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The "Lost" Police Techniques of Sosuishiryu Jujutsu

One of the koryu, or classical styles of JuJutsu, is Sosuishiryu (also pronounced Sosuishitsuryu). The first exposure this writer had with the style was viewing a mokuroku (Dan) certificate on the wall of the dojo I trained at with my primary sensei. Although he held Rokudan in a different style of JuJutsu, that Sosuishiryu certificate was there, creating curiosity amongst the students. When questioned about the style, the Shihan would say that it was a "gentler" style than the one we were training in. After researching the style for a few years after those early days, it seemed to me that the curriculum was almost identical to Judo. It was not until 2006 that I made contact with a Sosuishiryu sensei in Japan who explained aspects of the style I had not known before. He explained some historical aspects of the system that he learned from a Shihan at the Sosuishiryu Hombu in Japan, and told me about a specific connection to select police techniques within the ryu, which appears below.

As a very brief history, with focus on the style's relationship to law-enforcement, Sosuishiryu's founder, Masaaki Futagami, was a student of his family's JuJutsu style, Futagami-ryu, as well as what many consider to be the first formal JuJutsu system, Takeuchi-ryu (also pronounced Takenouchi-ryu). He eventually settled in Fukuoka, where he was given a position as bodyguard to high ranking officials of the area. Deciding that the techniques he had learned were not perfectly suited to his job, he combined the two systems, siphoning and modifying techniques, and after much practice, created his own style which he named, Sosuishiryu. While this would seem a powerful start toward the development of many police techniques, that was not to be the case.

A major change occurred in Sosuishiryu in the early part of the 20th century, when Judo was on the rise, and many of the old JuJutsu ryus began affiliating with Kano's new art. A young Sosuishiryu student, Auyagi Kibei, opened the Sekiryukan, a Judo dojo, and aligned himself and the school with the Kodokan. At the death of his teacher, Yagoro Shitama, he changed the traditional kata of the ryu, and added nage-waza and shinken-shobu kata to the makemono (valuable scrolls). It then became part of mainstream Sosuishiryu. This new curriculum has been passed down through the decades, and is how Sosuishiryu is identified by the vast majority today. However, this is a mere shell of what the ryu was. Since there were some of the original students of Yagoro Shitama still around, they continued to teach the original kata, with the inclusion of the specific police, or more accurately, bodyguard techniques, as it was prior to the changes that were made. One of these students, Hyakataro Matsui, ventured to Tokyo and taught the Asaka Police.


After his time with the Asaka Police, Matsui Sensei taught the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. In both instances he taught the techniques as they appeared in the old scrolls.

The question arises, can law-enforcement avail themselves of Sosuishiryu's old bodyguard/police techniques today? From what I've gathered speaking to sensei in Japan, as well as the International Director of the style here in the U.S., the answer is, for the most part, "no". In the U.S., there are two Sosuishiryu groups, one officially sanctioned by the Hombu in Japan, the other a breakaway organization. The official group's Shihan (the Int'l Director), as well as his predecessor (who brought the style to the U.S.), were not taught the ancient makemono bodyguard techniques. According to the Shihan, although they do practice come-alongs and other techniques utilizing kansetsu-waza, there are no "arresting techniques" in the style similar to Judo's old Renkoho No Kata (see Arresting Solutions article: Taiho-Jutsu and Kodokan Goshin Jutsu: Two Sides of the Same Coin). The Shihan explained to me that the old kata, which I note has techniques very different than the "gentler" techniques seen taught in dojos, consisted of "injuring, maiming, or killing waza. They were designed for use on the battlefield". The Shihan, a former NYC law enforcement officer, explained how the old waza are modified and applied in police work, and rather than killing an opponent after he was down, there would be a disarm and controlling technique applied. The Shihan continued by saying that all waza has to be adjusted dependent on the circumstances. While this is true of practically all JuJutsu styles, the specific bodyguard/police techniques seem to be lost to the general JuJutsu student and sensei.

There is a small number of high ranking Sosuishiryu sensei in Japan who, I was told, do have access to the old scrolls, but it is unknown to me if they would teach them to anyone but a select student or two of their choosing. The Hombu in Japan today teaches the "new" JuJutsu curriculum, Tomiki Aikido, and Kodokan Judo.

It seems sad that, despite a plethora of police, arresting. and bodyguard techniques taught by countless sensei and police departments, the classic and specific kata of Sosuishiryu which were created to "police and protect" are almost defunct, in essence a moribund art. While we certainly have techniques available from organizations like the Secret Service or the Diplomat Security Service which have outstanding protection methods, from both historical and practical perspectives, the original katas' loss would not only be a loss to the martial arts in general, but to law-enforcement in particular

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