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Taiho-Jutsu in illness

by Steven J. Kaplan

There is a saying, "Man plans, God laughs". What this says essentially is that despite the best laid plans people may have, and regardless of what steps may actually have been undertaken to realize those plans, cosmic ooze may hit the fan at some point, and all the planning in the world is negated. This is particularly true when the ooze takes the form of an unexpected illness. It is at times as these that taiho-jutsu’s value is magnified.

To elaborate, approximately five years ago, while in my 50s, the cosmic ooze mentioned covered me from head to toe. As a partial list, I was "blessed" with: arthritis of the spine and hands (I'm no longer able to make a fist of any kind), a relatively rare condition which rendered my muscles so weak that just prior to hospitalization, did not enable me to even lift a cue stick (no known cause, or cure), neuropathy of the legs and feet, and sciatica (a pain in the #*!). With this host of ailments as the tip of the iceberg, one would think that the practice of taiho-jutsu would be, for the most part, impossible. That assumption is only partially true.

Needless to say, the above medical situation renders the active physical practice of taiho-jutsu nearly impossible. While one might think that exercising would be a means to strengthen muscles, in this case it serves as a trigger to worsen the condition, which can ultimately prove fatal. However, there is more to taiho-jutsu, both the complete system and especially the course, than the physical. I've written about the principles of taiho-jutsu in articles for Arresting Solutions on numerous occasions. These principles are not simply rules for physical defense, but concepts for mental and even spiritual defense. "Get Out of the Line of Attack"; "Use Your Most Against His Least". These and other principles provide one with an approach to avoiding possible physical encounters, and in the event they do take place, enhance one's ability to successfully end the situation quickly and effectively. Using one's most against another's least can mean a front snap kick to the attacker's testicles, but it can also mean using one's brain to talk out of even beginning the fight.


Protecting vital areas certainly is obvious for a physical encounter, but it can also mean "confusing" a possible adversary at the very start of an argument, when he sees but does not understand why there is no opening to a vulnerable area on your body, thereby discouraging further thought of attack.

While the principles of taiho-jutsu may protect one in the ways cited above, there may also come a time when the physical encounter is simply unavoidable. Here is where taiho-jutsu’s basic techniques of self- defense, coupled with the principles and concepts, come into play. If a fight is inevitable, even with the defender in some physical pain, one or two or three moves at the very most should end the encounter. Any pain as a result of the execution of techniques felt by the defender can be dealt with afterward. The important thing is the attack was stopped, and the defender was able to return home safely. One of the reasons this was able to happen is the self-confidence taiho-jutsu instills in practitioners. Not merely a self-confidence in one’s physical ability to defend oneself, but a confidence that reflects in all areas of one's life. A self-confidence that says "I can do it; I can not only get past the physical pain but deny it". What this means is that the pain is not being denied, but rather, the potential to allow oneself to become incapacitated by the pain. It goes further by allowing one to draw on that "warrior" inside himself, recalling what was indeed accomplished during training and applying it to nearly any situation. Lastly, when one is ill, it is easy to fall into a pattern and mindset of feeling a lack of self-worth due to the disability. By recalling the sense of accomplishment mentioned, one is able to retain and maintain self-esteem.

We therefore see that those with illnesses, even some quite serious, may truly derive great benefit not just from the actual self-defense techniques of taiho-jutsu, but also from the principles and concepts which are geared to the absolute safety of the defender. It is not merely a physical art par excellence, but of the greatest importance when one suffers with a chronic illness.

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