Hey there! This is the latest update to the Aiki Jo Notebook: it’s available for your Kindle reader from Amazon! That’s right. Part one has all of the basic techniques:

  • Suburi – 20 basic strikes
  • Roku no jo – 6 count jo kata
  • Sanjuichi no jo kata – 31 jo kata
  • Uke waza – Basic defenses
  • Awase – Blending exercises

Every good student takes notes! Just saying.



Hitohiro Sensei book

I can’t wait.

31 Jo and Kumijo practice Part One

As promised, I’m putting some of my practice notes online for all to enjoy, correct, and judge harshly. The most recent fruits of my labor are my notes on Saito Sensei’s 31 Jo practice, both solo and partnered. First, a few disclaimers:

Please don’t attempt to hold me in anyway whatsoever responsible for anything that happens to anyone while using these notes. They are intended for my own personal students, and for my own knowledge.

Please don’t hold them as gospel. I’m not an Iwama practitioner, but I prefer the Iwama method, particularly with the handling of the weapons. I HOPE that some of my Iwama friends will see this and offer corrections. For those of you that practice the jo, but not Iwama style, I feel that these notes will give you a wonderful base that will improve all of your Jo practice.

Please seek out direct instruction. My notes are based on study under instructors much more qualified than me, most notably Sensei Thomas Huffman, and Sensei Tim Haffner. If you live here in Jacksonville, and can’t find someone who knows the system to teach you, please do not hesitate to get a hold of me so that we can train. In lieu of that, if not in addition to that, I highly recommend purchasing the Aiki Jo DVD produced by Morihiro Saito Soke, available from Aikido Journal. I have not had the chance to purchase Ethan Weisgard’s book on the subject, but all the reviews he has received are glowing.

That being said, I would like to offer some advice concerning the practice. First of all, I am assuming the reader is thoroughly familiar with the 20 Jo Suburi. With a decent mastery of the suburi, any kata or kumi practice will not make any sense at all. I have notes on the suburi, but they are great guides to this already on the internet. Always practice with kiai. I won’t explain here why it’s integral, hopefully, you’ll take my word for it. Practice slowly and deliberately at first. Don’t rush it – you will miss details if you rush, and develop bad habits.

First, I would like to offer a list of the movements, in order, for the 31 Jo Kata. I have added terminology where there was none listed, and indicated which side is forward with the terms hidari and migi.

Starting from Hidari Jo no Kamae:

Hidari Kaeshi Tsuki
Jodan Dome Barai
Kaeshi Tsuki
Jodan Gaeshi
Migi Uchikomi
Hidari Uchikomi
Ushiro Migi Uchikomi
Hidari Uchikomi
Ushiro Barai
Age Uchi
Hidari Uchikomi
Hidari Tsuki no Kamae
Hidari Choku Tsuki
Jodan Gaeshi
Migi Uchikomi
Migi Gedan Gaeshi no Kamae
Hidari Gedan Gaeshi
Chudan Gaeshi
Hidari Gedan Tsuki
Jodan Gaeshi Migi Gedan Uchikomi
Migi Gedan Gaeshi no Kamae
Hidari Gyakute Tsuki
Chudan Gaeshi
Hidari Choku Tsuki
Hidari Choku Tsuki
Hidari Gedan Gaeshi no Kamae
Migi Gedan Gaeshi
Migi Gyakute Tsuki
Chudan Gaeshi
Migi Choku Tsuki
Hidari Uchikomi

If the terms seem inaccurate please feel free to offer your corrections. If they seem unfamiliar, I recommend comparing my nomenclature with a viewing of the 31 Jo Kata. A YouTube search should provide that easy enough. At first, practice the 31 as you practice the suburi. Then move on to practicing the kata with the feeling of awase, that is, imagining a partner that you are moving against. I hope this is helpful. Next up, 31 Kumijo, moves one through six, illustrated. Enjoy.

For my martial artist friends

I have been compiling and organizing all of my notes lately. I’ll be putting them up for folks to glimpse at if anyone is at all interested. Coming soon.

Reply from Sensei Tom Huffman

Hey Autrelle,

Did you read what I sent you? We handle “Psycho Stabs” and “Slashes” regularly. Also one of my senseis Nishimoto Sensei liked the knife held back along the wrist. It is much different to handle. My advanced students are getting pretty good at handling them. I don’t advocate anyone going to “test” them for real. I think that would be stupid!! And, if you do that, you deserve to get stabbed.

