Taiho-jutsu (arresting art) is a term for martial arts developed by Japan’s feudal police to arrest dangerous criminals, who were usually armed and frequently desperate. While many taiho-jutsu methods originated from the classical Japanese schools of kenjutsu(swordsmanship) and jūjutsu (unarmed fighting arts), the goal of the feudal police officers was to capture lawbreakers alive and without injury. Thus, they often used specialized implements and unarmed techniques intended to pacify or disable suspects rather than employing more lethal means.
Japanese law enforcement officers trained in self-defense and arresting techniques primarily based on the unarmed fighting styles of jūjutsu. They also developed and perfected the use of a variety of non-lethal implements for capturing and restraining suspects such as juttejutsu (truncheon arts), toritejutsu (restraining arts), and hojōjutsu (binding and tying arts). Feudal era police officers became proficient in a variety of specialized techniques for arresting both armed and unarmed individuals.
The modern version of Taiho-jutsu was created during the Allied occupation of post World War II Japan. Japan was being demilitarized, the practice of the martial arts had been prohibited, and the Japanese police force was unable to cope with the outbreaks of violence during that period.
The Tokyo police bureau convened a technical committee headed by kendoist Saimura Goro; judoist Nagaoka Shuichi; Shimizu Takaji, the twenty-fifth headmaster of the Shindo Muso Ryu; Otsuka Hidenori, founder of the Wado Ryu; and Horiguchi Tsuneo, a pistol expert. This committee reviewed the techniques of classical kenjutsu, jujutsu, and jojutsu, and adapted several techniques from each of these disciplines for police use; the committee also selected techniques from modern disciplines, such as jujutsu, karate-jutsu, kendo, and judo, for incorporation into the proposed system of self-defense; and further ideas were gained from a study of Western boxing.
A system comprising these elements and called taiho-jutsu was created in 1947, and Taiho-jutsu Kihon Kozo (Fundamentals of Taiho-jutsu) was published as an official manual for policemen.
Takaji and Takayama Kenichi demonstrated jodo for the Police Technical Commission in 1927, and this resulted in the subsequent development of a police combat system using the short staff or jō, keijojutsu, which is still used by the Japanese riot police (although the staff used is somewhat heftier than that used in classical jodo).
Taiho-jutsu has had several revisions since 1947 and is still studied and examined to bring in refinements and adapt it to new conditions of street fighting.