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.

SELF DEFENSE CLASS: WE SHALL BARTER.

The one question that I have had the hardest time answering is how much I will charge for classes. i have decided that, in the spirit of wanting to share our diminishing resources, that I will accept barter as the primary unit of payment for classes. So if you are interested in classes, please consider what you are willing to barter per hour of instruction wanted.

Here is a list of individual courses that I currently offer:

Aikido, Taijutsu. The unarmed techniques of Aikido
Aikido, Kenjutsu. The sword techniques of Aikido
Aikido, Jojutsu. The staff techniques of Aikido
Kali. A Filipino martial art that teaches you how to use and protect yourself with any weapon, and also includes empty handed techniques.
jeet Kune Do. A set of principles based on your own personal abilities that draws from several martial arts.
CCQT: Civilian Close Quarter Tactics. A system I developed when I was a member of The Guardian Angels to train the volunteers for safety patrols.

Expect to train outdoors and one on one. Expect to train during the day, with some afternoons/evenings available for a slightly higher barter fee. Sundays all day available for a slightly higher barter fee.

As far as what to barter: Be creative and show my your talents as well. We all have resources and talents at our disposal, and I’m willing to listen to any idea you may have.

Spread the word and let me know.

Cheers!

Autrelle Holland

ANOTHER AIKI JO MANUAL UPDATE

It’s up and ready.  Terminology section, 31 Kumijo expanded, Kumijo 1-10 revised somewhat.  Boom! Sleep now.

I have finally found the terms I need to say what it is I need to say as far as some of the terms.  To those of you that I recently sent a copy to: it’s about to be old news.  The new one will have updated terminology and explanations of it as such, complete with rewritten explanations of the Kumijo to follow accordingly.  Also, an expanded explanation of the 31 Kumijo, same as I did for 1-10. Last, I’m going to add a Jo Awase section, and possibly a few more Jo Dori techniques.  I would like to thank everyone that has contributed to my efforts so far.  You know who you are, and you’re getting your honorable mention soon enough.  Cheers.

Joseph Turner demonstrating Jodan Gaeshi

Joseph Turner demonstrating Jodan Gaeshi

AIKI JO MANUAL UPDATE

I have received some good ideas and feedback from Jason Wotherspoon and Alejandro Villaneuva.  With what I have from them, I’m reworking some of the ideas.  I’m still going to list the curriculum as it, with notes.  I’m working on an extended revision of the 31 Kumijo, and adding the Jo Awase techniques.  I also plan on adding my Ken Tai Jo notes, which will be based on the newer version of the series, as well as  a section detailing some of the various parries used in the Aiki Jo system.  I have them organized as Harai, Nagashi, and Dome.  Until this is done, I only have the second revision to offer to anyone that wants to read it.  Warning to anyone that is already practicing Iwama Aiki Jo with a qualified instructor: you won’t see anything new here at all.  Thank you all for listening!

WHAT IS KUMIJO? PART SEVEN: ROKU NO JO.

This entry is directly from my Aiki Jo Notebook and Manual.  If you find it helpful and want the draft copy, just email me and ask for one.

Roku no Jo

The 6-10 Kumijo all feature jonagewaza, or finishing by throwing uke with a taijutsu movement with the jo.  It is important to always practice the ken and jo with the feeling of taijutsu.  In Roku no Jo, uchi attacks with tsuki hayagaeshi.

“ICHI”

  • Uchijo: From Hidari Tsuki no Kamae, Hidari Choku Tsuki
  • Ukejo: From Hidari Jo no Kamae, rather than thrust when he can, uke, holding the jo in thirds, lightly presses the jo away to defend.  Here, since uke uses irimi, he can also strike uchi in the face or the body with a thrust from the jo, or with a fist, but does not.  This is perhaps the key feature of this and the Kumijo that follow.  I believe that not striking reflects that attacks can be nullified entirely with proper taijutsu, and that the jo is a tool to foster not just striking techniques, but understanding how moving yourself to the right place is always going to supercede striking or throwing your partner.

