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Old 02-14-2002, 06:54 AM   #13
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
Re: Jo was originally a spear or not?

Originally posted by Silvio
I got a question. What in your opinion was originally jo?

The jo -- short staff -- was and is found in many koryu systems as well as gendai.

The most famous, of course, is Shinto Muso Ryu (sometimes romanized Shindo Muso Ryu), the legacy of Gonnosuke.

Other ryuha, however, also have taught jo techniques. Some naginata systems incorporate jo (a noogie stick with no blade is a jo, more or less). And no, Edward, the naginata wasn't strictly a woman's weapon. For many, many years, it was the queen of the battlefield in Japan, and was relegated to home defense only later in history.

Today, it's true, Atarashii Naginata tends to be practiced mainly by women, but historically, the weapon was a mainstay of the warrior class.

Primary weapons were bow, spear and naginata, THEN sword.

Anyhow, back on topic, in aikido, as I understand, Ueshiba had little formal spear or naginata training, but was undoubtedly well familiar with those weapons. He did receive formal juken (bayonet) training whilst in the army and the juken taught to soldiersd at that time was apparently a synthesis of European bayonet and Japanese spear technique and movement.

The European influence on gendai and koryu budo is deeper than most folks realize.

The tanjo or hanbo, for instance. SMR's Uchida Ryu Tanjojutsu is probably very closely linked to European stick fighting and was, in fact, called 'sutekki' for a good while before someone decided to replace the name with something more Japanese-sounding.

The jo, or something very jo-like, has been around a long, long time. Cross pollination between spear, sword, naginata, bo, etc. systems can be found in use of the jo across the board.

In aikido, I've read that Ueshiba based much of his jo work on the juken, with slightly less coming from the spear itself.

Shinto Muso Ryu jo, byt the way, looks nothing at all like any aikijo I've ever seen. Nishio and, I believe Chiba (Julian, you there?), and Kimeda more recently, all studied SMR jo and have incorporated much of that system into their own aikijo.

The jo work we study in my dojo is different from any of the above. We have a set of about a dozen short jo kata (they can be practiced solo, but are intended to be paired) that start with consideration of having a blade on one ened and end with nothing but the haft remaining. I've been deconstructing some of that info and applying it to the naginata and find that it fits very neatly ...


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