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Taiho-Jutsu and Keijutsu: A Comparison

by Steven J. Kaplan

Taiho-Jutsu began as a short course in "the art of arresting".  Special techniques were taken from the many JuJutsu ryus, with the "high percentage" techniques chosen, which would be easiest to learn and retain.  Additionally, they had to provide maximum officer safety, and require a minimum amount of practice time (compared with learning the more complete kyu/dan systems of traditional martial arts).  From its formal beginning in 1947, there have been modifications to the course based on need, and manuals have periodically been revised, but the underlying principles and philosophies of techniques and their implementation remain the same.

Over the years, many systems and courses have come about in the field of police tactics.  There are a myriad of names applied to them, including some who refer to themselves as "Taiho-Jutsu", although they are not based in the Taiho-Jutsu originally taught to S.A.C. personnel.  It is not the purpose here to evaluate the many programs and courses, but rather, to look at one in particular which has a traditional Oriental art base, is actually a police art rather than a blend of arts more appropriate for combative measures, and view similarities and differences to Taiho-Jutsu as taught to S.A.C. combative measures instructors.  That system is called KEIJUTSU ("Police Method").

Keijutsu has its roots and foundation in Aikido.  The founder of this style, Thomas Makiyama, was born in Hawaii in 1928, and amongst other arts, studied Yoshinkan Aikido, ultimately achieving the rank of Hachidan under Yoshinkan's founder, Gozo Shioda.  Before proceeding, a brief look at two variant styles of Aikido will help shed light on explaining Keijutsu.

The first major and significant variation of Ueshiba's Aikido was that formed by Kenji Tomiki.  It was Tomiki's style of Aikido which was taught to S.A.C. personnel in Japan, and emphasized the practical understanding and application of Aikido techniques based on physics and applied kinesiology. 


Further, Tomiki, a Shihan under both Ueshiba and Judo's founder Jigoro Kano, introduced modified competition to his style (not acceptable in Ueshiba's Aikido) feeling this would aid in preparing students for realistic encounters. 

Gozo Shioda, also a senior student of Ueshiba, founded his own style as well, and, as with Tomiki's style, is seen as a "harder" style than Ueshiba's.  Shioda appled his style and techniques to suit the needs of police as the main target group.  Many departments which once taught Tomiki Aikido now teach Shioda Aikido due to this emphasis.

According to one Keijutsu dojo's website, Keijutsu is described as a system of "Police Close Quarter Defensive Tactics", seeking "to provide Police Officers and other law-enforcement related personnel with a small core set of armed and unarmed defensive tactics based upon or complementary/relevant to the martial art of Aikido and related disciplines".  Keijutsu Aikido incorporates circular movement (matui) and proper distancing (maai) into its approach, with techniques flowing "naturally and without force".  Categories of techniques are joint locks, throws, and nerve center points, all designed to keep an opponent constantly off balance and under control.

With this overview in mind, how does it compare with S.A.C. Taiho-Jutsu?  The areas emphasized in Keijutsu are taught in Taiho-Jutsu.  While Keijutsu has blocks, they are the softer blocks found in traditional Aikido, coupled with taisabaki.  Taisabaki is certainly a vital aspect of Taiho-Jutsu, and used extensively.  However, Taiho-Jutsu incorporates a wider variety of blocks, as well as select strikes.  Keijutsu, like traditional Aikido, places great emphasis on hip movements while maintaining a stabilized center of gravity at the lower half of the body.  While hip placement, movement, and control are important to properly execute Taiho-Jutsu techniques, they are not given the same emphasis as in Keijutsu.

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