The problem with the new jujitsu styles was that the practitioners did fight. Some would challenge members of other styles. Some would challenge all comers for money. Some would just start fights. One solution to this problem was to set up rules for sport fighting, making dangerous techniques illegal. Another was to discourage fighting and competition altogether. Many styles that went the first route wound up with a diminished set of techniques and a continually growing emphasis on developing a large, heavily muscled body. Many styles that went the second route became increasingly abstract. The central problem for any modern jujitsu style is to find a path between these two extremes.
What is Eizan-ryu Jujitsu?
Eizan-Ryu is jujitsu for urban self-defense. It is for civilians, not soldiers, so we emphasize escape and control. It is for self-defense, not fighting, so most of our practice is defensive, not aggressive. It is for use on city streets, so we emphasize footwork, which works best on smooth surfaces; stunning attackers by throwing and taking down hard, which works best on hard surfaces; and staying on one’s feet, which is the place to be when on a hard surface and surrounded by strangers.
We emphasize techniques for bringing attackers off balance while maintaining one’s own balance more than we emphasize physical development. We do this because the genetic limitations on technique and balance are not as confining as those on size and strength. Nevertheless, we do work on developing fit, flexible bodies, to permit more strenuous practice.
How do we train?
In most of our practice, basic techniques are done against basic attacks. Basic techniques include wrist, elbow, and shoulder locks; hip, shoulder, leg, and hand throws; and knockdowns, projections, and walkthroughs. Basic attacks include wrist grabs, body grabs, grabs from behind, roundhouse and backhand strikes, and straight punches.
In more advanced practice, techniques are done while backed up to a wall, from a chair, from one’s knees, and from the ground. Advanced attacks include attacks with wooden knives and rattan clubs, grabs followed by punches, and kicks.
In another form of advanced practice, students do a variety of techniques against a variety of attacks. In a higher form, students practice a variety of techniques against a variety of attacks from a number of different people in quick succession. These practice methods develop the ability to do one’s techniques in unpredictable situations.
In addition, students above green belt practice fighting. Done properly, jujitsu ends fights as they start. However, everyone fumbles sometimes, and if one fumbles a jujitsu technique, one may have to fight for the chance to do another. Further, fighting helps develop speed, power, and spirit. In fighting practice, we use mostly foot sweeps and body throws; palm strikes to the head; fists, kicks, and knees to the body; and kicks and knees to the thighs. We are not primarily a fighting school and practice fighting perhaps twice a week.
Meditation and breathing exercises are emphasized throughout.
How do we test?
Students are told when they are to test, and are given a list of attacks and the number of techniques they are to have against each. At lower ranks, students may choose their own techniques, according to their abilities and body types. As students progress, the speed, power, and variety of attacks increases. At black belt, students are expected to be able to do all the basics of the system and to improvise techniques freely.