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Old 05-13-2005, 10:31 AM   #1
Robert Rumpf
Dojo: Academy of Zen and the Ways
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Blush! How tall was O'Sensei?

I was reading some thread about the use of jo versus the use of bo in Aikido, and it got me thinking about O'Sensei's height. I've been told that a proper jo should be as tall as your armpits. This made me think that O'Sensei's jo must have been really short, since he was of smaller stature.

All inappropriate comments about size aside, how tall was O'Sensei supposed to have been? I found several conflicting reports on the web with respect to this. Even better, how long would that make his jo? Three and a half feet?

Would a larger jo (say for a six foot person) be treated then almost like a bo staff by O'Sensei for all intents and purposes?

Here's what they say on-line about his height:
The range is just under 5' 2.5" to just under 5'. I'm inclined to believe the AikidoJournal article myself. The tree-hanging thing is itself unlikely, but I wonder if it would actually work.

Now that I do a search of Aikiweb, I see that jo size in classical practice is a standard, but that still doesn't resolve the height issue.
http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6874

I thought about posting this to the humor thread because it'll no doubt get some entertaining responses, but this is an honest question with no discernible training usefulness.

Rob
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Old 05-14-2005, 10:00 AM   #2
Aragorn
Dojo: Aikido of Marin
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

Hmm......
Hard question!
No clue(sorry)
Regards,
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Old 05-14-2005, 01:56 PM   #3
Michael Cardwell
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

I'm not sure about his exact height, but every book I've read about him says that he was turned down when he went to enlist in the army the first time, for being to short, Just like the second link says. And that was for the Japanese army! I think he must have been fairly short.

As for the Jo height, I think that they only range from around 52" to 54" inches.
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Old 05-14-2005, 03:03 PM   #4
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

Standard Shinto Muso Ryu jo is very close to 5' 1/4" for everyone. I think Shimizu Sensei (the last headmaster of SMR) was about 5'2".

Ueshiba Morihei Sensei, I heard, was the same height as Shimizu Sensei.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-14-2005, 04:59 PM   #5
RebeccaM
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

Quote:
Michael Cardwell wrote:
As for the Jo height, I think that they only range from around 52" to 54" inches.
Unless you own a saw. Then your jo can be shorter. Seriously though, I've met some very short aikidoka who had very short jos. I've also met some very tall aikidoka with very long jos. It's a wooden stick. There's no reason in the world why you can't make it the size you need it to be to use it properly. I'm not that short but I had to get my own jo cut down to size because there weren't any that were the right length in stock the day it was bought.

From pictures and readings I've gathered that O'Senei was very short, so he probably had a short jo. Given that he knew how to use it, I doubt he found himself at a disadvantage over it.
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Old 05-14-2005, 06:12 PM   #6
DevinHammer
 
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

A good reason for the variations in the description in O'Sensei's height is that his actual height must have varied, because we all shrink as we advance in age. While his maximum height in middle age may have been just over 5', I'm sure that by the time of his death he was as much as several inches shorter. The most common measurement I've heard is 4'11" - probably because he was that tall at the height of his fame, at which time he was quite elderly.

The staff lengths I'm familiar with are:
jo = armpit
bo = nose
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Old 05-14-2005, 08:26 PM   #7
Michael Cardwell
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Wink Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

Quote:
Rebecca Montange wrote:
Unless you own a saw. Then your jo can be shorter. Seriously though, I've met some very short aikidoka who had very short jos. I've also met some very tall aikidoka with very long jos. It's a wooden stick. There's no reason in the world why you can't make it the size you need it to be to use it properly. I'm not that short but I had to get my own jo cut down to size because there weren't any that were the right length in stock the day it was bought.

From pictures and readings I've gathered that O'Senei was very short, so he probably had a short jo. Given that he knew how to use it, I doubt he found himself at a disadvantage over it.
I guess you are right, saws are very handy to cut down a Jo or Bo to your personal preference. But I would argue that the size of the weapon is what determines the type of weapon it is. Not the size of the weapon in relation to the owner. I just watched one of the Osensei videos again, where he does a demo with a Jo, it is hard to tell but it looks a standard size Jo. Also there are pictures of him with spears and they are standard size 7" foot long. I would hazard a guess and say that since Japan was (and still is) an conformist society that standards are generally adhered to. Peace out.
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:02 AM   #8
darin
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

I know that bo is measured in shaku. So a 180cm bo is rokushaku. I don't know what is the proper length of a jo but my teacher told me it should be shoulder height. I guess it deosn't really matter as all jo techniques can be done with a bo.
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:03 AM   #9
darin
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

My teacher met O'Sensei when he was a kid. Reckons he was around 5 feet tall.
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Old 05-16-2005, 03:56 PM   #10
Michael Holm
Dojo: Toitsu - Ki & Aikido Dojo,Glx.
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

I have heard two sizes for jo:
1. to your own armpit
2. to your own solar plexus

And for the Bo it should fit in your hand, your arm raised straight up in the air
(a bit longer than 180 cm )
But where I got the measures from I do not remember

In my old Danish "dictionary" over Budo (from 1976), by a Karate guy, it says : Jo, a staff less than 150 cm. And Bo, a staff longer then 150 cm.
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Old 05-16-2005, 04:37 PM   #11
aikidoc
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Re: How tall was O'Sensei?

I too have read the 4'11". In fact, I think he had to be 5' to get in the military and used to hang with weights on his legs to make him taller.
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