Thread: Jo vs. Bo
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:34 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Jo vs. Bo

Jesse Dollarhite wrote: View Post
Any reason why Aikido focuses on the Jo instead of the Bo staff? I enjoy both and I can see the reason for our dojo (very low roof ) but I never see any techniques with bo staff.
I'm sure many techniques would work both ways, but is there a reason behind Jo- only? Or am I not looking hard enough?
This really has to do with the lack of a systematic transmission of technique in Aikido. What was taught by the Founder at any given point in time often depended on where he was and whom he was training with. If he had a student who was good with sword, he often worked on sword technique when he visited that student. If he had a student who was really interested in staff work, he would focus on that.

The Bo work of Aikido was really transmitted through the Shingu line via Hikitsuchi Sensei. The Shingu folks have several Bo kata in their repertoire, although I don't know how much emphasis they put on that work these days. But O-Sensei actually gave Hikitsuchi Sensei a certificate stating that he had understood the Founder's staff work.

Another aspect of the yari related work in Aikido that didn't get transmitted generally was use of the juken or bayonet. O-Sensei frequently practiced with that weapon and also taught defense against attack with juken. But juken seems to have virtually disappeared in post war Aikido practice... I am not familiar with any main style or teacher who has any formal study of juken in their curriculum.

Also, to the extent that Bo existed in the Koryu, it had a different context than it did in the Okinawan styles. In Okinawan styles there was an emphasis on making every day objects one could find on any farm into weapons. They weren't allowed to have anything which would be considered to be primarily a weapon so they developed the use of obects that would have other purposes as weapons.

But the samurai were walking weapons systems. It wasn't as if any of them would have gone in to battle with a bo... The bo work in the koryu is really about how the use a naginata or yari when the blade or point as broken off in battle and you are left standing there with a big stick... now you have a bo, even though it didn't start off that way.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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