View Full Version : Types of Jo

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11-08-2003, 02:04 AM
Does anyone know what the best type of wood for Jo is?
Or which would be the heaviest?


Nick Simpson
11-08-2003, 06:31 AM
I imagine Lignavitee (spelling?) would be the heaviest, but try getting hold of that for cheap. Its so dense they used to make ships propellors out of it 50 years ago, dunno about now.

11-08-2003, 07:48 AM
Hi !

Pau ferro (iron wood) is probably the heaviest - doesn't float !!

Then you have Ebony,Bubinga.Wenge and others.

Mind you Wenge is opengrained (nasty splinters).

Why the heaviest,for personal practice ?

If it's your first jo, heavy is unsafe.

My jo is heavy and strong but I only take it to seminars,if I really hit someone with it -

they will go down !

Ash , white oak and Hickory are very good because of weight,flexibility,strength.

The white oak doesn't splinter ,only get dented which is ideal.

yours - Chr.B.

11-08-2003, 12:46 PM
i was thinking of the heaviest, so i could build strength.

i realized only the other day, that my Jo is one of the heaviest if not the heaviest in my dojo.

When i train, i find that i have to use a lot of strength to produce that 'woosh' sound. But then one day i left my Jo elsewhere and had to use the Dojo's, i realized then that all the Jo were really light, and i was making that 'woosh' sound with ease.

i then made the decision to go for the heaviest.

My goal is to be the best stick slinger in my dojo. And i think im well on my way, i have been practicing consitently for 3 years. only missing Jo classes if i've been beaten uncounscious and cant make it to class.


11-08-2003, 01:51 PM
Hi !

I'm sorry ,I don't understand your perspective unless you want to beat up trees !

There is a bokken type that has an oversize

"blade" that builds strength,I think it is mostly associated with Iwama-style practice

but I do not know its name.

Strength will go away,but timing and control

wil keep getting better.

Just the other day practicing ken-tai-jo

I swung my jo yokomen against uke,as I made contact uke said it felt like a kiss nothing

more,though it was sent off with power.

This is what it is all about to me.

But ambition is OK with me.

Nick Simpson
11-08-2003, 03:27 PM
I think you mean a suburi bokken? Or thats what we call em at least, looks kind of like a boat oar/paddle.

11-08-2003, 03:34 PM
Yep !

Nick Simpson
11-08-2003, 03:40 PM
Those babies are awesome, great for weight training, but just try going back to a regular bokken after you've trained with a suburi for a while. As we say at my dojo " once you've had fat, you'll never go back! " ;)

Tim Griffiths
11-09-2003, 06:54 AM
I used a heavier bokken until I had a comment from Nebi Vural sensei - "Ah, its easy with a heavy bokken, you don't need so much control". Now I swap - use the suburi bokken for suburi (duh), and for paired practice use the same as whatever my partner has (I'm a bit of a nut with 9 or 10 different bokkens, so I can choose).

I suggest trying to do the kata with a suburi bokken, a normal one and a katana - you should see pretty quickly which needs the most skill to control properly.

For heavy jo practice I have a 1" thick iron bar at home - I guess it weighs about 15kg. It forces you to be in the middle of the rotation. The downside is that it'll basically go through anything you hit it with, including your head... I don't use it in the dojo for safety reasons, and my wife doesn't let me use it in the house either.

For both jo and bokken, I think you can train with a heavier one for strength, but the main training should still be done with a lighter weapon, which needs more finesse. Bokkens are generally too heavy anyway, compared to a decent sword.


11-10-2003, 06:59 AM
I'd agree with Tim - I went through a heavier weapon phase but found out it actually slowed my weapon work and sometimes gave me elbow strain (but I am quite little!). Train with heavy weapons for conditioning, but ensure you continue to train with something of normal weight which you can actually do kumijo with at a reasonable speed. Also, heavy weapons can actually impede the use of your centre because start to use your muscles in a less unified way. Instead, you could try cutting or striking HARDER with a lighter weapon (get some targets).


11-10-2003, 07:03 AM
P.S. as Christian said you can get suburi bokkens with an oversized blade (we call them 'oars') however I've found them to be a complete waste of time. The handles are often too thin to control the power of the cut and the weight distribution is very poor (tip heavy).

PPS I wouldn't like to do the 31 jo kata with a steel jo - I've hit myself on the head or ankle several times with a wooden jo and that hurts enough!

11-10-2003, 07:04 AM
PPPS - don't use very heavy weapons in partnered weapon practise - it becomes very costly for everone else!

11-10-2003, 08:14 AM
One guy at my old dojo had a really heavy jo. It tore a chunk out of mine one day during training. That was annoying. Of course, I did make my jo out of a broomstick from Home Depot.

Recently, I purchased a hickory jo from Bu Jin. It is the perfect weight in my opinion.


11-10-2003, 09:37 AM
Hi !

A word of caution -

Broomsticks are usually of a wood called Ramin (maybe it has other names),at first glance it seems appropriate for making fighting sticks - not so !!

It is kind of hard but it will not only splinter easily,if hit hard it will break

right over !

