What is Goshin Jujutsu?
Goshin Jujutsu (a derivative of Shin Shin Jujitsu) is a modern self-defense-oriented style of jujutsu that tends to be more well rounded, and provides a complete system. As there is no single creator of Goshin Jujutsu, per se, the name of the style refers to systems which are rooted in traditional Jujutsu, but also draw from boxing, wrestling, Wing Chun, Aikido, Krav Maga, Judo (itself a Jujutsu derivative), and everything else in between but in a street (i.e., non-sport) application. The student is taught a continuous and on-going system that builds on itself. It presents situations that address different distances (close, short-range, medium-range, long-range), different levels of aggression (nuisance, violent assault), and different levels of response (control, immobilize, incapacitate, etc). Kihon or basics are taught, such a tai-sabaki (body movement), ukemi (proper method of falling safely), kuzushi (off-balancing), maai (combative distance), etc. A distinctive trait of the system is the significant emphasis on modern weapons defense (guns, knives, etc.) from the onset of training, as opposed to sport-oriented systems that omit weapons training entirely, or systems that train in traditional weapons (e.g., sai, sword).
Scenario Based Training
A great deal of time in Goshin Jujutsu is teaching techniques in the context of “attack scenarios.” When practicing the techniques, the Tori is the person that is usually performing the defense technique, and the Uke is the aggressor, including defenses from wrist, shoulder, and lapel grabs, from pushes, running charges, bear hugs, chair defenses, and defense of chokes and headlocks, as well as multiple attackers. There will be times when the scenario turns around, and it will be the Tori who are the aggressor due to the opportunities that present themselves in certain “street” confrontations.
Training with other people is a fundamental part of Jujutsu training, and knowing how to deal with a variety of body types develops the sensitivity to know which techniques can work on which people, and which techniques are the most effective for your own body type. Likewise, while the Uke seems simply to be “the attacker that gets beat up,” it is more complex than that. Receiving techniques develops the reflexes to respond at the right moment, and ironically, only by receiving techniques do you really begin to trust them.
Continued training presents progressively more advanced principles and techniques, throws, joint-locks, immobilizations, pressure points, biting, gouging, poking, grasping, atemi, etc. The primary surface difference between traditional jujutsu ryu systems and a Goshin-Jutsu system is the focus on modern attack situations.
Goshin-Jujutsu systems may utilize Japanese terminology, and present instruction in the form of kata, but these are not hard fast rules. Goshin-Jujutsu systems frequently utilize the Kyu-Dan ranking system. The normal training uniform is more varied, frequently with differences for mudansha (un-graded, or below black belt), and yudansha (black belt level). It is not uncommon for classes to be done with or without Gi tops or shoes.
Blocking is probably the most important technique a martial artist could learn to do. Knowing how to block a variety of techniques could mean the difference between being a victim or your opponent being a statistic. Every block is a strike and every strike could be a block. Modern blocking techniques involve using any extremities available (i.e. knees, elbows, head, etc.). Goshin Jujutsu systems teach students to take advantage of the many different ways to block an opponent’s technique.
Rolling and falling are fundamental skills and are a part of every class including forward shoulder rolls (off both sides), break falls (both sides), front-fall, back-fall, side-fall, flip, etc. There is a minor point worth mentioning on forward shoulder rolls and breakfalls: there are two ways in which the hand can be placed when rolling, on the back of the hand which is more traditional, and rolling with the palms facing the floor.
Stances & footwork
Stances and footwork are a meld of boxing and traditional. As in boxing, the closer an opponent the higher the hands should be and the tighter the chin should be tucked to the chest. A more “open” stance (i.e., more of the chest exposed) is preferred over traditional “side-on” stances due to increased mobility. This type of stance does expose more of the vital organs on the front, but more importantly it protects the back, as if an opponent gets behind they can attack with minimal response, for example applying a choke. It also limits the possibility of being hit on the back of the skull or the spine, techniques that are commonly illegal in competitions but might be used in a self-defense scenario.
The uppercut and hook are effective close-range boxing punches and are an important part of Goshin Jujutsu as well as the jab and cross. Elbow strikes (where, technically speaking, the point of contact is actually about an inch or two above the elbow on the forearm) are practiced going across to the face, up under the chin, and down on the chest. These can also be performed where the contact point is 1-2 inches towards the triceps and may be used as a reverse strike in a rear bear hug, or as an elbow-drop to a grounded opponent. Elbow strikes are arguably the most important close-range strikes due to the forearm being such a strong part of the body. Something that deserves comment is that the effectiveness of a strike is considerably tied to proper hip-torque , which in turn is tied to proper footwork. This is an important illustration of the inter-relationship between subjects that holds true throughout the system (e.g., punching isn’t a completely separately topic from footwork).
There is a preference in Goshin Jujutsu for simple low-to-mid-level kicks, the most common are the front-ball kick (contact point is the ball of the foot, target is bladder or groin), roundhouse bridge (contact point is the bridge of the foot, target is usually stomach or side of body), the side kick, and Muay Thai style leg kicks (usually striking with the shin where the target is the opponent’s knee or side of leg). Knee-strikes, technically speaking, are classified as kicks in Goshin Jujutsu and are used in close-range techniques.
The Jujutsu Part
Goshin Jujutsu prioritizes street-effectiveness over flash. While elbow strikes, and hand-strikes such as jabs, hooks and uppercuts are a core part of training, it’s generally not good strategy to repeatedly trade blows with somebody at close-range, particularly when the aim is self-defense. A better idea is to use strikes as a setup and use Jujutsu as the fight-stopper. Joint locks (and assorted restraining/submission techniques), chokes, throws, and defenses from all of the above are the essence of jujutsu.
Techniques used as a part of Goshin Jujutsu include joint locks such as wrist locks, elbow locks (commonly called “arm bars”), chokeholds No-gi (over-under choke, sleeper hold, guillotine choke, arm/leg triangle, etc.). Sweeps, reaps or trips, and throws are also a part of the training regimen.
The number of throws in this system can vary from dojo to dojo. The important distinction is that a throw is affected by minimum physical strength and maximum use of kuzushi or small circles. A takedown often uses a lot of physical strength, and there is no art to the method of breaking balance.
An understanding on how to grapple and fight on the ground is critical. Though it is not particularly advantageous to be on the ground in a crowded place, the need still exists to understand how to fight from any position. Goshin Jujutsu strives to maintain a sense of realism in grappling by encouraging practitioners to throw (light) punches during grappling to remember to cover up, because when on the bottom in a real emergency the opponent probably may not be trying to “pass your guard .” That said, the fundamentals of the grappling positional hierarchy (e.g., guard position, side control, mount position, back), movement, and escapes are an important part of training, many of the locks and chokes on the ground are the same or similar to their standing applications (e.g., key lock, rear naked choke, etc.) but the priority will be to get off the ground as fast as possible.
Goshin Jujutsu emphasizes modern-weapons defense, such as guns, knives, bats, and chains, as opposed to traditional weapons such as the sword, bo, and sai, etc.