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The Secrets of Jujitsu, A Complete Course in Self Defense


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By Captain Allan Corstorphin Smith, U.S.A.
Winner of the Black Belt, Japan, 1916. Instructor of Hand-to-Hand Fighting, THE INFANTRY SCHOOL, Camp Benning, Columbus, Georgia and at United States Training Camps and Cantonments, 1917 and 1918.
In Seven Books.
Columbus, Georgia, 1920.
This electronic version is copyright EJMAS © 2000. All rights reserved.
Contributed by Thomas J. Militello, a 15-year member of Astoria, New York's non-profit Horangi Taekwondo Dojang, which is headed by James Robison.
Readers interested in seeing film images should note the following film held by the National Archives and Record Administration:
Title: Physical and Bayonet Training, 1918.
Scope and Content: Recruits at Camp Gordon, Georgia receive detailed instruction in boxing and jiu-jitsu. Wrestling and jiu-jitsu holds are used against a foe with a bayonet. Troops do calisthenics and play rough games calculated to make them physically fit.
35mm film, 15 minutes
See also Don W. Farrant, "Vintage Jujitsu: World War I Style," .
Judging from responses from the US Army historians at Forts Myer and Benning, little biographical information is available concerning Captain Smith, whose name (and kilt) suggests Scottish heritage. Therefore readers with additional information are requested to contact the editor at jrsvinth@juno.com .

Presentation of the Black Belt to Captain Allan Smith at the Kodokwan (Central Jujitsu College), Tokyo, Japan, January 9, 1916. From a painting by a Japanese artist. [Ed. note: When Scottish judoka George Kerr wore his kilt to the Kodokan 44 years later, Japanese kept trying to see what was underneath, and afterwards Kerr swore not to do that again.]

Captain Smith, who has been employed as an instructor in Hand-to-Hand Fighting at The Infantry School, has performed an important service in preparing his series of books, "The Secrets of Jujitsu."
It is, in my opinion, highly desirable that American Infantry be trained in all forms of personal combat that might be used against them.
Colonel, Infantry
Assistant Commandant
JULY 30, 1920.

Japanese banquet after the ceremony in the Central Jujitsu College; Captain Smith in Scottish Highland Costume, second from right

Jujitsu as a means of self-defense will teach you to take care of yourself in dangerous situations whether armed or unarmed.
It is a valuable study as it trains you to evade the impact of an opponent's strength and attack him at a point where he can bring only 20 per cent of his strength to bear. It teaches you to unbalance your opponent.
Conversely it trains you to retain your own balance and to bring 100 percent of your strength to bear in every effort you make. A man trained in jujitsu will instinctively act on this principle in everything he does whether engaged in a physical contest or a mental one.
A course of jujitsu therefore will leave its permanent mark on your mentality. It teaches you to retain your poise in the arena where the contests are physical, brawn against brawn, or in the public forum, where mind is pitted against mind, intellect against intellect.
It has another and more immediate result in the resources of self-defense that will be at your immediate disposal whenever you are attacked, or whenever you go to the rescue of someone else.
A strong man by its aid will be enabled to use his strength in a more workmanlike manner, and a weak man will be able to discount the superior strength of his adversary.
A woman equipped with this science will no longer be at the mercy of a ruffian. She will furthermore retain her presence of mind and keep cool, in an emergency.

1. An introductory course showing:
That the secret of jujitsu is in the Stahara.
How to use the Stahara.
How to train the Stahara. (28 photos.)
2. Defense when a man attacks you by seizing you around waist. There are five tricks in this series, and they provide a splendid means of exercise. (18 photos.)
Defense when a man attacks your throat. After mastering this lesson, the weakest woman will be safe from such an attack. (17 photos.)
3. Defense when opponent seizes your wrists. Teaching how to lever them out by the strength of your body. This lesson trains you to use your body as a whole. (26 photos.)
4. Defense when attacked from behind. By having your practice partner attack from behind, you master a series of tricks that will be useful in any situation of attack or defense. (34 photos.)
5. Defense when attacked by knife, club, pistol, kicks, etc. This lesson teaches you quick thinking and gives you presence of mind in an emergency. (44 photos.)
6. Taking prisoners, hammerlocks, and a number of tricks whereby the weaker man can get the stronger. These are intensely interesting tricks, most of them published for the first time. (49 photos.)
7. Three of the secret grips of Japan never yet published in any book, Japanese or otherwise.
These tricks give you the power of life or death. The method of instruction allows them to be practised as an interesting pastime, and with absolute safety. (38 photos.)
(TOTAL 254 photos.)

This lesson illustrates the principle of putting the strength of your whole body into everything you do instead of merely using the strength of the particular hand or arm which is immediately concerned in the operation.


Assailant seizes both your wrists with his thumbs above and his fingers below.
(In practising this, at first, Assailant must "stay put." He knows what you are going to do but must not take advantage of his knowledge to lower his body also and thus prevent your escape. Afterwards you will be able to escape more quickly than he can prevent you.)

Bring palms of your hands together. Step forward with one foot, lowering your body until the elbows are well bent and below his hands.

Have your elbows in front of, and touching, your abdomen. With an upward and forward movement of your abdomen force your wrists up and out of his grasp, keeping your hands rigid. All this done in one motion and with great rapidity.
Practise slowly at first to get the movement right. Compare each position you take with corresponding photograph.
NOTE: In Fig. 1, the strength of your arms alone would not suffice to pull your wrists out of the grasp of a stronger man.
Instead of trying to free your wrists by the strength of your arms, you force them out by the strength of the abdomen and the weight of the body.
We will train you to use this principle in everything you do. It is called the principle of the Stahara.

The Stahara is the Abdominal Region. It includes the Diaphragm, the Abdominal Muscles, the Solar Plexus and the Center of Gravity.
This course will train you not only to understand the Stahara principle but to act on it instinctively. You can then use your own strength better; you can handle other men better.
This principle properly applied will instantly give you increased physical power. It will endow you with greater mental control and will give you a stronger personality.

Always play the strength of your Stahara against the strength of your opponent's arm. This is simply the strategy of Napoleon who attacked the enemy's weakest point with all the force he could concentrate.
Instead of memorizing this as an abstract principle, visualize it in the concrete instance of the simple trick exemplified on the preceding page.
This is a typical example of how the Stahara principle enters into the execution of every trick in this course.
The leverage the Stahara gives you in the previous trick is obvious, and easily applied. In other tricks it is not so obvious and the student may not see the connection at first between the Stahara and the trick.
The connection is there, however, and it only requires to be discovered and applied.
The system of teaching you to use your Stahara in the most obvious instances, at first, enables you to apply it in the less obvious cases.
An increased ability to use your body in this way will come with the progressive practice of this course.

The Stahara fully developed..
Photo of Captain Smith taken just previous to his winning of the Black Belt, Tokyo, Japan, 1915.

The throws of jujitsu are achieved by the mechanical force of your center of gravity playing against opponent's center of gravity.
The center of gravity is contained in the lower abdomen, therefore the proper disposition of your lower abdomen is the most important factor in any given trick.
Conversely the object of your exertions against an opponent is to out-think his center of gravity, by maneuvering him into a position where his lower abdomen is off balance.
An old Japanese master, mentioned in the chapter on "A demonstration in Pain-bearing" (which will follow in due course), told me once when I was very much discouraged at the progress was making, that

Hyaku ii-yasushi
Ichi ii-gatashi.
Which, being interpreted, means:
The hundred tricks are easy to learn
But the one principle is difficult to learn.
On asking him to be kind enough to impart this one principle to me, he informed me that that could only be acquired after years of practice.
This elusive principle, which the Japanese professors make you search out for yourself, this course imparts from the start by means of Stahara training.

When I commenced to teach jujitsu in Yokohama, Japan, in every trick I showed how to use the lower abdomen, and how to maneuver opponent's balance. My first pupils were Japanese friends, and lower abdomen to them was shita hara.
Shita (pronounced sh'ta) and hara are two Japanese words meaning under or lower abdomen. The words shita hara mean to a Japanese what the words lower abdomen mean to us -- and nothing more.
This word hara is the same word we meet in hara kiri -- abdomen cutting -- the Japanese method of suicide.
Gradually as I evolved the idea of balance-control and abdominal power, I adopted the word shita-hara as a technical term for a new principle for which there was no name. When teaching the Doughboys, they called it "Stahara" and that is how it was finally written. It is an American word for an American idea.
STA-HA-RA Sta -- pronounced as in star.
ha -- pronounced as in harp.
ra -- a has the same sound as in the first two syllables.
Japanese teachers of jujitsu do not mention the Stahara when explaining a throw or trick to their disciples. They teach the use of the arms and legs, of the hips and shoulders, but do not show the principle of balance, which is the basis of the whole system.
It is therefore an average of ten years before a student of jujitsu in Japan masters these throws. It takes that length of time to acquire the scientific way, in common parlance, to "get the knack" of doing the trick.
Jujitsu is not done with strength of arm or leg and this inability to grasp the underlying principle is why it takes so long to master it.
You must realize the importance of the Stahara. It is here the center of gravity lies. It is here the seat of the emotions lies. It is the most important part of the human body, and the most neglected.
One of Captain Smith's classes.
Fort Myer, Virginia, August, 1918.

