Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to become a Werewolf – and other lies we tell children

This is a direct follow up / clarification of the last blog.

Specifically Operators adapting a predator mindset.

I had a long discussion with Marc MacYoung on the topic.  After the chat I wanted to make sure that any Operator reading the last blog wouldn’t take only part of the information and get himself in trouble with it.

I am grateful I have friends that push me to higher levels.  Surround yourself by the best people that will tolerate you.

Interpersonal violence is a vastly deep subject and there are no easy answers.

But there are knowable factors that you can use and control to your advantage.  This, however, requires skull sweat and you not buying into simplistic answers like “always stay five feet away” 

So, let’s look a little deeper into the use of predator tactics.

Last blog I used the example of a Lion (Leo, L.E.O. -  Law Enforcement Officer – get it?).

 For ease of reference this blog I’ll use the example of the wolf.

But first there  some other “Animals” we need to understand.

The Lizard [Hind Brain]

Survival instinct (rhythm, and ritual)

Oldest part of the physical brain

In emergencies it has the power to hijack the brain

Fight flight freeze

Whatever you are doing hasn’t gotten you killed yet

Keep doing it

Any change may kill you

The Monkey [Limbic System]


Social behavior

Does not distinguish between humiliation and death

Extremely emotional

Functions below (faster than) conscience thought

Seems rational

Most conflict is at this level

When death is abstract monkey can override the lizard

The “Human” [Neo Cortex]

Rational thinking


Where we think we always are

Deals with concrete problems strategically

Instinct and wisdom

It is the new kid on the block and subordinate to the other brains

Must be trained to trust human brain under stress

The thing about adopting Predator tactics is the Monkey recognizes a predator, or at least that it’s not dealing with another Monkey.

This results in different consequences

·         Monkey

·         Spooked Monkey

·         Super Monkey


When you approach a Monkey as a predator, the Monkey recognizes the Predator.  Or at least that it’s  not dealing with another monkey.  The Monkey doesn’t want to get eaten  so it doesn’t bother with the social dominance games and plays ball.

The Monkey is smart enough when it recognizes a predator to STFU as the lizard or human takes over.

Like the old yes maybe no person model.  There are no yes people only maybes and nos.  This interaction turns maybes in to yes’s.  Ideal for minimizing the need for force.

Spooked Monkey

Safely closing distance and placing yourself in a position where you are relatively safe but the subject is vulnerable to you sends a definite but subconscious “not to be fucked with vibe” which may prevent the need for force.

However, this subconscious vibe you are sending may also spook the shit out of some people.  They might not know why but they may feel the need to fight.  Turning a maybe person into a no person

A Spooked Monkey sees a predator and physically attacks – even if the predator isn’t intending to.

Super Monkey

There was a time that every adult male in the process of growing up faced a situation where you had to either swallow your pride or swallow your blood.  Or in other words if you didn’t shut the fuck up you were going to get your ass kicked.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, but a valuable one.  One that prevents future ass kickings in adulthood.

However, in our softer Oprah-fied America there are more and more young men who have never faced that situation or learned its lessons.  These young men are spoiled, entitled, and self-righteous.  They are the super Monkeys

When a super Monkey sees predator it feels threatened, but it doesn’t actually see the danger.   The 'danger' it senses is that the tactics it relies on aren't working. That it is powerless in this situation using those tactics.  So it tries the same old tactics only louder and more in your face.  The closer to violence you get, the worse their behavior becomes

No one likes to feel threatened.  The super monkey is offended that it is being hunted and because it’s never had to swallow its pride it ”ups” its monkey behavior or  freaks out.  Super Monkeys feel justified in being an asshole and are going to be an even bigger asshole to any predator  that threatens their social status.  To the Super Monkey it is all about the “emotional win”.

Being a predator to prevent violence will increase the need for violence when dealing with a super monkey

So you can see the need for clarification from last blog.  The strategy I suggested only works in 1 of 3 scenarios and may make 2 of 3 scenarios worse

So, why do I recommend it?

Super Monkeys aren’t just civilians and criminals.  I have to train an entire generation of Super Monkeys to be professionals

More and more cops are being killed because these Super Monkeys have never gotten their ass kicked, nor have they avoided getting their ass kicked by swallowing their pride.  So they don’t recognize the signs that an as kicking is coming their way.

