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Jiu-Jitsu, which translates as 'the gentle art' is originally a Japanese martial art which was used by the samurai in feudal Japan, where it developed over many centuries.
The first publicly recognized Jitsu ryu (school) was formed by Takenouchie Hisamori, in 1532. In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu, (originally Tokugawa Takechiyo) formed the Tokugawa military government with a commitment to bring peace and economic and political stability. This marked the beginning of the Edo period of Japanese history (1603-1868), during which warring ceased to be a dominant feature of Japanese life. With no battles to fight, many samurai were left without income and became teachers of the martial arts.
It was during this time that Jiu-Jitsu developed into a systematic art taught by a number of masters, with over 700 different schools at the height of its popularity. Weaponless styles were developed from the grappling techniques of the weaponed styles and were collectively known as Jiu-Jitsu. They differed in their emphasis on kicking, punching, throwing, locks and takedowns.
Feudalism was officially ended in Japan in 1871 after the Meiji restoration which gave power back to the Emperor after centuries of rule by the Shoguns. An imperial edict was issued declaring it a criminal offence to practice the old style combative martial arts. It was in this period that some styles of Jiu-Jitsu were adapted into sports; the modern 'Do' styles of martial arts - Ju-do, Karate-do and Aiki-do. The art of Jiu-Jitsu was almost lost forever, however many masters continued to practice in secret or moved abroad, returning only once the ban on Jiu-Jitsu was finally lifted after the end of the American occupation in 1951.
The precise origins of our style can be traced to Riukiu Mura, a policeman and chief unarmed combat instructor at the Tokyo police academy. Since a child, he had studied in various Jiu-Jitsu schools (mainly Kodokan judo), as well as the art of Shorinji Kempo. He later combined his knowledge with his police perspective on modern street fighting situations, to form his own style which he called Shorinji Kempo Jiu-Jitsu.
Shihan Brian Graham Matthew Komp, a highly graded practitioner of Judo, Aikido and Karate, studied Jiu-Jitsu under Mura's tutelage. Komp took Jiu-Jitsu to Australia in the early 1950's, where he founded a school in Footscray, near Melbourne. One of his first students was Brian Graham, a Yorkshireman who later returned to England with a 2nd Dan in Judo as well as a 5th Dan in Jiu-Jitsu. (Since graded to Shihan 6th Dan)
He renamed the style Shorinji Kan Jiu-Jitsu and established the first Samurai Jiu- Jitsu Club in Keighley, Yorkshire. Under the guidance of Brian Graham and Peter Farrah (One of Brian's first students,) the style spread rapidly in Britain. An association was formed called the National Samurai Jiu Jitsu Association, which was renamed The Jitsu Foundation in 1990. Sadly, Peter Farrah passed away in 1997, and Brian Graham passed away in 2005, but the Foundation has continued to grow and now has over 100 clubs in Britain and the rest of the world.