This lesson teaches you how to make an opponent quit without injuring him.
After mastering the principle of this lesson, two inexperienced men may proceed to practise all the tricks in this course any number of times, without injury or pain.
The seven lessons taught in Book 1 are not meant to teach Fighting or Self-defence tricks. They merely aim to train you:
How to use your body as a whole;
How to keep your balance;
How to practise effective holds with safety.
Book 1 tries to convey those fine points of personal instruction which are usually lacking in a text book.
If you "catch on" to these points you will be able to study the following six books just as effectively as if you had a teacher at your elbow all the time.
The practical application of the Wrist Twist is given in Books 5 and 6.


For the preliminary practice your opponent stands facing you holding up both hands with the backs toward you.

Seize his right hand placing your thumbs on the back and your fingers on his palm.
The first photo shows the hold made with the strength of the fingers and thumb only which is a weak method.

Hold his hand not with finger and thumb only but with the palm and the third joint of the thumb.

It is a sort of clinging grip, its power comes from the palm of the hand as well as the ends of thumbs and fingers.
Experiment until you get it.

Slowly pull his hand to your left twisting his wrist until you have him in this position.

This will cause him considerable pain. Continue to twist his wrist, however, until the pain causes him to quit.
When he is unable to bear it he will give the signal of defeat by tapping his left hand twice on his chest and you will instantly release him.

Take the same grip on his left hand and twist in the same way to your right, slowly, until he gives the signal of defeat.

As you release each hand he returns to position fig. 4 for you to continue the practice.
Repeat until you can seize either hand without hesitation and make him quit.
Allow opponent to practise it the same number of times on you.

Jujitsu matches are won by making the other man quit. The holds employed for this purpose are powerful enough to break a man's arm or leg, to choke him into unconsciousness, or even to break his neck.
Strange as it may appear, however, jujitsu matches are absolutely free from injury to the contestants. This is because of the very scientific and skillful method of the opponents.
An ordinary person who had not been shown the proper method of practising would apply the hold roughly with injurious results.
Consequently he would never become expert because he could not get opponents to practise with; once would probably be enough for them.
If on the other hand you simply apply them lightly and without using pressure you cannot be sure that you have mastered the trick.
In this course the "Breaking Point" is always clearly demonstrated. You are shown the exact position into which the opponent must be maneuvered. You are taught to take opponent up to the "Breaking Point" without making him feel any pain. This is the Major Operation.
Then apply pressure until he quits but so slowly that there is no danger of your going too far and injuring him in the slightest. This is the Minor Operation.
You will start on the wrists and elbows and later on will graduate to his neck on which you will be able to apply the most effective holds with perfect safety.
He must practise every grip on you that you may appreciate its effectiveness. It will also teach you temperance in giving pain as you wish your opponent to practise temperance towards you.

The Signal of Defeat is given thus:
If both hands are free, clap them together twice.
If only one hand is free, clap some part of you opponent's body lightly twice so that he may feel it, or clap your own body twice, loudly enough for him to hear it.
If both hands are imprisoned, stamp twice on the floor so that he may hear it.
The Japanese sometimes give the signal of defeat by saying "maita" (pronounced like the English words my tar, said quickly), which means, "I quit." You may use the same words, or say, "Enough."
When a chokehold is applied you will not have the power of speech and will find it necessary to give the hand signal.
Thru their ability to make opponents quit without hurting them Japanese are able to indulge indefinitely in their otherwise dangerous practice.
No man gives in while there is a chance of escape and there are ways of wriggling out of apparently fatal holds.
But these grips can be held so that they give no pain and yet the slightest pressure will cause you enough pain to make you relinquish your struggles. In other words, you would know when opponent could break your arm, etc., without any great effort, and without your being able to prevent him.
Having such holds repeatedly applied to the limit train you to an equanimity of temper. You feel no chagrin or disappointment, just as you expect your opponent to feel none when you turn the tables on him.
In fact, in a five minutes bout in jujitsu each will have made the other quit several times and they will always keep smiling.
A class at Fort Myer, Va., August, 1918.
The order given was: "On the command 'Forward MARCH' the captured men will try to escape.

