Friday, October 1, 2010

Keishoukan Budo


Keishoukan Budo techniques are based on control, not pain; blending, not stopping; using, not resisting the power of the aggressor. Aikido can be very effective in a street situation. In fact, it is a requirement for all Japanese Law Enforcement Officers from the lowest ranks to the elite Tokyo Riot Squad. However, to be able to defend against realistic attacks from all ranges and at all levels one must get past the dogma of individual arts and take a best practices approach. Morihei Ueshiba (The founder of Aikido) said do not abandon the warrior arts of the past. Absorb venerable traditions of the old ways into this Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and building on the classic styles to create better forms. Through arduous training and real world experience the most practical techniques from Aikido, Traditional Judo / JuJutsu, Karate, and Taiho Jutsu (along with western boxing and wrestling) have been incorporated into Keishoukan Budo. Keishoukan Budo focuses on gross motor skill, high percentage techniques that are effective for all regardless of size or gender. These techniques will increase confidence in hand to hand confrontations both standing and on the ground. Keishoukan Budo maintains the martial traditions of the past while utilizing the best training methods of today


My senior year of high school I dislocated my knee and ended my wrestling career (or so I thought). It was the early 90's and Steven Segal kicking ass on the big screen. As soon as I healed up I started training in Aikido because I wanted to learn how he did those amazing things. Thankfully I learned much more than that: history, philosophy, etiquette, bushido, among many other wonderful things. Aikido became the foundation of my martial arts training. The most important thing I learned form Aikido was how to learn Aikido (or any martial art). I learned to break techniques down to their fundamental motions to understand how / why they work (or don‘t work). However, at that time I was lead to believe that Aikido was the one and only superior martial art. All other arts were inferior morally, technically, or in most cases both. Unfortunately, I adapted that attitude... for awhile anyway.

By the mid 90's I was already a Brown Belt (Ikkyu) in Aikido and attending College at Mankato State University. I had phy-ed credits to fill and saw that a Judo class was offered. I figured because I already had training in the "superior" art of Aikido that Judo would be a breeze. Many of fundamental motions I learned in Aikido were easily applied to Judo. What opened my eyes was that the techniques that those fundamental motions made so easy with a cooperative partner become very difficult to pull in randori against an opponent that was actively resisting my techniques. The techniques that worked in randori looked nothing like techniques we practiced in kata form. The techniques that worked looked much more like wrestling than martial art. (I had not yet realized wrestling is a martial art)

Around my sophomore year I decided that I wanted to teach martial arts professionally. However, I figured that no one would pay money to learn from a lowly white boy Shodan. Not enough money to live off anyway. The thought of being a small business owner with no health insurance seemed risky. That and I got my ass handed to me in statistics 101 (a prerequisite to be a business major). I had to find a way to use the skills that I had to get paid while I developed enough experience to teach martial art. I figured I'm good at martial arts, I want to help people, and I had always been interested in policing. So in the late 90's I changed my major to Law Enforcement. My advisor in Law Enforcement at MSU also taught Goju Ryu Karate. With my martial arts background I soon became one of his teaching assistants and was cross training in Karate. Again, I figured because I already had training in the "superior" art of Aikido that Karate-do would be a breeze. And again, many of fundamental motions I learned in Aikido were easily applied to Karate. I also learned it is much easier to pull Aikido techniques from pre arranged stylistic attacks than the realistic, powerful and random attacks found in Karate Kumite.

Before this story goes any further you have to understand I am a DORK! I love sci-fi, anime, and especially comic books. I was watching the animated film "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". In the film there is a scene where Bruce Wayne (if you don't know Bruce Wayne is Batman feel free to smash yourself in the head with a ball-peen hammer) was practicing martial art in the back yard of stately Wayne manor. Andrea Beaumont (the love interest) asked him what he was doing. Bruce responded Jujutsu. Andréa replied gesundheit.
I remember thinking wow, Batman fights crime and trains in Jujutsu. I want to fight crime, maybe I should look into this Jujutsu. So I went out and bought every book I could find on Jujutsu. I read the works of George Kirby, Wally Jay, Darrell Craig, and Forrest E. Morgan. I recognized many of the techniques as Aikido (but with different names). What I didn't recognize as Aikido, I recognized as either Judo, or Karate. I learned that Karate, Aikido, and Judo all evolved from Jujutsu and that all these arts work together. The most important thing I learned from these books (a major epiphany) is that there is no one superior art. To become a well rounded martial artist (see also fight crime like Batman) you need to incorporate techniques from all these arts into your skill set. I adapted an old Jujutsu approach to my martial arts training.

