AIKI JO TEXT ONLY AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

My work on the illustrated manual has been slow for several reasons. First is the opening of my school which has been as time consuming as one can imagine. The schedule of the school has made it difficult to coordinate with photographers and training partners to pose for the book. However all is not lost. I’m offering a text only PDF version of the manual for 15 USD. This is a modest fee considering the time that I have put into it and the detail and organization of the material. All monies received will directly support my school and production of the illustrated version. To the literally hundreds of people across the world that downloaded earlier drafts for free, I hope you’ll show your support for the final draft copy. Please email me for ordering information.

REVISING THE AIKI JO NOTEBOOK AND MANUAL.

I’m currently working on a final text draft, which I expect to have finished by end of the year. I am happy to say that I have a satisfactory account of the Aiki Jo system that will be available to all next year.

INTROSPECTION.

I was recently asked a few questions regarding my thoughts and beliefs on Aikido. The result of which was that I felt the need to write out, at length, a personal account of what has been going on in my head this entire time. By that I mean, how I even got into Martial Arts, and what has been on my mind when I’m training, and when I’m not training. I want to share with you Part Four of my Introspection. Please read at your own discretion. These are my own highly personal thoughts, and I have no intention of defending them to anyone. Discussion on my thoughts, all day long.

Part Four: Maybe I’m not good enough for Aikido.

I have met some very convincing Aikidoka. By that I mean I found something so remarkable about them, that I wanted to somehow emulate that quality in myself. At such times, I feel like a wannabe. I have to look at other people doing things that I wish I was doing, and I have to look from the outside in. It’s entirely awkward, because I have so much, if not too much regard for my own autonomy. That’s a statement I make against the higher powers that be. I’m so sick of the fact that for some reason, a person that has “only done Martial Arts for 20 years” has little if nothing to say in matters, since the 50, 60, and 70 year olds have laid down the law. At times I find it dehumanizing. I have to withdraw my concern for anything that they do, and work on my own shit. Yet, I still have so much respect for the fact that they are there, authentically as such. I don’t envy them, and I would not trade places with them, I just find that the power and respect differential in the culture of Martial Arts hierarchy to be disturbing at times. Still, I think about Ueshiba, and what he must have went through in his life to provide what has been almost the singular activity in my life that I love completely. Aikido has hard standards that I find unbearable at times. Whether it’s just learning and training the waza, the techniques, or the reading, the studying, the protocol, the culture…all of it, at times, drives me insane. I refer to this as being in the state of having a “fried brain.” My little brain can’t take it at times. So many times, I have thrown my black belt, hakama, weapons, gi, what have you, under the bed, in a closet somewhere, and just left it alone. At least I would try to. It calls to me. It says, “Autrelle. Autrelle. Au-trelllllllle…hey. Psst. Psssssst. Pssssssst. PSSSSSSSSSSST!!!! Remember us, your gear? Come on, come over here, you little guy, you. There you go, pick up the Jo first. Oh yes, YESSSSSS. Remember that feeling? Now the Bokken. Oh yeah. Remember how you used to take us to the parks in the early mornings by the river? You would swing us around, and thrust, and yell in such a fantastic manner with each stroke! Just take us out for some air. No one has to know. It will be our secret. You don’t even have to wear the gi, today. Just take us out for some air…”

I swear to you, this really happens. My fucking weapons talk to me. So I give in, I oblige them. Just for that day. And the next. Then, dammit, a month has gone by, and over lunch, my weapons and I will be having a conversation:

Jo: Hey Autrelle, you know what we haven’t done in a looooong time?

Me: Don’t start…

Bokken: Oh! Jo, I was just going to say that…

Me: Both of you fucking knock it off, I’m not in the mood.

Jo: But Autrelllllllllllle!!!! Come on!!!! It’s so much fun!

Bokken: You know you want to. You KNOW you want to.

Me:: Fuck both of you. You both make me fucking sick, and I should turn you each into firewood.

Bokken: YOU WOULDN’T!

Jo: He joking, Bokken. He loves us. He’s just pissed because we’re reminding that he’s not doing what he really loves, and this is his way of lashing out. It’s not about us. Don’t be so sensitive.

Bokken: Well, what do you think? We could go see Dee and the guys there, go old school? Maybe Leo in Orange Park, catch up on, you know, the federation you’re a part of. Oh! Or James! He always sends you messages and invites to train. And we all know how badly you want to train with Perry…

Me: Seriously, fucking quit it. Just knock it off.

Jo: (Stares at me) You’re being a bitch right now.

Bokken: (Winks at me, bats lashes, pouts) Please Autrelle, please??? Just take some ukemi. You love that the most, you know that.

Me: (Sulking) Fine. If it will make you two happy, fine. Fine.

At this point, the weapons exchange a knowing glance at each other. They know that they have me. It’s sad really. I feel at times that I can barely live up the the ideas of inanimate pieces of wood. My Aiki-Psychosis has given them a voice that berates me for not training when I try to back off of it for a bit. They provide encouragement and support for what I want to do, even when I don’t feel like doing it, or I feel like no one cares at all. It’s wonderful. At times, it’s all I need.

AIKI JO’S HIDDEN SECRET: ROKU NO JO.