The 1st step in changing this is adapting a predator mindset.  As stated before that may only work in 1 of 3 scenarios, but it works better than approaching it as a Super Monkey, or even worse a lamb.

So the 1st step is a lie we tell children

When your four  year old asks you where babies come from, you don’t go into scientific detailed information.  You don’t lie to them, you give them only the information they can handle at the time.  But information they  need to know now in order to progress to higher levels later

Being a wolf is the information a monkey or a lamb that wants to be an Operator can handle while they are still monkeys or sheep.  It will allow them to become Werewolves later

A wolf stacks everything possible in their favor before they engage.

They assume force will be necessary and set the stage accordingly.

The “prey” shouldn’t even know they were in a “fight” until it’s over and they are controlled / physically restrained.

Wolves have a job to do.  They don’t get caught up in social dominance games.  If they have to hunt in a pack (call for  / wait for back up) they will.  Not because they are weak, but because they are smart.  They are concerned with the most efficient way to get the job done.  Not who gets the credit or how cool they look doing it.

These are all things Operators need to learn.  Once these things are learned the deeper information can be explored.

For example the trick to making this tactic work in all 3 scenarios is being a predator without letting the prey know that you are one, or that they are being hunted

The term a wolf in sheep’s clothing may spring to mind but it’s more a case of being a fully competent human.

Your Monkey, Lizard, and Human (the ultimate predator) brains all working together, all doing what they do best.

An example of this is the “charm predator”

A charm predator will isolate the victim from the rest of the heard

Use other predators to cut off all escape routes

Now it needs to close distance without spooking the prey or dancing with a super monkey

This is usually done with social skills (this is where the monkey is helping the human/predator)

It sounds like:

Hey man you got a light?

What time is it?

How do I get to here on this map?

You want some candy?

Have you seen my puppy?

This both splits the prey’s attention and gives the predator  a socially acceptable pretense to close distance

The charm predator went into this fully prepared to use violence, but his job is easier if he doesn ‘t have to.  At this point he will show a weapon and threaten.  “Get in the car or I’ll fucking kill you”  If this works great.  If not charm turns to blitz and the predator will use overwhelming force to accomplish his goals

Operators have to be skilled at using Asocial violence for social reasons

Only show enough of the predator as necessary , then pull it back.  Being a Predator is a tool.  Every tool is good for the job it’s designed for, and not so much for others.  Use it when appropriate.  Hide it when it’s not but have the tool box there.

So a competent human hiding a predator inside sounds like the description of a Werewolf

It also sounds like an Operator adept at using Asocial violence for the betterment of Society.

So let’s end this blog with my twist on a drill Marc developed.

Becoming a Werewolf

Round 1 – The Monkey:

You are going to approach the subject (your partner)

Walk right in front of him and stand in his range

Subject will slowly throw a strike

When you perceive it say stop – and say which quadrant the attack came from

This will be hard, you will probably get hit so sue open hands.

This is a great way to show that being a monkey will get your ass kicked.  Your authority will not protect you.

Round 2 - The Wolf:

You are going to approach the subject (your partner)

You will put up your guard when you are in his range

Inside his range you are going to Orient yourself so you are relatively safe from him but he is vulnerable to you

Throughout this entire process you are going to mentally focus on your meanest take down and how much you want to use it on this guy

Ask the subject how that made him feel

Why did he feel this way?

Round 3 – The Werewolf

You are going to approach the subject (your partner)

This time as you cross his range you will put your hands up in a placating gesture

                Palms up, elbows in

Engage Suspect in conversation as you orient yourself

                Excuse me sir, I’m sorry to bother you but… (Predators never apologize this guy must be legit)

                                I’ve been called here for

                                May I see your driver’s license please

                                Do you know anything about…

As they answer, be prepared to move on any pre attack indicator (it’s hard to talk and fight at the same time so if they are not responding that is a clue)

Ask the subject how that made him feel

Why did he feel this way

How was it different than last time

In effect the Wolf and the Werewolf are exactly the same.  They are both better than the Monkey, the only difference between them is how the subject feels about them.  But it is that feeling that can be the difference between talking the subject into cuffs or having to protect yourself from an attack.

