"History of Tai Shin Jitsu™"
(American Freestyle Ju Jitsu)
TAISHINJITSU™ is the Self Defense component of the Martial Art of Taishindoh™
and is a Federally Registered Trade Mark name and Identification
and is the sole property of Soke Ronald F.Balas, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
My introduction to Martial Arts began in 1951 with training referred to as “Combat Judo, or sometimes known as Combat Self Defense while in Basic Training in the United States Army. This type of Military training incorporated many of the technical applications of Traditional Judo, ie; “ippon Seoi Nage, Tomoe Nagi, Hane Goshi, etc.” as well as others, and including what was then referred to as the “Art of JuJitsu!” all in the name of “un-armed combat self defense!” While serving in the United States Army in Korea (1951-52) during that War, I had the opportunity to enjoy several R & R trips to Japan and while there, discovered and attended “Introductions” to Martial Arts demonstrations ie; JuJitsu seminars in Tokyo which was sponsored by The United States Military, and in Tachikawa, also sponsored by the US Military and specifically Shotokan presented by Sensei Funakoshi, Gichin, who taught us “Line Drill” and what I believe was “Heian Nidan.”
In retrospect, while a War raged on in Korea, this brief respite was something different to do, and to think different thoughts to escape the harsh realities of a war torn land as this was but a moment in time in the Grand Scheme of Events and it was something to do; — that’s all we thought of it! However, these were events which years later in my Martial Arts journey I realized were wonderful and fantastic opportunities and “dream” conditions for a young student to be introduced to Martial Arts! Strange, how at certain times in our lives we are met by forces and events which at the time may not be seen or understood by us, but turn out to be life affecting events and we are changed forever. Today, as I think back for more than one half of a century, I am more thankful that I had an opportunity to have been in such company in the Martial Arts World (Japan/Korea) and I am still somewhat in awe of that time, and will never forget it!
During my undergraduate day’s at Fenn College (1954-60), which became Cleveland State University in 1963, I was instrumental in helping to organize and develop a small group of Martial Arts afficionado’s, all Ex-Servicemen, who had earned rank in JuJitsu, “Style” Karate or Kodokan Judo as a result of having had one or two tours of duty in Japan, Okinawa or Korea, and which became unofficially known as “The Fenn College JuJitsu and Karate Club” (1955 to 1959) — all twelve of us! We trained in the old Fenn Tower Gym either on a bare hardwood floor or on the old “worn out mattress” type of red matt(s) which when not in use were hung on pegs against a wall. We trained and helped each other to develop individual skills and at that time, our Mentor for Karate was Sensei T. Masuda a former member of the WWII Japanese Military who was then studying in the United States, and it was 1955! The parent of one of our young Shodan’s of today was a young Freshman at the time (1959), and remembers “those strange Guy’s wearing those white pajamas (Gi’s) throwing each other around on the bare floor!”
In 1966, I formed a Self Defense and JuJitsu training program known as, “The Cleveland Heights School of JiuJitsu and Karate which became domiciled in the old Cleveland Heights YMCA. Our JiuJitsu and Self Defense program was anchored in the Military format as well as the collective techniques and expertise from the several Club members who developed their initial skills in Japan, Okinawa and Korea and who trained with me in the early days. In 1972, our Self Defense Program officially became known as “Taishindoh-JuJitsu” and my former Assistant Fenton “Buddy” Cohn, Godan, Taishindoh now retired and me codified the individual techniques and assigned various techniques in order of degree of difficulty to respective Kyu Ranks (See Archived Doc's, Re: example Yellow Belt requirements) and ultimately, to Shodan, and this became the foundation for our training manual of Taishindoh and Taishindoh-JuJitsu.”
In 1972 we formed “The United States Martial Arts Association” (Ohio) as an Ohio Not For Profit Corporation with a Federal 501(c) (3) Tax ID to be our Association “Umbrella” for Taishindoh and Taishindoh-Jujitsu. Today, the association is known as the “North Coast Sports and Athletics Association” and is an Ohio based Not For Profit Sports and Athletics Corporation. The training program included six (6) color coded rank levels to Shodan. Today, our TaishinJitsu incorporates all of our former Self Defense and JuJitsu techniques as well as other self defense and Jujitsu techniques gleaned from seminars in other styles and systems as an exchange of ideas and philosophies from our Martial Arts friends and incorporated into our training program, and I am extremely proud of our accomplishments.
On March 15th 1972 the spelling of JiuJitsu changed to JuJitsu. In 1977, due to the fact that many of the JuJitsu and Self Defense techniques had our unique signature on “methods and applications,” the words “Free Style” were added to the name of “Taishindoh-JuJitsu.” Today, the program has evolved to be known as:
Our Martial Arts program has evolved over forty years (1966 to 2006) to include an expanded JuJitsu, Self Defense and Kumite programs, and these traditions have been our foundation strength. In 1990's we brought our Weapons program out of an ten year hiatus and included Forms (based on Shotokan ) components.
Considering my brief but informative exposure to Shotokan while in Japan during the Korean War, and the Heian Forms during the old Fenn College day’s, I thought those honorable forms might be an appropriate and worthy addition to our program, and because of time and circumstance and the fading of memory, I gave the charge to two of our young Black Belts as a challenge to learn the advanced forms using the Text guide lines of Nishiyama, Hidetaka Sensei and of late, S. Sugiyama as the arbiter. The success of that challenge has been a major factor in our program development as I have always considered that “encouraging the young student to aspire to a higher achievement” was the essence of education and learning and a great part of my personal philosophy. The additional task assignment was to take the old Training Manual of Taishindoh JuJitsu and Self Defense, six (6) color coded Kyu Rank levels which had been originally compiled and codified in 1972, and put them into a binder type of Training Manual which became known as My Road to Shodan.
My personal philosophy on teaching children (see www.kidskarateworld.com) and older students as well as the history of Taishindoh, was incorporated into the manual. While a student can choose to train solely in Self Defense, TaishinJitsu can be considered as a “stand alone” Art, as it has always been an integral part of Taishindoh, unique and indivisible.
Since 1966, I have taught more than Twenty-Five Thousand Folks some things about JuJitsu and Self Defense, and while not everyone earned the coveted Black Belt, I felt that most folks learned some things about Martial Arts and Self Defense, had a great time, met new friends, got some exercise, and above all, learned some things about themselves and deferring to the Latin quote, attributed by some folks to reflect the “Gestalt”
“Respondo Etsi Mutabor”
“I respond, even though I may change in the process!”
On May 27th, 2006, I gave a Seminar in TaishinJitsu and Self Defense at the Annual Awards Banquet of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council in Orlando, Florida. The following is an excerpt of my talk.
"I did not invent JuJitsu nor create some of the Self Defense techniques which are taught today, that is obvious" I cautioned the assembled Martial Artists, "however, I did manage to put my unique signature on many of the techniques and protocols. I caution that while we have added Forms to our program, we are not a Kata or Forms based organization, rather we are Taishindoh and a Taishinjitsu Martial Arts Organization, and in addition to that, we also include Kata or Forms. I have managed to train in, and teach the old disciplines to my students which became the foundation of Taishindoh and TaishinJitsu which I began to learn more than Fifty Years (50) ago. Over the years, I have managed to form a humble personal philosophy based upon the Traditions and my life’s experiences. I have tried to keep those traditions and a sense of perspective in all that I do and humbly acknowledge that there may have been some forms and applications "that I looked at from a different perspective."
From time to time, I have Guest Sensei from various Martial Arts ie: Taekwando, Goju Ryu, Chinese Kempo, T’ang Soo Do, Kajukempo and Issinryu to name some of the fine and honorable disciplines to come to our Dojo and teach my students some of the Forms and Protocols which make their particular style or system unique. The Martial Arts education of our students is foremost and I have always given our young Black Belts wide latitude to experiment, to give them certain responsibilities for training of new students, to be part of advisory and development programs, as well as to learn from other Martial Arts Systems, and through this diversity and introduction to other disciplines, help develop strength of mind, body and spirit with the goal — development of character!”
Over the years the added components to our Taishindoh/Taishindoh-Jujitsu (Taishinjitsu) program has been most rewarding and student centered to say the least. From 1966 to 1973 our program hosted local area Competitions at the old Cleveland Heights YMCA. In 1973 we withdrew from all outside Tournament activities by choice until 1990. During that period we decided that competition would be limited to internal events and expanding our program to the point that by 1977 our program hosted approximately 300 students in training.
In 1990, Taishindoh/Taishindo-Jujitsu re-entered the Tournament circuit with the addition of basic Forms, and by 1995-6, an expanded Forms program was under development and subsequently became an integral part of our program to date. Since 1990, Taishindoh/TaishinJitsu students have won more that 1600 trophies and Medals in open competition and those students can be extremely proud of their accomplishments.
In 1995 - 1999, Taishindoh became co-promoter of the old (Ohio) North Coast Tournaments on the Ohio PKC circuit, and currently we are co-promoter of an exciting Invitational Tournament known as “The Millennium Tournament” which is held each year in the Spring and Fall.