This lesson gives further instruction in how to take bone-breaking grips on the opponent and control him without any danger of breaking his bones.
· The Little Finger "Come-along."
· Unbalance opponent the moment you grasp him, and keep him off balance until you have secured the grip.
· The fascinating game of -- "Tickle my nose, if you can."
· Growth of self-confidence.
· The Major Operation.
· The Minor Operation.
· The more haste the less speed.
· The escape from the Little Finger "Come-along."
Standing on opponent's left side, seize him with your right hand just above his left elbow with your thumb round the other side of his arm.

Step quickly behind him, unbalancing him towards you, thus preventing him striking you with his other hand.
Slip your left hand, palm up, below his left hand, which is hanging palm down.
Grasp his fourth and fifth fingers.

Hold his wrist and his elbow pressed tightly against your Stahara.
Keep your legs well apart and be well balanced.
Bend his wrist at right-angles to his forearm, and his fingers at right angles to his wrist.
Bring him onto his toes, off balance, by upward pressure on his fingers and march him around the room.
Practise this hold with both hands.

Grasp opponent with right hand only as in fig. 8. Tell him to tickle your nose, and as he attempts to swing his right hand to your face, pull his left elbow towards you, thus unbalancing him to his left back corner.
Notice in fig. 8 how, by unbalancing the opponent in this manner the threatening movement of his right hand has been checked. Try this experiment a number of times. Neither of you should move your feet at first.

You should play the game of "Tickle my nose" with each trick to make sure that you have mastered it. If opponent cannot tickle your nose, he would be unable to strike you.
You can thus demonstrate to your own satisfaction that you have mastered each trick.
The moment he withdraws his hand, relax the pressure. When he again attempts to raise it, apply fresh pressure. Do this with the minimum movement and the minimum pain and you will be able to make him quit whenever you wish without hurting him.

After holding a man helpless with the Little Finger grip you will experience a sudden rise in your morale. This is the psychological result of the discovery of physical powers you did not know you possessed.
This is merely a foretaste of greater powers yet to come, and a still greater growth of confidence in yourself, which is a valuable factor in fighting the battle of life.

Take the position of fig. 9, relax the pressure of your grip until he feels no pain.
This can be done with a hardly perceptible movement. Anyone watching your hand and your opponent's hand would see no change of position.
After a little practice you will be able to grasp opponent and instantly secure the grip up to the point where you have "got" him but without his feeling any pain, as yet.

Tell opponent to raise his right hand slowly and attempt to tickle your nose.
As he raises it, slowly apply the pressure and you will check his attempted move.
Do not apply more pressure than is necessary to check him.

Two absolutely inexperienced men or women can easily master the entire course without a teacher if they will observe the following rule:
Alternately take the role of victim and unresistingly allow each trick to be practised on you, and in turn practise it on your partner until you have mastered both the Major and Minor Operations.
This will safeguard you against injuries and will reduce the time necessary for each trick.
In more advanced practice you may execute the Major operation with full speed and strength but the Minor operation is always performed gently and with the minimum of movement.
It may be suggested that you go thru the entire course once before you try any practise for speed.

In jujitsu demonstrations I have frequently allowed a man to attack my throat with his thumbs on my windpipe and to do his utmost to choke me and have instantly secured a lock on his arm and held him powerless, but without hurting him. Frequently some enthusiastic member of the audience will try a similar grip on the arm of a friend but will nearly break his arm, with the result that his friend will absolutely refuse to practise any more.
Now, if these young men had waited until they were shown what part of the trick to take swiftly and what part to do slowly, they would have been able to practise with a great deal of profit and pleasure. They would have been able to continue that practice until they were really efficient without any danger to their limbs.
So you must analyze every trick into its two operations -- Major and Minor, and while you take the first one quickly, take the second one slowly.
Altho you divide them mentally there will be no pause between them; they will both appear to be one swift movement.
You must try each trick very gently to find out where the Major operation ends and the Minor operation begins.

If assailant omits to imprison your forearm tightly between his hands and his Stahara and merely holds you with the strength of his hands --

Swing right shoulder and elbow upwards, making the effort from the Stahara, dropping our left shoulder and if necessary striking him in pit of stomach with left fist.
This method of escape evades the pain of the grip.

