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Taiho-Jutsu vs. Other Martial Arts

by Steven J. Kaplan

The title of this brief article may appear confusing.  Is this some sort of “Octagon” competition being spoken of, where one fighter will fight in the “taiho-jutsu style”, and take on all comers from other schools and systems?  This is hardly the case.  Rather, the question to be looked at is how does the taiho-jutsu course stand up against an individual skilled in another martial art?

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, this was a question many students in the dojo where I trained were asking.  Judo had been around, karate and kung fu were exploding in the public’s face, and some of the more exotic arts were just beginning to receive exposure.  They were all hyped as “deadly” or “secret killing arts”.  Could taiho-jutsu stand a chance against these?

My dojo’s sensei Larry Lent, a product of the S.A.C. program, was one of the taiho-jutsu pioneers in the U.S.  No one believed in the effectiveness of the techniques and principles of the course more than he.  Lent Shihan would have two students demonstrate what they meant by their question, one utilizing and limiting defenses to those of the taiho-jutsu course, the other using any system or combination of systems he chose.  Almost always, the student utilizing the taiho-jutsu course lost.  Lent was not happy with this, and would begin to analyze what had occurred, and explain things to the class.


In almost every instance, the taiho-jutsu practitioner failed to use taiho-jutsu!  Due to impatience, ego, frustration, and/or fear, the taiho-jutsu student would begin to spar with his opponent, fighting him on his terms.  He had to fail.  Taiho-Jutsu is not a sport; it is not meant for competition.  The key to utilizing the limited techniques of the course against a kicker, grappler, boxer, or any combination is to utilize them properly.  This means, as an example, that if one is in a fighting stance, and the assailant launches his attack, use taisabaki to get out of the line of attack.  If he is then open to a counter attack, use one.  If not, wait, and wait, and wait some more until he is.  If, as another example, a grappler attempts to come at you with an attempted takedown, taisabaki, elbows, and knees are the weapons to use.  Don’t wrestle a grappler, punch with a boxer, or kick with a kicker.  Use your most against his least, wisely and appropriately.

If these rules are followed, with the proper mindset and focus, the officer (or anyone else employing the techniques) will see first hand the beauty and effectiveness of taiho-jutsu. 

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