Train hard, train smart, be safe

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Contact control

Saturday was the first meeting of Taiho Jutsu Minnesota. (See previous blog of the same title for more details)

Check out the O3CT logo

The topic of training was Contact Control
On a typical use of force continuum Contact Control ranges from a touch to guide someone in a particular direction up through escorts, and standing controls (joint locks)

Last blog I wrote “Lots of Officers are being killed because they are missing the signs (pre-attack indicators)”
In preparation for this class I asked myself why that is.

Some of the answers I cam up with were:
This topic is fairly dry / boring. 
Because it is boring it is not trained nearly as much as it should be

Cops and instructors want to get into the “good stuff” so critical skills are given a hand wave or lip service then the class proceeds onto the high speed commando stuff

So how can you train these critical skills in a way that is worthwhile / interesting so that Operators actually spend time training them?

The Contact Control class was an experiment to find ways to answer that question. 

So 1st step – stress the importance of these skills, make them “cool”

You can define an Operator as someone employed to protect others, if need be with force (violence), at the risk of his/her own safety.
If you do you are saying that an Operator uses violence to make money
Just like a resource predator

Fair enough, so using that predator model.  Officers need to approach contact controls like a predator
Officers need to hunt, not fight.

Predators / Hunters stack everything possible in their favor before they engage. 
Assume force will be necessary and set the stage accordingly
The “prey” shouldn’t even know they were in a “fight” until it’s over and they are controlled / physically restrained.

Therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.
- Sun Tzu

Some reading this may think bullshit; I can’t choose which calls I go to or where those calls are.

Let’s use a domestic assault call as an example.  Of course you will take the calls you get and of course you will go to the location to stop any ongoing violence.  So you have to go into the house / apartment / trailer.  But you don’t have to stand right in front of the suspect with your hands in your pockets and your head up your ass.  Nor do you have to speak to the victim in the kitchen, where she has easy access to the cutlery.  How many Officers reading this have been attacked by the victim when you or your partner made a move to arrest the suspect?  “Just make him stop hitting me, don’t take him to jail!  Get your fucking hands off of him pig!  You’re hurting him!”

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The academic portion of Contact Control addresses a lot of these concerns.  The challenge is finding ways to physically train them.

Fundamental aspects of Contact Control that must be covered before control techniques are practiced:
How you align your body to protect from damage and to deliver force into the subject
Every technique has its own range
  • Reach – how long is your arm
  • Target – hitting through, or hitting into
  • Distance – How much do I have to move to use my reach to get to the target.
Relative Positioning
  • Location – Where you are (GPS)
  • Position – Where you are in relation to the Subject (orientation)

 “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Safely closing distance and placing yourself in a position where you are relatively safe but the subject is vulnerable to you is an essential skill and needs to be trained
It sends a definite but subconscious “not to be fucked with vibe” which may prevent the need for force.
This also greatly increases your confidence and verbal skills

Moving safely into range, positioning your self for future action, all without giving away your intent to the subject – these are predatory skills
They are also a practical application of Zanshin

Zanshin is a term used in the Japanese martial arts. It refers to a state of awareness – of relaxed alertness. The literal translation of zanshin is "remaining mind".

Zanshin as it was related to me should have the feeling of a cat about to pounce on a mouse

There is no question of who is going to win.  There is no fight.  The cat is positioned to move.  It is relaxed and simply waiting for stimulus to pounce.
Ok Hunter / Predator Operator, what stimulus are you looking for?
When you safely close distance and a obtain a relatively safe position you have actively limited the possible attacks the subject has available to him.
I use the term relatively safe because no position is invulnerable.  However, knowing what you are vulnerable to and where it is likely to come from gives you the stimulus to look for

One drill we worked Saturday that I stole from Marc MacYoung goes like this:

“Show and Tell”

Round 1:
Officer stands right in front “zero” of the subject
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must tell the subject which quadrant the attack is coming from and if possible what specific attack
This is pretty hard to do and should help teach don’t stand right in front of the guy if possible.

Round 2 (relative positioning):
Officer positions himself so that he / she is relatively safe from the subject, but the subject is vulnerable to the Officer
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must tell the subject which quadrant the attack is coming from and if possible what specific attack
This should be much easier

Round 3 (Orientation)
Officer will be “in position” with shields up
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must intercept / deflect the attack -  This will form the basis of tap drill

Other stimulus to look for - Know when he is eager to hit you

Pre-attack indicators
·         Glaring, staring – sizing you up
·         Making unprovoked accusations, threats, demands.  Swearing for no apparent reason
·         Baiting or attempting to provoke an aggressive response from you
·         Moving into range
o       We just practiced doing that to them, don’t think they don’t practice doing that to us
·         Unusual or out-of-place body movements
o       Aggressive gestures
o       Agitated pacing
o       Clenched fists / clenching and unclenching hands
o       Foreward weight shift
o       Straightening of the spine / puffing of the chest
o       Adopting a fighting stance
·         Clearing space to move or draw a weapon *
·         Teeth clenched, or other stiff or shaking body movements

Other subconscious “tells”
·         Sudden face flush (turning red) – adrenaline induced vasoconstriction – fight or flight THREAT DISPLAY
o       When that “Red Face” turns white (ANAEROBIC RESPONSE) is an indication that subject will attack
·         A person looking at you suddenly looks away, or looking away suddenly looks at you
o       Target glance (at gun)
o       Witness check
·         Change in rate, tone, pitch, or volume of a person’s voice
o       Shouter becomes quiet
·         Sudden change in a person’s breathing
[Paraphrased from “How to win a fight” –Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder]

Lots of money has been made selling cops a magic pill that will protect them if they miss all these signs and step on their dick.  Some training even goes so far as to put a bag / blanket over the Officer’s head then remove it and have them deal with a surprise threat. All I am saying is let’s spend more time making sure cops aren’t getting surprised because there is no magic pill that will save them.

So how do you train looking for pre attack indicators.

I’ll get there but 1st let me mention the number 1 pre-attack indicator to look for – Being an asshole!
If you let yourself get pulled into an monkey dance with the subject, if you treat him in such a way that would piss you off if an Operator treated you or a family member that way, your probably gonna get hit.

Don’t be a dick.  Big dogs don’t bark.  The more dangerous you are the least you should need to show / tell it to others.  Lions don’t argue with gazelles.  They just eat them or they don’t

Ok so if you can follow the 1st rule don’t be a dick, you should be cool and calm enough to look for those other pre-attack indicators.

Here is a way to actively practice that skill:

The scenario is an unwanted person needs to be removed from the premises
Role player will pick a pre-attack indicator out of a hat.
Operator will:
  • Safely close distance
  • Have an appropriate verbal exchange (officer presence / communication skills) – practice not being a dick
  • Take physical control of the subject.
  • Recognize pre-attack indicators during any point - immediately take physical control of the subject

Immediately take physical control of the subject.  The pre-attack indicators are the stimulus.  Have a few techniques that control (prevent the subject from being able to damage you) / immobilize the subject.  Train (operant condition) the responses to the stimulus.

Also, practice articulating this.  “His face was bright red, he was clenching his fists and screaming at me.  Suddenly his face went pale white and he was quiet.  From past training and experience I recognized that as an indicator he was about to attack so I moved him into a position where he could not hurt me.”

Why control?, why not just bonk ‘em on da head?  Control allows you to asses and display judgment.  Last blog I wrote about starting at a high level of force and easing back as success is gained.  Quickly moving into a control form the moment pre-attack indicators are shown is a way to do that.  If the control works you can ease back.  If they resist at least you are in a superior position, will not be “sneak attacked” and can clearly articulate why greater force is needed.

Those are a couple of the things we worked on at Saturday’s class.  Its was very successful - great class, great participation, much progress was made.

Some of the feed back received was that officers had never received training on range, or positioning.  Nor had the ever worked on pre-attack indicators.  The DT trainers there enjoyed the training and were excited to bring it back to their departments. 

Mission accomplished!

I didn’t want to get into too much nuts and bolts here on the blog because I don’t want to make tactics and strategy open to any and all readers.  But readers can take these principles and drills and work on their own “hunting methods”

Train hard, Train smart, Be Safe

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lethal Force

Today is my first back at the Department since Christmas vacation.  It started with putting a memorial band around my badge.  Something I have done all too often lately.

