Jutsu vs. Do,

what's the difference?

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Throughout history, warriors of all cultures have trained to fight.  Common citizens trained in basic self defense from thugs, brigands and thieves.  There was little structure or formality to all this, with the exception of formal ranks in the military – generals, captains, lieutenants, etc.  The introduction of Zen into Japan in the 6th century AD was one of the major influences that stimulated more formality into the hierarchy of martial arts systems.

Long story short – the term Jutsu means a practical fighting system.  It also included the concept, with the introduction of Zen, of more formally training as a warrior to develop a mindset where one accepts one’s death before heading to battle.  Thus, for well over 1,300 years, martial training throughout Asia included the practical fighting training as well as the mental and spiritual training of the Way of the Warrior.  

A term closely related to Justsu is "Jitsu".  This term carries very subtle differences that mean something a little closer to "Do", than to Jutsu.

Much later, with the restoration of the Meiji Emperors to running Japan, the elimination of the Shoguns and a vast decrease in the importance of traditional Samurai families, the martial arts morphed to be more about training the mind and spirit, and less about actual combat.  The modern form of the various arts have often greatly reduced, or completely eliminated, the jitsu fighting applications, keeping only the “Do” aspects – training the body, mind and spirit.

These “Do” based arts became the norm.  “Do” is the Japanese form of the Chinese word Dao, or Tao, which means “The Way” – in the case of the martial arts it alludes specifically to the Way of the Warrior mentioned above.  Thus, we now have Karate-Jutsu and Karate-Do; Ken-Jitsu and Ken-Do, Ju-Jitsu and Ju-Do, and so on.  

Most martial arts taught in the US today are derived from “Do” forms of the art, which may never have even contained the original Jitsu aspects of that art.  This school, Aiki-Kime Ryu Karate-Jutsu, is a full, Jutsu art, which includes the fighting aspects as well as the mental and spiritual aspects of martial training.