It is but a few years ago that jiu-jitsu was unknown to the Western world. Today the name is understood very generally, in English-speaking countries, to refer to that mysterious art of self-defense by which the Japanese prove antagonists whom it is impossible to defeat in physical encounter. To some extent, too, a little knowledge of this strange art has come to us. Within the next few years it is to be expected that jiu-jitsu will be as well understood by us as boxing is today.
A knowledge of the Japanese art reduces boxing from a science of defense to the status of an excellent exercise. The well-trained jiu-jitsian is able to meet and to defeat the fistic expert at all points.
Few men defeated by a jiu-jitsian are disabled for a period longer than a few moments following defeat. The lacerations and contusions that follow fisticuffs are unknown in Japan, where to disfigure an opponent would be considered a disgrace to the victor. Jiu-jitsu while stern work, is the essence of politeness.
The expert at jiu-jitsu is able to defeat the boxer easily and signally. It follows, therefore, that the blow must have both superior speed and effect.
What, then, are the methods of preliminary training that give these advantages. The Japanese experts themselves differ considerably as to the best methods of bringing the muscles and their governing nerves into the most serviceable condition. Just as jiu-jitsu has been made to evolve into at least a half-dozen distinct though closely related schools of execution, so there are many different ideas among the initiated as to how the body is to be prepared.
Once the muscles have been put in proper responsive condition, there are other demands to be considered. For instance, the Japanese does not strike with his clenched fist, but with the inner or little finger edge of the palm. This edge of the palm, then, must be put in the most favourable trim for severe attack. The edge must be hard - capable of inflicting injury and of enduring sharp concussion.
For training the edge of the hand thus there is a very simple method that calls only for time and patience. Strike the edge of the hand lightly but repeatedly against a wooden or some similar surface. It is never necessary to increase the severity of this training blow, but at least twenty minutes daily should be given to this hardening process. For this no time need be taken from other occupations.
At the same time the parts of the body that are likely to be struck by an opponent must be hardened. This is accomplished most effectively by daily assaults upon these parts of the body. In other words, harden any given part of the body by repeated endurance of the kind of jiu-jitsu attack that would be made upon it. This attack, when made in practice, is not employed with the same severity that would be used in actual, serious combat.
An attack against the solar plexus may be resisted, to some extent, by drawing in the abdomen and tensing its muscles; but this is not all-sufficient. The endurance of light but repeated attacks on the solar plexus will do far more to harden that sensitive spot against actual and vicious attack.
He who is to do well in the mastery of jiu-jitsu must have from the outset a friend with whom he can practise the work continuously and enthusiastically. This practice must be had daily, and must be carried on with as much severity as can be employed without inflicting injury of serious nature. Thus the real work of the committed jiu-jitsian can begin in earnest. Good luck!