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Hojutsu Range Training

Hojutsu Range Training

     Each week on the 2nd, and 4th Wednesday we will be offering the Range training for Hojutsu,  “The Art of Gunnery”. As many of you are new to this experience we will be working specifically on the Handgun techniques. In the future we will add rifle, shotgun, and edged weapons.

     Many of us have completed some type of firearms training, but we understand, this training has not prepared us to use force in a defensive encounter. We also understand Shooting is a perishable skill that needs to be practiced regularly. If you want to work on accuracy, Defensive accuracy, Presentation from holster, Addressing a threat that is not directly in front of you, Shooting multiple threats, shooting multiple shots in rapid succession, these are skills that you may not be able to practice on most public ranges. By coming to Hojutsu training regularly, you will be able to use our private range under the supervision and guidance of skilled instructors who will not only teach you these skills, but will also be training at your side.

     It will not be necessary for you to attend every session, but we suggest you come frequently. A typical session will run from 6:00pm-8:00pm you may choose to pay $15.00/ range session, or $20/month for both.

Gear requirements:

  • Handgun
  • Sturdy Belt
  • Quality Holster
  • 2 spare Magazines (minimum)
  • 1-2 Magazine Carriers
  • Ear Protection
  • Eye Protection
  • 50-100 rounds of ammunition per session

     Although it is suggested that a centerfire handgun is used for defensive shooting, we do allow the use of a .22 caliber handgun during these range sessions. We want you to learn, and improve, not break the bank.

     If you do not have a Belt, Holster, or Mag Pouches, Contact us, We will be more than happy to make them for you at a special price for Hojutsu Students.

We have been asked a few questions about getting started, So we will attempt to address them for you here:

          Q: How much experience do I need to get started in Hojutsu?

          A: Hojutsu is a Martial art which will teach you the skills necessary to fight with your gun if you were ever required to do so. As such you will need to learn the 5 fundamentals of shooting prior to attending the first Range session. The five fundamentals are Aiming, Breath Control, Hold Control, Trigger Control, and Follow Through. A Basic Handgun Fundamental and safety course with a competent instructor should meet this requirement. This requirement applies to adults and youth alike.

          Q: Do you offer a Fundamental and Safety Training Course?

          A: Here at Defensive Training Solutions, we offer 3 fundamental and safety courses for handgun.

  1. SAFTD (Second Amendment Foundation Training Division) F.A.S.T. Handgun.
  2. NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course
  3. Basic Ohio CCW Course

     Q: Can my children participate in Hojutsu?

     A: We are very pleased to offer this to youth and adults. We would require a meeting with you and your child/children to determine their maturity level. In most cases Children under the age of 13 do not have the maturity level to maintain the safety standards, and attention necessary, but there are exceptions to this and we will not rule any of them out prior to meeting with you and your children.

     Q: Do I have to participate with my children?

     A: With very few exceptions YES. It is very difficult to expect a child to follow rules, and maintain the safety standards if the parent/guardian is not willing to do the same. For this reason, we expect the parents and youth to participate, and learn together.


Hojutsu is the ancient Japanese word for "the Art of Gunnery." As practiced today, Hojutsu is the combination of the Modern Technique and traditional Japanese budo.

Hojutsu trains in handgun, rifle, shotgun, submachine gun, and precision rifle; we also train in unarmed defense, various impact weapons, edged weapons, and ground fighting. However, Hojutsu is primarily a shooting art.

Traditional reigi (protocol) is followed. Legitimate black belt rank through ninth dan (kudan) can be achieved.

Hojutsu- The Martial Art of Shooting


Jeffrey Hall

At first glance, the concept of shooting as a “traditional” martial art seems ridiculous. After all, martial arts are steeped in centuries of tradition, mysticism, and superhuman feats of skill; how can shooting a firearm compare with this? If you consider principles, rather than tools, shooting is clearly a martial art.  Stance, balance, focus, execution, and follow-through are the same, whether the hit is from a reverse punch or a .45.  We must master each of these elements of the technique before we can fight effectively.

As to tradition, at what point does learning a physical skill become a tradition?  I’m fairly certain that the first warrior to train with a katana was only looking for a tool that would save his life; better swords and effective techniques evolved into the formalized training protocol that became the way of the sword, but it probably developed through trial and error. Shooting has always been a martial art.  Martial, or military, was the primary reason for technological advancement in firearms.  We progressed from resin-wrapped bamboo tubes, to iron tubes, through a variety of ignition systems, to the sophisticated weapons of today.  However, no amount of technology will ever replace dedicated training with   professional instructors, and a lifetime of dedication to the shooting arts.

Firearms were introduced to Japan in the 1530’s by the Portuguese.  Although some purists disdained the new weapons, others embraced them.  The samurai, after all, were in the war “business”, and the addition of firearms added tactical and strategic advantages to those who used them. In the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, an army of peasant conscripts, armed with firearms, defeated the classically trained and armed army of Takeda Katsuyori.  This victory assured the inclusion of the firearm in Japanese military culture.  In typical Japanese fashion, a formalized, structured training discipline soon evolved.  

Hojutsu, or “fire art”, is considered a koryu, or old tradition art, predating 1868.  It usually translates as “the art of gunnery”.  Since most modern shooters think of gunnery as artillery or crew-served weapons, I took the liberty of changing gunnery to “shooting”.  Hojutsu, then, is the “School of the Art of Shooting”.

