Goshin Jujitsu

Goshin Jujitsu is a modern self-defence-oriented style of jujutsu,  Rolling and falling are fundamental skills and are a part of every class including forward shoulder rolls (off both sides), breakfalls (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.

The litmus test for a roll or anything else is whether it can be done smoothly on a sidewalk or a hardwood floor. James Longs, a 5th degree Goshin Jujitsu black belt, likes to say “the floor fixes all.” Mats are important for regular training safety – but it’s good to get a periodic reminder of where you might have to roll outside the dojo.

Stances & Footwork: This explanation deserves to be very long, but for the sake of brevity stances and footwork are a meld of boxing and traditional martial arts.

As in boxing, the closer your opponent the higher your hands should be and the tighter your chin should be tucked to your 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. Not only is having a grappler on your back very dangerous from the standpoint of getting choked out, at the very least it limits the possibility of getting cracked on the back of the skull or the spine – things that aren’t “competition legal” but could happen on the street.

Hand Strikes: The upper-cut and hook are very effective close-range boxing punches and are an important part of the Goshin Jujitsu arsenal 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 tricep – useful as a reverse strike in a bearhug (opponent is behind), or as an elbow-drop (opponent is below). Elbow strikes are arguably the most important close-range strikes due to the forearm being such a strong part of the body, and are effective both for men and women.

Something that deserves comment is that the effectiveness of a punch 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 is holds true throughout the system (e.g., punching isn’t a completely separately topic from footwork).

Kicks: There is a preference in Goshin Jujitsu for simple low-to-mid-level kicks. The most common kicks 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 your shin where target is your opponent’s knee or side of leg). Knee-strikes, technically speaking, are classified as kicks in Goshin Jujitsu and are used extensively in close-range techniques.

The Jujitsu Part of Goshin Jujitsu: The casual reader may think of elbows and knees and not be particularly excited. However, as Jim Meola, Director of Hillcrest Goshin Jujitsu points out, “if you are ever in a situation that requires self defense, the objective is to get home. If you defend yourself and get a broken nose but still make it home – you may get a ‘C’, but you still passed the test.” Consequently, Goshin Jujitsu prioritizes street-effectiveness over flash.

However, if you’re close enough to hook, upper-cut, or elbow somebody, they are also close enough to hook, upper-cut, or elbow you as well. Consequently, it’s not very good strategy to repeatedly trade blows with somebody at that range. A better idea is to use strikes as a setup and use Jujitsu 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 Jujitsu include, but are not limited to:

Joint locks:

  • Wrist locks (regular peel, half peel, reverse peel, etc.)
  • Finger locks
  • Elbow locks (commonly called “arm bars”)
  • Shoulder locks
  • Ankle locks
  • Knee locks


  • No-gi (over-under choke, sleeper hold, guillotine choke, arm/leg triangle, etc.)
  • Gi (a variety of lapel chokes)


  • Front sweep (from behind opponent)
  • Osoto Gari (slightly offset from opponent, looking in opposite direction)
  • Inner-reaps
  • Hook sweeps
  • etc.


  • Hip throw
  • Shoulder throw
  • Head throw (arm around the head)
  • “Face” throw (technically, the hand is controlling the neck and side of head)
  • Ankle throw (also commonly called a “body drop throw”)
  • Stomach throw (also commonly called a “circle throw”)
  • etc.

Ground Fighting: An understanding on how to grapple and fight on the ground is critical. Though it’s 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 Jujitsu strives to maintain a sense of realism in grappling by encouraging practitioners to throw (light) punches during grappling to remember to cover up, because should you ever find yourself on the bottom in a real emergency your opponent probably won’t be simply 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 very similar to their standing applications (e.g., keylock, rear naked choke, etc.)

Scenario Based Training: A great deal of time in Goshin Jujitsu is teaching techniques in the context of “attack scenarios.” When practicing the techniques, the tori is the person that is performing the defense technique, and the uki is the aggressor.

Training Principles: It cannot be stressed enough that training with other people is a fundamental part of Jujitsu 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’s more complex than that. Receiving techniques develops the reflexes to “give” at the right moment, and ironically, only by receiving techniques do you really begin to trust your own (e.g., “I didn’t realize that hurt so much”).

Responsibility: A frequently overlooked aspect of self-defense training is that should self-defense be necessary, the force applied needs to be the force necessary to defend yourself based on the situation. If an unarmed thug walks up to you and asks for your wallet and you punch him in the throat, you might wind up killing him – and then your former classmates can send you postcards in jail for the foreseeable future. Responsible application of defense techniques is important for both civilians and law enforcement.