This time it was for Officer Shawn Schneider

Wounded Lake City Police Officer Dies - Schneider shot 11 days ago in domestic dispute
Updated: Saturday, 31 Dec 2011, 4:16 PM CST
Published : Friday, 30 Dec 2011, 10:52 PM CST

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Mayo Clinic says a Lake City police officer has died, 11 days after he was shot while answering a domestic disturbance call.
A statement from Mayo says Officer Shawn Schneider died Friday evening in St. Marys Hospital.
Schneider's family thanked everyone "for their overwhelming support and well wishes during this difficult time."
A procession of law enforcement vehicles has escorted the body of slain police Officer Shawn Schneider back to Lake City Saturday.
The Post-Bulletin reports about 15 police vehicles -- their emergency lights flashing -- escorted Schneider's body along U.S. Highway 63 to Lake City on Saturday morning.
A friend of Schneider's, Doug Wallerich, tells the newspaper that the officer's death is "hitting a lot of hearts."
Schneider had been in critical condition since he was shot Dec. 19. Authorities say 25-year-old Alan Sylte Jr. of Hager City, Wis., shot Schneider in the head, then took his own life.
A 17-year-old girl who escaped from the house told police she had broken up with Sylte the previous week.
A Wisconsin National Guard spokeswoman says Sylte was an Iraq war veteran who was in the process of being discharged for failing to report to duty.
Schneider leaves a wife and three young children. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The number of Officers murdered in the line of duty has been increasing steadily over the last 3 years.

Officers killed in 2011

Before I go any further with this blog let me make clear.  I am not second guessing, judging or Monday morning quarterbacking Officer Schneider or any other fallen Officer.

Cops getting killed pisses me off, when I’m pissed I tend to rant on my blog.  That’s what this is.

So why are more cops getting killed?

I believe there are several reasons for this increase.
  • Some reasons include:
  • Officers missing pre-attack indicators
  • Officers putting themselves on subject’s victim profile
    • Fat
    • Weak
    • Sloppy
    • Un-aware
  • Fear of litigation
  • Officers starting too low on the force continuum
  • Officers using ineffective strategies / techniques
  • Never been in a fight
  • Never played a contact sport
  • Over reliance on taser
  • Over reliance on “Officer Presence” – The badge will protect me
  • Increased societal acceptance of violence against Law Enforcement

I’m sure there are several others.  All worthy of a blog of their own

Today let’s focus on
Officers starting too low on the force continuum
Officers using ineffective strategies / techniques

And let me hit the disclaimer again.  I am not second guessing the Officer in the following article.  I just want use the situation she was in to make some points.

Man accused of choking Coon Rapids police officer
By Sarah Horner
Updated: 12/30/2011 11:11:11 PM CST

An Anoka man was charged Friday with choking a police officer outside a Wal-Mart in Coon Rapids the night before.
Coon Rapids officer Briana Johnson was in the store's parking lot at
13020 Riverdale Drive N.W.
on Thursday when she came across Joseph Allan Ilstrup, 33, loading groceries into a car suspected of being illegally parked in a handicap space, said police spokesman Capt. John Hattstrom.

When Johnson asked the man to identify himself, he allegedly refused and swore at her.

He then put his hands around her neck and shoved her against her squad car, Hattstrom said.
"He was squeezing pretty hard," Hattstrom said. "She was having difficulty breathing."

Two witnesses intervened, and Ilstrup was shocked with a Taser, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in Anoka County District Court.

He then was put in the back of a squad car, where he reportedly continued swearing and started kicking at the car windows.
Johnson was treated for bruising at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids but suffered no other injuries, Hattstrom said. She was not available for comment Friday.
Ilstrup, who was convicted of disorderly conduct earlier this year, faces a fourth-degree assault charge in the Coon Rapids incident.

What can we learn from this incident?
“Be nice until it’s time to not be nice”
When someone refuses a lawful order they need to be placed into control.
It’s hard to choke someone when you are cuffed behind your back.

When someone who has refused a lawful order, and is exhibiting extreme / emotional behaviors  - yelling, swearing puts his hands around your throat that is a lethal force situation.

Don’t try some half assed PPCT soft hands control.  You don’t have the time and it’s not going to work.  END THE THREAT!

Why are choke holds at lethal force level on most law enforcement use of force continuums?
Because of potential to cause death!
If cops can only use “lateral vascular neck restraints” (P.C. for choke hold) when lethal force is justified, a criminal trying to choke you justifies USE OF LETHAL FORCE.

Watch this video of my man Judo Gene Lebell

When he decides to put it on, watch how fast the kid goes out.
Notice how long the kid stays out.

You can’t let subjects touch your neck.

Mentally / psychologically it is hard to jump from talking to high levels of force.  Most people need to work them selves up to violence.

