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21 Characteristics of Yoshin Ryu Bujutsu

Yoshin Ryu Bujutsu draws its uniqueness from the use of evasive body movement around a foe as if moving in a circle.  One begins at a safe distance of an arm length and quickly closes in to a point where space is not available for a foe to move in or out. Once the opportunity of retreat is taken away, the next step is for an almost certain quick drop on the head.  This Ryuha or tradition has a “yielding” feel that responds to the forces provided by the opponent, and uses someone’s efforts against them. It includes techniques for non-lethally ambushing, disarming, and capturing people for questioning. It employs defense with and against wearing armor and Daisho (long and short sword).  It further uses the pliability of one’s body to overcome or throw the foe, hence the relationship of the tall tree and the willow tree.  This tradition specializes in grappling and throwing similar to the ones adopted by modern day Jujitsu/Judo/Aikido. It was highly regarded by ancient Japanese police in close-quartered urban settings for the apprehension of fugitives.

It has been handed down together with the old Kukishin Ryu for generations.  This may be where ‘Dragon Drops’ come from; hence one of the trademarks of this Jujutsu (as opposed to Judo or Aikido) is that when the techniques are applied, they are done in such a way as to making it impossible to roll or break fall. The fast techniques and quick throws are intended to break the opponent’s shoulder, neck and/or limbs.

“Soft like cotton, hard like lightning;

And the courage to win against ten thousand men”
“A willow is flexible, but a high tree is breakable”.

In the past, the techniques of Takagi Yoshin Ryu were used in the battle field where the Samurai and other foes would be wearing armor; thus punches and kicks would have little to no effect. Therefore, it became most effective for the Yoshin warrior to drop or drag down their opponent’s body by their own weight.  This tradition (Ryuha) is most popular in the All Japan World Budokan as a “School  Of Bodyguards, or School Of Bounty Hunters” with fast and effective hand-to-hand (Jujutsu) techniques, and daisho sabaki (Jujutsu while wearing both swords in the belt).

The Yoshin Ryu Bujutsu uses many techniques that are very close-quarter techniques with the opponent held close.  This is a result of the techniques being developed in buildings and close quarter facilities.  Students are taught to use speed, look the opponent in the eyes and use their impulse and weight.

A number of techniques within the system are worthy of note as they stand out in terms of combatative application.

Various ways of taking an opponent down using surprise attacks (kicking his legs out from under him), using various pain holds and chokes (itami jime) to simple grabbing attacks combined with nerve strikes and throws (iki chigae) in some techniques, the idea of a quick drop to the ground to throw an opponent or counter a throw, is employed.

Often these throws are executed by dropping to one knee and dragging the opponent down with the weight of one’s own body. Of course, Takagi Yoshin Ryu has a rich history and philosophy; much too complex to cover in a simple article.


The following set of characteristics have been compiled by HANSHI ARIZA, as per his research, study and comprehensive DOCTORATE DISSERTATION on the subject matter.

Through much research and personal experience, these characteristics amounted to exactly twenty one. “With a limited amount of knowledge comes a limited amount of understanding,” I was explained. It would make perfect sense, at this juncture, to point out why more than 75% of the techniques had to be revised, changed and even deleted in order to comply with the precept characteristics of the tradition; thus doing away with many impurities and borrowed ideas from other schools.
1. There are no set kamae in Yoshin Ryu Ju-taijutsu; however, a natural posture (attitude), Shizen Tai is favored; and due to its historical affiliations with the Kukishin Ryu, Hira Ichi Monji no kamae, and a hybrid of Ichi Monji, Seigan no kamae, Katate Seigan are used on occasions.
2. When in Seiza the toes are up (resting in the ballof the feet) and the back is straight. The hands rest on the tops of the thighs near the hips with all fingers close to one another.
3. When striking, a Kiai or spirit shout is at times given out: Toh! Eih! Yah! To denote victory; however, the majory of the training is done in complete silence.
4. When the collar is grabbed, grab your own jacket below Uke’s corresponding hand and press the thumb into the pressure point of the little or ring finger while the other hand is held freely on front of the hip.
5. To release a collar grab, grab Uke’s wrist and pull his hand and your jacket apart with a violent pull. Turn the body to face the hands at the same time.
6. The take downs are predominantly from a opened-leg posture and from Nage No Kamae (one knee) as to use one’s body weight and practiced gently. In reality, they are done so tightly closed that Uke cannot roll, break fall or escape. They are designed so that he breaks his back, neck and or a limb. The restraints are for holding down a violent attacker.
7. When a strike has been applied, a further strike is sometimes employed to ensure the application of certain locks. This is either done initially, or at a later time during the execution of the technique.
8. When striking from Seiza, the toes are up, the right knee comes up and the left comes across the back, at 90 degrees to the right foot.
9) Kuden – Essence – One of the characteristics of the Yoshin Ryu Ju-taijutsu is to control at least two points of the attacker’s body at once.
10) Psychological intimidation
Eyes: The gaze is kept through the opponent’s eyes – let the foe see the strength of your spirit
Speed: Move like the wind
Courage (Spirit-will to survive): Muster up as much courage as your body will muster.
Strength: Always use your strength effectively, and efficiently.
11) During a confrontation, it is MOST essential to remain calm, but full of courage within.
12) The Ate (strike) is used to distract, weaken and unbalance (Kuzushi).
13) The principle of intergration/flexibility is applied to the technique, strategy and tactics.
14) The Ryu upholds that conflict should be avoided, with actual physical violence being the last and least favorable response to a situation.
15) When a situation is encountered, never take the opponent face on. The attacker’s force is redirected in such a way that it doesn’t strike the defender head-on. This is then used against the attacker.
16) The defender observes ‘Zanshin’ (heightened awareness) at all times. Zanshin is to be used at the beginning, middle, and end of each technique.
17) Always have a strong Kamae (posture). This is not as in a fighting stance, but a feeling of being in a correct posture and well grounded during a conflict. Consider Migi mae kamae.
18) The absolute control of Ma-ai (the presence of distancing or lack of) is only possible when you have mastered Tai Sabaki. This is the most important basic of Ju-taijutsu.
19) In the Ju-Taijutsu Gata (pattern) the most important factor is to learn Kuzushi (loss of balance). When his balance is lost, this is the time that he is easiest to control. If he pushes – pull him, if he pulls – push him, this is the yielding Willow bending in the wind. Take adavantage of every reaction of any action. Otherwise strike with hands or feet to distract him; vital points (striking or pressure) may also be used.
20) Almost all movements to engage Kuzushi are arches, semi-circular.
21) Joint dislocation (Gyaku) and throws (Nage) are achieved by lever principles (Teko), and the fulcrum of the lever (Shiten)

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