The term Jūjutsu dates back to around the 1630s. However the techniques with the characteristics of what would come to be associated with jūjutsu can be found in early writings in Japan with reference back to the year 23 B.C. during the Yayoi period.
As a classical fighting art in Japan, jūjutsu can be defined as: “A method of close combat, either unarmed or employing minor weapons, that can be used in defensive or offensive ways, to subdue one or more unarmed or armed opponents”.
A simple translation of the two Japanese characters is Jū: gentleness, suppleness, flexibility, yielding; and Jutsu: (often spelt and pronounced jitsu) art, technique, or skill.
In more modern times since the late 1800s and early 1900s and with the introduction of jūjutsu to the Western World the focus shifted towards emphasizing jūjutsu as a gentle art, a system of self defence, and a system of physical education. Notable forms of endeavour that developed from jujutsu during these times include both Kōdōkan jūdō and aikidō.