It’s (Not) All The Same

When our Taikyoku Budo group first started cross-training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu out of my home dojo (Seiya Dojo), my friend Dwayne Bowie (now a partner with my brother and myself at Kogen Dojo), who was then a BJJ purple belt, came in every Wednesday night to co-teach with me. The idea was that I would show a Japanese jujutsu throw or takedown that we were working on and Bowie would then teach a technique on the ground from wherever we found ourselves at the end of the throw. It was like a laboratory where we would question, experiment, and determined what truly worked.

The exchange of ideas between Bowie, myself, and the training group was truly special. In fact, it was that vibe, the synergy between us, as Bowie liked to say, that planted the seeds for what would become Kogen Dojo. Originally, the goal was to supplement our Taikyoku Budo training, so that the BJJ was additive. However, as good as the result of this training model was, some lines began to blur. By training together the way we were, some separation between the two arts began to get lost. One night, Bowie and I were riffing off of each other and he exclaimed in excitement, “Wow! This stuff (meaning Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu) is all the same!” At first, I concurred, but then I realized that something was wrong with this statement. If they were both the same, why bother doing both?

That day was a turning point for the Taikyoku Budo training group because we had to decide what our training focus was going to be on the martial side. The body mechanics had already been clearly defined by our teacher Budd Yuhasz. Brazilian jiu-jitsu tends to focus on one-on-one empty handed grappling with the purpose of achieving submissions from a variety of positions, sometimes regardless of where that position leaves you when the match or the fight is over.

There is nothing wrong with this, but Taikyoku Budo, if we were to claim at least some connection, no matter how loose, to classical Japanese martial arts, must have a different standard. In koryu jujutsu (classical Japanese grappling of the samurai, also known as yawara, torite, kogusoku), grappling was always done with at least one person being armed with a blade, and it always considered the possibility of having to face multiple opponents in succession. Taikyoku Budo had to evolve along these lines if we were to be unique and have our own identity. It couldn’t be, can’t be, the same as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, even if pulling inspiration from some of its training methods and techniques.

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