In previous articles I have touched on a bit of both eastern and western philosophy and how they can, directly or indirectly, be used as part of our thinking and martial arts training. This time I am going to be a bit abstract based upon a comment John made at the end of a recent training session. He was comparing karate to jujutsu and likened the two martial arts to snakes and described karate as a viper and jujutsu as a python.
I thought I should Google the spelling of jujutsu (as I hate getting things wrong) and Wikipedia starts with the following –
Jujutsu is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon or only a short weapon.
It then goes on, which may amuse you if you’ve trained with John, to say that –
“Ju” can be translated to mean, “gentle, soft, supple, flexible, pliable or yielding. “Jutsu” can be translated to mean “art”…
Anyway, back to snakes –
Vipers are venomous snakes whereas pythons are constrictors. They may well look the same, or very similar, but they go about catching their prey and defending themselves in different ways.
The viper’s approach to defending itself is to wait until it sees an opening and strike hard and fast, inject their venom, and then retreat to safety knowing that having hit home that’s all it needs to do. Job done, their venom will do the rest. They are, to a certain extent, a prime example of a Japanese phrase related to karate, “Ikken-hissatsu.” I won’t translate that for you, you can look it up if you want to know.
The python’s approach to defending itself is also to wait until it sees an opening and then to strike fast. At this stage it’s tactics differ to those of the viper as the bite is only an “in”, John would call it a sweetener, to allow it to grab hold of its prey so that it can get to grips with them, lock them up and put them in a hold to finish them off. If you go back to the definition of jujutsu above you can see how most of the words could be used to describe a python.
Hopefully the above is an interesting way of comparing the two martial arts. With certain techniques named after animals throughout different martial arts it makes you wonder how much observation and thought has gone in to creating individual styles.