View Full Version : Aikido Contest

25th March 2001, 17:18
I have been reading with interest the discussion concerning Aikido and competition.

In Great Britain the Home Office introduced an Aikido based system known as Taiho Jutsu to the Police Service.

This system was taught to the Instructors at the National Police Training School by Brian Eustace.

As the years moved on the instructors and the police service became more profficient at Taiho Jutsu, Brian discussed the idea of holding competition.
After a meeting of all the high grades in the Taiho Jutsu system a competition format with rules and regulations was formulated.

The first national competition was held at the Regional Police Training School Shotley, Suffolk, England.
The competition was losely based on the Tomiki Aikido rules but also included points for groundwork.
At this time only serving Police Officers or those employed by the Home Office or Police were allowed to enter.

The rules were as follows:

The competition duration was four minutes. Each competitor had to be an attacker with a rubber knife for two x one minute rounds.
The attacker could score 1 point each time he successfully scored on the defender to a fatal area.

The defender could score 3 points for a ground pin or armlock whilst in groundwork. (Strangles were disallowed at the time due to political reasons Ie; it was not good to see police officers strangling offenders. Because of this strangles were not taught)
The defender could also score 3 or 5 points by taking technique whilst standing up. A submission would score 5 points, a throw where the defender fell half on their back would score 3 points and a clean throw flat on the back would score 5 points.

In this way both the attacker and the defender could score points.
The winner was the first person to score ten points.
Obviously the knife would change hands every minute.
Groudwork was allowed when both parties fell to the floor during an encounter.

The competition was very fierce with each competitor wanting to win for their force.

Besides this competition different county forces would arrange team matches against each other throughout the year.

There was also international matches arranged between the English Police team and the Irish Police team.
The Irish Police are the current holder of the trophy.
(The international matches ended in 1996 due to the change in Police self defence and it is not anticipated that it will ever take place again)

When the British Police Service changed its method of Self Defence in 1996, the competition ceased to exist, as did the system of Taiho Jutsu.

However several of the higher graded Police officers formed the British Taiho Jutsu Association and opened it up to members of the public.

The competition was resurected in 2000 and was open to all members of the Taiho Jutsu Assoc. wether Police or civillian.

I think that for the right people competition in Aikido can be good. I have found that if you can make a technique work under the pressure of competition then you will know it would work in self defence. (As I have found during my work)

All I can say is the competition worked for the British Police service, it gave prationers something to work towards and made their training more realistic.

What are the thoughts of you out there.

Stephen Sweetlove

26th March 2001, 09:57
In Taiho Jutsu, self-defence techniques are taught from the outset. The student is given a number of techniques and is expected to choose the ones that best suit them. This is similar to a Judo player who may know the whole of the GoKyo, but in competition, relies on only one or two main techniques to achieve victory over the opponent. The judo player strives to make these techniques work in as many situations as possible. Taiho Jutsu practitioners strive to accomplish this in a self-defence situation. A small number of techniques to cope with a large and varied manner of attacks.
With this in mind the sporting techniques are added to allow the student to experience physical contact against an uncooperative partner at the most common ranges of combat. Here they discover for themselves what does and doesn’t work for them. The student is then encouraged to take the basic lessons they learn from the sporting aspect and re-apply them when practicing the defensive techniques.
To this end the following disciplines are practiced, Sparring using punching and kicking distances. Ground defence, keeping the opponent at bay. Aiki randori unarmed or against a rubber knife (Tanto) this also incorporates groundwork. Groundwork to emphasize the difficulties of wrestling on the floor. Judo randori incorporating groundwork.

The main aims of Taiho Jutsu are to be able to prevent harm to oneself and to control and restrain another person. Therefore when considering the introduction of a sporting and ultimately a competitive section into the BTJA syllabus, these objectives had to be reflected in the format of the competition.

Whilst many of the techniques of self preservation cannot be transferred to the competitive arena due to injury factors. Many of the governing principles of free practice can be transferred to the self preservation section.

Before I move on it must be made clear that there is a distinct divide between the self defence section and the sporting section of the syllabus. It must be understood that it is the basic principles that govern combat which are being re-enforced during free practice that are of benefit more than the techniques.

