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Jo-Do -The way of the staff.

Jodo was originally called Jojutsu, the name changed to Jodo "the way of the staff" in 1940. This way of using the staff was devised by one master swordsman, Gonnosuke Katsukichi, specifically to defeat another in the early 1600's. There were wooden staff arts before Gonnosuke's time, such as the Tenshin Katori Shinto Ryu Bojutsu techniques using the rokushaku bo (6ft staff). Gonnosuke studied the Tenshin Katori Shinto Ryu school of iaido under Sakurai Ohsumi No Kami Yoshikatsu. He also studied the Kashima Jikishinkage Ryu. Like other Samurai of his time he engaged in various duels throughout Japan to test his skills. He met and fought Miyamoto Musashi (the author of the Book of Five Rings). Musashi beat him with a technique using two swords called Jujidome. Unusual for those days, Musashi did not kill his opponent.

After this duel Gonnosuke continued to travel Japan and study the martial arts, he became completely absorbed in how to beat Musashi's Jujidome. After several years he reached Chikuzen no kuni (modern day Fukuoka-ken), and stayed at the Kamado Shrine on Mount Homan. Here he undertook a 37 session of meditation. On the final night he had a dream or vision, a child appeared who gave Gonnosuke the teachings of "maruki o motte, suigetsu o shire" ("holding a round stick know the suigetsu"). Keeping these thoughts in mind he reconsidered the design of some original weapons. He then combined the three martial arts of the yari (spear), naginata (halberd) and tachi (sword) to make one martial art, Jo-Do. With this accomplished, it is said that he again fought Musashi and broke Musashi's Jujidome technique.

After this Gonnosuke was summoned to the Kuroda clan in Fukuoka where he became revered as a teacher. Out of his students, more than ten went on to become teachers of his art although the style was never taught outside of the clan. The founder of Shinto Muso Ryu Jo-Do became known as Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi.

Seitei Jo-Do Kata.

In 1968 the All Japan kendo Federation recognised the importance of Jo-Do and felt that its study would be beneficial to the students of Kendo and Iai-Do.

Accordingly, 12 forms were taken from the Shindo Muso Ryu curriculum to form the All Japan Kendo Federation standard Jo-Do forms called Seitei Kata. Today's Jo-Do techniques basically comprise three separate types of training. These are:-

Tandoku Dosa (individual practice)

This is done by oneself, repeating one of the 13 basic techniques. This teaches good posture and basic understanding of the movements of the Jo and body.

Sotai Dosa (pair practice)

The same techniques are practiced but this time with an opponent wielding a bokken (wooden sword). This helps the student to learn about Maai (distance), Metsuke (correct vision) and the correct place to hit your opponent.

Seitei Kata.

Twelve kata. Involving the Jo against a swordsman. The techniques (Kata) at their simplest involve a single attack from the swordsman with an avoidance manoeuvre and a counter attack, either a thrust or strike from the Jo. The more complex techniques comprise multiple attacks and defensive moves from the sword and the Jo.


Today's advanced Jo-Do practice within the British Kendo Association also included: koryu techniques or older forms from which the 12 Seitei Kata were chosen. The koryu schools kata are Omote, Chudan, Kage, Samidare, Gohon No Midare and Okuden.

Various other weapons are also included. The use of the short stick (Uchida Ryu Tanjo Jutsu), the metal truncheon (Ikkaku Ryu Jitte Jutsu), the sword (Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu), sickle and chain (Isshin Ryu Kusarigama Jutsu) and rope tying (Ittatsu Ryu Hojo Jutsu). Most of these Ryuha (schools) are rarely seen outside of Japan.


Jo-Do is normally practised wearing a hakama (baggy pleated trousers) and Keiko gi (training jacket). An obi is worn under the hakama cords. There is no indication of grade by any means in the costume. A zekken (badge) is worn on the left chest indicating your name and club or country if attending international events. The weapons are available through most martial arts suppliers, although it is preferable to ask your teacher where to obtain good quality equipment. As the weapons for Jo-Do are only made from wood (oak) they are obtainable at a reasonable price compared to some martial art equipment.

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