In 1998 I graduated with honors from MSU with a degree in human social and behavioral science (fancy talk for Law Enforcement). After college I went to Police Skills, the Minnesota version of a Police Academy. The defensive tactics system taught there was PPCT (pressure point control tactics). I learned to do the techniques you will be graded on now (keep your eyes and ears open and keep your mouth shut), and that when you become a cop you can use different techniques. I liked how PPCT incorporated positional relations into their training. However I hated how the PPCT techniques did not work (especially for women against big former wrestler types). Pressure points can work. However, In order to make pressure points work you need to place you opponent in a position where they can’t move or escape the pain (a control position). PPCT did not teach that. I knew cops need a better system.

In 1999 I started my first Police job in a small resort town in northern Minnesota. Soon after (and with a lot of help from a Deputy Sheriff who took me under his wing) I started an Aikido club out of the basement of the Apothecary. Then I taught my first Police Defensive Tactics class. I was finally teaching martial art professionally, and to men and women who would use what I taught them to protect those that could not protect themselves. I soon realized that the fundamental motions that came so easy to me after having practiced them nearly every day for the last seven years were very difficult for the average street cop. Most of them looked like a monkey fucking a football. I understood why so many training programs taught PPCT. Even though it didn't work it was easy to teach. PPCT was like a feather for Dumbo to hold. I just hoped they were never forced to try to fly. I also learned that many police officers do not have a very high regard for martial arts. And why should they? They have seen the primary martial art (PPCT) they have been taught fail in the field. Because of that failure officers have been injured, or sued for excessive force because the techniques that worked caused damage and were against policy. At that first defensive tactics class the Deputy introduced me as a Police Officer and a Black Belt in Aikido. One of the old deputies in the back yelled, “Yeah I have a black belt too, I hang my .38 on it” I suggested he was going to look awfully funny walking around with that .38 jammed up his ass. That won over the crowd and they were at least willing to listen to what I had to say. I dedicated myself to find a way to teach the average guy useful martial art techniques, and to teach in such away that seasoned, experienced police officers would respect. I started developing my "rules of operation"

From my experiences teaching cops the first rules I started operating by were: 1) Simple - 3 motions or less, 2) Natural - don't try to teach cops martial arts stances. Teach them techniques that work from the way the already stand.

In 2001 I was hired by a metro area police department. I started training at a Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo in Minneapolis with Alvin McClure Sensei. Many of the fundamental motions I had discovered for my self were formalized and practiced regularly in Yoshinkan as Kihon Dosa (basic exercises). I realized that in order to teach the average police officer with no martial arts back ground I would need to break down techniques to a few basic motions (law enforcement specific kihon dosa) and drill those before with the class before we did any thing more complex.

In 2005 I took over operation of the Dojo. The space we used in Minneapolis was no longer available. I moved the school to the north metro. I shared a space with a Traditional Kodokan Judo / Jujutsu Dojo. This was a fantastic opportunity for cross training. Soon I was teaching the Judo / Jujutsu class along with the Aikido class. A reoccurring phenomenon took place at the dojo. A student would come to the Jujutsu class, we would roll, I would throw and tap them. They would ask how I did that or what was that called. My answer would generally start; in Aikido we call that (insert Japanese terminology here). There response would be something along the lines of Oh, really! I heard Aikido sucks. You have to understand that MMA and the UFC had become mainstream and were very popular. Also the internet and social networking sites were becoming prevalent. So just like 10 years earlier when I thought Aikido was the one and only superior art now because of MMA, Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai were viewed as the superior arts. And, because of the internet, martial art enthusiasts were inundated with the concept that any martial art besides Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai sucked and were a waste of time. So I set out to discover why there was a perception that Aikido sucked

I did an internet search and found the most common complaints about aikido:
Unrealistic attacks, over cooperative partner, no "live" training - meaning an actively resisting opponent, no striking, no ground work, acrobatic falls, and aesthetic techniques that don't work. Unfortunately, I couldn't disagree with their arguments. I had seen first hand at different clinics some of the highest ranked Aikidoka in the world be stumped by simple questions like, what can I do if I get stuck on my back. Or being unable to demonstrate a technique applicable to Law Enforcement. I even saw a Shihan (master) slap his uke in the face hard enough to be heard by the large crowd(the art of peace?) because the uke didn't take the correct fake acrobatic fall causing the Shihan's technique to fail during the demonstration. I realized that Aikido doesn't suck, but the way many Aikidoka train does. I also understood that if this "sucky" Aikido is what is being displayed to the public it will make it difficult to convince police officers to train in Aikido with me. I decided that I had to make a distinction between that Aikido and what I taught.

To make that distinction, more rules were added to the way I operate. Techniques had to be reality based. Around this same time I became a fire arms instructor. Incorporating the lessons I learned from fire arms instructor school, the concept of using only gross motor skills was also added to the rules of operations I apply to martial arts training.