Big things do come in small packages. While I have been working on the AJNM, I have also been sorting what exactly needs to happen to make Aiki Jo a proper fighting method. I have so far concluded that mastery of the various Kamae is the first part, and understanding how and why the Kamae changes, offensively and defensively. Certain options and variations naturally lend themselves to a particular posture, yet the postures are all fluid and interchangeable. That’s when it hit me that Roku No Jo is just that, a way to practice the various changes from each Kamae. Here’s what Roku No Jo is:

  1. Starting in Hidari Tsuki No Kamae, thrust with Choku Tsuki
  2. Raise the jo with the Jodan Gaeshi movement
  3. Step forward and strike with Migi Uchikomi
  4. Draw the jo back to Migi Gedan Gaeshi No Kamam
  5. Step forward and strike with Hidari Gedan Gaeshi Uchi
  6. Turn the jo with the Chudan Gaeshi movement, which puts you back in Hidari Tsuki No Kamae, and starts the practice again

This is the first stage. Later, you combine the counts of the movements, eventually making this a two count exercise. I find that if you use this as an exercise to practice Kamae, instead of strikes, you will find a key ingredient to using the jo flexibly in a combat situation. Here is what I’m talking about:

  1. Start with Hidari Tsuki No Kamae, which is the basic Jo Kamae
  2. Prepare to change with Jodan Gaeshi
  3. Make Migi Chudan No Kamae, the basic striking posture, same as when holding the Ken
  4. Draw the jo back to the rear to make Migi Gedan Gaeshi No Kamae
  5. Bring the forward and make Chudan Gaeshi No Kamae
  6. Turn the jo with Chudan Gaeshi and return to the first posture

And there it is. Right there in front of me. A drill that teaches you the all of the basic postures: Tsuki No Kamae, Uchi No Kamae, Ushiro No Kamae, Chudan Gaeshi No Kamae. It also teaches the basic jo changes: Jodan Gaeshi, Gedan Gaeshi, and Chudan Gaeshi. Note that there is a definitive high, middle, and low in the Kamae and the jo switches. Think about that.

THE VARIOUS METHODS OF DEFENSE IN AIKI JO.

As a birthday present from me to you, and since I’m not sharing the notebook for now, I’ll at least let you see a bit of what I have been up to.

  1. Choku Barai – Direct Parry. Barai is the principle of warding off. Usually with Barai, you will stay on the line, or cross the line in such a way to dominate the line and space. With Choku Barai, the jo is used to ward off thrusts and strikes using a semicircular motion that is controlled with the rear hand holding the jo. When you use this parry, you do not change your kamae. For example, if you were attacked while in the left thrusting stance, you would stay in the the left stance to parry with Choku Barai.
  2. Kaeshi Barai – Reversing Parry. With Kaeshi Barai, you take a step away from the attack and bring the rear end of the jo up to ward off strikes and thrusts.
  3. Kesa Barai – Diagonal Parry. This parry has the final form of Kaeshi Barai, but does not use a reversing movement. The name comes from the angle that the jo makes when parrying.
  4. Kaiten Barai – Rotary Parry. With Kaeshi Barai, you reverse the jo while stepping back to parry, and then rotate the jo a half turn with the right hand. This is practiced on both sides, and no matter which side you practice this on, the right hand is the hand the controls the rotary movement. Plenty of practice with Hachinoji Gaeshi and Hasso Gaeshi will prepare you for this.
  5. Age Barai – Rising Parry. Here the jo is raised over the head to parry a strike or thrust. This is usually followed by Maki Waza. Maki Waza means that you use your jo to knock away your attacker’s jo and then finish with your own thrust or strike. There are many instances where instead of hitting your attacker’s jo, you would hit their hands. This is actually the case with most parries and it is worth the time to discover some of these ideas in your practice.
  6. Jodan Gaeshi – High Jo Reversing. Jodan Gaeshi is a Nagashi movement. It is not a firm parry, but a way to deflect an attack while moving off of the line. Usually, in a Nagashi movement, you yield the space.
  7. Gedan Gaeshi – Low Jo Reversing – After a strike or thrust, the jo can be moved to your rear and swept forward for a parry. This type of parry is done as an
  8. Awase Dome. That means that you are parrying a similar attack, such as Gedan Gaeshi Uchi.
  9. Chudan Gaeshi – Middle Jo Reversing. This means that you hold the jo with the Gyakute grip, and release with the rear hand while turning the jo with the forward hand. You finish the movement with the Choku grip. As a parry, it can done as a Barai movement or as a Nagashi movement. When done as Chudan Gaeshi Barai, there are several Maki Waza that can be practiced. When done as Nagashi, there are several Kaeshi Waza, or Jo switches, that can be practiced. The final form of Chudan Gaeshi, minus the turning of the jo, is often used as a parry in several of the Kumijo.
  10. Uchi Barai – This is the case when a movement such as Uchikomi is used to parry an attack.
  11. Uchi Dome – This is the case when an attacker’s strike or thrust is forestalled by a strike or thrust of your own.
  12. Nuki Waza – Here, you let your attacker strike or thrust freely, but they miss.

IF YOU WANT THE JO NOTEBOOK

It’s in the Box.net widget located on the sidebar of this blog, and it’s titled “Draft 5.” If you have any trouble downloading it, please email me!

THIS MONDAY

Hopefully, if I’m not too lazy, I will have an amazing draft six of the Aiki Jo Notebook and Manual for you all to look over.  Oh yes. Draft Five of course is still available.

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