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Concepts in Taiho-Jutsu

The police officer in the street faces more challenges today than ever before. All too often, s/he is confronted by individuals posing a threat in a myriad of ways, many times with a weapon. As in most areas of life, the martial arts have two primary components: the physical and the psychological. Both need to be in operation to maximize the effectiveness of the given art. To elaborate, we note, from the psychological perspective, there are three basic phases of a conflict: the preventive, the preemptive, and the reactive. In the preventive, the officer recognizes that the individual's intent is hostile, or may soon escalate to that point. It is at this stage that the officer must assume a posture which will assure his/her own security. In the preemptive, the officer will seek to neutralize the attack before it is launched. This may be seen in instances where, during the course of an escalating argument in the preventive stage, a weapon is reached for by the suspect. The reactive stage finds the officer reacting almost instinctively immediately after the attack has begun.

In all the examples above, the officer may best face the threatening scenarios with a variety of approaches and defenses, combining the psychological and the physical in the utilization of the following concepts: Awareness; Observation; Distance; Taisabaki; Off-Balancing; Application. Let us elaborate on these.

• Awareness is the first step, which includes the awareness of the situation as well as the intensity of the officer's focus on the challenge at hand.


• Observation means that the focus is not to any one area of the assailant, but to the entire scope of the attacker's movements. Our peripheral vision allows this to happen, even though we may be looking “only” at the assailant's hands or chest.

• Distance further allows the officer to place him/herself in the proper range for defense, given the specifics of the attack. This includes a spatial awareness, where the officer is able to create, maintain, invade, and control space to effectively execute the necessary defenses.

• Taisabaki, or body movement and reaction, allows the officer to get out of the line of attack. This vital aspect of Taiho-Jutsu cannot be overemphasized.

• Off-Balancing involves both physically and mentally breaking the attacker's balance and concentration. In doing so, the officer does not allow the attacker to recover prior to the officer's execution of his/her own defense.

• Application sees the execution and successful completion of the officer's defense.

While effectiveness in the street certainly takes in many factors, if these basic concepts are absorbed mentally and translated and applied physically, officer safety and proficiency will surely increase.

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