Aiki-Jo

The Jo is a 1.276 m (4.18 foot) long wooden staff and is one of the weapons that is taught as part of a comprehensive Aikido instruction.    Historically the Jo would have a spear head attached to increase its length and the damage it inflicted on an opponent.

In Aikido instruction there are several ways that the Jo is taught. The Suburi are the elementary exercises used to help the student become familiar with the weapon.  At higher levels of Aikido learning these exercises also help to reinforce empty hand (taijutsu) forms.

Suburi

Jo Suburi are solo exercises with the Jo.  There are 20 Jo Suburi.  The following links contain information.  I will update this section once I have a better feel for the moves and can put them in my own words.

For the Fifth Kyu test the student must be able to demonstrate the first five Jo Suburi. In the following examples I talk about “knuckle” position. This is just a way to help describe how you are supposed to grasp the Jo for the different moves. When I say “thumb knuckle pointed up” it means that the your fist is in an orientation with the thumb toward the ceiling and the pinky finger is below it towards the floor.

Tsuki Kemae:

Some of the suburi involve starting in Tsuki Kemae.  Sensei wishes us to use a horse stance for this move (both feet in same orientation) instead of a hamni.  Eventually we will work the hamni into the Tsuki Kemae.  The Jo should be held above the belt, the back arm should have an almost 90 degree angle to it.

Choku Tsuki
  • Start in left hamni with Jo planted at the front of your left foot and your left hand grasping the Jo at your center. The pinkie finger of the left hand should be pulling the Jo firmly into the palm of your left hand.  (Your hand should have the palm facing to your right, your thumb “up” and the knife edge of the hand facing down.)
  • Grasp the Jo with your right hand just below your left hand. The right hand thumb knuckle is “up”, and the other finger knuckles are pointed forward. (This is the “choke” in “Choku” that Sensei uses as a mnemonic.)
  • Keeping the left hand still and firmly grasping the Jo, bring the right (bottom) hand back until it is grasping the base of the Jo. You should now be in a basic Tsuki stance. The front hand should be “over” the Jo.
  • As you step forward with your front foot, pull back with your back hand. The Jo should be pulled back until the top is held by the left hand.
  • Step forward with your back foot as you bring the back arm through the center of your body (you should hear the sound of fabric on fabric from your ghi). The Jo should be aimed for an opponents breast bone. You should be in your center and balanced.
Kaeshi Tsuki
  • Start in left hamni with Jo planted at the front of your left foot and your left hand grasping the Jo at your center. The pinkie finger of the left hand should be pulling the Jo firmly into the palm of your left hand.  (Your hand should have the palm facing to your right, your thumb “up” and the knife edge of the hand facing down.)
  • Reach over and grasp the top of the Jo with your right hand. Your thumb knuckle should be in the direction of the floor with the remaining knuckles of your right hand facing forward (away from you).
  • Bring the right (top) hand up to your right shoulder/collar bone at the same time that you step forward with your front leg.
  • Step forward with your back foot as you bring the back arm through the center of your body (you should hear the sound of fabric on fabric from your ghi). The Jo should be aimed for an opponents breast bone. You should be in your center and balanced. Because the Jo is coming from a higher location you should notice a bit of a corkscrewing motion at the tip.
Ushiro Tsuki
  • Start in left hamni with Jo planted at the front of your left foot and your left hand grasping the Jo at your center. The pinkie finger of the left hand should be pulling the Jo firmly into the palm of your left hand.  (Your hand should have the palm facing to your right, your thumb “up” and the knife edge of the hand facing down.)
  • Reach forward and grasp the top of the Jo with your right hand. Your thumb knuckle should be up with the remaining knuckles of the right hand facing forward.  The palm of the right hand should be facing the left.  (Both hands have the same grasp, but each is in different directions.)
  • Push the top hand forward to lever the Jo along the edge of your left arm. Do not let the Jo wedge under the arm.
  • Step back behind you with your left foot and plant the ball of the left foot on the floor with the hell up.   (The previous step and this step can be done at the same time once comfortable with the maneuver.)
  • Pivot to your left (bringing the left foot heel down to the floor, and twisting your hips) and bring your arms out in front of you while expressing kokyu.
  • Once completed with Ushiro tsuki rour arms should have the correct bend to them. The Jo should be behind you at chest level. The Jo should also be at an angle from your body, so that if it were mirrored it would make a ‘V’ shape. The right hand should be parallel with the left shoulder.  (But this is not out of center. Your center should be pointing backward.)  You should be looking back.
Tsuki Gedan Gaeshi
  • Start in Tsuki Kamae.
  • Perform a Tsuki.
  • As you step back with the back leg, pull the Jo back with the back hand until the tip of the Jo is in the front hand.
  • As you step back with the front leg push the Jo with the front hand so that it slides through the back hand.
  • You should be engaged with the center forward. The front hand should be at your shoulder, the Jo hidden behind you.
  • Open the door with your front hand as you step around with the back hand. Arms go out and forward and express kokyu. The Jo should perform a “low” block.  Make sure your center is forward.
Tsuki Jodan Gaeshi Uchi

