Taijutsu History Rough Draft
Disclaimer: All information is based off of my experiences and memory. – Donnie
The Taijutsu system was started sometime around 1990-1991. Several instructors and students came together to form this new school after leaving Robert Bussey’s Warrior International (RBWI).
RBWI was a very large martial arts organization that focused on Ninjitsu as its primary form of combative instruction. The RBWI organization had formed a very western style, leaving behind much of the artistic side and focusing on combat strategies.
The original founders of The Taijutsu Academy were Dan Clark, Keith Jones, Steve Jennum, and Dennis Clark. Joe Baudler played a major roll at the beginning, bringing his wrestling background into play (Baudler is one of the most renowned MMA coaches in the Omaha area. He currently teaches out of Elite Performance gym). All the instructors had studied multiple martial arts and self-defense systems before forming the Taijutsu Academy. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was also gaining momentum at this time period in the martial arts world. Rickson Gracie put on a local seminar that helped show how effective grappling was. Our instructors immediately started to gather knowledge on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and implemented it into the system.
Originally, the name of the school was Innovative Martial Art Strategies (IMAS). IMAS was located in the shopping strip of Millard Plaza. The name was changed sometime in 1993-1994. The reason I was given for the name change was to make it sound more like a traditional martial art. Taijutsu is also shorter and was hoped to be easier to remember. The Taijutsu name comes from the Ninjitsu system. Taijutsu is one of the all encompassing names given to the hand-to-hand techniques that Ninjitsu practices.
The Taijutsu Academy left Millard Plaza in the fall of ’98. The monthly dues in Millard Plaza had risen to support the cost of rent. At this same time, one of our Black Belt instructor’s wife was in charge of the fitness program at Prairie Life Fitness. The monthly dues would be five dollars less for members at Prairie Life than if we had stayed with our own location. Also, the members would be getting access to one of Omaha’s best fitness facilities.
The move to Prairie Life presented a challenge at first. Our membership split in half because a lot of people didn’t feel comfortable signing a contract or having payments taken out through debit (This type of contract was new in ’98. Now, 10 years later, contracts and debit are the only choice). It took very little time and classes were back to their original size. From when The Taijutsu Academy first opened until 2001, we were one of the only places to train MMA. Other schools would open sporadically, but nothing ever stuck around for long.
During the prime years, The Taijutsu Academy helped forge many well known fighters from the Omaha area. Here is a list of some fighters in no particular order that have trained under the Taijutsu roof: Ryan Jensen (UFC), Jason Brilz (UFC), Jake Ellenberger (UFC), Sean Wilson (VFC, Extreme Challenge), Chad Riener (UFC), and Alonzo Martinez (Adrenaline, Bellator, VFC). Some retired fighters include: Myself, Donald Hamilton (Gladiators, Extreme Challenge, VFC), my wife, Leah Hamilton (Extreme Challenge, Gladiators), Steve Jennum (UFC 3 tournament winner), Justin James (UFC), Neal Binkley (Extreme Challenge, Gladiators), and Aaron Bradford (VFC).
We had a sibling school open in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 2000-2001. This new Taijutsu Academy was located in the Fit4Life fitness facility. In 2003, another competitor school, Mid America Martial Arts, opened its doors.
More to come . . .