Hojojutsu, or Torinawajutsu, is the art of military torture and incarceration primarily used by police in feudal Japan.  Hojojutsu utilizes techniques from jujutsu and is now taught mostly as part of a broader curriculum in some martial arts schools and is still taught to an extent to Japanese police.

Beginning in 17th century Edo period, hojojutsu was created as a method to capture, transport, or torture prisoners.  Depending on the prisoner’s social status or the method of transport, different materials were used to bind them.  For example, you would not bind a noble in the same manner or material as you would a farmer.  Hojojutsu 1Hojojutsu was also used as a method of torture through long periods of forced kneeling on tatami mats, full or partial suspensions, and restrictive ties.  These practices were still put to use up until the conclusion of World War II.

The use of hojojutsu on a person was considered a matter of deep shame.  To have ropes around your neck or knots binding your body was a source of humiliation to the prisoner.  If the jailer was of a higher rank than the prisoner, they would often use this method of restraint for the added shame; however, the restrainer had to be careful or they could face consequences if the restraints were not done properly.

There are two main categories in hojojutsu: Hayanawa and Honnawa.  Hayanawa was considered as the fast method and consisted of shorter, more efficient ropes.  These ropes tended to be smaller and thinner but were great to use in a pinch for a quick capture.  Honnawa used long, thick ropes as a more sustainable method of transporting a prisoner and for their long-time security.

Hojojutsu is still taught in some schools but the practice has mostly faded away.  Is this something that you think would be fun to learn?

~ Jordan


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