Little devils
These little devils were found on the wall of a roof near the old harbour area of Helsinki.

What is Jōdō? and other Yudansha questions

Questions for the coming gradings in Göteborg, Sweden in July. In case of any mistakes in the information I am using the following excuse: This text has been written all in one sitting in the middle of the sunny night.

My photo collection at Flickr of the trips to the seminars of this martial art, Jōdō.

What is Jōdō?

Jōdō (杖道) is a Japanese martial art in which we study the use of a stick (jō) against a sword (katana).

It is told to be created by Muso Gonnosuke who saw the techniques in a dream after he was defeated by Miyamoto Musashi. On their second meeting, Muso Gonnosuke won by using the new skills he had developed.

This is how Shintō Muso ryū Jōjutsu was founded.

Today we are practising the standardised form of All Japan Kendo Federation. It was initialised by Shimizu Takaji of the original style founded by Muso Gonnosuke after the second World War. This became known as Seitei Jō. Similar path has happened to Kendō, Iaidō and Naginatadō.

The standardised Jōdō consists of twelve basic techniques and of twelve basic katas. The basic techniques, called kihon waza, are executed alone (tandoku dosa) or against a swordsman (sōtai dosa).

The stick used in Jōdō is 128 centimetres (4 shaku, 2 sun and 1 bu) of length and 2.8 centimetres (8 bu) in diameter.

Jōdō is practised against a swordsman but for safety, the sword is made of wood, thus bokken is used by the opponent. The person using the stick is called Shijō, the person with sword called Uchidachi.

The techniques used by the swordsman are similar to the ones used in Kendō kata.

As a discipline of Budō, Jōdō cultivates its practitioners mental skills. A Jōdōka learns etiquette, manners and well controlled behaviour which helps in everyday situations.

The 12 names of the Zen Ken Ren Jōdō:

  1. Tsukizue
  2. Suigetsu
  3. Hissage
  4. Shamen
  5. Sakan
  6. Monomi
  7. Kasumi
  8. Tachi otoshi
  9. Rai uchi
  10. Seigan
  11. Midare dome
  12. Ran ai

What are Zanshin and Metsuke?

Zanshin (残心) is usually referred as awareness of things. How this is displayed in kata for example, is that the opponents are keeping constant eye contact to each other and preparedness to engage in battle if a reason for it occurs.

Metsuke (目付) refers to the direction of ones view, seeing the opponent and the surroundings constantly, without loosing the sight of them.

What are Ki, Jo, and Tai no ichi?

These are all components of the practitioner of Jōdō.

  • Ki (気) stands for the energy, which can be found from everywhere. It is often referred as the energy of life.
  • Jō (杖) is the weapon used in this discipline. It anyhow refers to the equipment used by the practitioner, in some cases a plain fist or a foot
  • Tai (体) stands for the body
  • Ichi (一) is the number one.

All these components should work as one. Like the name of the club I am training in Helsinki, Ki-ken-tai-icchi (気剣体一致), it refers to the spirit, weapon and body working as one.