As a separated reactionary gap (Ma-ai) is taught to students, then the reliance on the closed distance (Ma-ai) of Judo randori as a form of contest was not the ideal type of free practice needed. Similarly the impactive damage of kicking and punching systems is not ideal if an objective is to control with minimum force.

The Ma-ai and standing techniques of Tomiki Aikido were deemed far more suitable for contest in that they encompassed the basic principles that are taught in Taiho Jutsu. The Aiki type techniques are far more suitable to effecting control. However experience shows that most serious encounters can end up on the ground. Therefore ground work was deemed necessary. When integrating it in to Taiho Competition it was recognised that submission techniques were the vital components rather than hold downs. Further to this experience also tells us that some form of control against the legs must be included.

Then to re-enforce the governing principles of Taiho Jutsu, the scoring system had to reflect them. Hence only an exceptional standing technique will score four points, a good one (normal) scores only two points. Sacrificing oneself to the floor is not recommended in self defence, so although permitted this is only ever awarded two points.

Once on the ground opponents are given parity, so both may score with groundwork techniques, again showing the disadvantage of going to the ground. Although holddowns are taught and permitted one must maintain such a technique for twenty seconds to score two points. Submission techniques such as arm locks, leg locks and strangles are encouraged and score two points at the point of “tap out”.

A main difference when compared with other systems is that there is no “Ippon” technique, whereby the person wins the fight outright. Instead Taiho competition only excepts an outright winner if they amass ten points. This is usually an impossible feat only accomplished between to completely mismatched players. The ten point rule is to instill the brutal fact that a fight is usually won by a person who can keep going, even after their best technique has failed.

Parity on the floor encourages a person to go for a “tap out” technique and regain their feet, as it is not the end of the match. Similarly it encourages a person to attack when they are taken to the floor.

Finally a single point is awarded to tanto, the person with the blade, if they score with a thrust. Although a knife thrust is used, it is meant to represent an act of aggression towards you. In the initial stages of a threatening move towards you it is always better to assume the worst and expect a blade However you do not have to await tanto’s thrust, it is perfectly admissible to enter in to take the initiative should you feel able and the circumstances allow.

No competitive section will ever have all the answers to actual combat, but is hoped that the system created by the BTJA will give a student a good grounding. It is hoped that it encourages contemplation on the nature of self defence, and demonstrates that one can never be the best all the time.

Nine metres square with safety surround

Three minutes, divided into two equal periods. The Tanto (knife) is exchanged at half time. If the score is level at full time there will be one extension of two minutes, divided into two equal parts.

Two competitors dressed in regulation clean Keikogi with a belt denoting correct grades. Each competitor will wear red or white identifying sashes over belt.

(a) A referee who will conduct the contest from within the area.
(b) Two judges positioned outside the area. Each will have a red and white flag.
(c) Timekeeper/Recorder will keep time and keep a record of all scores signaled by the referee.

(a) The competitors will line up facing JOSEKI
The referee will position themselves between these competitors with red on their right and white on their left.
(b) At the commencement of the bout, red will have the tanto, which will be exchanged at halftime. The tanto may be held in either the right or left hand, but may not be changed during the bout.
(c) The competitor with the knife is referred to as Tanto and the unarmed competitor as Toshu.

(a) Technique scores are as follows:
IPPON - 4 Points
WAZA-ARI -2 Points
TSUKI-ARI (knife thrust) -1 Point
For violation of the rules or violent conduct the following points are awarded to the opponent
SHUDO (Warning) - 2 Points
CHUI (Penalty) - 4 Points
HANSOKU-MAKE - Disqualification
Points may be scored by Toshu applying one of the 16 basic techniques (8 standing and 8 ground) from the syllabus or a recognised variation, or by Tanto striking correctly with the knife.

(c) If the contest goes to full time the players with the most points will be declared the winner. If the scores are equal after extra time, the referee after consultation with the judges, will declare the winner by superiority.

(d) If a competitor, at any time scores a total of 10 points the contest will end and that person will be declared the winner.

(e) If either contestant goes to the mat following an attempted technique, both may attempt to score in groundwork. The referee will remove the knife for safety. If after 20 seconds neither competitor has obtained a technique the referee will bring both to their feet and resume as normal.