Kata

San-ju ichi no jo kata

There are 31 (San-ju ichi) moves in this jo kata.  (I am using a mix of terms I know and english until I can find the proper terms for each move.)  The following is a very brief synopsis of what happens for each move.

Starting from left hamni with jo planted in front of left foot with left hand grasping the jo at just below the its upper third:

Ichi Kaeshi tsuki
Ni Overhead block (Hands remain from position of last tsuki)
San Tsuki
Shi Overhead block (Hands go to middle of jo, both palms forward)
Go Jo rotates clockwise overhead.  Back hand releases and goes forward.  Perform a shomen strike.  Your back foot steps forward and becomes your front foot.
Roku Walking shomen strike.  (Jo swings around on the front foot side. Step forward with back foot.  Perform shomen strike.)
Shichi Reverse direction while bringing Jo up to prepare for shomen strike.  Step forward with back foot and perform shomen strike.
Hachi Walking shomen strike.  (Jo swings around on the front foot side. Step forward with back foot.  Perform shomen strike.)
Kyu Rotate your forward hand so that the index knuckle is over top of the JO.  Perform a full Tenkan with Jo going out to the side (sweeping around). The Jo should end pointing out to your right side (not behind or in front of you.)
Ju Big step forward with left foot. Bring right foot behind. Jo overhead block. Hands stay where they were from the previous move.
Ju ichi Shomen attack, step forward with front foot.
Ju ni Step back with back foot. Back hand becomes front hand. Assume Tsuki Kemae.
Ju san Tsuki.
Ju shi Overhead block (Jodan)
Ju go Switch hands shomen attack. Immediatly following the shomen go into the next movement.
Ju roku Gedan (steping back)
Ju shichi Gaeshi forward
Ju hachi Step back. Release with the top hand, rotate the jo with the middle hand. The top hand becomes the back hand. Step back.
Ju kyu Tsuki to the ground in front.
Ni ju Bring Jo up and over the head, perform shomen attack while switching footing.  The left knee should be on the ground, the right knee up. Right hand in front. Immediatly go into the Gedan.
Ni juichi Gedan.
Ni juni Stand up.  (Find term for left hand is front, right hand is back, jo is at head level thrust jo out at opponents head level.)
Ni jusan Back (right) hand lets go. Go rotates down as you step back. End up in Tsuki Kemae.
Ni jushi Tsuki
Ni jugo Tsuki, Immediatly into next…
Ni juroku Gedan.
Ni jushichi Gaeshi, steping backward this time.
Ni juhachi Stand up.  (Find term for left hand is back, right hand is front, jo is at head level thrust jo out at opponents head level.)
Ni jukyu Back (left) hand lets go. Go rotates down as you step back. End up in Tsuki Kemae.
San Ju Tsuki
San ju ichi Shomen with legs changing orientation.

Kumijo

Kumi Jo is a partnered exercise with the Jo.  (From what I can tell it takes the 31 Kata and makes it into a partnered Kata.)  More info later when I come to this aspect of my training.

Resources

Sensei vetted this video of the San-ju ichi no jo kata:
http://www.ysaohio.com/4thkyu.htm#31%20Jo%20Kata

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