1) That work up has definite recognizable “tells”.  Learn to recognize them and actively watch for them.

2) Officers need to start subject interactions (Presence / Verbal skills) assuming high levels of force will be necessary and violence is immanent.  There are no “routine calls”.  You don’t want to get stuck in the observe – orient loop and try to play catch up as you are taking damage.  Much better to be surprised / happy you didn’t need to use force than the other way around.

Same goes for physical tactics.  It is better to start at a high level and ease up as control is gained as opposed to start at low levels, fail to control, take damage, then use greater levels of force than would have been necessary if control had been gained quickly.

The longer the fight goes on the higher the chances of both Officer and subject being injured. 

Over in 3

OK rant over.  I hope I gave you some things to think about

Train hard, Train Smart, Be safe – It might just save your life

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nihon Jujutsu

I took this information from:

The reason I am sharing it on my Blog is because Nihon Jujutsu is a direct result of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Combative Measures (hand to hand) Instructors course and serves as technical foundation and influence on One On One Control Tactics / Taiho Jutsu.

Always know your roots

Bottom line it’s a story about a guy who was raised by cops and martial arts experts who went on to teach U.S. Military personal hand to hand combat, pretty cool.


Nihon Jujutsu


Nihon Jujutsu is a modern Japanese martial art that focuses on practical, efficient techniques as originally found in both ancient and contemporary martial arts. Its principles and techniques derive from Japanese unarmed combat and self-defense techniques from pre-1945 judo and aikibujutsu, as well as taihojutsu (Japanese police immobilization and arresting methods). The founder of Nihon Jujutsu, Sato Shizuya, established this system based on his extensive studies with leading Japanese budoka (traditional martial artists), many of whom introduced ancient bujutsu methods into modern budo.

In Japan, gendai budo (contemporary martial arts) are those styles established after the Meiji Restoration (1868), while kobudo (ancient martial arts, also known kobujutsu) are those that can specifically trace an uninterrupted lineage to a time before the Meiji Restoration. Nihon Jujutsu does not claim to represent any one classical kobudo system, because under Japanese custom, direct linkage can only be claimed when a tradition has been directly transmitted by the soke (traditional head of a school) or upon receipt of a menkyo kaiden (license authorizing the licensee to teach and modify the style).

The following world-renown Japanese martial artists influenced or directly contributed to the development of Nihon Jujutsu:

• Ueshiba Morihei (1883 – 1969) – the founder of aikibujutsu and aikido
• Mifune Kyuzo (1883 – 1965) – 10th dan Kodokan judo, senior instructor at the Kodokan, and founding
member of the International Martial Arts Federation
• Nagaoka Hidekazu (1876 – 1952) – 10th dan Kodokan judo
• Ito Kazuo (1889 – 1974) 8th dan Kodokan judo; Founding Member and First Chief Director, Kokusai Budoin, International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF)
• Kotani Sumiyaki (1903 – 1991) – 10th dan Kodokan judo, Director of the Strategic Air Command’s combatives course at the Kodokan, and one of the Kodokan’s foremost experts on judo kata
• Hosokawa Kusuo (1918 – 1997) – 9th dan judo, taihojutsu instructor of the Strategic Air Command’s combatives course at the Kodokan.
• Ishikawa Takahiko (1917 – 2008) - Instructor of the Strategic Air Command’s combatives course at the
Kodokan, 2 time All Japan Judo champion, who dedicated thirty years of his life to establishing judo in
North America
• Dr. Tomiki Kenji (1900 – 1979) – Founder of the Japan Aikido Association and Shodokan ryu aikido (also known as ‘Tomiki ryu aikido’), 8th dan Kodokan judo, 8th dan aikido, chief aikido instructor of the Strategic Air Command’s combatives course at the Kodokan

Nihon Jujutsu Founder, Sato Shizuya

Born 1929 in Tokyo, Japan, Sato Shizuya began his lifetime study of judo during middle school at age 12. Sato’s father learned judo while in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I, and was a senior judo instructor for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. His personal friends and judo compatriots included many preeminent pre-WWII Kodokan instructors, including Mifune Kyuzo, Nagaoka Hidekazu, Sumiyuki Kotani, and Ito Kazuo. When Sato Sr. died in 1948, the young Sato came under the care of these senior judoka who lent their personal guidance and lifelong support, which greatly influenced the development of Nihon Jujutsu. Upon graduation from Meiji Gakuin University in 1948, he joined the International Section at the Kodokan.

Following WWII and during the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945 – 1952), Sato was one of the few Kodokan staff who spoke English (Dan Ivan, a member of the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) during the Occupation, claimed Sato ‘was the only man in the place who spoke English’, which Sato claims was not true). Kotani Sumiyaki was appointed head of the Kodokan International Section in 1950, and eventually became 10th dan Kodokan judo, one of the most famous judo instructors of the Tokyo police, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on judo kata. His focus on precision in kata played a significant part in Sato sensei’s budo education.

Prior to the end of WWII, in 1945, regular Kodokan training included self-defense, kata, randori (sparring), taihojutsu, and, to a limited extent, weapons training such as kenjutsu, jojutsu, tanbo, and bojutsu. This multi-disciplinary approach was in keeping with Kano Jigoro’s philosophy that budo naturally evolves and grows in accordance with human experience. Postwar, a large number of non-Japanese entered the Kodokan for the first time. The majority of these young men, along with a few women, were U.S. military personnel of the Occupation forces. Many established lifelong bonds of friendship and cooperation with Sato-Sensei and other budo instructors, and some eventually became the pioneers responsible for introducing Japanese martial arts to the West. Significant American budoka who began their budo shugyo (martial arts studies) at the Kodokan, and later played large roles in the ensuing development of budo worldwide, particularly in North America, include Mel Bruno, Donn Draeger, Dan Ivan, and Walter Todd.

Nihon Jujutsu - Technical and Philosophical Origins

The philosophical basis of Nihon Jujutsu can be found in the Japanese axiom,
(seiryoku zenyo jitaky├┤ei), which can be read “Commit oneself to maximum efficiency, and mutual benefit in all endeavors.” This phrase, first coined by Kano Jigoro, the founder of Kodokan judo, refers both to applications of the physical art during training, and to the larger philosophical concept of utilizing budo as a catalyst for personal growth.

Concisely, “maximum efficiency” in training allows one to apply techniques before an opponent has a chance to react and overcome opposition with a minimum of force. “Mutual benefit in all endeavors,” as applied to practice in the dojo, serves as a guiding principle that permits all practitioners to train rigorously without undue injury.

Nihon Jujutsu can be said to embody the spirit of Kano Jigoro’s philosophy of building a moral society through the practice and teaching of budo. Specifically, through physical training practitioners cultivate methods for controlling opponents, and thereby learn principles and techniques for overcoming adversity in everyday life. The underlying theme is that negative results are minimized through the application of a rational and flexible response to all situations.

The underlying theme is that negative results are minimized through the application of a rational and flexible response to all situations.

I like that a lot! 

Principles adapted to the situation at hand.

According to the founder, Sato Shizuya, “the philosophy of seiryoku zenyo jitaky├┤ei is both practical, and appropriate for modern life. In ancient, or earlier times, the methods of bujutsu, techniques developed primarily for the elimination of an opponent by whatever needs necessary, may have been relevant only for members of the military or law enforcement agencies. Whereas, Nihon Jujutsu is a system based on respect for one’s fellow man, for the community as a whole and is truly a method of living with one another in a modern world.”

The core curriculum of Nihon Jujutsu incorporates the practical, decisive throwing, choking, and immobilization methods of judo; the entering and striking of aikibujutsu; the restraining techniques of taihojutsu; and the taisabaki (evasive movement), open hand, and armed self-defense principles expounded by Dr. Tomiki Kenji.

The Influence of Dr. Tomiki Kenji

Tomiki began judo in high school, receiving shodan (first-degree black belt) in 1919. He later began studying aikibujutsu, as Ueshiba Morihei originally called his art, as Ueshiba’s personal student at the original Kobukan dojo in Tokyo in 1926. Tomiki was awarded the world’s first aikido 8th dan in 1940 during a visit by Ueshiba to Manchuria (then known as ‘Manchukuo’).

The phrase(karada tai ken), or ‘body as a sword’, first coined by Dr. Tomiki in 1937, was a revolutionary concept in its succinct definition of the aikibujutsu ideal of using the body as a weapon. This phrase became the basis of his lifelong investigation of the ways and means of budo and its application to practical methods of self-defense. During his tenure in Manchukuo 1934 – 1945, Tomiki was first a Professor at Daido Gakuin (a Manchukuo government official training college), and later also at Kenkoku University, the country’s premier college. Additionally during this period, he taught aikibujutsu to the Military Police of the Imperial Japanese Kwantung Army.

