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What is the difference between jojutsu and jodo?

 

 


What is a jo?

 

 

What is the purpose and benefit of training in jojutsu?

 
What is Jojutsu?


Jojutsu is a unique art of self-defense in which a four-foot long staff is used against an attacker wielding a samurai sword. It was originally developed not just for this specific purpose, but to defeat one specific warrior -- the most famous and revered samurai of all, the "Sword Saint," Miyamoto Musashi. The two legendary duels that produced the art of jojutsu are more fully described in the "History of Jojutsu." Once this initial purpose was accomplished, the art of jojutsu developed into 64 specific techniques of defense, based upon twelve fundamental blocking and counter-striking methods. In more recent times, the 64 waza (techniques) of classical jojutsu were distilled into twelve Seitei Jodo Katachi (standardized partner training patterns). So it has become common to distinguish the modern twelve katachi as jodo ("Way of the Jo") and the ancient 64 waza as jojutsu ("Art of the Jo").

Like every martial art of the samurai, jojutsu is steeped in the philosophy of bushido. However, the character of jojutsu is as unique as the weapon (the jo) itself and the circumstances under which it was created. First, consider the jo -- a slender staff exactly yon shaku ni sun ichi bu (50.25 inches) in length and a mere 8/10 of an inch (hachi bu) in diameter. At first glance, it hardly seems capable of defending against a vicious attack from a samurai sword. Yet, the jo has a number of advantages that make it every bit a match for a sword.

Observe jojutsu practice, and you will first be impressed by its apparent ease and simplicity. Yet, perfecting the combination of exquisite timing and precise distancing is one of the most formidable of all martial arts accomplishments. And, as you continue to observe jojutsu training, you may notice another of its unique qualities . . . the attacker is never actually maimed or killed. Each attack is rendered impotent and brought to a stand-off in which the jo holds a superior position. This preserves the dignity (not to mention the life) of the attacker . . . who is a fellow samurai.

A study of jojutsu is therefore a study of respect, compassion, mercy, timing, precision, and courage. You train in an environment in which you appear to give your opponent an overwhelming advantage over you -- his or her deadly sword versus your slender, unimpressive stick. You train with a weapon that was never intended to be used for attacking, but solely for defense. While your opponent is bent on taking your life with a sword, you purpose to show the aggressor mercy from the very outset. And you train your mind and body to function in an environment in which just a split-second or a mere millimeter mean the difference between life and death -- an environment requiring the most intense focus and dedication possible. In every conceivable respect, jojutsu is the epitome -- the penultimate -- of martial arts training and mastery.

Why is jojutsu considered the epitome of martial arts training?

 

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2003   Leonard J. Pellman



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