I started researching more ways I could teach Aikido that were the opposite of the major complaints against Aikido (see also ways no MMA fan boy could rip on). I discovered Marc Mac Young's website no nonsense self-defense. MacYoung believes that 'traditional martial arts' can be used for effective self-defense -- if the person teaching them knows the concepts necessary to restore lost aspects, repair corrupted information and analyze errors in whatever martial arts system he or she studies. The concepts MacYoung spoke of were what I had developed as my rules of operation. The website explained those rules with scientific clarity. Martial art is delivering physics into your opponent and the ability to absorb their physics. Good physics are good physics no one owns them, and it doesn't matter what you call them.
Because of my background in Aikido and Judo, and because I wanted to implement safe ways to train Aikido techniques at full speed against a resisting opponent in randori I began researching Tomiki Aikido (Shodokan Aikido). Kenji Tomiki had a deep understanding of Judo and Aikido. He was also an authority on research of Aiki-Jutsu in the light of Judo principles. Tomiki was instrumental in formulating the Goshin Jutsu no Kata for Judo. Kano Shihan made every effort possible to complete Judo as a modern physical education, but could not yet systematize the self-defense aspect of Judo which is contained in the classical Jujutsu (see also fight crime like Batman) even though he did study it deeply. The fact he was very much concerned about the self-defense aspect of Judo is clearly seen from the fact that he sent some of his students to Ueshiba Sensei (founder of Aikido)  to study Aiki-Jujutsu and also invited an expert on Jojutsu to Kodokan for a seminar. Tomiki's research into Aiki-jutsu encouraged my to study of Toshishiro Obata's Aiki Bujutsu. Toshishiro Obata began a research organization, called the "Aikido & Aikibujutsu Tanren Kenkyukai" (or Aiki-Buken for short). The purpose of this organization was to accurately rebuild concepts and techniques from the older styles of aikibujutsu used during the feudal times of Japan (old school jujutsu approach), as well as to study and continue to develop the "softer" styles of modern aikido. Tanren is the process during the forging of a sword in which the blade is hammered and folded, reducing the carbon content and eliminating impurities to create a strong foundation for the remaining steps of forging. Though there is a Yoshinkan Aikido influence, the approach to training and application differs significantly from this root art. The Aiki-Buken incorporates extensive taisabaki (body movement), ashisabaki (footwork), as well as kumite (paired exercises), jiyuwaza (single and multi-person free sparring) and a diversified curriculum of effective techniques. Additionally, supplemental teachings include tantojutsu, bojutsu, jo-kumite, torite (arresting techniques), Edo torimonojutsu (Pre-Meiji, or Feudal Era arresting methods), te-hodoki (unbinding methods) and various other methods.

I decided I had to use my rules of operation as a form of Tanren, eliminating impurities to create a strong foundation. I started teaching the techniques that survived the process as GMS Aikido (gross motor skill Aikido) and focusing on oyo waza (practical application techniques).

I began teaching GMS Aikido techniques specific to tactical operations to SWAT teams around Minnesota. Tactical Operators already have their weapons out of the holster on missions. So techniques have to be fully integrated with fire arms techniques and tactics. Maintaining weapon retention, and officer safety. I asked Gary Rudenick Sensei to help me. I knew he had a strong back ground in Judo, Jujutsu and Aikido, and that he had taught martial art to Law Enforcement. Rudenick Sensei was an instructor in Steve Jimerfield's Taiho Jutsu system called One-On-One Control Tactics. After training, Rudenick Sensei asked me if I ever worked with Steve Jimerfield. At the time I had never heard of him. Rudenick Sensei told me that what I was teaching was very similar to what Jimerfield did and I would like him. Both Rudenick and Jimerfield studied under Phil Porter Sensei. Porter Sensei started Judo, JuJitsu, and Karate training in 1951 while serving on a Strategic Air Command (SAC) combat crew at Travis Air Force Base and was a student of the SAC Combatives course. Rudenick sensei loaned me Jimerfield's Control Tactics books, and some videos that he made at the instructor course. Indeed we were teaching many of the same things. I researched the few instances where we taught different techniques for the same situations. In my dojo I would host the "Pepsi challenge" doing my technique, then Jimerfield's technique against the same resisting opponent. I learned why Jimerfield taught those techniques (they worked better – duh) and incorporated them into what I taught.

