View Full Version : Kumijo vs Jo Awase, Kumitachi vs Ken Awase

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Leon Aman
06-21-2009, 11:40 PM
Minna san,

Hi, can anybody explain to me the difference between kumijo and jo awaze? and also the difference of kumitachi and ken awaze? we don't have proper weapons class in our dojo unlike some other fortunate dojos out there. but ,,,not really eager to be an expert in weapons, you know. but,,, just to learn some important things in weapon that every ordinary aikido student need to be learned to.... that's it.



raul rodrigo
06-22-2009, 12:54 AM
HI Leon:

All I know of weapons is what Mr. Kenji Kumagai taught us, out of what he learned at Iwama. Jo awase, as he taught it, was a six count kata where both sides did the exact same movements (choku tsuki, mamote, men uchi, step back, gedan gaeshi, etc) simultaneously. It was an exercise in learning to blend with the partner's movement, picking up his energy and his "breath", while learning to move smoothly, solidly and with a stable center. The next higher step are the kumijo, which are also exercises in learning to blend, but tori and uke are doing different movements, one attacking, the other defending then counter attacking and on. The next level after the kumijo was the 31 count kata where there was both a tori and uke; tori does the regular 31 step movements, uke does a different sequence that fits (blends) in perfectly with the 31 kata that we know.

At each level, there is supposed to be awase and "intention," so that its not just sticks flailing at each other, but movements with meaning that express aiki principles. Attacks are really attacks with intent that seek out the opponent's centerline. Defenses are supposed to avoid just knocking the other jo away wildly; instead there has to be a feeling of centeredness, economy of movement and smoothness, even as you defend yourself. Awase, in other words. "You have to put meaning in the movement" was what we were often told.

We've done less work in the ken kata and ki musubi no tachi, so perhaps someone else can explain the sword side of this equation better.



Tim Griffiths
06-22-2009, 02:29 AM
In short, jo awase are kata where the two partners make the same movement, while kumijo are paired practice where the movements may be very different (i.e. the common version of the 31-jo kata paired with a series of tsuki attacks).
In my rough Japanese, "awase" = 'matched', "kumi" = 'paired'

Train well,


Leon Aman
06-25-2009, 02:15 AM
Hi Raul,

Thank you for some pointers.

Jo awase, as he taught it, was a six count kata where both sides did the exact same movements (choku tsuki, mamote, men uchi, step back, gedan gaeshi, etc) simultaneously. It was an exercise in learning to blend with the partner's movement, picking up his energy and his "breath", while learning to move smoothly, solidly and with a stable center.

so...is it the same with this jo renzoku dosa (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRoWKMbHI8Q)of y. kobayashi? and not this jo awase (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyvBXjybuas) of m. saito or maybe just a variation?




Carsten Möllering
06-25-2009, 03:11 AM
In short, jo awase are kata where the two partners make the same movement, That migth be a criterion in Iwama Ryu. But in other styles the movements of shidachi and ukedachi in awase exercises are most often not the same.

jo awaze and ken awaze is simply a type of exercises to practice timing, ma ai (=awase), ai (=awase) ki, blending.

kumi jo and kumi tachi are forms, paired kata, which simulate a fight.

To practice a solo form paired, can teach awase and helps to understand the movements of the form.
It is not called kumi tachi because there are often some "strange" situations which wouldn't make sense in a real fight, but teach something special here.


06-25-2009, 03:13 AM
Hi Leon,
If you look at the 1st volume of M. Saito Sensei's "Traditional Aikido Series" you will find photos of "Partner practice with the jo" exercises. These are 8 in all and are applications of the 31-no-jo kata.. They are very short and basic. If you look at the Original Japanese text, it clearly spells out "Jo-no-awase-ho" (see attachment 1).
AWASE =合わせ

In the videos of M. Saito Sensei about Aikijo, the applications (bunkai, if you will) of the 13-no-jo and 31-no-jo are also referred to as "awase".

I was fortunate enough to attend courses conducted by Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei and his son, Hiroaki Kobayashi Sensei. When they taught Aiki jo, they first taught the 8 awase shown in Volume 1 of Traditional aikido. FIrst, it was performed as synchronized practice, with each one doing the same movement (the defender). This is similar to the manner of performing renzoku-dosa (see below). Then it was performed with a clear "attacker" (uchijo) and "defender" (ukejo), as depicted in Saito Sensei's book (see attachment 2).
Y. Kobayashi Sensei also taught the renzoku-dosa as shown in the video you posted. Here, both partners do the same movements. If you look closely, they are based on the 20 Jo suburi, and there is a switch from doing it on the left side to doing it on the right side. This helps in developing the ability to perform jo techniques on either side.
Y. Kobayashi Sensei also taught awase of the 13-no-jo but not in the manner shown in M. Saito Sensei's video. Instead, both partners did the same kata but Ukejo (defender) was one "step" or "beat" behind Uchijo (attacker). You can see this in the video of Hiroaki Kobayashi Sensei demonstrating the 13-no-jo:

