Taijutsu in depth

By Kevin Vandeyck Ph.D

Taijutsu is the original japanese warrior method of unarmed combat, and its roots can be found far back in the history of Japan. As a system of life-or-death, survival self-protection, as opposed to the modern martial arts more popular today, Ninpo Taijutsu has to be able to cover all fighting possibilities. Without the luxury of rules, weight classifications and skill level rankings, it is not possible to eliminate any potential technique or strategy that could be encountered in hand to hand combat. Taijutsu is by nature a comprehensive method of employing the bodies natural movements to avoid injury while dealing out the appropriate degree of injury to one's adversary. Taijutsu literally translated as skill of the body, forms the basis for all understanding in the fighting arts of ninjutsu. By concentrating on developing natural responsive actions with the body during initial ninja training, one can then use the physical lessons as models for psychological and tactical training in advanced studies. Some of the more popular Oriental martial arts and training systems attempt to mold the practitioners's ways of reacting and moving to fit a stylized set of predetermined movements. In effect, they are "adding to" the student's total personality. The taijutsu of Togakure-ryu works in the opposite manner to naturalize all movements by stripping away the awkward or unnatural tendencies that may have been picked up unknowingly over the years. As a fighting system, taijutsu relies on natural body strength and resiliency, speed of response and movement, and an understanding of the principles of nature for successful results in self-protection. The techniques take advantage of natural physical construction and efficient employment of body dynamics. The students need not imitate some sort of animal, nor distort or deform the natural body structure, in order to employ the taijutsu techniques for self defense. The principles of taijutsu also provide the foundation for combat with weapons in ninjutsu. The loose, adaptive body postures and movements readily fit the fighting tools employed in the ninja's art. Footwork, body balance, speed, energy application and strategy are identical for practitioners of ninjutsu, whether fighting with fists, blades or chains. The effectiveness of taijutsu as a total fighting system is based on the ninja's reliance on the harmony inherent in nature. Even the fundamental fighting postures and techniques model themselves after the manifestations of the elements in our environment. Obviously to anyone who has witnessed even a few actual street fights, this means that the unarmed combat method will have to provide ways of successfully subduing a boxer, a wrestler, a kicking expert, a martial artist, a body builder, a weapon wielder, or multiple attackers, not to mention dogs or mechanical objects that can do one harm. Broad based fighting skill is the key to surviving attacks on the street or in the field. The Taijutsu approach uses the natural complementary relationships of size, mood, intensity, purpose, legality, speed, and weapon lethality in a fight to create the appropriate tactics in each situation. Sometimes we can be outnumbered; sometimes we are armed with greater of lesser weapons; sometimes we face a faster or stronger adversary. Any given confrontation is totally unique. Ninpo Taijutsu is the method of taking those unique aspects, no matter what they are and turning them into strengths that will bring victory. The art can be further examined structurally to better understand and describe how it works and how it is taught. Of course, the practitioner is not aware of those classifications when actually engaged in the second to second consciousness of self-protection combat. In that realm everything must be spontaneous, creative, and totally appropriate for the ever changing reality found on the brink of life and death. The classification breakdown is of value only for the purposes of explaining the training concepts to new students. In application Taijutsu is one flowing experience of efficient body work that produces the needed results.