Elizabeth has brought in an interesting attack knife that looks like a parrot’s beak that is sharpened on both sides and has a twirling ring for a finger on one end. There is only one thought of someone carrying this type of knife, and it is purely to attack people. We are going to develop take-aways for this knife.

I will be stressing to people that this person does not deserve the “We don’t injure people.” response. I tell her that the Ai Ki in this case is for the good of the rest of society. The person who is carrying this knife should be seriously debilitated so he has a long time to consider the error of his ways.

I don’t see any reason to learn knife to knife techniques. How many people in society carry a knife of any size. Not many in America. Therefore, it is better to focus on how to handle the armed attack when you are disarmed.

And the knife against a sword or jo is just stupid on the part of the knife attacker. The knife attacker is so out ranged that the knife attacker’s chance at successfully disabling someone carrying a longer range weapon is probably less than 5% or 5 out of 100 attacks. The knife attacker will loose OFTEN.

Tom Huffman Aikido of Gainesville, Florida

There are some great points of interest here. I have to do some homework and wrap my brain around my own response. Huffman Sensei’s input here is much valued.

Aikido and the Knife

If you haven’t read my previous rant on the knife work in Aikido, I suggest you start here. That piece was an attempt to get some some answers from my Aikido community. The few answers that I got, I didn’t like. And by that I mean since writing the last piece, I went to the dojo and went over the ways some things are usually done, and the suggestions I received. I was not a happy camper. Especially since I have the Filipino Martial Arts perspective on it. In my opinion, the way the knife is addressed in Kali is a wake up call to Aikidoka. Currently, I don’t have detail to detail specific knife practice in Kali. Also, I don’t think it’s safe to try to learn or teach anything about martial arts without a live instructor. That being said, I will share what I think will be a useful start.

Let’s begin by realizing that the head and body aren’t the only intended targets. Quite simply, anywhere you are cut, you are going to suffer. This is important to understand because some of the Tantodori I have been taught, and most of the Tantodori I have seen, offer the hands and arms up for slicing practice. The way the arms and hands are used show little concern for or knowledge of how a knife fighter will try to hurt you. This shows a lack of knife fighting experience. What? An Aikidoka needs to understand knife fighting in order to do Tantodori? Of course. Most Aikido systems already prove this by example: We practice sword on sword to know the nature of the sword fighter, and staff on staff for the same reason. Then we practice sword and staff taking. So yes, something is missing.

Here is an article about a man who attempted to tackle a knife wielding person. Look at this picture of his arm:

So we know that a skilled knife fighter can beat you by cutting you pretty much anywhere.

Some system of knife on knife practice that relates directly to Tantodori must be practiced. It has to happen. It will foster an awareness on the matter that can’t be done otherwise. I’m not sure who said it, but it was a famous Kali instructor who said “If you can’t fight knife to knife, what makes you think you can face the knife bare handed?” Well spoken. Almost anything would be better than the nothing that is knife on knife practice in Aikido. Here are some factors to consider:

How are the knives held? Point up or point down? Edge up in or edge out? Single knife versus single knife? Double knife versus double? Both partners standing?

The ideas could go on and on. I think the easiest way to start is to establish a striking pattern with the knife, in the same way the FMA does. This diagram comes from the Military Combatives Manual, and is the same numbering system used in many FMA.

Now we already have a wider range to deal with instead of just Munetsuki and Yokomenuchi. What also has to happen is the idea of the attack combination. As I have said before, slashing the knife back and forth is a common and effective attack that can be done without training by anyone. So, it needs to be addressed in our Tantodori.

Allow me to backtrack a bit. I think it’s odd that in Aikido, we practice Kumitachi, and Kumijo, but we don’t pick up a weapon at all to go against the knife. You would think that there would be a ton of “Aiki Jo Versus the Dagger” DVDs out there. I’m going to make one right now and sell it to you!

Okay, I’m going to back to the dojo. I’ll let you know what I come up with. In the meantime – Cheers.


Come train! Get your skills UP. I won’t always be there to beat up all the jerks that need to get beat up. Just get at me.