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Ju-jitsu is the art of unarmed combat as studied and practiced by the samurai. If a warrior lost his weapon during combat for some reason or other, it was important for him (and essential to his survival) to be able to defend himself against armed and unarmed attacks of a variety of forms (ie.: grappling attacks, punching/kicking attacks, etc.)
Ju-jitsu therefore attempts to be a highly generalized form of self-defense, including many different techniques that we know best from their present-day specializations like judo, karate or aikido.
It is interesting to note that both Morihei Ueshiba Sensei (the founder of aikido) and Kano Jigiro Sensei (the founder of judo) were already accomplished masters at ju-jitsu when they created their own particular styles. It is probably fair to say that aikido, judo and karate are simply ju-jitsu with some personal accents, or conversely, that ju-jitsu contains the generalized view of these specialized techniques.

Tino Brebels Sensei

Ju-jitsu kata

From the preceding it can be understood that ju-jitsu provides a solid basis for self-defense techniques, as that is exactly what it had been developed for over the course of many centuries.
Devoid of the competition element which hijacked judo after the second world war, ju-jitsu focuses on practical ability instead of on a set of limiting rules and the desire to outcompete others. In ju-jitsu, one only enters into competition with oneself.
Ju-jitsu also presents a lower initial threshold than aikido, which, being a highly purified form of ju-jitsu and kenjitsu techniques, offers quite the challenge for the novice. Ju-jitsu, with its practical mindset, offers a more accessible path to mastery. Although the prolonged practice of both aikido and ju-jitsu will lead to a highly advanced technical mastery, ju-jitsu starts off on the easy yet efficient techniques and then builds up to ever increasing technical prowess, whereas aikido immediately takes to high roads of technical subtlety.

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