What is Jodo?

Jodo is a Japanese martial art devoted to the mastery of the Jo, a wooden staff about 128 cm long and 2.4 cms in diameter. The Jo is a versatile weapon, with both ends and all sides capable of being used offensively and defencively. When wielded properly a Jo can be used to parry, redirect, strike, throw, unbalance, lock, sweep and spear an attacker. Jodo originated in feudal Japan as a means of self-defence against an attacker or attackers wielding a sword. Jodo is practiced with and without a partner, who is armed with a bokken (wooden sword) in practice. Subsequently, practitioners of Jodo gain technical knowledge in both Jo and Japanese swordsmanship. In the past, Jo were often carried by Monks and travelers as their primary defensive weapon also served as their walking stick. the Japanese Police still utilise Jo training as part of their curriculum and in riot control.

Although sticks have been used as a defensive weapon for thousands of years, the Japanese have developed the long stick into a true art form. Jodo is one of the pillars of classical Bujutsu, Martial Technique, and Budo, The Martial Way. Tradition has it, around 400 years ago, a renowned swordsman by the name Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi created the Shinto Muso Ryu Jo-jutsu system. Gonnosuke challenged the most famous swordsman of the day, Miyamoto Musashi, to a duel. Gonnosuke’s weapon of choice was a Bo, or long staff, which he was also well versed in. It is claimed that Musashi won the duel and decided to spare Gonnosuke’s life as he was impressed by his skill and use of the staff.

As a result of his defeat, Gonnosuke went into a period of deep practice. during this time he modified the Bo, reducing the length from around 185 cm to 128 cm, so the staff was more versatile and it could be brought into action quicker, and in tighter quarters, whilst maintaining a length and reach that exceeded the average sword, katana, tachi, length of the day. After reducing the length of the staff, Gonnosuke found that he was able to use the same weapon to employ a variety of spear, long staff, and swordsmanship techniques. Gonnosuke could adapt techniques to suit any opponent he faced and developed many different options to attack and defend. Once again, he challenged Musashi and won as Musashi wasn’t able to compensate for the adaptability and offensive capabilities of the Jo. As a show of mutual respect Gonnosuke spared Musashi’s life.

The method of Jodo at Perth Martial Arts Academy is called Seitei Jodo, which is the main system of Jodo routinely taught throughout the world. as with Iaido, the All Japan Kendo Renmei oversees Jodo’s development and associated grading systems and it is the parent organisation of both the Australian Kendo Renmei and the West Australian Kendo Renmei. Seitei Jodo contains 12 fundamental pre-arranged forms, known as Kata, that are adapted from Shinto Muso-ryu Jojutsu. In addition to these 12 Kata, senior students may be invited to study Koryu, classical Bujutsu forms of Jo-jutsu which contain many other short staff techniques.

A sincere desire to learn and the ability to persevere is all it takes to become skilled in the use of the Jo. There are many physical and mental benefits associated with Jodo training including, fitness, improved posture, greater coordination, focus, awareness, muscular conditioning, and general personal development. Jodo is a martial art you can practice for the rest of your life and mastery presents continual and rewarding challenges. If you seek a greater depth to your martial arts study, and a desire to learn how to use a stick, the most readily available defensive device, then Jodo may be the art for you. As with all weapon arts, maturity is the only pre-requisite to enrollment and beginners are always welcome at Perth Martial Arts Academy.