If he holds you tightly against his Stahara and keeps the pressure on your fingers there is no escape.
In actual combat it might be necessary to break an enemy's finger, but this ability to "treat 'em rough" is best acquired by careful practice in which you avoid injuring one another.

This lesson gives you an example of maneuvering opponent's hand to such a position that it becomes relatively weak.
You are then taught the principle it embodies. You will apply this principle to every hold you practise.

The underlying principle in this lesson is:
In each trick get your opponent so that he can resist you with only 20 percent of his strength
And conversely
Use your body so that you are exerting 100 percent of your strength at the point where he is opposing only 20 percent of his.
A little practice of this experiment will teach you to act automatically on this principle in all tricks. In order not to hurt one another's wrists do this practice slowly but firmly.
The value of this exercise lies not in the intrinsic merit of the wrist-twist as a fighting trick but in enabling you to apply this principle in your future practice, automatically, without having to try to remember it.

Take the Wrist-twist grip. Let your opponent relax his arm. Pull your elbows close to your sides, thus straightening his arm.

Twist his wrist slowly, not by hand pressure alone, but by turning your body also.
He is powerless to prevent you as he can only oppose the strength of his wrist against the strength of your whole body.

Relax your arms. Let your opponent slowly pull his elbow close to his side, clenching his fist, with strength and balance in his Stahara.
(Do not move your feet in this experiment.)

You will now find it impossible to twist his wrist.
This is because you are exerting the strength of your wrist only against the strength of his whole body.

A class of West Pointers (1920) at The Infantry School
Camp Benning, Columbus, Ga., February 1919
The DEATHLOCK -- See Book Seven.

This lesson shows clearly by means of two photographs the secret of Stahara Control, and teaches you how to apply it.

Body weak -- easily unbalanced.
Connection between arms and legs absent.
Body cannot move quickly.

Body strong -- well balanced.
Proper connection between arms and legs.
Body able to move quickly.

Standing in position of fig. 15 force your stomach, abdomen and diaphragm down as if you were trying to force your abdomen outward against your belt, to make your belt feel tight, as it were.
Check this outward movement by the stomach muscles. Hold your breath hard for a few seconds.
Do not strain yourself in any way. Just keep practising it gently thruout the day whenever you happen to think of it.
Practise it for a few minutes before a mirror keeping your face impassive and preventing any trace of effort showing. You will soon be able to do this without holding your breath.
Keep your head up and shoulders back but have all your muscles relaxed.

Dance around the room imitating the movements of a boxer -- this is called "shadow boxing." First raise your ribs as high as you can, as in fig. 14.
Next dance around with Stahara control, as in fig. 15. Note how much more under control your movements are, the connection between your arms and legs is much better; you can put more punch into your arm movements.
Stahara control teaches you to keep limber all over, even your Stahara is not tensed, and it enables you to concentrate all your effort in the proper muscles at the proper time.


Stand at attention, head up, shoulders back. Throw your chest out, raising the ribs thus showing what physical culturists call "The Grecian Arch," as shown in fig. 14.
In this position let a friend seize your coat at the shoulders with finger and thumb of each hand, and slowly pull until you lose your balance and fall forward.
It takes but a small effort on his part as your center of balance is too high and your waistline is weak.
Again stand at attention, but do not raise your Grecian Arch. Tense your abdominal muscles, as shown in fig. 15 but without drawing the stomach in. Press the stomach out and against your belt.
Have your friend pull you forward as before. Stand still, do not move the feet. Note how much better you keep your balance.
He will note how much heavier you feel, and, using the same amount of strength as before he will be unable to pull you forward.
Try these two experiments on your friend. In number 1, use the minimum effort to unbalance him. In number 2, use the same amount of strength, and note how much heavier and stronger he is.
A man who has trained himself to stand and pose with the Grecian Arch showing will be at a disadvantage when he first begins to wrestle or box for when making an effort he will instinctively raise his chest walls.
This raises his center of balance too high and weakens his Stahara -- the connecting link between his arms and legs.
In the first experiment with no control of the Stahara the body is like a ship, made of good material, but in which the rivets are loose.
In the second, the ship is tight and trim, every rivet in its place and holding. Your body is like one solid beam, a trustworthy support for a weighty structure, rather than a pillar made of several timbers loosely bolted together and consequently weak.
Practise this experiment until your face shows no trace of effort and until you can do it easily, tensing only when he pulls and relaxing when he relaxes.

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