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Taiho-Jutsu vs. "Close Quarter Combat"

Prior to proceeding with this article, a definition and clarification of terms is necessary. When we speak of Taiho-Jutsu, we are referring to the short course developed in Japan in 1947, along with the modifications made in the 1960s, and taught in its basic form until the present day. Close quarter combat is a generic term used for the taiho-style systems other than that referred to above. Many names are used by many instructors to market their versions of "the art of arresting techniques". Some of the courses are impressive and have merit, others are laughable in the sense that it is clearly obvious that martial artists of a specific discipline combined techniques from other arts and marketed them as original, and "deadly". Please note— neither Taiho-Jutsu nor close quarter combat should be equated with Combative Measures. This will be covered in a future article.

A danger in penning an article such as this is that the reader may wonder about a natural bias, i.e., whatever the author learned from his instructor is certainly the best system out there. Please indulge me as I briefly attempt to dispel that natural reaction. I began martial arts training with a basic course in self-defense in 1967, moved on to the Taiho-Jutsu course, and then on to the study of the complete art. My current rank in Taiho-Jutsu is Sandan. Additionally, I hold Sandan rank in Japanese JuJutsu, and a certificate as a Master Instructor in (unarmed) Police Tactics from a system other than Taiho-Jutsu. Although not holding Yudansha rank, I have trained in Isshinryu and Goshin-do Kempo Karate, as well as Tae Kwon Do. This illustrates that I do have background in more than just the Taiho-Jutsu system mentioned at the start of this article.

In evaluating the better systems of close quarter combat to Taiho-Jutsu, I've noted some very basic differences. To begin with, taisabaki, the proper use of body movement to place one out of the line of attack, is often missing in other systems. Frequently, hands wielding weapons are blocked, not only without the use of taisabaki, but without taking into consideration that even after a block, a weapon will either still continue on its path toward the target, or may drop out of the attackers hand into the defender's head or body.


A vital principle of Taiho-Jutsu is that the defense must work "all the time", i.e., regardless of your or the attacker's size, strength, or height, whether standing, sitting, or on the ground. The most common example to illustrate this is the front finger (or “no collar”) choke. There are many variations of the defense around. Some rely on strength, others on stepping back, some on head movements. In all of these examples, if the attacker is stronger, has longer arms, has an obstacle between him and you preventing any kicks, if the officer is up against a wall or on his/her back and can't step back, the defenses will not prove effective. One can argue that multiple defenses may be learned. That is not the philosophy or the purpose of the Taiho-Jutsu course. Not all in law enforcement are tall, muscular, and at the peak of their physical fitness. The techniques must be the proven, "high percentage" techniques which will work almost always.

I recently came across an evaluation of an interesting training tool. It's a training knife which can be programmed to deliver an electric shock of varying intensities when it strikes a defender's body. The write-up stated that commonly taught knife defense techniques from many systems were not even attempted when the defender knew s/he could be shocked. Close quarter combat techniques which may work in training, sometimes taught by those who have never had to use them in life or death situations, were abandoned.

As a result of the above observations, made over the course of 40 years of Taiho-Jutsu and unarmed Police Tactics training, I've come to the conclusion that there is still no superior system of "the art of arresting techniques" than the Taiho-Jutsu course, taking into consideration the ease of learning, officer safety, and effectiveness of techniques.

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