(f) Note that, a competitor must hold their opponent for 20 seconds on the ground to score WAZA-ARI. No leg lock may be applied which puts lateral strain on the joint. Also a competitor cannot make a sacrifice thrown with a joint lock applied.

(g) For correct knife score (Tsuki-ari) the following conditions apply:

i. The valid striking area shall be the front and back of the torso from the belt to the shoulder line. This includes the arms where they are covering the target area.
ii Tanto must be in correct posture when striking.

JIKAN Time Out
HANTEI Judgement
KACHI Winner
FUJIBUN No score
MATTE Break-wait

26th March 2001, 10:36
Hi, Stephen, Tim,
Are you sure you two don't know each other? If you do, you sure put on a good act which has me asking.

I always like tanto shiai of shodokan style aikido. This sounds very familiar to me, particularly with the contest not ending on submission of time of pin. Mike Swain is doing something similar in judo, called New Sport Judo, I believe.

Veeery interesting.

So Tim, in your description, it sounds like you use a real knife. In any situation, wouldn't a good substitute remove the danger from it and at the same time, keep it as realistic? Fighting in armor is not something I fancy, but I don't think many aikido people could have too much negativity over this (I just opened my mouth. May have to close fast if I don't want my feet stuffed in the piehole).


26th March 2001, 10:39
BTW: What about keikoku penalties before hansokumake? No second, third, or fourth chances for "grave infractions of the rules (someone on the IJF.org judo forum called "throwing up on the mat" a "grave violation of the rules.")


26th March 2001, 12:24
Hi Mark,
Yes, Steve and I do know each other, we share the same Taiho Jutsu sensei (Brian Eustace). However, we have only met a couple of times on courses and have never had time to exchange points of view. Through this site I have learnt more about Steve in ten minutes than I have in ten years. Normally we are to busy teaching our thing to sit and talk.
The Taiho competition uses a rubber knife not a real blade, sorry if I gave you that impression. Your comment about protective clothing is interesting though. At my club we do use chest protectors etc during free sparing. Also, we are lucky to have FIST suits available for role play scenarios so the student can go all out at the subject should the need arise.

26th March 2001, 17:55
Hi Tim and Mark,

Yes Tim and I do know each other but as Tim says we have never had the chance to talk.

Tim I notice the rules of Taiho Jutsu have changed since my competition days. (By the way I won all my fights by ten points when I won the championships in 1987 and 1988)
Why has the time limit dropped. Four minutes seemed to be much fairer. I gave time to be able to take technique it also made the unfit person show how unfit they were - this normally meant they lost.
I also notice the scores have changed - I think this is for the better - It is harder to get the ten points.

Did you know the reason why we used points instead of hand scores - We copied the wrestling scoring system.
We even copied using the fingers to show the score rather than the hand system used in Judo.

I do not remember if leg locks were allowed, they were definately taught as part of the system. Matt Clempner and myself introduced them into the system at the request of Brian Eustace.

As I said earlier the competition certainly helped the police in deciding what techniques to use in the Self Defence syllabus at that time.

I accept what Tim says about the difference in the syllabus for self defence and competition but there is definately a cross over.

Strikes and kicks were going to be introduced into the competition but we had diificulty in deciding how we were going to use them. Before we could decide time ran out and the Police changed the system to Defensive Tactics and as I said earlier the competition ceased to be.

The competition has been res-erected by the BTJA thanks to the efforts of Tim Burton.

Aikido players out there I have seen you discussing the idea of competition - what are the fors and againsts and what are your thoughts.
Lets get this discussion going.

Stephen Sweetlove

27th March 2001, 12:00
This all sounds very exciting.
I am a bit of a competition addict so certainly I would support any competition I wouldn't have to travel too far to.

I wanted to ask somebody who can take part in these competitions?
I do a little bit of judo and a lot of aikido so I would certainly like to try something new.

27th March 2001, 12:21
I was bumped in the middle of my reply, but the gist was agreement with Sam here. While I do like the finality of ippon or submission ending contests, this does seem to be something to look into in the near future.

Just a reminder. If you would, please sign your full name to your posts. The easiest way is to configure your signature box under your personal prefs.