I am forever greatful and honored by all of the young students throughout the years who put their faith and trust in me and I have been honored to have been their Sensei. Their trust and personal accomplishments became the accolades and recognitions which are “the greatest rewards!”
In closing, I am extremely proud of our program of Taishindoh/Taishindoh-Jujitsu and Taishinjitsu, and openly thank our Black Belt Assistants for their able assistance, advice, time and constructive critique in helping to prepare and edit our former and current Training Manual(s), and dedication to me as the Soke of TAISHINDOH and TAISHINJITSU.
Soke-Dai John Spinks, Hachidan Sensei Tim Ochs, Rokyudan Sensei Dion Howells, Godan Sensei Buddy Cohn, Godan Sensei Ray Wetzel, Godan Sensei Jason Zavodny, Yondan Sensei Howard Nathan, Sandan Sensei Allen Roth, Sandan
In addition, I would like to acknowledge the following Sensei for their wise and able council and assistance who worked with me in my Dojo at the YMCA in the late 1960's to 1977 and gave me invaluable advice not only in History, Technical Application and Etiquette, but also extended their commitment and friendship to me personally and to TAISHINDOH.
Dr Yuji Abe, Sensei, Yondan, (1940) Kendo Sensei T. Masuda, Yondan, (1942) Karate-do Sensei Mitsuoshi Saura, Sandan, (1975) Shorinji-Kempo, JuJitsu, Bo-Jitsu Sensei Hiro Kono, Nidan, (1972) Judo, JiuJitsu Sensei B. Yasuda, Nidan, (1972) Judo, JiuJitsu
POLAND / USA
Sensei Jacek Backalarge, Nidan (1972) Judo / JuJitsu
To all of my students, present and former who helped me in countless ways, to remind me what it is to be a student, and which ultimately helped me to become a better person and teacher, I owe lasting gratitude.
In a special acknowledgment and many thanks to my young assistant, former Eagle Scout, Jason Zavodny, Yondan, who begins his senior year at Kent State University (Fall 2006 on full scholarship) who embodies the essence of a “Spirit of Karate” and though busy with a full University study schedule has made the time to assist me and our program with much of the work that was required to assemble and prepare our training manual(s) of Taishindoh and Taishinjitsu. To Soke Dai John Spinks of Seminole, Florida, whose respectful council and advice over the years has been invaluable; To my steadfast “Old(er) Uki” Master Tim Ochs, 6th dan, Boca Raton, Florida who faithfully assisted me in the Seminars and Black Belt testing that I conducted in Tampa Florida in the 1970's and again assisted me in Orlando, Florida in May of 2006 at the World Head of Family Sokeship Council Awards Banquet and Seminars; To Master Helen Paradise, Taishindoh-JuJitsu, Los Angeles, California who was instrumental in helping to prepare the old training manual; To my current able assistants, Sensei Allen Roth who has his own Dojo, and Sensei, Dr. Howard Nathan, Primary Care Physician, both Taishindoh, and through busy work schedules assist me in all phases of council, training and program development; To Sensei Raphael Lancry, Taishindoh, former member Israeli Armed Forces and currently United States Army Reserve(SpecOps) and one of the original program “Ninjas” during the 1980's and Master Dion Howells, Taishindoh, retired Law Enforcement Officer who served for several years as the “Uki” for Sensei Jacek Backalarge (Poland) – all of whom at one time in the past, have, or currently assist me on a day to day basis with instruction, training and program development, my gratitude goes without saying. Taishindoh and Taishinjitsu is solid, and Providence willing, will continue on to the next generation with Sensei of this skill and character!
In closing, I would like to thank my friend and colleague Grandmaster John C. Kanzler, Executive Director of The Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association Hall of Fame, Pittsburgh, Pa, whose council and advise is most appreciated along with a personal friendship spanning nearly twenty years. To GrandMaster Frank E. Sanchez, Executive Director of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council whose professionalism, kind heart and “open door” to me for the past ten years, has been greatly treasured.
Soke Ronald F. Balas
Taishindoh – Taishinjitsu
* Years with TSD & TSJ
Master Dion Howells 40 Years Master Fenton B Cohn 34 Years Master Tim Ochs 34 Years Sensei Helen Paradise 34 Years Soke Dai John Spinks 31 Years Master Raymond Wetzel 31 Years Master Marc Siwinski 25 Years Sensei Raphael Lancry 20 Years Sensei Jason Zavodny 11 Years Sensei Howard Nathan 7 Years Sensei Allen Roth 7 Years