your program. In the first stage, learning the basics requires that your partner be as close to your own physique as possible, to help you slowly through the process.
In the second stage, you will work faster with this partner and also with larger or smaller partners.
In the third stage, your various partners will work at full speed and high power to simulate the real world, without resorting to desperate or full power moves.
The reality stage — real attacks by outsiders — cannot be simulated. It is the real world and final test of your training. We hope we never will have to experience that part of jujitsu, but if it happens, we should be ready.
(Ben Bergwerf , USJA Professor of Jujitsu, is a founder of the USJA Jujitsu Program. He holds USJA ranks of kudan in Jujitsu, rokudan in Judo, and yodan in Tae Kwondo. Bergwerf Sensei teaches Combat Judo to cadets at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston.)