Now with an old school Jujutsu (karate, GMS Aikido, and Judo) and new school Judo (randori / actively resisting opponent) approach I felt I was getting some where. However, I noticed that when a newer student (and some times experienced students) was allowed to participate in Jyu Waza, Kumite, or Randori they would freeze. An often repeated phrase at my dojo is there is no “wrong” technique just move, standing still is the only “wrong”. When I asked them why they froze they would answer that they were trying to figure out what techniques to do. There in lies the rub. In order become a well rounded martial artist (see also fight crime like Batman) you need to incorporate techniques from all these arts into your skill set. That is 1000’s of techniques. How is anyone, going to be able to chose the appropriate response to an attack before getting nailed by that attack. How the hell do I do it? Way back at Police Skills the instructor spoke about dough nut theory.(Hick’s Law) If you host a class for cops and set out a variety of doughnuts, there will be a huge line because it takes forever for each cop to choose their favorite doughnut. If you only offer glazed or powdered they grab one of each and sit down, and class starts on time. Rory Miller describes this much more scientifically with the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) and Operant Conditioning in “Meditations on Violence”. I realized that students don’t need to learn 1000’s of techniques. I need to teach a small hand full of evasive motions / control positions that can be achieved in both offense and defense, both standing and on the ground. Then drill (operant conditioning) getting to those positions safely. From those control positions it is simple to transition into the most appropriate / favorite technique for the range (Striking, trapping, grappling)) and level (standing, kneeling, ground) you find your self in.

The summer of 2010 was instrumental in the foundation of Keishoukan Budo.  I was blessed with the opportunity to train directly with Marc MacYoung, Rory Miller, and Steve Jimerfield.  All of them fantastic martial artists, published authors, very influential on how and what I taught and now good friends.  My fundamental approach to martial art became more efficient.  I came to understand that violent encounters have to be stopped in 3 motions (not moves) or less.  I had a sound understanding of natural human reactions to violence.  I learned not to fight these reactions (impossible) but how to use these reactions to enhance training (breaking the freeze). 

My ideas and methods were verified by experts and proven by decades of field experience.  I became a better teacher.  I learned to eliminate the negatives from training, and how to train in a way that that insures the brain believes in the techniques and can use them instinctively under stress.  The fundamental notion that movement defeat strength was reinforced.  I learned that for techniques to work under stress for all people that techniques need to be effortless (if its hard work you are doing it wrong, or shouldn’t be doing it at all)

I decided to go my own way (building on the classic styles to create better forms). I felt that what I was doing now was distinct and different enough to be called something else.

Thus, the birth of Keishoukan Budo. Why that name you ask? When I took over the Dojo from McClure Sensei I needed to get a dojo operation certificate from the Honbu Dojo in Tokyo. A requirement of certification was to provide a Japanese name with the corresponding kanji for the Dojo. I don’t speak Japanese and I sure as hell can’t write in kanji so I did research. Keishou means strong and nimble. Kan means house. So Keishoukan roughly translates as house of the strong and nimble. Honbu Dojo didn’t like the name. They told me that the name doesn’t fit with the image of Aikido, and would be better suited for a kung fu school. Fanfuckingtastic I don’t want to fit with the image of Aikido.  I couldn’t be happier with the name.
Keishoukan Budo is the martial way (Budo) taught at the Keishoukan Dojo.
It is Jujutsu in the classical use of the term, before Jujutsu was broken into Kenpo / Karate, Aikido / Aikijutsu, and Judo / Jujutsu.  Keishoukan Budo can best be described as Taiho Jutsu (arrest and control tactics) for Law Enforcement, or Gendai Goshin Jutsu (modern self defense art) for civilians.  Keishoukan Budo is nothing new. It is simple set of rules and training methods applied any martial art to make them practical and relevant in the 21st century for men and women whose life may depend on the successful use these techniques  

1) Simple
2) Natural
3) Based on Physics / Bio - Mechanics / Leverage - NOT STRENGTH
4) Gross Motor Skills
5) Reality based
6) WWII Era Combatives / Taiho Jutsu
7) Legal / Ethical / Moral
8) If it doesn’t work on Jeff it doesn’t work
9) If it requires a Gi to work - it doesn't work
10) If you don’t move (stay in “zero”) it doesn’t work.
            Sport Judo grips work because both parties agreed ahead of time the wouldn’t punch, kick, stab, bite, or shoot at one another.  Outside the Dojo there is no such agreement
11) If it doesn’t end in control (a pin or a lock or even better both) or disablement (attacker is longer capable of attack) when appropriate (see rule 7) it doesn’t work


  1. I just found your blog the other day when Marc posted about your training on Facebook. You have studied a lot that I have and I find myself at the point of starting a program in my city.

    I will be stealing a few of your rules of operation. I might need you to explain number 6 to me.

  2. #6 just means proven to work Operationally.

    Not theory, but tactics professionals have been successfully using.

    Thanks for reading

  3. Dude I think we were seperate date birth I am a police officer and I have been training in martial arts since 1976. I developed a defensive defensive tactics system for my department about5 years ago and hit some of the same road blocks. I have researched OODA, hicks law and fits law. Please keep this going I started with you latest posted and realized I had to start from the beginning. I am also a huge dork and have been following MacYoung since "the list" newsletter he and Diane sent out over email. I have never made a gathering though.keep up the good work I am a fan