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Old 08-28-2001, 04:03 AM   #1
Dojo: samourais,Eindhoven
Location: the Netherlands
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 31
Origin of the jo

Hi everyone,

Just wondered if anyone can tell me the origin of the jo. Somehow, I got it in my head that it originated as a sort of walking stick that could be used for selfdefense while a friend of mine thinks it used to have a metal point and was used as a short spear. Neither of us knows exactly where we got the knowledge from but we have been discussing it for some time know and we haven't been able to find anything in favor or against either viewpoint. So if anyone can help us out, please do, otherwise we will be discussing this issue forever. We are both kind of stubborn where things like this are concerned .


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Old 08-28-2001, 06:08 AM   #2
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
As far as I am aware it is derived from the spear (thus the many thrusting attacks). I think I read this in one of Saito's books. I've never heard of the walking stick origin.

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Old 08-28-2001, 10:26 AM   #3
Chuck Clark
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
Bo and jo techniques most likely came from the need for something to fight with when your naginata or yari blade broke and all you were left with was a length of stick.

Also the priests in China brought over some stick techniques with their walking sticks. Pragmatic people can always grab a stick when in need. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 08-28-2001, 02:31 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 563
the bo was also used to hold buckets of water... hold the bo on the back of your shoulders, with buckets of water on either side... need to fight? drop, drop... you got a weapon. And if they're makin you walk back to the well, they deserve a smackdown...
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Old 08-28-2001, 05:10 PM   #5
Jon C Strauss
Dojo: Rocky Mountain Ki Society
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 15

It's hard to say who 'invented' the jo, afterall it's just a stick.

As far as systemizing a bujustsu of it, that
was Muso Gunnosuke. It happened almost 400 years ago, after an epic battle with Miyamoto Musashi (supposedly). The ryu is called Shinto or Shindo Muso Ryu (SMR). Legend says that after being defeated with his bo by Musashi, Muso meditated on top of the mountain for a month or so and realized that he needed a shorter stick. Then he carved the jo, challenged Musashi again and won (by defeating his infamous double-sword X-block). He then let Musashi live, thereby laying the foundation for some of the merciful qualities of Jodo (the art of tehe stick).

SMR now has two main lines, the Fukuoka line and the Tokyo line. The training basically consists of two person kata, one with bokken (who always loses--yeah baby!) and the one with the jo.
In the school where I practice, tachi's (the sword wielder's) job is to cut and to be the best swordsman he/she can be. If the person with the jo is only good against bad swordsmen--why bother studying?

Because of the huge differences between the way the jo is practiced traditionally, and the modern jo in Aikido, Ueshiba-ha jo (and that of his students) is usually referred to as "aiki-jo."

Hope this helps.


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Old 08-29-2001, 02:20 PM   #6
tedehara's Avatar
Dojo: Evanston Ki-Aikido
Location: Evanston IL
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 826
Re: Origin of the jo

Originally posted by petra
Hi everyone,

Just wondered if anyone can tell me the origin of the jo. ...
Like JCS mentioned, the jo was traditionally said to have been created by Muso Gonnosuke after being defeated by Miyamoto Musashi. He would use the jo to defeat Musashi in a second duel. According to legend, this was the only defeat Musashi would have in his entire career of 60 duels.

A good article on Muso Gonnosuke and the jo can be found at Muso Gonnosuke and the Shinto Muso-ryu Jo. A good list of links on the jo can be found at Links with Information about Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo and related topics

Last edited by tedehara : 08-29-2001 at 02:23 PM.

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Old 09-13-2001, 04:40 PM   #7
Bill D
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 17
Also there is a fictionalized account of Muso's changing from bo to jo in John Donahue's book "Herding the Ox: the Martial Arts as Moral Metaphor." (although I think he completely misses the mark)

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