Why Study Martial Arts?

This site started by wanting to offer my students extra information about Jujitsu and Judo. Our system, Niseido Jujitsu, is very structured and therefore any help is greatly appreciated by our students. However, it evolved into something else as the world became more and more divided. But I plan on spending more time on Judo and Jujitsu in order to provide what I originally set out to accomplish.

Before discussing why you should study a Martial Art, let’s discuss the Jujitsu briefly. Jujitsu was established and systematized in the Japanese year of Tenmon (1532), by Hisamori Tenenuchi. It was the Art of the Samurai warriors. Although well armed and on horseback, the Samurai needed to be able to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat, if they were knocked off or fell off their horses.

When someone asks me about Jujitsu, particularly my style of Jujitsu, Niseido Jujitsu, the first thing I say is that all Martial Arts have positive things to offer. More important than the Art, is the school and the instructors. There is No Best Martial Art. Anyone who would tell you otherwise, is someone you should avoid. There are best Martial Artists, just like there are best boxers, basketball players, doctors and teachers, but no best Art.

I was fortunate to find Bay Ridge Dojo the original home of Niseido Jujitsu(2nd Generation Jujitsu) in Broooklyn, New York, when my wife and I were paying our respects at a funeral home a block away. We just happened to park in front of the Dojo and that’s where it all began for me and my sons. I have had the opportunity to be trained by incredibly accomplished instructors and Martial Artists but as importantly, by great men who are more like family than friends. While we bow to each other and to our mat to express respect and gratitude, we also hug. It’s a gesture of love and respect.

Niseido Jujitsu is a traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Judo school. We spend as much time on our feet as we do on the ground, although grappling is obviously an important part of Jujitsu. Our system is more of a street fighting Jujitsu than sport Jujitsu. We concentrate heavily on self defense. That is our forte and what is a large part of our focus and curriculum.

That brings me to why one should study a Martial Art. First, the Martial Arts is great exercise. I’m not now or ever was, a gym rat. I find weightlifting horrifically boring, even though I trained for many years. In our school, Bay Ridge Dojo, we start class by bowing in and then stretching. No matter the sport, being limber is essential. Following the stretching, we do push-ups and sit-ups and other strength building exercises. I attribute my strength and fitness at 57, entirely to the dojo. Next, we do our rolls. There are many Judo throws, so it’s necessary to learn how to fall properly (Ukemi). We teach many types of falls, and these have helped me avoid injury outside of the dojo. As an instructor, it’s awesome when you see the expression on the face of a student when they learn their first throw, (Osoto Gari) Major Outer Reaping Throw, in our system. The sense of accomplishment is evident. After all, Jujitsu and Judo is not something natural. Falling for example, requires practice and getting used to. It’s something very different from most other sports.

Second, is confidence. When you feel you can defend yourself, you become less fearful and more confident. This is especially true for children and teens who may be experiencing bullying. While we don’t condone fighting, we fully support defending. No one has the right to hurt or abuse anyone else. No one has the right to lay their hands on you for any reason. In Niseido Jujitsu, we are always the defenders; Never the aggressors. However, if we are forced to defend ourselves, the defense, only if unavoidable, will be equal and opposite of the force used against us. In the most dire circumstances, the defense will be extreme and without mercy. When a person feels safe, wherever they might be, there’s an enhanced sense of calm and peace.

The beauty of Jujitsu is that you do not need to be large and muscular to defend yourself. It works equally well for men and women although defensive techniques might be different. We teach techniques that children can use to defend themselves. The Japanese understood that an attacker’s force and strength can be used against him. Their force can be absorbed, redirected and added to one’s own force to defeat their enemies. It’s just one of the things that made the Samurai so formidable in hand-to-hand combat.

Third, situational awareness. It’s mind boggling just how many people walk the streets or on the subway platform in New York City, with their eyes focused on their screens. That’s never a good idea. You never know who is watching and waiting for an opportunity to strike. No one better to target than someone who is oblivious to everything that’s happening around them. Early on, we teach situational awareness. It doesn’t mean being paranoid, but it does mean looking around and behind you to see anyone who might be unsavory. It’s one of our best and most natural defenses. Human beings don’t have claws or large teeth. The person who is going to rob or simply hit you, as is happening so often in New York City these days, is waiting for an opportunity. A confrontation is not necessarily what they’re looking for. They want to hurt someone and get out of there. It’s terrible but true. Situational awareness is your first, best defense.

Fourth and perhaps most important, is the lifelong friendships and bonds you establish. I have made so many friends from our dojo, our other dojos and Martial Artists from other schools. At the end of the day, all Martial Artists have a bond. If you enter tournaments, you make great and lifelong friends, win or lose. The respect is earned simply for stepping on to the mat. Martial Artists are often some of the nicest people you might ever meet, even as they possess the tools to defend themselves and cause serious injury to those who would deserve it. Take advantage of the camaraderie that the Martial Arts offers. It’s pretty awesome.

Fifth, and finally, is the message. Niseido Jujitsu, as taught by our Supreme Grand Master, focuses on the Code of Bushido. It’s the moral code of the Samurai. There are Seven virtues in the Code of Bushido. Without going into specifics, they address many virtues that make a human being virtuous. They include Courage, Respect, Compassion, Honor, and Loyalty. It’s a Code to live by and one that we should all strive to attain. The Code is so important because it’s about rounding out the human being. It means nothing if one is a fierce fighter but lacks compassion and Honor. In order to attain true peace, be well rounded and a complete Jujitsu practitioner, one must understand and live by the Code of Bushido.

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