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Variations in Taiho-Jutsu

From time to time, I've met others like myself who were fortunate enough to have studied and have been taught by former S.A.C. instructors who were trained in the Combative Measures program in Japan. When we compared different techniques, there were variations seen in some of them. The first time this was encountered, at a much younger and naive time in my life, my first thought was that my colleagues were taught incorrectly. Surely a product of the S.A.C. program could not be teaching "wrong" techniques! How was this possible? After much reflection and more mature thinking, my naiveté was replaced by conclusions reached following some objective observations. These conclusions, arrived at after over forty years of studying and teaching Taiho-Jutsu and Combative Measures, still stand up and seem most valid.

Those who were chosen to enter the S.A.C. program and sent to Japan were martial artists from various backgrounds, e.g., Judo, Karate, JuJutsu. They had skills already in place when they received the intense training required of the program. (See Pioneers of Taiho-Jutsu – Larry Lent, to view the training routine and requirements.) These individuals were all taught the same techniques, so why are there variations that were seen upon their return to the U.S. and they began teaching? There are many factors to consider. Let us use the simple example of getting out of the line of attack from a downward blow with a club using a left rear taisabaki. Some instructors may teach the taisabaki with a longer foot movement than others. The accompanying parry may then be different, along with counters and takedowns and/or restraints. One would expect a taller officer to use a somewhat longer movement than a shorter officer. The body type of an officer, coupled with which art s/he may favor, would influence the choices made as to parries and counters as well.


What remains consistent is the approach to the defense, i.e., getting out of the line of attack, parry, counter, take down/restrain. If a given instructor began to teach a defense against that same downward attack which consisted of moving into a forward stance with a rising block, or moving in to execute an over-the-shoulder throw (seoinage) or shoulder wheel (kata guruma), this would not be a variation of a Taiho-Jutsu technique; it would simply not be Taiho-Jutsu.

Another factor to consider is that when the S.A.C. Airmen were taught the techniques of the program, they were taught by Judo, Karate, and Aikido sensei. They were taught separate arts as separate arts before they were combined. Only Hosokawa (and one or two under him) taught the arresting techniques of Taiho-Jutsu, where defenses from beginning to completion were put into play. When all these factors were fed into the individual SAC member, it was processed by the individual. And because the Airman is an individual, the end result naturally had some variations from the person's sensei as well as from each other. It was a natural process of modifying the defensive move to what he felt was a best version of the technique for him. Even the belief as to whether a more aggressive or less aggressive counter is warranted to a given attack would account for some variation. (A common example I often use is the difference between the Sanchin Kata as taught by Funakoshi vs. the Sanchin Kata as taught by Yamaguchi. Same kata, but with variations.)

In a previous article for Arresting Solutions (A Question of Purity), the issue of what would constitute a "pure" Taiho-Jutsu technique was addressed. Here, we may look at those techniques all deemed "pure", and understand why there are individual and specific differences seen in the same technique by different sensei.


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