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Mixed Martial Arts and Taiho-Jutsu

It seems the latest rage in martial arts is MMA/ Mixed Martial Arts. Yellow Pages listings abound with schools teaching this system. What is interesting to recall is that the "original" mixed martial art, JuJutsu, was waning in popularity prior to the evolution of MMA. I use the word "evolution" since MMA seems to be the end product of a martial arts trend. To elaborate in a general manner, in the early 1960s, the argument was which was the superior art, Judo or Karate? Karate's popularity triumphed, and by the late 1960s, there was no more popular art (Karate is used generically here to include the Kung Fu styles as well). While some Karate ryu did include some throws and takedowns, the majority did not.

In time, a natural outgrowth of professional competitive Karate came along under various names, e.g., Full-Contact Karate, Professional Kickboxing. We then witnessed "Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu". "Brazilian Ju-Jutsu" was the result of one of Kano's top grapplers, Maeda sensei, being sent on what was in essence an overseas mission to spread the Judo word, and when he arrived in Brazil, taught the art with great emphasis on groundwork. When this was combined with striking techniques, "Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu" was born. Still evolving, techniques from Mui Thai and wrestling were added, and MMA had arrived.

Classical JuJutsu has all the categories of techniques that MMA has, as does the complete Taiho-Jutsu program. What then is the difference other than stylistic? The mindset. The techniques used in MMA are aggressive, and while they can certainly be used in a street situation, they are taught primarily for competition. Taiho-Jutsu not only has a defensive approach to combative situations, but there is great emphasis on taisabaki movements, where the target area is placed out of the line of attack. There are evasive body movements in MMA, but they are not meant to get the body out of the line of attack, as opposed to moving linearly away from it. We may legitimately say that taisabaki is one of the foundations of Taiho-Jutsu.


Another difference may be seen in select techniques themselves. For example, when you view an MMA match, kicks are usually seen thrown to the head, the side of the leg, and sometimes the stomach. In Taiho-Jutsu, we rarely, if ever, utilize head kicks, kicks to the legs are generally sweeping moves to the feet, and when true self-defense is called for in a life-threatening situation, the side thrust kick may be thrown to break the knee, something not allowed in MMA rules. One may argue that it is easy enough to apply a kick to the knee if one is an MMA practitioner. However, if one trains almost exclusively in techniques going to certain and specific parts of the body for competition, it is natural to employ those kicks in the same manner to the same targets even when in a street situation.

Yet another noticeable difference between the two systems is the individual who trains in them. Given the aggressive, competitive nature of MMA, it is unlikely that the 98 lb. weakling will be the typical student found in MMA classes. MMA is simply not a passive, defensive style of fighting. Taiho-Jutsu on the other hand, is. The stereotypical (non law-enforcement) student is not likely to be one who is aggressive, and/or competitive. If attacked, the philosophy behind Taiho-Jutsu is to move out of the line of attack, counter, and if desired or necessary, take the attacker to the ground and restrain. There is no standing toe-to-toe with an attacker in a combative encounter. The MMA practitioner often has a warrior mindset prior to training. This is not often the case with the Taiho-Jutsu beginner.

What then are we left with? Some people prefer the Chevy, others the Ford. It boils down to personality. From this author's subjective perspective, as a defensive, non-competitive martial art, there is still none better for the purpose than Taiho-Jutsu.

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