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The Jutte: Traditional Symbol of Taiho-Jutsu

by Steven J. Kaplan

Many people are aware that the jutte is the forerunner of the modern police baton. Police and others in authority used to carry the jutte to show their status. During the times when only samurai were permitted to carry live swords, the jutte, a solid piece of metal with one prong protruding approximately 6"-8" from the base, was used to block and disarm a swordsman. Since the tip was blunt, counters with the jutte were made against pressure points. Restraints and takedowns were utilized in much the same way the 24" or 26" straight baton is used by law enforcement today. Additionally, the jutte could be used to strike in a clubbing manner.

From the above description, it would seem as if the jutte is a good defensive weapon, which could possibly be used by law enforcement today, much the same way the Okinawan tonfa became the side handle police baton now employed by many departments today. However, there's more to this "gentle weapon" than meets the eye. Allow me to relate an early experience with the jutte.

My sensei did not teach the jutte. It was not part of the S.A.C. program at the Kodokan, and the straight wooden baton had long replaced the metal jutte. However, his sensei was a gentleman named Naraki Hara. Born in 1919 into a samurai family, there was not an art or a weapon Hara Soke did not master. Standing approximately 5'8", his build was (is still) slight, but his body hard as a rock. Having heard that my father owned a pharmacy, Hara san one day asked if I was able to


obtain a certain product for his wife. I was able to, and began receiving weekly shopping lists. I would not take money from him, but asked if I could be taught the jutte. He agreed.

I owned a shiny new jutte, purchased at a New York martial arts supply house. Feeling proud, I strutted into the dojo with it, and saw Hara Soke with his jutte in hand. It was one that had been handed down to him from past generations, Nearly twice the length of mine, it was a solid piece of iron with the "shine" and look of a rusty old railroad spike. In awe, I asked if I might hold it, and Hara san said yes. I remember feeling that one needed the strength of Charles Atlas to wield it with two hands. Here was Hara Soke holding it in one hand, doing all types of wrist movements with it.

To be hit or put in a restraining technique was excruciating. To have a muscle caught and twisted in the prong was torture. At one point, I was told to attack Hara Soke with a long WWll bayonet. I did, and was amazed at the catching, disarming, and countering ability of the weapon.

Should the jutte evolve into a modern-day weapon for police, and be incorporated into the taiho-jutsu course? Absolutely not. It takes far too long to be properly trained in its use, and the pain inflicted surpasses what would be legally permissible. I would, however, recommend it be taught as part of the kyu/dan curriculum, at the Black Belt level only, if a qualified sensei can be found to teach this noble weapon.

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