Development of Unarmed Techniques and Aikijujutsu
By degrees, unarmed combat techniques developed into different systems and styles (ryu). The varying battlefield situations and technical requirements of feudal warfare led to the establishment of various ryu which were controlled by, and passed down through, the large powerful families. One of these systems was aikijujutsu. It is not completely clear where Aiki techniques originated, but the Aiki system is said to have originated with Prince Teijun, the 6th son of Emperor Seiwa (850-880); it was passed on to succeeding generations of the Minamoto family. By the time the art reached Shinra Saburo Yoshimitsu, the younger brother of the Yishite Minamota, it seems that the foundations of modern Aikido had already been laid.
Yoshimitsu was a man of exceptional learning and skill, and it is said that he devised much of his technique by watching a spider skilfully trap a large insect in its fragile web. His house, Daito mansion, has given its name to his system of Aikijujutsu, which came to be called Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu.
Yoshimitsu’s second son lived in Takeda, in the province of Kai, and his family became known by the Takeda. Subsequently, the techniques of Daito Ryu were passed on to successive generations as secret techniques of the Takeda house and were made known only to family members and retainers. When Kunitsugu Takeda moved to Aizu in 1574, the techniques came to be known as Aizu-todome (secret techniques).
During the 16th century, Japan was embroiled in civil wars. Each feudal lord (daimyo) struggled to maintain a powerful, independent position within the country. In order to do so, each daimyo had to create a stable, unified force of his own, which required a very strong bond between the Lord and his Bushi. Bushido, the code of the Samurai, encouraged the development of combat techniques; along with qualities of justice, benevolence, politeness and honour; above all, it inculcated the idea of supreme loyalty to Lord and cause.
It was during this period of independence and feudal isolation that combat forms developed into the numerous ryu.
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