27th March 2001, 12:42
Just updated my profile so all of you can now see who I really am! (erm, well my full name anyway)

27th March 2001, 17:34

Anyone can enter the Taiho Jutsu competition but for insurance purposes/health and safety etc. You must be a member of the British Taiho Jutsu Association.

To find out more about the BTJA speak to member Tim Burton or visit his web site. Details can be found under his profile.

Stephen Sweetlove

Karl Kuhn
29th March 2001, 18:16
Members of my dojo have been doing a very informal toshu-randori that goes includes "going to the ground" and I'm quite interested in what you describe. I must admit, however, that I am bit confused about how it works.

So, it's a tanto match that includes ground work, right? What is the "parity" you decribe and when is it given? Does this mean that after an ippon or waza-ari the players give up the knife and settle into a "begin position" on the ground?

What are the eight standing techniques allowed ? Why not, say, 17?

Look forward to hearing more,

Karl Kuhn

29th March 2001, 18:21
Hi Sam,
Here are details of your nearest dojo if you are interested in our type of competition.
Contact: Jeffrey Goodwin
Tel: 0794 1529893
e-mail: jeffrey.goodwin@virgin.net
web site: www.sheffield-taihojutsu.com
Waltheof Centre,
Beaumont Close,
Off Prince of Wales Road,
Times: 8.30pm to 9.45pm Mondays
8.15pm to 9.45pm Wednesdays
10.15am to 12.15pm Sundays (by Invitation only).


30th March 2001, 10:02
Thanks Tim!

I'll definitely check it out.

31st March 2001, 10:53
Hi Karl,
Thanks for the questions. Yes it is tanto with Newaza that includes locks strangles, hold downs and certain leg locks. The initial item I posted which states a basic eight standing and eight ground techniques is for someone beginning to practice this type of randori or shiai. There are many more techniques availible and their Henka waza. However experience shows that these basics are the most likely to be used with success. I am sorry if the term “allowed” has caused confusion.
These basic techniques are;

The “parity” I refer to occurs when groundwork is entered into, Tanto cannot retain the knife and continue to score points by stabbing. They can however discard the tanto and attempt to defend against or attack with ground techniques of their own.
A common flow into a groundwork situation would be toshu executing sumi otoshi which takes tanto to the floor, scoring either no points (tanto manages to turn out of it and is dragged down onto their knees) or two points. Toshu has retained a grip on the arm and attempts to apply juji gatamae. At this point tanto can release the knife and enter into groundwork, maybe rolling out of the uncompleted lock and attempting a technique of their own.
Similarly if the throw had been judged a four point technique the referee would intervene and stop the match going to the ground. Another common situation is the use of a gedan ate that uke is able to resist and toshu loses balance and falls over onto the mat. Here tanto can attack the fallen player using groundwork.
Thank you for your queries Karl and if you have anymore question or observations please fire them at me and I will try to answer them.

Below is another explanation of our competition rules that I circulated at the Taiho 2000 competition.


The competition will be held on a matted area marked with a danger zone.
To set out the area, designate a wall of the Dojo, usually the one furthest from the entrance, as JOSEKI.
You will have a REFEREE.
TWO JUDGES who will hold a RED flag and a WHITE flag each.
There will also be a TIMEKEEPER/RECORDER.
A STOPCLOCK that is visible to contestants and spectators will be used and must have the means to be halted during a time out. In addition the timekeeper should have a stopwatch running.
The competitors will wear WHITE Keikogi and must also wear a belt denoting their correct grade.
A second belt of either RED or WHITE will be issued before the contest to be worn with your correct grade.
So you should see that a green belt is competing against a black belt etc.

You must have attained the grade of 3rd kyu (green belt) on the day of the competition.
The weight categories are.
Light, under 70kgs.
Middle, under 80kgs.
Heavy, above 80kgs.
At present the female contest is an open weight due to the fewer number of practitioners. Should this membership increase to a point where a viable weight category contest could be held then the committee will announce the respective weights
Whoever is issued the RED belt is the first to hold the TANTO. Remember that the Tanto can be held in the right or left hand BUT cannot be swapped over during the contest or a penalty will be given against you.
The person issued the WHITE belt is TOSHU.
At the start of a contest the REFEREE will face the JOSEKI and position TANTO (RED) to their right and TOSHU (WHITE) to their left. The JUDGES will take up a position
facing each other at the corners of the area nearest the JOSEKI. From here the Referee leads everyone through the REI (Bow).