Though he was interred by the Soviets for three years after WWII, Tomiki continued his studies of budo. Upon his return to Japan in 1948, he joined the Kodokan as a part-time secretary, where he continued his study of judo and aikido. When Tomiki became the aikido director of the Kodokan’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) martial arts program (1952 – 1956), Sato became the assistant aikido instructor, and remained so for the duration of the program.

Additionally, Tomiki Sensei is credited with leading the development committee of the Kodokan Goshin-jutsu (forms of self-defense) in 1956. Ultimately, Tomiki retired as Professor Emeritus of Physical Education at Waseda University, Tokyo, and founded the Japan Aikido Association, the capstone organization for Shodokan aikido (‘Tomiki ryu aikido’), now practiced worldwide.

Until mid-WWII, aikibujutsu hand-to-hand combat instruction (as directed by Ueshiba Morihei, and Tomiki Kenji, in Japan and Manchuria, respectively, as well as other instructors) comprised the core of combatives training for elite Imperial Japanese military personnel. During this period, the fundamental methods of aikibutsu, Kodokan goshin jutsu, and aikido were refined and compiled.

While Tomiki taught the Imperial military in Manchuria, Ueshiba Morihei directed training in Tokyo at the Toyama School (Army officer training school), the Nakano School (site of the famous Army intelligence officers’ program), and at the Navy School officer candidate school in Etajima.

The full curriculum of the Japanese Imperial military officers’ combatives training focused on 4 unarmed and armed martial arts:

- Aikibujutsu (Ueshiba and Tomiki’s early Daitoryu aikijujutsu-based martial arts)
- Tankenjutsu basic techniques (use of the short sword/bayonet)
- Kenjutsu basic techniques (Toyama ryu battojutsu)
- Jukenjutsu basic techniques (Japanese Imperial Army rifle bayonet training, incorporating both ancient
Japanese spear methods and modern European bayonet techniques)

The Kodokan and SAC

Meanwhile, during WWII, the Kodokan emphasized self-defense techniques over the sporting and spiritual aspects of judo; there also was a special self-defense kata developed for women during this period called joshi goshinho. The focus changed again after WWII largely to focus on sporting competition and eliminate the controversial self-defense aspects likely to draw negative attention from the Occupation authorities.

In 1952, the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) sent two initial groups of airmen to the Kodokan to study judo, karatedo, aikido, and police techniques. This program was expanded through 1956, and by its end hundreds of U.S. Air Force martial arts instructors had trained under Sato sensei, who instructed both aikido (under head aikido instructor Tomiki) and taihojutsu techniques (under taihojutsu head instructor and senior Tokyo Metropolitan Police taihojutsu / judo instructor Hosokawa Kusuo). Other notable instructors included such Shotokan karatedo legends such as Funakoshi Gichin, Nakayama Masatoshi, Obata lsao, and Nishiyama Hidetaka.

In the early 1950’s, Sato sensei began teaching judo and self-defense at U.S. military facilities around Tokyo. In 1957, Sato sensei founded the U.S. Embassy Judo Club where he continued to develop and refine the techniques that ultimately evolved into Nihon Jujutsu.

During the same period, Tomiki sensei led the Kodokan committee that developed the Kodokan goshinjutsu series of techniques, an advanced self-defense curriculum. Interestingly, Nihon Jujutsu and Kodokan goshinjutsu feature many similar techniques, which is unsurprising given their extensive common roots in traditional jujutsu, judo, taihojutsu, and aikibujutsu.

The techniques and philosophy of Nihon Jujutsu represents the culmination of historical and modern development in gendai budo, the rational review of past practice in light of a changing world, and the preservation of traditions that form the core of budo.

The evolution of this system began before 1868, during the Edo era (1603 – 1868) in bujutsu schools, continued with the establishment of modern Japan, and culminated in the development of contemporary arts such as judo, aikibujutsu, aikido, and taihojutsu. Technical and philosophical developments during the 1930s and 1940s by premier judoka and aikidoka, imparted to Sato-Sensei during the early post-WWII years still comprise the essence of Nihon Jujutsu today.