To-Shin Do taijutsu is ultimately about principles as opposed to techniques.
Oh, sure, we start students out memorizing things, as opposed to considering things. But that is just an expedient to match their beginner expectations. Normal people expect they will be taught how to move faster, be stronger, and to know something that others do not know. We give them the 12 basic fights and they get down to learning those well.
Somewhere in their second year of learning, though, we begin to introduce the idea of “principles and concepts”. Here’s what you are doing in relationship to what they are doing. Ultimately, that heavy reliance on principles is what makes To-Shin Do unique in the world.
What is the ultimate principle that categorizes To-Shin Do taijutsu, that sets us apart from the more common technique-based systems?
I would say that ultimately, we rely on “listening to the attacker” — paying attention to what he wants to do and is trying to do. We then position ourselves to encourage him to do what he wants in a way that allows us to take charge.
He wants to grab us and throw us backwards onto our seat. Instead of resisting his grab and countering his throw, we go with his grab and accommodate his throw. To his eyes we look like we are being defeated. But we are fitting in to what he is trying to do. He is not aware that we are enduring his grab and throw in order to capture them and guide them and ultimately win.
This is the embodiment of the ninja’s “invisible action”. It is how we disappear from an enemy’s perceptions. He is convinced that what he is doing is working, for that split second. And then when he realizes that he is being accommodated, and thereby led to defeat, it is too late for him to reverse.
This ability of course takes years to develop. It is not the simplest of responses either. But it is what characterizes our taijutsu. And it is what I am constantly looking for when I evaluate a higher ranked practitioner.