HAJIME is the command to start the contest.
MATTE is the command pause the contest.
YAME is the command to end the contest.

The contest is of 3 minutes duration, within which each contestant holds the Tanto for 1 minute 30 seconds.
In the event of a draw an extension of 2 minutes is given with each contestant holding the Tanto for 1 minute.

If contestants go to the mat following an attempted technique or one that has scored Waza ari, both may attempt to score in groundwork. Players have only twenty seconds to obtain a technique or the referee will bring them to their feet. It can be seen therefore that the maximum time one could spend on the ground after an attempted technique is thirty nine seconds.
OSAEKOMI tells you that your holding technique is on and will score if maintained for twenty seconds.
TOKETA tells you that your hold has been broken and you will normally be instructed to return to your feet.

How can I score?

TSUKI AGE, 1 POINT, this can only be scored by TANTO with a clear, correct, connecting thrust with the Tanto to the defined target area on TOSHU. This is on the front or the back of the torso from the belt to the shoulder line and includes the arms if they are brought up flat to cover the chest. If Tanto scores Tsuki Age the referee will pause the contest and award the point before recommencing the contest.

WAZA ARI, 2 POINTS, this is the type of score MAINLY awarded during a match. It can be achieved by
1. The correct application of a standing technique by Toshu only.
2. The correct application of a sacrificial technique by Toshu only.
3. Maintaining a correct unbroken hold down for twenty seconds by either player.
4. By obtaining a submission from an arm lock, strangle or leg lock whilst on the ground by either player.

This means that if Toshu throws Tanto and scores Waza ari, the referee will allow Toshu to follow it on with a ground technique in order that a second two points can be tried for, however Toshu does not have to take up the opportunity. Once on the ground Tanto must release the knife but they can then employ groundwork themselves and may score two points back if they are successful.

IPPON, 4 POINTS, this score can only be awarded after a correctly executed and effective STANDING technique. One should be able to clearly see the distinction between a technique awarded waza ari against one achieving ippon. If Ippon is scored the referee will pause the contest and award the points before recommencing it.

From this scoring matrix one can see that a SACRIFICIAL throw can never score more than 2 points. Also, if taken to the ground by a sacrificial throw, tanto may well begin groundwork against Toshu and win 2 points for themselves.

Should Toshu score waza ari with a throw and waza ari with a ground technique. The referee will pause the contest and award the points using the term WAZA ARI AWASETE IPPON indicating that four points have been achieved, before recommencing the contest.
Toshu does not have to wait for Tanto to attack they may initiate a technique themselves, however if Tanto scores as they move in Tsuki Age is awarded.

Tanto can only defend themselves by applying pressure with TEGATANA (Handblade); they will be penalised if they attempt to apply techniques.

No sweeping of the leg is allowed by either party.

SHUDO, 2 POINTS awarded against you.
CHUI, 4 POINTS awarded against you.

The important thing to remember with penalties is that if scores are tied, then the person who gave away the penalty loses. It is NOT a draw that has to be decided by an extension.

HIKIWAKE, is a draw. If this is called at the end of the contest and no penalties or identical penalties are present the referee continues with an extension to the match.
However if it is called at the end of the extension the referee must call HANTEI. The two judges must then raise the flag of the colour they deem to be the winner. If the judges are split then the referee has the deciding vote.

31st March 2001, 12:44
Originally posted by TIM BURTON

These basic techniques are;

Hi Tim

Are gyakugamate and mai-otoshi permitted? They are about the only techniques I can do with any regularity in randori.

Also I was interested in the use of sutemi-waza. I have seen the use of these techniques before by 'naughty' people in aikido randori and they have always been successful. I noted that you mentioned their use but they are not listed above - what are the waza used and does this mean the use of gi grabbing or is this limited to ne-waza only?

