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The next two and a half centuries (Tokugawa period) were relatively peaceful for Japan. Though they continued to practice, the Samurai as a class, saw little combat, and refined the various martial arts of Kenjutsu, Iai jutsu, Bajutsu, and forms of Jujutsu. Ju is a Chinese word meaning pliable, harmonious, adaptable or yielding, Jutsu means technique. As a collective term applied to all fighting forms, Jujutsu came into existence long after the forms it describes originated. Jujutsu's golden age extended from the late 17th century to the mid 19th century.

As the martial arts and all Japanese culture became strongly influenced by Buddhist concepts, the fighting arts were transformed from combat techniques (Bugei) into 'ways' (Budo), inculcating self-discipline, self-perfection and philosophy. The dimensions of the martial arts expanded beyond the simple objective of killing an enemy to include many aspects of everyday living. Particularly after the decline of the Samurai class, the martial 'techniques' became martial 'ways' and great emphasis was placed upon the study of Budo as a means of generating the moral strength necessary to build a strong and vital society.
At the time, Aikido was known by many names, and remained an exclusively Samurai practice handed down within the Takeda family until Japan emerged from isolation in the Meiji period. The Meiji Revolution (1868) brought not only the return of Imperial supremacy, but also a westernised cultural, political and economic way of life to Japan.
The Bushi, as a class, virtually disappeared under a new constitution that proclaimed all classes equal, but the essence of Bushido, cultivated for many centuries, continued to play an important part in the daily lives of the Japanese. Budo, being less combative and more concerned with spiritual discipline by which one elevates oneself mentally and physically, was more attractive to the common people of every social strata. Accordingly, Kenjutsu became Kendo, Iai jutsu became Iaido, Jojutsu became Jodo and Jujutsu became Judo.

Written by Conrad Howard — November 21, 2012

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