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Caveat Emptor: Are You “Buying” Taiho-Jutsu?

From time to time, I get distracted by links that catch my eye while looking for something else on the internet. Recently, the distraction led to a few videos of “taiho-jutsu”. After clicking on the links to view these videos, my reaction to the first group was disbelief. A group of students and instructors of various rank were demonstrating techniques which included jumping kicks, spinning kicks, flying scissor takedowns to the head, shoulder wheels, sweeps going in-between the opponents legs, and others of this nature. Since they all culminated with some form of restraining technique, the video was labeled as “taiho-jutsu”. Although this particular school was in Russia, one could purchase videos of their program.

The second group of videos had what appeared to be legitimate martial arts techniques demonstrated. It too was labeled a “taiho-jutsu” video, with the name of a style (unknown to me) attached to it. Being interested in what this “new” style was, I ordered a book by the same name to further research the subject. It turns out the book was written by a martial artist claiming a ninth Dan in Hakkoryu JuJutsu from the Hombu in Japan, along with other credentials and accomplishments. This individual combined the techniques of Hakkoryu with others he learned from various sources, and created his brand of “taiho-jutsu”, a system of which is the soke (headmaster of a school of Japanese martial arts).

Following this, I retrieved some books I had packed away which professed to teach “taiho-jutsu techniques”. The first, claiming on the cover to be presenting pre-1882 jujutsu, stated on the back cover that the text’s line drawing were presenting the techniques of “taiho-jutsu” of the Tokyo police. These techniques were certainly not those taught as part of the taiho-jutsu program taught to S.A.C. members who trained in Japan.


A second book also claimed to teach “taiho-jutsu”, and was authored by a well-known and respected karate instructor. In the opinion of this writer, the primary techniques combined karate with some standard restraint and control methods. The book also had chapters on nerve centers, handcuffing, baton and keychain use, and fingerprinting. With the exception of fingerprinting (which is questionable as part of a “taiho-jutsu” curriculum component), the movements did not adhere to the principles and philosophy of traditional taiho-jutsu.

The purpose of relating the above information is to heighten awareness to the public, whether law-enforcement, military, or civilian, of the dangers of accepting a series or a program of self-defense techniques as taiho-jutsu, simply because a book or a video says it is. Caveat Emptor means “let the buyer beware”. It implies a rule of law warning potential purchasers of goods or services that they are not protected during a transaction against failure of the seller(s) to live up to the “bargain” except to the extent the “contract” stipulates. This means that if the seller states s/he is selling a book, tape, or course on taiho-jutsu, and that which is being sold is called by the seller or owner or performer “taiho-jutsu”, it does not have to be the taiho-jutsu as was taught to S.A.C. at the Kodokan in Japan, or today by the U.S.T.J.F.

Things may change in the future with the emergence of “Caveat Venditor”, where the seller is assumed to be more sophisticated than the purchaser, and must bear the responsibility for any less-than-honest transactions. For now, however, Caveat Emptor!

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