“NI”

  • Uchijo: Steps forward and raises the jo to strike with Migi Hayagaeshi
  • Ukejo: Rather than thrust uchi in the face, uke slides forward and controls the movement of uchi’s left elbow with the left third portion of the jo.  Uke is still is left hanmi, sliding toward uchi’s left.  Here, once again, uchi is controlled by uke’s taijutsu and the threat of being struck.  Uke does not actually strike uchi at all, even though he can, with the jo or empty hand.  At every point in the kumijo, uke can finish with a jo strike, empty hand strike, or throw, whenever he decides to do so.

“SAN”

  • Uchijo: Migi Hayagaeshi
  • Ukejo: Stepping forward with the right foot and swinging the left leg around, uke brings the right third portion of the jo down between uchi’s arms, and presses on uchi’s jo.  This is instead of hitting uchi’s face or body with the jo.
  • * Ukejo: Insert the right third portion of the jo between uchi’s jo and uchi’s right and raise it toward uchi’s left shoulder.  Turning the hips, this will entwine uchi’s arms for jonage garamiwaza.  Uke should be in migi hanmi when throwing.   This clearly illustrates the concept of Riai, or blending of truths.  There should be no distinction between body movement that strikes or throws an opponent, whether armed or not.  Musashi talks about this in a slightly different manner in Go Rin no Sho in the Wind book.  He states that in combat, you do not resolve to cut the enemy one particular way or another, you only resolve to kill him.  In context to Aikido, we do not strive to move in some particular fashion with some particular goal in mind, armed or unarmed.  We don’t talk about killing or hurting our opponents in Aikido, but Aikido is a martial art, with its origins coming from some of the most bloody and severe martial arts.  O’Sensei often said that life and death is decided in an instant in Aikido.  Without a proper understanding of this, your practice will be dubious, indeed.

I’M STILL HERE, EVERYONE.

I have been keeping myself busy writing my first draft of my Jo manual. It’s truly become a labor of love. Writing it has forced me to not be satisfied with just “kind of” knowing the proper Jo movements. I’m currently working on the second revision and the videos for the illustration. Keep your eyes peeled.

AIKI JO NOTEBOOK AND MANUAL AVAILABLE FOR FREE.

I have recently compiled a notebook and manual for Aiki Jo practice.  It is a compilation of the material that appears on my blog, with additional notes.  The contents are 20 Jo Suburi, 31 Jo Kata, 31 Kumijo, 13 Jo Kata, 13 Jo Awase, Kumijo 1-10, Jo Dori. Jo Dori Kaeshi Waza, and Jo Nage. These are a draft copy of a .pdf document that I am making with illustrative photos and embedded video demonstration.  If you want a free copy of the current notebook, you only have to do two things:

  1. Email me at autrelle at gmail dot com so that I can send the file to you
  2. Post a comment here in the form of feedback on my blog

Thanks to you all.

WHAT IS KUMIJO? PART 6.

Go no Jo.

Uchijo gets down on this one! No tsuki-parry-tsuki this time!!! It’s time to break out katate gedan gaeshi!!! Look out ukejo! This time around it’s hidari jodan choku tsuki, dodging a thrust while making katate gedan gaeshi no kamae, katate gedan gaeshi, and finishing with hidari gyakute uchi.

“ICHI”

This is just like Ni no Jo.

  • Uchijo: Hidari Jodan Choku Tsuki
  • Ukejo: Jodan Choku Barai

“NI”

Ukejo counters with hidari jodan choku tsuki just like Ni no Jo, and uchijo evades the thrust using the same footwork that uke uses in “ichi” of Yon no Jo, save that he moves the jo to katate gedan gaeshi no kamae.

  • Ukejo: Hidari Jodan Choku Tsuki
  • Uchijo: Hidari Katate Gedan Gaeshi no Kamae

“SAN”

Uchi take a step forward and whips uke with katate gedan gaeshi.  This strike goes from low to high, and is aimed towards the jaw.  Uke takes a step back and screens behind the jo with migi kaeshi barai.  Once again, uke does not expect to block this strike, but lets it flow past, using taisabaki and the jo as a backup shield.  Since this is a high strike, the “old” practice was to step back and down on the left knee so that the strike would pass harmlessly overhead.

  • Uchijo: Migi Katate Gedan Gaeshi
  • Ukejo: Migi Kaeshi Barai

“SHI”

Uchijo attacks one last time with a downward blow, which I refer to as hidari gyakute uchi.  Uke simultaneously parries and counter attacks with hidari kaeshi barai tsuki.

  • Uchijo: Hidari Gyakute Uchi
  • Ukejo: Hidari Kaeshi Barai Tsuki

“HENKA”

If you have come this far, congratulations!  I can only talk about my current practice at this point.  Basically, I’m trying to codify a matrix where we start with one Kumijo and finish with any other.  For example, start Ichi no Jo, and finish with Ni, San, Yon, or Go no Jo, and so on.  If anyone has any other variations that they want to share, I’m all ears!!!!

WHAT IS KUMIJO? PART FIVE.

Today’s topic: Yon no Jo.

Here we go!!!  Katate Toma Uchi!  That’s a Tom and Jerry fantasy to me.  Anyways, here we go.  Uchijo attacks with hidari chudan choku tsuki, and then takes a large step back and uses the jo the screen himself from katate toma uchi, and attacks once more with choku tsuki.  Short and sweet.

“ICHI”

When uchi attacks with hidari chudan choku tsuki, uke makes a large slide back to the right rear and prepares to attack with katate toma uchi.  This is because haya gaeshi won’t reach, uchi is to far away.

  • Uchijo: Hidari Chudan Choku Tsuki
  • Ukejo: Hidari Katate Toma Uchi no Kamae

“NI”

Uke steps forward and whips out katate toma uchi.  Uchi takes a slide back and holds the jo overhead diagonally.  This is different from jodan dome barai, as in “san” in the 31 no jo, where a length of the jo is extended toward the partner and used to ward off a strike.  Uchi holds the jo at the end with the right hand, and near the end, about 7-8 inches away from the end, with the left hand.  He zones away and uses the jo to “screen” beneath.  If goes well, the toma uchi strike will graze the middle section of the jo, and not uchi’s head or hands.  Uchi does not expect to block this strike at all.  In the “old” version of this, uchi was required to raise the left leg and take a really cool looking “crane” stance.  This is because katate toma uchi is a strike that goes from high to low, and the target could also be uchi’s lead knee.  This is not the current practice, but I still practice it.

  • Ukejo: Migi Katate Toma Uchi
  • Uchijo: Hidari Kasa Dome (as if taking shade from underneath an umbrella)

“SAN”

Uchi attacks again with hidari chudan choku tsuki.  Uke uses irimi footwork to avoid the thrust.  The lead right foot must move first, followed the rear right foot, which moves in such a way that uke faces uchi in migi hanmi.  Stephanie Sensei told us this at a seminar: “Distance and direction.  When you move from hanmi to hanmi, the first foot determines the distance, and the second foot determines the direction.”  While uke moves, he finishes with migi gyakute tsuki down into uchi’s chest.

  • Uchijo: HIdari Chudan Choku Tsuki
  • Ukejo: Migi Gyakute Tsuki

“HENKA”

From Yon to Go, the tempo changes.  Instead of attacking again, uke wards off the gyakute tsuki with a uchi choku barai movement.  Uke lets the jo flow with chudan gaeshi as in 28-29 of the 31 Kumijo, and makes hidari tsuki no kamae.  Uchi thrusts again for Go no Jo.

Next topic: Go no Jo.

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