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Taiho-Jutsu & Kodokan Goshin Jutsu—
Two Sides of The Same Coin?

by Steven J. Kaplan

When discussing Taiho-Jutsu in this article, what is referred to is the course developed in Japan in 1947, through the evolution that took place until the mid-1960s. It is at that time Aikido and Karate were added to the curriculum that was primarily comprised of Judo. At that time as well, the classes were being held at the Kodokan, and there were masters of various arts teaching select American servicemen the system. (Note: this is not to negate the validity or legitimacy of other instructors teaching a myriad of systems they call Taiho-Jutsu. It simply means that this article is not about those systems or styles.)

The Taiho-Jutsu program we're speaking of had, as a prime objective, the teaching of "high-percentage" movements, i.e., those techniques that were easily learned, could be adapted to a wide variety of situations, and provided a high degree of safety for the officer. The program consisted of blocks, strikes, take-downs, restraints, come-alongs, and searching techniques. The use of the club in different forms was additionally included. For those who trained in that system, or those fortunate enough to have been trained by those who were in that program, only the highest praise has been allotted.

Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu is an interesting phenomenon, needing clarification and definition. The Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu that we know and refer to today is a series of twenty-one self-defense techniques against armed and unarmed assailants. It was formally created in 1956 by a board of experts at the Kodokan, although Tomiki Sensei is said to have been the "mastermind" behind the system. Erroneously, Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu is often called Goshin- Jutsu No Kata. This is erroneous because Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu is not a kata.



Its purpose was to update the Kime No Kata, the Kodokan self-defense kata in place at that time, comprised primarily of techniques from Sosuishi Ryu and Tenshin-Shinyo Ryu. The justification and criteria for establishing Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu was that it had to be appropriately updated and distinctly different from Kime No Kata, as well as from its predecessors, the two older Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu (Ippon Yo, and Fu Joshi).

The Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu program taught in the '40s – '60s was more extensive than the twenty-one techniques we see today. Included in the program were Renkoho techniques, i.e. control and come-along techniques specifically designed for the police officer. These techniques too, were eventually dropped by the Kodokan, and today, the Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu remains a self-contained, 21 technique mini-system of self-defense.

Given the above history, can we conclude that Taiho-Jutsu and the original Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu programs were essentially two sides of the same coin? It seems the answer is a qualified "yes". Both have defenses against armed and unarmed assailants, both have techniques made up of blocks, strikes, takedowns, restraints, and come-alongs, and both were designed to be a limited "course" as opposed to ongoing, belt ranking systems. The major difference seems to be that while Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu remains virtually unchanged since its 1956 creation, Taiho-Jutsu evolves as necessary. While back in the '40s, '50s, and '60s they were virtually identical, conceptually and technique-wise they still appear to be two sides of the same coin, despite the changes and differences noted above.

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