Hope this helps..


raul rodrigo
06-25-2009, 03:16 AM

Well it's definitely not the Saito video you provided a link to--that is the 13 count jo kata of Saito, not an awase form since tori and uke are doing different movements. The other video you referred to doesn't do a jo awase form exactly like we were taught, but the principles are the same. As I said, what I know is a 6 count awase form taught to us by Kumagai, but there is no reason why there shouldn't be more forms that incorporate the other jo suburi the way the men in this video do. Thanks for posting the links.



Joe Bowen
06-25-2009, 06:33 AM

That's a really old video of Kobayashi Shihan demonstrating the jo! Kobayashi Dojos has updated that video series at least twice since. I'm not sure how you would go about getting your hands a copy of it but you may try contacting Kobayashi Hiroaki Sensei in Japan. Try this link: http://www.cup.com/kobayashi-dojo/english/index.html

Carsten Mollering's explaination of the difference between awase drills and kumi drills is similar to my experience practicing with the Kobayashi dojos. The awase exercises are simple steps designed at the basic level to incorporate the suburi motion with the timing and distancing with a partner. The Kumi exercise are more of a simulated combat scenario...


06-25-2009, 06:52 AM
If you are referring to the aikijo and aikiken of Saito M, which is what Kobayashi Y. adopted as well, then this is what it is about:

Ken awase and Jo awase refer to sets of exercises to practice the basic movements (suburi etc) with a partner and they add [to the solo forms] the properties of awase (blending), maai (distancing/spacing), connection, timing and control of attack-line.

That is, these sets are NOT meant to be "applied" techniques. Instead they represent an intermediary step between solo training and kumi-practice (combative forms of paired practice).

They do NOT have to be mirrored. What is important is that uchi tachi respectively uchi jo (attacker) gives uke tachi or uke jo (defender) various forms of attacks to practice the above mentioned properties.

Now, Saito initially did a set of 8 jo awase, found in Saito's original books, and one of which was shown by Inocencio above. They have similar purpose as the present ken awase (right, left awase + 5 and 7 awase) but Saito M. later stopped teaching these. I feel these awase are great tools, and my guess is that Saito M. wanted to keep the number of partner practices down.

He also had the 2 jo awase forms where he used the two major kata as template: 13 kata and 31 kata. In both these cases uchi jo provides attacks and uke jo blend and defend each attack movement (e.g. 1-3, 3-6 etc. in 31 kata) by "winning". In this way uke tachi is able to practice many different awase forms and defenses. One attack - one defense.
Lately 31 jo awase has been taught only as the 31 kumi jo, where the stops have been taken away and it doesn't finish until the end of the full kata. 13 jo awase however has been kept intact.

In all of the above cases the awase and kumi jo represent ways for Saito to teach us his lesson from O-sensei. O-sensei did not teach these partner practices. He taught Saito M. the solo 31 kata and Saito sensei used 13 kata as a way to represent the rest of the solo Jo work that was missing in 31 kata he was shown by the founder. What the founder DID do according to, Saito M, was to teach simple applications of the jo:
- He attacks like this - You can defend like this or like that.... etc.
Simple and short. Probably not unlike the first set of 8 jo awase.
That's it! Nothing else. The rest, again, was Saito's way of teaching what he found was the lesson, using the means he had:
Suburi - 31 Kata and 13 kata.

Now, going into the kumi tachi/jo set. They add [to the suburi and awase] the dimension of application and realism: Here you have to learn and train to move outside the box of perfect basics into the world of adrenaline, dynamics and non-linearity of combat! BUT... you do this as an application of AIKI.
Particularly in the case of kumi tachi the Founder used old-schooled forms (mostly from Kashima Ryu) as a template and then reshaped them for this expression of high level aiki with sword. Saito M. kept the Founders forms in their entirety.
In the case of kumi jo - some were the Founders creation and others were Saito Sensei's own developments based on the founders teachings.

Finally wrt. Kobayashi Y. Sensei: His student Igarashi sensei went to Iwama to train with Saito sensei and brought back the buki waza, which Kobayashi since that point implemented into his curricula. What Kobayashi sensei added was how to practice some of the awase forms. For example the way in which he let both mirror each other in 13 awase. In contrast to the way Saito taught it. He also kept the 8 jo awase forms.



06-26-2009, 02:05 AM
That is a great explanation, Jakob. Many thanks!