1st April 2001, 13:13
Hi Sam,
Gyaku gamae ate is allowed, but Mai otoshi has been dropped as it causes to many elbow injuries in the “heat of the moment”.
The grabbing of the Gi is limited to Ne waza and is not permitted whilst standing.
Sutemi waza or sacrificial techniques are allowed but only two seem to be successful and are taught to students. These are Tani otoshi (usually from Gedan ate)and Soto makikomi.
Also Hiki otoshi is performed more like Seoi otoshi.

Good luck with the Harai goshi.

2nd April 2001, 08:29
Originally posted by TIM BURTON
Sutemi waza or sacrificial techniques are allowed but only two seem to be successful and are taught to students. These are Tani otoshi (usually from Gedan ate)and Soto makikomi.
Also Hiki otoshi is performed more like Seoi otoshi.

Hi, Tim,
So, am I correct in assuming that sacrifice throws (sutemiwaza) and Makikomi (wrap-around) are both considered to be sacrifice throws?

I am limiting myself to judo/jujutsu, but makikomi, soto or otherwise, are distinct classes of nagewaza, with makikomi being one in which tori usually follows uke to the mat to apply a pin, joint lock, etc. wherein tani otoshi is yoko sutemi where tori puts himself down before kake is achived and uke falls.

I ask because offline I've been having a discussion with someone on whether the two can be considered sutemi waza, or not. In some ways, the makikomi does seem to be a sacrifice, e.g., hane-goshi makikomi.

Is this strictly a taiho jutsu contest matter? Or am I wrong in my assumption that the two are essentially the same, in your opinion, of course?


2nd April 2001, 22:13
Hi Mark,
I referred to the throws Soto makikomi and Tani Otoshi as Sutemi waza or sacrificial techniques in the context of Taiho Jutsu. Any throw whereby your standing position is sacrificed for a prone one is referred to as such.
However in answer to your question. My understanding as a Judoka is that Sutemi waza refer to throws where the opponent is dynamically thrown by ones body weight suddenly dropping towards the mat. This is achieved by dropping on to ones back or side. Personally I would say that Soto makikomi is definitely a Sutemi waza and most probably a Yoko sutemi waza.


2nd April 2001, 23:00
Hi Mark,
You had me thinking so I checked and found this;
Kodokan Judo (softback). Page 56, Classification of throws, has Tani Otoshi and Soto makikomi amongst the Yoko sutemi waza.

3rd April 2001, 10:45
I stand corrected, although my argument offline is essentially the same as the book and as you said, so that was the reason for the question. It was a question to/from a hontai yoshin ryu man. You are correct that the standing position is definitely given up either way. The only difference may be just as you described, and usually without the opportunity for groundfighting in the yoko sutemi waza. At least, the sacrifice is a real one.:)

Thanks for the heads up.


20th August 2005, 14:02
Just stumbled upon this old thread.

I would jsut like to say, for any still interested, that the system of Taiho-jutsu taught by Brian Eustace was about 90% Tomiki Aikido - at least that is how it was when I did it in the mid 1980s as our Tomiki club had a habit of going down to Stratford Upon Avon to train with Brian Eustace. I think I got graded to 3rd Kyu in his system of police Taiho-jutsu.

20th August 2005, 18:57
Hi Rupert,

Taiho Jutsu was/is Tomiki based, however, I would say 60% was Tomiki, 20% Judo, 10% Sambo and 10% wrestling.
The system was ever evolving and as more PTI's got in to the system the more they brought with them from other arts.
It must be remembered that many of the top Police PTI's were internationals at their sports. I can remember several Judo, Sambo and wrestling internationals and two of them had represented GB at the olympics.

Brian Eustace taught Tomiki aikido and I would think at his club that is what his teaching was based upon, however, when he taught the police he would get many of the higher graded instructors (as mentioned above) to teach their styles and these techniques were added to the Taiho Jutsu system.

So yes you are right it is Tomiki based but it did incorporate many other arts and thats what made it so interesting as a competition.

Robert Cheshire
31st August 2005, 14:12
I was wondering if any of you Europeans have had the chance to see any of the Yoseikan Budo competitions? It has some of the elements you have talked about. It also uses sutemi then leads right into groundwork.

31st August 2005, 20:40
Hi Robert,

I have not seen Yoseikan Budo before but having visited the site it looks very close to Taiho Jutsu competition.