Jute: The Flexible Skill

by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

When I first began training in Judo and Jujutsu back in 1970, I knew the typical interpretation of Ju as gentle and yielding.  I worked hard to try and understand the meaning of Ju and over the years I realized that Ju was the central principle of combat, since it was the principle that allowed a smaller person to overcome a larger or stronger assailant.

          I’ve worked with some great masters of Jujutsu, proponents of Judo, and most especially masters of Kempo and came to a deep understanding of Ju.  By the way, when I say I’ve worked with some great masters of Jujutsu, I mean real Jujutsu.  These are not practitioners of a silly, yet brutal sport, but real masters of Jujutsu who can hit hard, throw standing, and lock without falling to the ground.

          Thanks to Rod Sacharnoski, a true master martial artist, I had the experience of learning another Ju based art, the Okinawan art of Toide.  It was in learning this art and researching deeper aspects of Judo and Jujutsu that I came to understand the real meaning of Ju.

 

IN MY YOUTH

          When I went to college, I shared what I had learned from Richard Stone with anyone who wanted to learn, while learning from anyone who knew any martial arts at all.  I had the opportunity to study various styles of Karate, work more on Judo and Aikido, as well as, being introduced to Tae Kwon Do.  I was even introduced to some beginning forms of Kung Fu, most especially Tai Chi Chuan.

          As I studied the arts I understood that the principle of Ju, as noted above, was the main principle of combat, giving a person the ability to neutralize an opponents strength and technique.

          Te, from Karate, meant hand in its most basic interpretation, but also means person or skill.  From the perspective of skill I saw an interpretation that implied and noted that we must develop expertise in movement and application.

          In my study of Judo I was introduced to the principle of Hen-o, which meant adapt and apply.  In Aikido there was the concept of Hen-ka, which meant variation.  In Karate there was O-yo, which meant apply and adopt, usually translated, practical application.

          Each of these concepts helped me understand that the only way to truly develop self defense skills was to be able to adapt to circumstance, that is the circumstances of a physical confrontation.  No one knows what they will face in a real fight, you practice ‘example’ techniques but they are just to teach you how to move, use principles, and go for vital points.

          In those early years, teaching self defense at college, at a church in Ohio, and for the city of Pontiac, Michigan, I coined the phrase Jute to stand for gentle hand, meaning that I combined the Ju principle of Judo/Jujutsu with the skill development of Karate to produce a form of self defense designed to neutralize an attacker’s strength with skill to overcome whatever they might try to do.

 

FLEXIBLE: THE OTHER MEANING OF JU

          Years after studying Judo, Jujutsu, and Toide, with Rod Sacharnoski, I came to understand that Ju could also be translated flexible.  This type of flexibility is that of adaptation.  When you are being attacked anything can happen and you must be able to modify your movement and technique in order to overcome that of your assailant.

          In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei we study all of the arts that derived from the original Kempo through cultural adaptation in Japan and Okinawa.  This means we study Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu, Ninjutsu, Karate, and Karatejutsu, as well as, Kobujutsu of both countries.

          Yet even knowing all of the techniques of those arts, along with the Chinese root arts from which they sprung, if a person cannot adapt to changing circumstances, they will never be able to actually defend themselves.

 

GOSHINJUTSU: SELF DEFENSE ART

          Today many of the systems and schools of martial arts teach nothing that could be considered self defense.  Just teaching someone how to punch or kick, doesn’t mean that you are teaching them self defense.

          Teaching a person how to fight in some kind of sport does not mean the person can defend themselves in a real situation of self defense and combat.

          Some of my students have been police officers, others soldiers in our armed forces.  I’ve had students in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Some of the guys I worked out with in college had fought in Vietnam or were active in the military during that time.

          I began training for real self defense purposes and some of my students have had to use their skills in real situations.  Because of all this, I understand real self defense as opposed to combat sports.

          I’ve known people who were good as sport fighters but not as self defense experts.  Knowing a sport, even a fighting sport, does not make you knowledgeable in self defense.  It is similar to the idea of a butcher, who is really good at slaughtering and cutting animals up for eating, thinking he was a veterinarian.

          Just because you can get in a ring and beat another human being to a pulp doesn’t mean you know how to teach a person to save their life in self defense.

          Self defense is a specialized skill.  In the old days, people who trained in martial arts, be they Bugei, Budo, or Bujutsu, were masters of self defense, because originally there were no sport forms of the art, only actual combat.  Today though many people who train in the martial arts know nothing about self defense, even in Japan some of the practitioners specifically use the term Goshinjutsu for their arts because to just use the term Judo, Jujutsu, or Karate any more doesn’t mean that the person really knows anything about self defense.

 

KEMPO BUGEI

          Kiyojute Ryu is not and never will be a sport.  I would see the art cease to be, before I would see it bastardized like so many of the grand arts of the past.

          The Kempo Bugei of Kiyojute Ryu are all about trying to preserve the ancient and true tradition of the martial arts as combat methods of self defense.  The training is designed to help a person truly learn the idea and concept of Jute, flexible skill.

          For those who want to learn real self defense with the ability to adapt to changing situations and circumstances then Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei is the right art of study.



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