I have seen a couple of texts referring to what appears to be the Heimlich Manoeuvre among the methods of resuscitation* taught in some schools of jujutsu (and consequently, judo).

What is surprising is that these descriptions are from over 80 years prior to Heimlich's first description of the technique:

The simplest method of resuscitating a man who had been choked was to embrace the patient from the back, and, placing those edges of the palms of both hands which are opposite the thumb to the lower part of the abdomen, to push it up towards the operator's own body with those edges.

Another plan was to place the patient on the ground and push up the abdomen.

This quote seems to imply that there were distinct techniques similar to:

Were abdominal thrusts used for resuscitation in jujutsu? If so, when was this technique invented?

* Known as 活法 (kappō) or simply (katsu, historically spelled kuatsu).
Additional contemporary references:

The operator kneels on one knee immediately behind the patient, whom he lifts to a semi-sitting posture, placing his (the operator's) knee between and slightly below the patient's shoulder blades in the cardiac region, then brings his hands forward over the patient's chest, and then gives them a powerful jerk backward.
Revived by Jiu-Jitsu, The New York Times (1910)

The Japanese during their course in Jiu-jitsu are taught eleven different methods of resuscitating the fainting. Apparently part of their methods are based upon compression of the abdomen.
American Physical Education Review, Volume 12, Issue 1 (1907)

... placing the base of the operator's thumbs against the lower part of the abdomen and vigorously pushing upward a number of times.
Outing: Sport, Adventure, Travel, Fiction, Volume 41 (1903)

2 Answers 2


Jujutsu Schools all have a Kyusho "striking point" chart. You would aim for these points when attacking in order to do the most damage i.e. the solar plexus. Some of those points were used for resuscitation as well. Pressure was applied in various combinations to revive people who had passed out (during training, due to heat,) drowned or fallen from a great height. Having read several such books in Japanese I would say that "Heimlich-like procedures" existed but they varied by Jujutsu school.


I can't answer fully but a few points.

"The Heimlich maneuver, or Heimlich manoeuvre, is a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions by foreign objects."

This is a somewhat different situation to someone who has been choked.

CPR is not remotely the similar to any of the techniques described. It's basically about artificially keeping blood flowing around the body by manipulating the heart through the rib cage. It also involves breathing into the patient's lungs at varying intervals depending on what version you are doing. Very practical, very scientific... Not invented by Jujutsu. Also... it's great first aid but won't necessarily bring the patient to consciousness. It's about keeping people alive who are seriously injured not the kind of 'light' unconsciousness likely to be caused by strangles.

But yes, Abdominal thrusts were indeed used in Jujutsu for chokes, and also I believe for 'winding' (paralyzation of the diaphragm from a strike to the solar plexus 'suigetzu').

So were strikes to the back just below the shoulder blade for strangles (restriction of the carotid arteries)

The hitting of the foot is usually used to treat kicks to the testicles (after using the toes to uncurl the body). But is also sometimes used to treat damage caused by striking 'vital points' on the head. I would still advocate this in the case resuscitating someone who has been hit in the testicles as the heart and lungs are presumably still functioning (if by any chance they aren't after checking pulse etc. go back to CPR it works for sure and is less likely to be frowned upon by actual medical professionals)

  • CPR success rate are pathetically small (around 2-5%) but better than being dead. Those odds jump to around 80% with an AED. Source: St John Ambulance. Sep 20, 2019 at 7:28
  • "This is a somewhat different situation to someone who has been choked." Indeed, but some texts mention different methods used for different situations e.g. drowning. I was curious if there was any recording of one of these techniques being used in the same way as the Heimlich Maneuver, but couldn't find any further information. "CPR is not remotely the similar to any of the techniques described." Do you really not see how compressions of the abdomen with the fist to revive someone is a similar method to CPR? (Note I was referencing the chest compression aspect of CPR, not mouth-to-mouth.) Sep 20, 2019 at 11:01
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    @sardathrion Yes Indeed These kappo techniques are for people who would probably survive anyway without assistance. CPR is really for much more serious problems. You probably would not even attempt CPR in the case of say a strangle. The heart would be beating the person would be breathing... The standard medical approach would be to put the patient in the recovery position.
    – Huw Evans
    Sep 20, 2019 at 12:11
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    Uhm...this doesn't answer the question. This goes on about CPR and testicle strikes, but does not address the basic question "did jujutsu invent the heimlich".
    – JohnP
    Sep 20, 2019 at 13:33
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    I said in the question that the technique described seemed similar, but anyway. There are forms of CPR where the abdomen is compressed (which can be more effective than traditional CPR): OAC-CPR IAC-CPR etc. Doctors have described several of the kappo techniques as similar to CPR (and the Heimlich Manoeuvre): 1 2 Sep 20, 2019 at 13:40

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