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Is A Belt Rank Curriculum Necessary for Taiho-Jutsu?

As noted in previous articles written for Arresting Solutions, there is a definite difference between the Taiho-Jutsu course and the more complete curriculum leading to various levels of both Kyu and Dan ranking.  Climbing from White Belt up the ladder is a special experience, one better felt and lived than spoken of.  It effects life changes in many areas, and gives one a sense of self-confidence reflecting in a broad spectrum of a person's life.  One's journey is made easier and more joyous.  In terms of one's effectiveness in self-defense, the wide array of techniques allow the practitioner many options to choose from when confronting a threatening assailant.  For the officer in any branch of law-enforcement, greater proficiency means increased odds of survival.

With all the positive aspects of the Kyu/Dan curriculum and training can provide, the question here is, is the complete curriculum really necessary at all, or could Taiho-Jutsu be well enough served with just the course?  Allow me to present a personal example.  I began my martial arts training with a basic course in self-defense, went on to the Taiho-Jutsu course, and followed that with the complete Kyu/Dan curriculum.  The Shihan of the dojo was a product of the S.A.C. program, as well as a JuJutsu Rokudan.  His movements were lightning fast, his technique flawless, and his knowledge encyclopedic.  However, Lent Shihan was not the instructor I initially began my studies with.  My first instructor was a man named John Daley, a blond, 5'10" gentleman with a stereotypical All-American look.  He was the only instructor in the entire organization who knew and taught only the Taiho-Jutsu course.  His moves were crisp, precise, and polished, and he possessed a true understanding of the underlying principles and concepts of Taiho-Jutsu.  Even after I moved onward and upward in Taiho-Jutsu and JuJutsu rank, and offered to teach him some of the techniques, he refused, being happy and content with the Taiho-Jutsu course alone.  I have no doubts that he could and would use his knowledge most effectively in a survival situation.


In teaching the Taiho-Jutsu course, there were no uniforms required.  There was no ritual, no ceremony, just a group of students eager to learn and sweat a little.  The dojo had a guarantee, that if a student did not complete the course satisfactorily to him/herself and/or the instructor, the student would be taught at no cost until it was properly learned.  With these parameters, those who ultimately completed the course "looked good"  What then is the secret of "looking good" without the benefit of the complete curriculum?

The student must believe in the course itself, i.e., believe that the techniques offered are scientifically sound and street effective.  S/he must believe in the instructor's ability to professionally impart the knowledge, to encourage the student, and to explain each move so that his/her belief in the course itself is strengthened.  Finally the student must believe in him/herself, in his/her ability to not merely learn the course, but like the above mentioned John Daley, to "live" the course, to know that s/he will execute the techniques with excellent posture and grace, and with swift taisabaki always a companion.  All of this is accompanied by the understanding of why a given techniques works best in a given situation, and how the principles may be applied to other situations.  Last but not least, one recalls the infamous question, when a person stopped for directions and asked, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall"?  The response was, "Practice, practice, practice".

Is the Kyu/Dan curriculum then necessary for one studying and training in Taiho-Jutsu? No, not really.  However, after studying, practicing, and teaching for over 40 years, I can attest as to how sweet the Kyu/Dan icing is on the basic course cake.  

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