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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu a form of modern taiho jutsu?
Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu the same thing as Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu?
Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu like Aikido?
Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu affiliated with any larger martial arts associations?
Why was the name of the system changed to Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?
What is the technical curriculum of Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?
How long does it take to earn a Black Belt in Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?
What is the ranking structure of Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu? 

Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu a form of modern taiho jutsu?

No.  Modern taiho jutsu was created in the 1940s to meet the specific needs of the post-WWII Japanese police force. It is an amalgamation of techniques from Judo, Aikido, jujutsu, karate, and kendo.  However, before the creation of modern taiho jutsu the Otake family had developed their own taiho jutsu system specifically for use by the hereditary dōshin of their family.  This system predates modern taiho jutsu by several generations and should not be confused with it.

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Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu the same thing as Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu?

No.  OHDRJ is the martial system/tradition of Myoshi Otake Shihan, which combines his family's taiho jutsu system (jujutsu and weapons) with the Daito Ryu he learned from Sokaku Takeda (see History section: here) and passed to Shihan Eric Merrill.  While OHDRJ was/is influenced technically by Daito Ryu, it is not Daito Ryu, nor does it teach the Daito Ryu curriculum, nor is it affiliated with any of the various Daito Ryu organizations.

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Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu like Aikido?

No.  Both are jujutsu systems that share, to varying degrees, in Daito Ryu's technical tradition, however, prior to WWII the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, became a devotee of the Omoto Kyo religious sect of Onisaburo Deguchi, which greatly affected him and forever changed his view and practice of the martial arts.  As a result, he (and later Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei) significantly modified Daito Ryu techniques, removing much of the martial emphasis from them and turning his newly created art of Aikido into more of an esoteric spiritual path.  OHDRJ, however, is not a spiritual path, or a philosophy, or a sport for that matter.  Instead it remains focused on the practicality of the feudal policing from which it sprang, and therefore tends to be very pragmatic and less concerned with aesthetic value.  So while OHDRJ and Aikido do share some common technical lineage, the similarity ends there.

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Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

No.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is derived primarily from Judo's ne waza (ground-fighting), and while OHDRJ does contain some ne waza, it is a relatively small portion of the overall curriculum.  OHDRJ is what some would call "stand up" jujutsu, and as such it is far more like classical jujutsu (from which it is derived).

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Is Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu affiliated with any larger martial arts associations?

No.  Otake Shihan was a very private man and uninterested in such things, as is Shihan Merrill generally.  However, in the 1980s Shihan Merrill's friendship with Hakkoryu Jujutsu Shihan Dennis Palumbo did result in his becoming a charter member of Shihan Palumbo's Hakkoryu Martial Arts Federation (despite not being a practitioner of Hakkoryu).  His membership in the HMAF has become inactive, though.  Since then Shihan Merrill (and thus OHDRJ) has not joined any martial arts associations or federations.

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Why was the name of the system changed to Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?

In 2003, upon the discovery of several other jujutsu systems also bearing the Goju Ryu name, Shihan Merrill and his senior yudansha discussed changing the system's name.  Given that Goju Ryu was a rather generic choice when Shihan Merrill had originally adopted it, it was not surprising that others had adopted it as well.  Ultimately, however, Shihan Merrill did not want these other unrelated systems to be confused for—or assumed to be associated with—this system (or vice versa).  So the decision was made that a name change was indeed in order, and since Shihan Merrill’s initial hesitancy in using the Otake name had waned over the years, simply returning to Otake Han Taiho Jutsu was considered.  However, as was the case in 1977 when Shihan Merrill adopted the Goju Ryu Jiu Jitsu name (as opposed to calling it Goju Ryu Taiho Jutsu), the modern art of taiho jutsu differs significantly from that of the older, traditional taiho jutsu of the Otake clan.  Therefore, in order to avoid confusion with modern taiho jutsu, Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu was instead chosen (the Otake family having been hereditary dōshin (police) during Japan's feudal era, see History section: here).  By choosing Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu (i.e., Otake Clan Police Style Jujutsu) he was in essence returning it to its original name of Otake Han Taiho Jutsu, but with a slight play on words that avoided any confusion with modern taiho jutsu.  Considering that the core of Otake Han Taiho Jutsu's technical curriculum is indeed jujutsu, and that Otake Shihan used the terms jujutsu and taiho jutsu interchangably in this regard, it seemed the perfect choice.

                                                                                         
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What is the technical curriculum of Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?

The unarmed curriculum of OHDRJ is based on the following eight foundational pillars of the system:

Kansetsu Waza: joint locking and/or breaking
Nage Waza: throwing
Shime Waza: choking/strangling
Uke Waza: blocking and/or redirecting
Atemi Waza: striking vulnerable areas with the hands and/or feet
Shinkei Waza: striking and/or manipulating nerve centers
Osae Waza: pinning
Ne Waza: ground-fighting

While the unarmed portion of OHDRJ's curriculum is its main focus, the system does also include introductory weapons training as well.  Some of these weapons include:

Jutte (single-tined truncheon)
Manrikigusari (weighted chain)
Ken (sword)
Jo (short staff)
Hanbo (short stick)
Tanto (knife)
Naginata (halberd)
Yari (spear)


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How long does it take to earn a Black Belt in Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?

OHDRJ is a complex martial art and it is therefore impossible to predict the speed at which an individual will achieve certain milestones.  Progress is based on the individual; students are not competing against, nor compared with, each other.  Instructors evaluate students every time they train and testing/promotion will occur when the individual is ready to move ahead.  However, the study of OHDRJ is a lifelong endeavor, there is always more to learn and/or existing skills to polish.

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What is the ranking structure of Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu?

The mudansha technical curriculum of OHDRJ is broken into three levels (Shoden, Chuden, Joden), each containing one kyu rank (Sankyu, Nikyu, Ikkyu), while the yudansha technical curriculum is contained in one level (Okuden) containing five dan ranks (Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yodan, Godan).  Additionally, there are two honorary yudansha levels (Hiden, Soden) containing five dan ranks (Rokudan, Shichidan, Hachidan, Kudan, Judan).  Finally, OHDRJ contains a separate structure, independent of the kyu/dan ranks, specifically for instructor titling/licensing which is broken into four levels (Tashi, Renshi, Kyoshi, Menkyo Kaiden).

 
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