Our Legacy

The History of the AJA

The American JuJitsu Association was founded in 1972 for the purpose of bringing different ryu (styles) of the art together in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and respect. Since that time it has grown from two dojos to approximately 30, plus international affiliates. The AJA has established itself as a reputable organization within the martial arts community, and it works closely with other major jujitsu organizations in the United States and internationally in areas of mutual concern. The founder was recognized by Black Belt Magazine as Black Belt of the Year in 2011.

The AJA is the United States representative for a number of international organizations.

The AJA is a non-profit amateur athletic association registered with both the state of California and the United States government [IRS code 501(c)(3)]. To our knowledge the AJA is the only martial arts organization in the U.S. that is classified in this manner as an amateur athletic association. The AJA supports a variety of safe competitive formats for a full-spectrum martial art that basically is not a sport. The AJA also issues certificates of rank to qualified members who meet the criteria of their particular ryu.

The AJA Today

The American Ju-Jitsu Association (or AJA) is comprised of a wide range of different ryu (styles) of ju (or jiu, gentle or flexible) jitsu (art) JujitsuChar. To see how wide our net is cast, just scroll through our Directory page (link above)! Each ryu brings its own unique character, and each contributes a positive influence to the martial arts community as a whole. Ju-jitsu (which is also transliterated as Jujitsu, Jujutsu, and Jiu-Jitsu) is the most ancient martial art, with evidence of its existence found as far back as 2000 years ago. It encompasses most elements of more recent break-off arts such as Karate, Judo, and Aikido, among others. Ju-jitsu is a superset of all of these and much more. The emphasis in Ju-jitsu is always extreme practicality: Does a technique work for you, for your particular training background, and for your physiology? If so, then it should be part of your self-defense tool-kit. If you wouldn’t be willing to bet your life on it, then focus on other techniques – but learning all of them makes you wiser and more capable.

Ju-jitsu is also highly adaptive. If you have an injury or a physical limitation, you are not excluded – you simply adapt the huge self-defense tool-kit available to you (Prof. Kirby lists over 800 separate techniques in his Big Book). A short person generally finds it easier to execute a koshi-nage (hip throw) on a taller person than the other way around, which might seem to be a disadvantage for tall people. Instead of viewing it as a limitation, however, a logical adaptation would be for a taller person to perfect an ippon-seio-nage, a one-arm hip-throw, or tai-otoshi, a basic drop-throw. Do you have an injured knee or other problem? Practicing the full range of techniques with that injury risks a cumulative injury – you could make the problem worse. Instead, ADAPT, and focus on techniques that work for YOU. There is even a wide range of techniques that can be used from a sitting position, including virtually all pressure-point attacks. Ju-jitsu is the self-defense system for almost everyone.

In our Directory, you will find a large and ever-growing number of schools in the USA and all over the world. The AJA’s instructors are dedicated professionals who have devoted much of their lives to the discipline of mind, body, and spirit. Their programs stimulate the student’s ability to learn and can enable you to develop all the skills necessary for real personal safety through awareness and self-defense.

If you hold a black belt in Ju-jitsu and find yourself searching for an organization to belong to, the AJA can help. We invite you to read further and to consider a membership in our family of dedicated teachers and trainers.

Why Join the AJA?

The American Jujitsu Association offers students and senseis a remarkable array of benefits, including but not limited to the following:

The AJA is a national organization dedicated to furthering the art of jujitsu, which means that it includes traditional Japanese dojos and modern styles that may involve amateur competition in various formats. In addition, the AJA is closely allied with a number of international martial arts organizations that work closely with one another to advance the Art.

AJA certifies the promotions you make, and the promotions are recognized by all other AJA dojos, as well as internationally. This means that a student can move from one AJA dojo to another without losing rank. It also provides nationally recognized certification that enables your black belts to teach at other dojos or set up their own dojos. This helps you grow the art by creating “daughter schools” of your own.

AJA dojo membership provides insurance coverage – liability insurance for you, your instructors, and your dojo, as well as secondary medical insurance for your students in case of an in-class injury. To be eligible for the insurance, all students in your dojo must be registered as AJA members, and concussion training is required for all instructors. This training can be obtained for free online

The AJA is a low-cost, high benefit organization. The annual registration fee for dojos is just $25, and for individual members it is $20. The first-year of dojo registration is free. AJA certification of mudansha promotions costs just $8; shodan and nidan certifications are $15; and sandan and above are $20. The many benefits are outlined here.

The AJA offers steep discounts on gi’s, belts, and other martial arts equipment.

The AJA maintains an efficient website, with one-stop shopping for you to gather information, register students, renew your dojo registration, and order promotion certificates. Payment can be made with a credit card through PayPal, or by check if you choose. On this website you can maintain student ranks and email addresses.

The AJA offers FREE black belts to all registered AJA students who earn their shodan rank under you as a sensei. Each belt is embroidered with the student’s name on one end and “American Jujitsu Association” on the other.

AJA sponsors jujitsu seminars and competitions each year. Each region holds one of these events (shiais) annually, as do other AJA dojos.

Budoshin Yudanshakai, the dojo of AJA founder George Kirby, hosts an annual 3-day summer camp in Los Angeles in August for brown belts and black belts, as well as a Camp Budoshin gathering every October for ALL styles of martial arts, where high-level leaders in other martial arts (for example, Karate, Judo, Aikido, Sombo, Taiho-Jutsu) come to teach seminars.

The AJA provides national awards for you, your school, and your students, administered through regional directors.

AJA members receive an up-to-date quarterly newsletter listing national and regional events and discussing aspects of teaching martial arts that will be very helpful to you as a sensei. This newsletter will also list all of your own school’s AJA-certified promotions for a national audience to see.

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