History of Ketsugo JuJutsu

JU (gentle, soft, to give way) JUTSU (art, technique)


Jujutsu, the art of gentleness, is one of the oldest forms of hand-to-hand combat in Japan.  Records of Jujutsu date back over 2000 years.  The ancient art was spawned from combat systems of warfare that were originally exclusive to various types of weaponry.  Among some of the weapons used were the long sword (katana), the spear (yari), the weighted chain (manriki kuzuri), various wooden staves (bo and jo), and the dagger (tanto).  These systems of combat were primarily, but not exclusively taught, learned, and used by the Samurai, a high class of warriors who at one time were the rulers of Japan.


Over the years, the ryu, or schools, where Jujutsu  was taught, were passed down from generation to generation.  The battlefield art thrived throughout the violent and tumultuous history of Japan.  Since Jujutsu was strictly a combative art contests were rare, and those that did occur were often decided by the death or the crippling of one if not both of the participants.


In the mid 1850’s Japanese culture was forever changed when Commodore Perry's visit exposed the former isolationist country to a much greater world.  Thereafter, Japan began opening its ports to the United States and other countries of the West.  Great changed swarmed the islands of Japan. 


Under the Meiji Restoration in 1868 Imperial rule was restored, replacing the feudal warring society of the past that had been dominated by the Samurai.  As peace presided over the lands of Japan the need for the great Samurai  warriors ceased to exist and with the Samurai’s decay came a swift decline in all martial arts.  The Japanese government did not formally prohibit the practice of martial arts, but its people were not encouraged to pursue or learn them as the State’s importance took precedence over the individual.  Inevitably, Jujutsu became a forgotten art. 


What was for centuries the ultimate grandeur of the Samurai and the country’s umbilical cord for survival during the most chaotic times became shunned, and many renowned schools of Jujutsu vanished.  Many Samurai  felt as though their country had abandoned them and others, who were aware of the true power of Jujutsu, began fearing that the fighting art could be learned by outsiders and used against them. 


From this upheaval many schools immediately disappeared as a result of the new socio-political environment in Japan.  Some comprehensive systems became fragmented and were strategically dismantled into less effective arts to prevent Westerners from learning the secrets of Jujutsu’s inner teachings.  Other ryus went underground as means of weathering the new order.  As more and more schools died out those that remained were treasured by their keepers. 


By 1882 Professor Jigoro Kano, a student of the sword and many different schools of Jujutsu, further developed Japanese martial arts by creating Kudokan Judo.  Sanctioned by the Japanese government to reform Jujutsu, Kano’s sport off-shoot enabled students to spar at full-speed and compete against one another without the crippling injuries and fatalities of its parent art.  Kano promoted “the way of gentleness” to the public as a means of physical exercise, physical education, and self-defense.  As its popularity grew Judo was taught to the Japanese police and army and it spread through the Japanese school systems.  Kano also began sending many of his top students on far journeys to promote Judo throughout the world.  



In the early 1900’s one of Kano’s top students, Mitsuyo Maeda, traveled to Brazil and taught Judo to Carlos Gracie, who was interested in bare knuckle fighting and boxingGracie further modified the techniques he learned from Maeda to meet the demands of one-on-one "no rules" brawls.  To further increase its effectiveness, Carlos Gracie and his family refined this new system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which primarily consisted of grappling and ground fighting, through countless open challenge matches.  To this day Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is still one of the most dominant arts in various “no holds barred” mixed martial arts tournaments such as the UFC and Pride competitions. 


Around the same time when Kano began sending his students to traverse the globe Morihei Ueshiba, a practitioner of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu, was inspired to create Aikido, the way of harmony.  This sport and spiritual adaptation of the battlefield art of Jujutsu, stressed the importance of connecting the body, the mind, and the spirit. The ultimate goal of Aikido was to realize one’s true self by becoming one with the opponent and the universe not through brute force, but through non-resistance, ki, and love for humanity. 


Jigoro Kano was so impressed by Ueshiba that he often sent his own students to study under the Aikido master.  From his work with the Japanese military and police academies, Ueshiba received many honors from the government for his high level of martial skill.  There are numerous accounts of Ueshiba at barely five feet tall simultaneously throwing dozens of men and pinning opponents without touching them.  For those who witnessed Ueshiba, many claim that he was one of the greatest martial artist who ever lived. 



In 1951 Harold Brosious, an American who had studied Jujutsu throughout his life, formulated a mixture of principles and concepts from various schools of Jujutsu.  He combined these principles with those of Judo, Aikido, Karate, Boxing, Wrestling, and hand-to-hand combat.  From all these principles came the term “Ketsugo”  which means to combine or mix.


Later in his career Brosious was responsible for teaching military "Frogmen," who were the predecessors of today's  Navy Seals. Currently, Harold Brosious resides in Texas and continues to teach and study.


In the 1980’s Ketsugo Jujutsu was further developed by Sensei Peter Freedman through his comprehensive background in various martial arts and his real life experiences on the streets of the South End of Boston.  Freedman aspired to teach a spiritual martial art that utilized the ancient battlefield art of the Samurai  in a modern day urban setting.  Whether standing or defending from the ground Freedman stressed the importance of mobility and, if possible, not clashing or becoming a prisoner to one’s opponents so one could practically defend against all weapons of the street – knives, chains, baseball bats, and machetes.



Concerned that many martial artists were merely memorizing fossilized katas, dead techniques, or positional strategies, Freedman sought to teach students the underlying principles of Jujutsu so they could become more effective martial artists and gain a deeper understanding of martial science. 


Just as every master at one time formulated his or her own techniques and individual style of martial arts, to this day Sensei Freedman guides his students to do the same.  Memorization and mimicry do not foster the realization of one’s highest abilities and greatest potential.  In light of this premise Freedman’s revolutionary teaching approach empowers students to instinctively create situation appropriate techniques and counters of their own.  This insight also gives students the ability to perceive the strengths and weaknesses of all techniques, even from styles or arts that are unfamiliar.  As a result of this systematic teaching method, students gain effective martial skill at an unprecedented pace.


Sensei Freedman believes that serious students of budo, or, the way of the warrior, must be able to defend themselves in all situations from stairwells to phone booths to automobiles to single assailants to multiple armed attackers.  Just as the Samurai had to be prepared to face absolutely anything in combat so, too, should the modern day warrior.  The student should know how to use everything around him or her as lethal weapons – including the bodies of one’s attackers. 


Balance, creativity, and adaptability are the essence of Freedman’s Method Ketsugo Jujutsu.





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“I didn’t create Ketsugo Jujutsu:  That was done over a span of 2000 years.  What I did was create a format for teaching it.  I am very proud of my students’ accomplishments in their own lives as well as their ability to handle bad situations, which some have faced.”


Sensei Peter Freedman