Jujutsu (柔術) means "Gentle or Yielding or Compliant art". It is a Japanese martial art whose central ethos is to yield to the force provided by an opponent's attack in order to apply counter techniques from the resultant ensuing situation. There are many ryu (styles) of the art which leads to a diversity of approaches. Jujutsu ryu may utilize all techniques to some degree, for example, Throwing, Trapping, Locking, Holding Down, Grappling, Gouging, Biting, Disengagements, Strike, and Kicking.

Generally jujutsu ryu make limited use of strikes since they were predominantly developed in feudal Japan under the auspices of the samurai warrior class. The techniques evolved to become effective against armed opponents wearing bamboo body armour to protect vital parts of the face, throat, and body. In addition to jujutsu, many schools taught the use of weapons.

Fighting forms have existed in Japan for centuries. The first references to such unarmed combat arts or systems can be found in the earliest purported historical records of Japan, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), which relate the mythological creation of the country and the establishment of the Imperial family.

Methods of combat included striking (kicking and punching), throwing (body throws, joint-lock throws, unbalance throws), restraining (pinning, strangulating, grappling, wrestling) and weaponry.

Defensive tactics included blocking, evading, off balancing, blending and escaping. Minor weapons such as the tanto (dagger), ryufundo kusari (weighted chain), kabuto wari (helmet smasher), and kakushi buki (secret or disguised weapons) were almost always included in Jujutsu.

Jujitsu is known for its joint locks, restraining and self-defense techniques. Major categories of jujutsu techniques include, but are not limited to:

Joint locks can be applied on anything that bends, such as fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders or knees. Application of locks might include gaining purchase for throwing techniques or restraining an aggressor (such techniques are taught to police forces). Locks can also be utilised for interrogation/torture or controlling a prisoner prior to securing him using rope.

This includes gi-chokes or strangulations with the lapel, and no-gi. This technique is used primarily to kill or knock unconscious. In combat, a choking technique might permanently dissociate the windpipe from the ligament supporting it, causing death by asphyxiation. Strangulation techniques may also be used for non-lethal subduing of an opponent. Fully blocking the blood-flow to the brain will knock an opponent unconscious in 3 to 7 seconds. To kill by strangulation would take over a minute before brain death occurs. In Jujutsu there are many counters to choking or strangling attacks. This has lead to Jujutsu's popularity in self-defence applications.

Strikes are generally taught, though the specific strike preferences vary by system. In Jujutsu all known striking techniques are available as tools, nothing is excluded by doctrine. It is the application of those tools that distinguishes between different systems of Jujutsu.

It is important to realise that Jujutsu systems tend not to concentrate on elaborate striking techniques because samurai armour reduced the effectiveness of such techniques in combat.Jujutsu emphasises the control of an opponent's balance, and therefore most systems of Jujutsu do not advocate any kicks targeted above the solar plexus. It is reasoned that such kicking techniques compromise one's own balance. Such logic is also central to many striking systems and also advocated by modern day famous martial arts exponents such as Bruce Lee (despite including many extravagant high kicks in his own movie choreography).

Throwing techniques discovered by the Chinese/ancient Greek/Indian systems were utilised by the Japanese because they were useful in unarmed combat against samurai in armour. If one were disarmed in the course of combat, such throwing techniques were one's last defence and could be used to floor an armed opponent prior to disarming him. Limited grappling might ensue, but often victory was secured using smaller weapons such as knives.

Biting, Gouging, Poking and Grasping techniques were developed to gain advantage over an opponent using sneaky methods. Often such techniques were used in counters or defensive situations whilst grappling.

Biting targets include the ears, nose and the fingers/hand. Biting can be used against bear hug attacks, or in grappling situations on the ground where one can affect release from a grip by maiming the attackers fingers, hand or face.

Gouging techniques can be applied to the eyes or genital areas to cause distraction by pain. Gouging can be used in an attacking or defensive situation. Gouging the eyes can be utilised to control the balance of the opponent.

Poking pressure points or the eyes is mostly used as defensive measures prior to counters. Poking is useful in both stand-up defences against grabs of various kinds, or against an opponent whilst grappling. It is a vital skill for combat grappling, as often it is the only defence option left if the opponent is dominating the fight. Poking methods include the fingers and knuckles. Often, rings were worn as weapons for use in poking.

Grasping or nipping is useful in defence or attack. Targets include the groin, or any parts of the body that contain sensitive areas. Sensitive areas include hair, ears, breasts, nipples, and skin on the inside of the thigh. Applications include distraction, as a tool for breaking balance, causing pain for control purposes, escape from pins and locks, and torture.

Atemi is the art of striking pressure points or physiological targets in order to affect kuzushi (the art of breaking balance) or to incapacitate an opponent. As opposed to biting, gouging, poking or grasping, atemi is the art of striking the human body in order to cause specific physiological effect for various applications.

Take-down are distinguished from throws in that a take-down is effected using physical strength or body weight to drag an opponent to the floor, or to strike an opponent, thus taking them to the floor. A take-down may result after a successful clinch in which the opponent’s legs and/or arms are trapped preventing him from retreat. To floor the opponent without the use of kuzushi (the art of breaking balance), means brute force over skill or technique. One may break balance, but not by skilLful manipulation of the opponent's motion, rather the forced constriction of movement followed by physically overcoming the opponent.

The important distinction is that a throw is affected by minimum physical strength and maximum use of kuzushi. A take-down often uses a lot of physical strength, and there is no art to the method of breaking balance.