As I metioned earlier,Hickory,White oak and Ash are the better choices ( I would also second Ash because of open grain,maybe swamp Ash would work).

Off to Keiko -

11-14-2003, 08:54 PM

i dont know why im surprised to hear this, i guess i really shouldn't be.

But what im hearing is that heavy Jo might actually not be a good thing?

i was always thinking of making my muscles stronger and therefore, have more control.

About centering, you're all sayin that a heavier Jo could mess with my centre?

i really thought that conditioning myself with a heavy weapon, will ensure control using a lighter weapon. Tim mention's that he heard a sensei say that heavier Jo are easier to control? am i gettin this right?

Tim said >I had a comment from Nebi

>Vural sensei - "Ah, its easy with

>a heavy bokken, you don't need

>so much control"

Wouldn't you need more control with a heavier weapon?


11-15-2003, 07:49 AM
Hi again !

There are no shortcuts to the real thing,


This I've learned not just in Aikido but in other walks of life.

No exercises make me play better guitar,only

practicing focused and developing that way.

You must remember that a jo technically is a spear not a hammer,much in the same way a

bokken is a sword.

The attitude that a bokken gives the body

is different than the attitude a sword gives.

It's like an awakening,a real live blade is

the true awakening,when you find out how sharp a live blade is and the balance of the thing,you much more clearly understand the economy of motion that is at the heart of Aikido.

yours - Chr.B.

05-09-2004, 10:53 PM
Hi all,

Actually instead of looking for a heavy jo, I'm trying to look for a lighter jo as mine is really too haevy for me. It is very tiring practicing the 31 kata with a heavy jo, and I'm more into getting my handwork and footwork right than building up strength. I've been looking around for a good, light jo recently, but there are only 2 martial arts supplies store in Singapore, and the jos they have there are not up to standard really.

Are there any online shops selling light jos? I've looked at bokkenshop.com and they do have attractive jos there, anyidea how heavy is that?


Brad Darr
05-10-2004, 01:07 AM
I love working with the jo and do it pretty much everytime I go to the dojo. Anyway for me the best to do paired practice with is japanese white oak from Kiyota Company. They sell excellent, decent priced weapons and I have never had a problem with breaking. They aren't on the web but I think Jun has the address on this sight under the suppliers icon or something. I agree with what others have said about a heavier jo being hard on the joints, i.e. metal bar will make you strong but spnning it can be costly in bruises or damaged tendons. I personally have an ebony jo from Bujindesign.com that I have had for a few years and it is heavier than oak but not too heavy, it has a nice balance to it that makes it great for personal practice and I use it at seminars because when you pull that shiny black stick out it draws stares. I'm sure that there are several other types of woods that have a medium weight. A friend bought a lingum vitae jo from Bearwoodworks online and it is beautiful, I think they also offer purpleheart wood. One thing though ebony and lingum vitae are so hard that they get brittle over time. The same friend bought a lingum vitae bokken and it broke.

05-10-2004, 06:10 AM
Hi !
I'd like to share my most recent experience with the jo.
At the Copenhagen easter camp I had a chance to really work my new 24mm white oak jo (Tozando) ,
it was acquired after comparing the different jos in our dojo.
It seemed that the 24mm jos felt the best - though light.
At the camp I and others discovered that it really had some "action" , for personal training I am considering a 27mm jo as well , but I believe I had one of the best jos on the camp .
The camp was 6 full days and it was a pleasure having such a great jo for all the ken-tai-jo we did.

yours - Chr.Boddum

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2004, 06:14 PM
>Vural sensei - "Ah, its easy with

>a heavy bokken, you don't need

>so much control"

Wouldn't you need more control with a heavier weapon?

Well, your partner would sure as hell appreciate it!!!

05-15-2004, 08:03 AM
[QUOTE=otto lam]Say!
Does anyone know what the best type of wood for Jo is?
Or which would be the heaviest.

I don't know if you familair of "Kamagong" but here in our country we generally used that kind of wood. it's a hard one and tough one. :) we used that in arnis(stick fighting) as well in jo and bokken. ask some filipino friend in ur country :)
I dont think but I hope theres a Kamagong in ur land :D

dan guthrie
05-15-2004, 08:53 AM
I bought a Diamond wood staff a few years ago from Museum Replicas. It's a great walking stick, the weight is better for upper-body exercise and it looks less dorky than heavy hands or free weights. It can also double as a jo in an emergency - feral dogs or even swans - but it would just tear up my back to do kata with it.
You might do serious damage to your lower back and not get any real benefit.
Would you pick up the heaviest weight in a gym your first day?

05-15-2004, 09:38 AM
There are those that use a heavier jo to LOSE strengh; or more accurately; lose the use of strengh during jo work. "Anti weight training" if you will. If anyone from Komyokan is logged on then please comment as I don't know a whole lot about it.


Jonathan Cole
06-03-2004, 06:09 PM
As to types of wood and their applicability to weapons use, James Goedkoop of Kingfisher Woodworks (http://www.kingfisherwoodworks.com/) wrote an excellent article about the relative strengths and densities of most hardwoods available in North America. Here's the link from our very own AikiWeb site:

06-03-2004, 09:06 PM
Kiyota company: