A wooden board listing the techniques of Zenkenren Jodo (全剣連杖道)
This wooden board can be seen at the Kushinkan (空心館) dojo, Wakayama, Japan

The essence of Jōdō and other Yudansha questions

Continuing the hopefully successful series of answers to the questions presented in the various Jōdō grading events, here is my take on Gothenburg, Sweden July 2010.

As a disclaimer I should mention that the mistakes and any wrong information are mine and I do not take any responsibility in case they harm or damage your computer.

The essence of Jōdō (杖道) to me

The standardised way of using a stick against a sword provides a doorway to a deeper and much wider area of Japanese Budō (武道).

The vast amount of techniques in the several schools incorporated in the Shintō Musō ryū (神道夢想流) curriculum have been compressed, and partly simplified, to the seitei (制定) counterpart of jōjutsu (杖術), known as Jōdō.

Despite the fact of being only a mere fraction of its parenting art, the set of twelve kata (型 / 形) has the variety of different timings and tactics existing in jōjutsu. The tremendous work that has been done by many masters in the past for giving the standardised version its depth makes the study of seitei kata worth while.

The use of the stick provided in Jōdō is build upon the following points:

  • Move thumb and slide
  • When making a change, have both hands in the opposite ends first.

Based on those points, sliding becomes the core of handling the stick. This makes it very different from the use of the sword.

Sword is simply effective due to its nature of being sharp but with experience and skill, the stick can become far more superior.

The names of the twelve Tandoku Dōsa (単独動作) techniques

  1. Honte uchi (本手打ち)
  2. Gyakute uchi (逆手打ち)
  3. Hiki otoshi uchi (引き落し打ち)
  4. Kaeshi tsuki (返し突き)
  5. Gyakute tsuki (逆手突き)
  6. Maki otoshi (巻き落し)
  7. Kuri tsuke (繰り付け)
  8. Kuri hanashi (繰り放し)
  9. Tai atari (体当り)
  10. Tsuki hazushi uchi (突き外し打ち)
  11. Dō barai uchi (胴払い打ち)
  12. Tai hazushi uchi (体外し打ち)

The names of the twelve Zen Ken Ren Jōdō kata (全剣連杖形)

  1. Tsukizue (着き杖)
  2. Suigetsu (水月)
  3. Hissage (引き提げ)
  4. Shamen (斜面)
  5. Sakan (左貫)
  6. Monomi (物見)
  7. Kasumi (霞)
  8. Tachi otoshi (太刀落し)
  9. Rai uchi (雷打)
  10. Seigan (正眼)
  11. Midare dome (乱れ留)
  12. Ran ai (乱合い)

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Why is Sōtai Dōsa (相対動作) training of great importance?

Practising the basics first alone via tandoku dōsa, gives the opportunity for one to understand the movements of each technique.

In order to take this understanding deeper, one needs to be able to add timing and distance to them, in a relation to the opponent. This is when sōtai dōsa is introduced.

The third step would be to move on to kata, but as one progresses in kata, one should also pay attention in practising the basics, alone and in pairs. If one would go directly from tandoku dōsa to kata, the distances and rhythms would not be understood as easily as they are if sōtai dōsa has been central part of the training.

It is too easy to underestimate the value of such a simple drills as sōtai dōsa holds, but in each of them one can find more depth if studied carefully.

Even if these basic techniques practised in tandoku and sōtai dōsa are devised from the ancient kata sets of Shintō Musō ryū jōjutsu, they are the key in understanding the art as full.

In the ancient times warriors devoted themselves in studying the art, perhaps with a bit twisted motivation, killing others. But in doing so, as in the side their moral started to grow and it is this moral that we are trying to achieve with our training everyday.

Having said that, today the people practising such martial arts have a lot less time, and in some cases patience, to focus in the study. By dividing the huge amount of information in to a smaller pieces, such as the plain honte uchi, it gives an easier angle for the practitioner to investigate the art, as oppose to the whole kata sets.

Paired drills of basic techniques gives the practitioner the idea of the distance and rhythm of fighting against an opponent before the skills are needed in kata.