Hachi no ji jo suburi
Before I pose my question, it seems polite to briefly introduce myself, for this is my first posting on these forums, although I have passively been enjoying these forums for quite some time and I am very grateful for everything I learned from all your contributions. My name is Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. I have been doing aikido for about six years now, so I am very much a beginner. I train at Shi Zen Ryu dojo in Leiden, the Netherlands, with Tom Verhoeven sensei.
My question is about the name of the jo suburi called "hachi no ji", which would translate as "figure eight". As you know, the technique consists in holding the jo in one hand and making it swirl in vertical circles alternately along both sides of the body. Then, in fact, both ends of the jo describe a pattern similar to the figure 8 (one circle left of your body, one circle right, and the point where they meet exactly in front of you). So it seems quite obvious that this movement is called "figure eight", except that in Japanese eight is not written as 8. Yet, the description seems too perfect not to derived from the western figure 8. Alternatively, the name could have been derived from the Japanese character for eight, which consists of two oblique vertical strokes, somewhat like this: /\. I can imagine that hachi no ji refers to this pattern, because the vertical circles described by the jo follow the path of the two strokes in the character. However, this seems less fitting and less apropriate as a name than a reference to the western 8.
I am completely aware that there are more important things in life than this, but I am just curious. Does anyone know whether the name hachi no ji is derived from the Japanese character eight or the western figure 8?