Levels of Training/Combat Engagement

In Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu

Andrew Yiannakis, 7th Dan (USJJF)


The most effective way to prepare for combat (or self defense) is to train at a level that brings the student as close to the real thing as possible. Real combat takes place in distance, close quarter and ground fighting situations. It could involve punching, kicking, throwing, strangling, joint locking and pressure point applications. To prepare for this a considerable amount of training must focus, therefore, on unrestricted live sparring in distance, close quarter and ground fighting contexts if a student is to grasp what it takes to survive a real combative situation. Anything less may provide the student with a false sense of confidence which could result in disaster.

It is important to keep in mind that not all training in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu is intended to prepare one directly for combat or self defense. In fact, to achieve the higher goals of the art it is often necessary to include other forms of training such as kata, meditation, and a study of the correct application of system principles***. Such an approach induces introspection, helps develop insights, contributes to discovery and personal understanding and helps harmonize the mind and body. Interestingly, these very same attributes and understandings also help provide a sound foundation for developing more effective combative skills. Thus, techniques and training routines from levels 1, 2 and 3 should also be viewed in this light.

A student who develops a sound foundation as a result of training at levels 1, 2 and 3 is then better prepared to incorporate (and profit from) training from levels 5 through 10. Thus, engaging in aiki no kata, and in kata training in general, is an important and essential precursor which helps "tune" the mind and body and paves the way for more complex levels of training and learning. Students (and some instructors) who don't appreciate the value of such forms of training may deprive themselves of important foundational learning, skills and insights which could limit future progress and growth in their art.


  • Actual combat/self defense situation

  • 10. Unrestricted Multiple Context* Kumite (no rules**)
  • 9. Restricted Multiple Context Kumite (two hand grip rule for standing and one move advantage rule in ground fighting when groin and/or face are hit)

  • 8. Restricted Single Context Kumite (distance, or close quarter or ground). Both Tori and Uke attack and defend simultaneously

  • 7. Restricted Single Context Kumite. Tori attacks and Uke only defends (distance, or close quarter or ground). Practised stationary and on the move

  • 6. Three against one unrestricted attack-defense (Uke attack with any technique at random)

  • 5. Three against one restricted attack-defense (Uke attack with prearranged techniques)

  • 4. One against one unrestricted attack-defense (Uke attacks with any technique at random)

  • 3. One against one restricted attack-defense (Uke attacks with prearranged techniques). This includes short training routines and non-continuous kata (e.g., Nage No Kata)

  • 2. Kata (continuous sequence) AND harmonizing routines with partner

    (e.g., "tiger walks the elephant" and Ryoku No Kata, among others)

  • 1. Aiki No Kata (individual harmonizing sequence)
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    * "Context" refers to distance, close quarter or ground fighting

    ** "No rules" means that jujutsuka may use all weapons and techniques at their disposal in multiple contexts, and when striking moderate contact is permissible. The face and groin are always out of bounds, however.

    *** See "System, Philosophy and Principles" file

    V1.04, 10/03