Jiujutsu is one of the most common bushi skills, and is trained in dojos in many schools of many clans.

However, as it is the art of unarmed combat (or with improvised weapons, but I think this part is less taught by senseis), it implies inevitably unarmed hits/demonstrations among students. So direct physical contact.

However, in the 4th edition rule book, on page 32 it says the following about touching:

Samurai also do not touch in public unless required to by circumstances (e.g. catching someone who is falling, helping up a comrade on the battlefield, treating an injury, and so forth). To touch someone without absolute need, and especially to touch someone in a formal public setting like court, is a serious breach of etiquette.

So how does training work? As it is simply training, I don't think we can call it "absolute need". But most training implies one sensei and, often, many students at the same time. So the context "in public" applies here.

So how does it work? Do they only practice dodging? Do they use lower-rank people as fake adversaries?
Or does the training only consist of theory and repeated movements in the air?


4 Answers 4


Samurai are exempt from certain rules when situation demands it. The do not touch in public rule is not applied during jiujutsu training or duels for obvious reasons. Similarly, the taboo against touching dead flesh/blood/etc.. is not applied during battles and duels where blood is expected because, well, things would be very awkward otherwise.

There may be some exceptions, however. During public demonstrations and contests of Jiujutsu, with crowd whose sensibilities could be hurt by such nuances, Jiujutsu practitioners may be required to try to respect the taboo and limit themselves to grab the opponent from their clothes and such. Usually this applies to styles of Jiujutsu that focus heavily on projections rather than direct strikes, and even then, certain flexibility is always observed. More aggressive styles,like the ones developed by the Crab clan for example, usually ignore this completely, but again, demonstrations of combat using those styles are not often done for the purposes of entertaining a crowd. At least, not the type of crowd whose sensibility would be hurt so easily.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are also rituals for cleansing and purifying yourself. Samurai would likely have post-training cleansing rituals, much like they have post-battle cleansing rituals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mickle
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mickle Cleansing rituals arem mostly for the direst taboo, touching dead flesh, because it is believed that the act may pollute a samurai soul. Touching another samurai is a serious breach of etiquette, but only when the situation warrant it. After training, "cleansing and purification" require only taking a bath. \$\endgroup\$
    – MACN
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:34

The lack of touching is intended for polite society. When you're standing in line at the store, or out to dinner, you don't just start touching people. However, when you're at a martial arts dojo you can practice blocking and striking with your fellow students. The same social contract applies for Rokugan.

Additionally, they can train in kata. Kata are sets of maneuvers that mimic the jiujitsu moves and those are what are typically performed in public.

Lastly, in each of the elemental books they discuss a specific style of martial art (e.g. Kaze-do) that all have tournaments to some extent. As long as they follow the protocol for respect to their fellow competitors and judges, it's all considered part of the event.


In a dojo, they are behind closed doors and surrounded by other warriors. It's a private area. So I don't think that should be considered in public. It'd be very different if they were at a palace, or out in town.


Another possibility is the training may actually limit contact during sparring. Some real world martial arts dojo practice kumite (sparring) without protective pads by requiring the students to exercise enough control to stop the strike before contact is made. None of the schools I have personally studied (student of Taekwondo, Shotokan karate, and Yoseikan Aikido for 25 years) have practiced in this way, but I have seen others that have.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't jiujitsu involve throws and control moves that require grabbing? Agree with Taekwondo, we had some sparring sessions where that control of the blow was emphasized (but this was 40 years ago...) By the way, Welcome to RPG.SE! Please take the tour and visit the help center to get a feel for this Q&A site's method of operation. Happy Gaming!:-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 15:19

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