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Taiho-Jutsu and Jujutsu: The Relationship

For the purpose of this article, taiho-jutsu refers to the complete system, i.e., the kyu/dan belt ranking system.  In the complete system, there are strikes, parries, throws, takedowns, restraints, come-alongs, and groundwork.

In speaking of jujutsu, we are here speaking of traditional Japanese jujutsu.  (Note– the term “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” may be equated with saying, “Mexican Moo Goo Gai Pan”, and is, in the opinion of this writer, rejected.  Moo Goo Gai Pan is part of Chinese cuisine.  It may be prepared by a Mexican in Mexico, but it is still a Chinese dish.  While “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” stylistically may emphasize the groundwork of jujutsu, it is still a Japanese art, regardless of what aspect is emphasized.)  Jujutsu also contains the techniques listed in the opening paragraph.  What then is the difference between jujutsu and taiho-jutsu? Should taiho-jutsu really be called jujutsu, or possibly labeled “taiho-ryu jujutsu”?   What, if anything, justifies calling it a different art?

I have trained and studied and am ranked in two styles of jujutsu, and by two taiho-jutsu organizations, both here and in Europe, respectively.  Additionally, I have studied (though hold no yudansha ranking in) Sosuishiryu Jujutsu, Hakkoryu Jujutsu, Kitoryu Jujutsu, and Sanuces-ryu Jujutsu.  As a most brief and general explanation of these schools, Sosuishiryu has great emphasis on the techniques one would find in the judo curriculum (the kata is very different).  Hakkoryu employs throws and takedowns very similar to those found in aikido, though there are hand and foot blows to a limited degree.  Kitoryu evolved from the techniques found in the battlefield where opposing warriors were in armor, and is a major source of the Kodokan Judo’s curriculum when created.  Sanuces is a modern, flashy, eclectic style, founded by the late Moses Powell, after studying with another eclectic pioneer, Florendo Visitation, founder of Vee Jitsu.


What do these brief descriptions say about the relationship between taiho-jutsu and jujutsu?  Each of the jujutsu styles mentioned has something which is unique to them.  While a throw is a tgifhrow and a kick is a kick, the intent of the move, the style of its implementation, the more aggressive or less aggressive philosophy and ideology of the system, are some of the things which justify each school being a separate, identifiable ryu.

Taiho-Jutsu falls into this category.  There is a distinct and unique manner in which techniques, regardless of whether they are strikes, parries, or throws are utilized and implemented, which gives it a special “stamp”.  As an example, taisabaki is a vital foundation of taiho-jutsu.  While it is found in many styles of jujutsu, it is not necessarily a foundation of the style.  The emphasis on “defender” safety is clearly evident, more so than with many other styles.  All jujutsu styles have restraining techniques; the combination of restraints, searching, and come-along techniques, as well as the handcuffing methods which evolved from the hojo (rope tying) techniques further give the style uniqueness.  While some jujutsu styles have a myriad of weapons taught (or no weapons, as is the case with Hakkoryu), taiho-jutsu teaches those weapons which are directly derived from the jutte, the forerunner of the police baton.

What then is the relationship between taiho-jutsu and jujutsu?  On the one hand, there would be nothing inappropriate calling taiho-jutsu simply another jujutsu ryu, another school of jujutsu.  However, due to the highly specialized nature of the techniques, the style of employment, and the philosophy underlying the system, it seems justifiable to place taiho-jutsu as a separate art, much the same way the similar though different arts of aikido and aikijutsu are.

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