In 1999, I was teaching an NRA rifle class in Fairbanks, Alaska.  In the evenings, I trained in the dojo of So-Shihan Charles Scott.  Master Kyoshi Yamazaki was in town for a clinic, and I invited him to the range during a lunch break.  After twenty minutes of training, Master Yamazaki was shooting tiny groups with a 1911 Colt.  Master Yamazaki caused my internal light to come on regarding the similarity in firearms and other martial training; I then set out to make modern shooting a recognized martial art.

There were initially three reasons to do so.  First, to recognize the years of dedicated training it takes to master firearms. Secondly, to integrate other weapons (hands, feet, sticks, knives) into the warrior’s gear bag.  Lastly, to strive for excellence in firearms training. A fourth benefit, discipline, soon became apparent (if we can build traditional martial training discipline into a young shooter, maybe we’ll have fewer idiots on the street!)

With the help of many great martial artists and shooters, I melded the Modern Technique with traditional Japanese training structure. I did not invent anything- I just formalized the concept that many of us have been talking about for years. My early firearms mentors included my father (a DSC and eight Purple Hearts), Jeff Cooper and Chuck Taylor, with later influence from Clint Smith and Louie Awerbuck, among others.  Grandmasters Mark Shuey and Dr. Charles Scott also guided me along this path.  This quest has resulted in induction into the U.S. Martial Arts and Universal Martial Arts Halls of Fame, recognizing Hojutsu as a martial art. What this means to those of you with no traditional background is that sober, life-long grandmasters agree that shooting is a martial art, and have “blessed” it, and made it legitimate in the martial arts world. As this is written, Hojutsu is the only formally recognized shooting art in the world.

In Hojutsu, we train in the dojo, in gis, in weapon retention, disarming, punches, kicks, sticks of all kinds, edged weapons, and ground fighting; we adhere to traditional protocol (bowing, meditation, etc.) during dojo sessions. On the range, in normal range clothing, we start with the handgun and progress through shotgun, carbine, revolver, precision rifle, and submachine gun.  Each handgun test becomes more difficult, until the sandan (3rd dan) test approaches Chuck Taylor’s Handgun Combat Master test, shooting 98% on three consecutive tests.  Standards require that a single miss outside the outer scoring ring is a failure of the entire test- the shooter must begin again. We use the “SJH” or Hojutsu target from www.letargets.com for testing. Before beginning training with the carbine, each student must also pass the shodan (1st dan) test with a revolver (how can you call yourself a gun guy if you can’t run a wheelgun?) At each level, the student must pass a written test on firearms, an oral test, write an essay on a given subject, master a kata (there are three katas, for first through third dan), and shoot accurately in compressed time frames. The written tests are on the history of the development of firearms- students have to know that the Glock did not arrive by fax from God (like the 1911 did!) Our goal is to develop fighters who can win when flat on their backs or 300 meters distant.

A typical seminar will run about four days. Each morning finds us training at the dojo for two hours, practicing weapon disarming and retention, empty-hand techniques, and kata.  The remainder of the day is spent at the shooting range, perfecting technique, improving speed and accuracy, and preparing for testing. Day four is test day.  We begin at 0800, at the dojo, for kata (the only subjective portion of the testing). On the range, the shooting portions of testing begin.  Three tests must be shot, in a specific order, at ranges from close-contact to fifty meters.  Depending on the test, times ranged from 1.1 seconds to 90 seconds.  To pass, students must have mastered speed and accuracy:  90% is required for shodan (1st degree black), 95% for nidan (2nd degree black), 98% for sandan (3rd black).  Each overtime is penalized from five to ten points, depending on the course.  After passing the shooting portions, the students must perform speed reloads, tactical reloads, and clear types one, two, and three malfunctions in compressed time frames.

Hojutsu is not for everyone. It has no appeal to some traditionalists who don’t think firearms belong in martial arts. Shooters with no martial arts background don’t understand the formality of dojo sessions (it is easier to turn a good martial artist into a shooter than vice versa!). You can acquire the same skills with firearms by attending classes at any of the schools I mention at the end of the article, without wearing pajamas and having to bow. Hojutsu is more about mindset than specific technique, but I require the Weaver stance, believing it fits better into an overall fighting system. At some point, technique is less important than principle, but we need to build a solid foundation- the Modern Technique is that foundation. Again, at some point, every martial art becomes an individual art; again, solid basics have to be mastered before free thinking can take place. Some feel the standards are too high (without high standards, what value does anything have? Go buy a black belt certificate on the internet…).

Since the art began, we’ve had an interesting cross-section of shooters begin training. Some, like Shihan Rod Kuratomi (Hojutsu 3rd Degree Black Belt), are dedicated, life long karateka; some are police SWAT officers, some are military. Some are highly advanced in both shooting and in traditional arts and quickly master the skills; others have started a long period of training. In January of 2007, eight Las Vegas Metro firearms instructors hosted a seminar and all eight earned brown belts, including the range sergeant, Rich Fletcher.   For those that are interested, Hojutsu provides one path, of many, to excellence in shooting and in integrated fighting. Hojutsu has dojos in Alaska, Texas, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, and California.  Classes are taught all over the U.S., and can be arranged at locations anywhere.  2008 will see seminars in Florida, Italy, and elsewhere. Students with no handgun experience should also consider classes from American Small Arms Academy, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Yavapai Firearms Academy, ITTS, or Front Sight. 

We are all motivated by different things.  It may be NRA Distinguished Master, Handgun Combat Master, etc.  If six feet of black cotton cloth motivates you to train hard, come join us in Hojutsu- the fighting skills you learn just might also save your life.

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