Jodo, or the way of the stick, is the Japanese art of using a 3’6” -4’ foot wooden staff or Jo, to combat a sword-wielding opponent.
The art has its origins in 17th century Japan with the founder Muso Gonnosuke, a master of Kenjutsu (sword) and Bojutsu (6-foot staff). Legend has it that he developed the Jo as a weapon to overcome successfully the famous swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. The art of the Jo subsequently became one of the combat arts of the Kuroda Clan based in present Fukuoka until the 20th century, when it was transmitted throughout Japan and eventually, the world.
Jodo training involves the study of basic movements and Kata: prearranged attack and defence movements. As with other Budo arts, Jodo is designed to preserve the ancient combat techniques, but with the aim of helping the modern student achieve control over mind and body through repeated practice. Regular training develops timing, coordination, posture, decisiveness, and focus.
Training involves the study of basic solo and paired exercises and the 12 standard forms (Seitei Kata) laid down by the All Japan Kendo Federation or Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (ZNKR).
At more advanced levels, techniques of the Koryu or original tradition of Shindo Muso Ryu may also be studied.
Whilst the practical applications of the art are obviously limited in modern times, Jodo remains relevant in its own right and as a means of supplementary training to any martial art or other activity. Regular training develops overall physical condition including coordination and posture, whilst the meditative aspects of practice also develop mental qualities of decisiveness and focus.
Words used in Training:
- SOGO NO REI: Bow to each other.
- SHIDACHI: user of the JO
- UCHIDACHI: user of the BOKUTO, often the senior since uchidachi controls the timing
- MOTO E: back to your line, on line
- MAWARI MIGI: Turn right.
- HAJIME: Start.
- YAME: Stop.
- ZANSHIN: to be vigilant
- METSUKE: Look with eyes on the opponent.
- KIAI: shout– “ehh!” for blows; “wop!” for thrusts
- TSUNE NO KAMAE: This is the basic Kamae from which other Kamae are developed. Stand in natural standing posture and hold the Jo at the half way point down by the right side, with the point of the Jo at navel height.
- HONTE NO KAMAE: From Tsune no Kamae the right hand and leg advance at the same time, and the left hand takes hold of the rear end of the Jo. Then the right hand is withdrawn to a point about a quarter of the length from the rear end of the Jo, with the front end of the Jo kept at eye level.
- GYAKUTE NO KAMAE: From Tsune no Kamae, the left hand takes a reverse grip on the front end of the Jo. As the the right foot is advanced, the right hand makes a large circular slide along the Jo to grip it at a point about one quarter of his length from the left hand. The front end of the Jo is at eye level. When taking this Kamae, the back of the right hand should be vertical.
- HIKIOTOSHI NO KAMAE: From Tsune no Kamae, the left foot is pushed well forward and at the same time the front end of the Jo is held in an overhand grip between the base of the index finger and the thumb of the left hand. Turning the body to the left Shizentai (Hanmi, or sideways) posture, bring the left hand to the region of the left breast. The grip of the right hand is changed to hold the Jo from beneath. In this Kamae the palms of both hands face out.
- SEIGAN NO KAMAE : Bokuto pointed at the eyes
- JODAN NO KAMAE : Bokuto above the head
- HASSO NO KAMAE : Bokuto aside the head to protect the temple
- WAKIGAMAE: Bokuto low at the side backward
KIHON (TANDOKU DOSA = individual practice – SOTAI DOSA = mutual practice)
- HONTE UCHI: This technique is intended to meet an opponent’s attack by striking him between the eyes.
- GYAKUTE UCHI: The purpose of this technique is to meet an enemy’s attack with an offensive technique by striking to the left or right side of his head.
- HIKIOTOSCHI UCHI: This technique intended to attack an opponent who is holding a sword in Seigan no Kamae by striking his sword down. When practised without an opponent, the strikes are to face level.
- KAESHI TSUKI: Using a twisting action of the hips to the right and left, the front and rear ends of the Jo are rapidly changed to enable a trusting technique to the opponent’s Suigetsu (solar plexus).
- GYAKUTE TSUKI: From the reverse hand position, trust at the opponent’s Suigetsu, then follow with a Honte Uchi strike to his face.
- MAKI OTOSHI: This technique intended to stop a cut to the head. The Tachi (sword), having been blocked, is swept aside in a circular movement which finishes by attacking the opponent’s face.
- KURI TSUKE: As the opponent cuts to the center of the head, the body is moved to the left. The front end of the Jo is gripped with the left hand and with a powerful upward sweep, the Tachi is caught and manipulated back to the opponent’s own lower abdomen.
- KURI HANASHI: In the same way as with Kurit Tsuke, this technique is designed to catch, manipulate and thrust away a cut to the center of the head.
- TAI ATARI: The begin of this technique is the same as for Kuri Tsuke. Then this is followed by a body check technique where the left fist is pushed into the opponent’s Suigetsu, and the right fist pushed into his face.
- TSUKI HAZUSCHI UCHI: The opponent attacks with a thrust to the body. The Jo is held at full length as it is raised above the head. The body is drawn backwards to receive the trust with the Jo and the Bokuto is immediately struck down.
- DOBARAI UCHI: In response to a cut to the right side of the chest, the right foot is withdrawn and the cut received on the Jo. The Bokuto is immediately struck down.
- MIGI TAIHAZUSHI UCHI – HIDARI TAIHAZUSHI UCHI: In response to a cut to the center of the head, the body is moved back to avoid the cut, and the Bokuto is immediately struck down with the Jo. This technique can be performed either to the right or to the left.
KATA (paired practice)
Exchange of Jo and Bokuto:
- SHI UCHI KOTAI: command to exchange weapons
- Uchidachi takes Bokuto in other (right) hand, a hand’s width below the Tsuba (sword guard), edge towards himself. Shidachi accepts Bokuto with the left hand below the Tsuba. Uchidachi takes the Jo with the left hand (and becomes Shidachi from now on).
- Uchidachi (holding Bokuto) takes one step to the left and turns the Bokuto so the edge points toward himself and brings it to normal carry position while stepping past Shidachi, who transfers the Jo to his right hand, and steps forward on the same line (Uchidachi moved aside to let Shidachi pass).
- Arriving at the starting position, Uchidachi lowers the Bokuto (straightens arm) and turns around right. Shidachi turns right in the usual fashion when arriving at his position (point Jo to floor, turn right).
- TACHI WA (O) SAME = command to ‘resheath’ the Bokuto
- Without stopping in Seigan no Kamae, Uchidachi brings the Bokuto to the hip in one circular motion. It is then lowered, and the thumb is not placed on the Tsuba.
- SOGO NO REI: command to show politeness
- Shidachi points Jo to the floor (at “Sogono”). The end of the Jo (lowest in Tsune no Kamae) touches the right shoulder from behind. It should not be seen protruding above the shoulder.
- Shidachi and Uchidachi bow simultaneously (at “Rei”). Shidachi must take care to keep the Jo pressed against the shoulder. After bowing, Uchidachi returns the Bokuto to the hip and replaces the thumb on the Tsuba.
Seitei Jodo Kata: