WHAT IS KUMIJO? PART ONE

So for the past few months, I have been drilling my Aiki Jo.  Surely, mine is a tired jo!  I have reached some personal conclusions, nothing profound or mind blowing, but I thought I would type this out so that my brain has room for more stuff.

As I understand it, the jo of Aikido is a tool for self perfection.  It has many lessons to teach, and many attributes to develop.

  • Flexibility.  The jo doesn’t have a set handle.  It can be gripped with one or two hands.  It be held in the center or on either end.  it can thrust, sweep, strike, whip, parry, hack, pin and throw.  Any of those moves can flow to any other movement.  There is probably no end to the ways that a jo can be used to practice.
  • Awase.  Learning to move along the length of the jo while working with a partner builds blending skills like no other.  Sometimes you are close, sometimes you are far.  Sometimes you hide the jo, sometimes you impose your will with its length.  Sometimes you wield it with a powerful two-handed strike, other times you let one hand off of the jo for a sweep or parry.  All of things happen while you try to fit in with your partner’s movements.
  • Understanding.  I have realized that the jo fosters understanding.  By that I mean, as you increase your practice with it, you increase your understanding of what the jo is meant to do.  That will probably be something personal for each person, what that purpose of the jo is.  First and foremost to me, I use the jo to understand my taijutsu.  Things like hanmi, maai, kime, zanshin, kiai – they all get focused when I pick up the jo.  The jo informs my overall approach to Aikido.
  • Application.  The jo is a severe tool with the proper understanding.  My Kali and Military Combatives instructor once asked me to make some movie footage.  The subject was tactical weapon retention.  I was able to casually demonstrate principles and techniques involving the use of the short stick, knife, and handgun in situations where an attacker would seek to disarm you, and my instructor was more than satisfied.  Every idea I used came directly from practice with the jo.  The jo itself, in my opinion, is a practical item to learn because of it’s length.  Anything longer than a jo is not really commonly found in my daily routine.  I am always seeing brooms and pool cues anywhere that I go.  Anything longer than that, I don’t usually see.  Anything shorter than a jo, and that’s where the Kali kicks in.  The advantage of the jo, in my opinion, is not the length, but the versatility of it.  I can use the jo with one hand or two, as  long range or short range tool, in conjuction with punches, kicks, locks, and throws.  There are some that argue that Aiki Jo has little to do with actual fighting.  I respectfully disagree.

These are just some of the ideas that are in my head right now.  The continuation of this series wiil be a run down of Saito Sensei’s first five Kumijo.  Be on the look out.

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3 Responses to WHAT IS KUMIJO? PART ONE

  1. Eric Holcomb says:

    Howdy Autrelle,

    Yes! The jo is a wonderful tool for all sorts of Aikido growth and training.

    One of the two things that I have found most beneficial about kumijo training is that it puts more adrenaline into an Aikido class than taijutsu usually does. Most people get used to the empty hand strikes used in Aikido, and in some dojo those strikes are pretty weak anyway, so the students lose their fear. Losing the fear is an important step in an individuals martial progress but I think the fear itself is useful as tool for growth. Having a jo swung at your head is scary and the resulting wash of adrenaline is, IMHO, very beneficial for kicking training up a notch. Maintaining focus while frightened is one of the key elements of true martial training and the jo can bring that — in spades!

    Once past the fear and adrenaline, and flinching then good Aikido growth can happen. You mentioned maai, that is the other element that I find most beneficial.

    What kumijo are you doing? Have you tried any of Chiba Sensei’s Sansho (Three Victories)? Very fun!

    I have not been training with it much lately. Need to swing the damn stick some more!

    Take care,
    e.

  2. autrelle says:

    Mr. Eric,
    I have played with Chiba Sensei’s Sansho a lot, but that was years ago. I’m not up to date on it at all. Do you have access to a reliable source?

  3. Eric Holcomb says:

    I do not have any up-to-date news. In fact, my experience with it was limited to the first section. That by itself had enough depth that I found it very challenging. Since it incorporated all of the individual techniques that we trained as suburi and then simple kumijo it brought a whole lot more “reality” into our training.

    I miss that stuff a lot.

    e.

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