[Budo] Jodo

Disclaimer: I've been doing this for less than a year and am stupid.

So, I've been meaning to start blogging about this for a while.  I've made mentions under my #General category before, but I figure this deserves its own.  I started practising jodo and iaido at Sei Do Kai in Guelph under Kim Taylor last year.  It's probably my keenest interest right now (contrast that to a recent post on motivation).  I'm quite lucky to get to practise in Sei Do Kai, so I feel like I should take notes or at least reflect on points I learn.  Initially, everything was knew and I was too stupid to know what to highlight.  Now I still am stupid, but I can name some things.  (OH GOD, writing the Japanese terms correctly will be hilarity.)

Last month was the May seminar, which is a big deal.  It's organised by our sensei and he flies Japanese hanshi and kyoshi over to Guelph to teach around 150 people who come from across Canada (and the US).  Consequently, there were a lot of lessons that we've been going over since.  Today, we went through the jodo kihon again.

Kihon are basic techniques with a jo that serve as the building blocks of the kata.  There are twelve in seitei. One of the things that amazes me is that there's almost always something new to learn about them or some new way to look at them for me, no matter how many times we go over them.  A two hour class can easily be spent on one fine point.  It's marvelous.  Anyway, enough babbling.

Use the Force

The concept of force vectors (think physics) comes up a lot in jodo, especially in explaining why you hold your jo the way you do for this or that kihon or kata, or how to move or hold yourself.  Don't allow force to be applied in a way that will injure you.  Use directional forces to subvert an opponent's strength.  It's all quite fun.

Some of the points from today include, in the first two kihon, Honte Uchi and Gyakute Uchi, to position ones wrists so that they're above the jo.  The point here is that the power comes up through your forearm, so if you have your wrists over your jo, if someone is pressing against your jo or you're pressing down on something with it, you want your force to be behind your jo so that it doesn't get pushed past your force, bending your wrists.  I'm not sure that makes sense.  Like, if I'm holding my jo with my wrists to either side of it, and I push my jo against something, the force ending at my forearms will be trying to push my wrist around my jo.  If my wrists are above it (behind it, depending on perspective), then the force comes up through my wrist, through my hand and through my jo, instead of pushing around it.  Hooray!

Awkward bendy

In the 4th and 5th kihon, Kaeshi Zuki and Gyakute Tsuki, you twist your hip and your foots pivot (on the balls of your feet) into a relatively awkward position.  It might seem awkward and unstable, but it allows you to prepare for a thrust while remaining outside of the range of the sword.  While your right foot (front) seems weirdly bent at first, when you step through with your left, suddenly your right foot is already in a great, strong position to push your body forward with.  The position of the legs also help prevent you from knocking your knees (your thighs won't allow it).

Centre of mass

We want lower centres of mass and stronger legs.  The Japanese were telling us that for iaido, but I think it applies to jodo too.  Even conceptually keeping your centre of mass low, placing it as low as our thighs, helps our movement.  We can avoid leading with our head when we move forward, and limit the forward momentum that could get you "killed" if a situation suddenly changed.  I think this relates to also generally moving from your hips, rather than rotating and pulling yourself around with your arms.  If you're pushing yourself forward with your hips, into your strikes, you're bringing more force from the rest of your body into it.

The Force Returns

For Kuri Tsuke, Kuri Hanashi, and Tai Atari, (kihon 7-9) force vectors are important to conceptualise again.  (They're important for everything, but anyway.)  In these, you've lifted your jo and caught the sword in mid-swing.  The sword can apply pressure down to try to make your jo give way.  The response is to push forward and up with your jo, breaking their force and treating them a bit like a pendulum.  You need to hold the jo properly like Zoidberg would with crabby hands so that they don't just push you back like a toy.

In Kuri Tsuke you drag their sword forward and lock it down against them.  It's important to hold your jo and body properly to be able to put your weight into and prevent them from just push your jo out of the way and swinging at your knees with their sword.  That means turning your hands in a little and closing your arm pits a bit so they can't lever your jo away.  Squaring up a bit towards them helps ground you so they're forced to disengage.

With Kuri Hanashi, it's useful/important to push forward with your right/front foot after you've caught their sword with your jo.  In this one, you're casting their sword away behind them.  If you push forward with your body first and then start swinging your jo (and their sword) forward, they're stuck going along for the ride and you're bringing your body into it.

It's all in the feet

For Tsuki Hazushi Uchi, foot placement was discussed.  Some people when they slide back align their feet one perfectly behind the other, but then when you swing down it's a bit awkward and less strong.  One sensei moves them back aligned together, but then moves their back foot out as they prepare to swing and then swings.  Another just doesn't align them, but just brings their left back behind their right but on its own line.


We then did the first koryu kata, Tachi Otoshi.  It's the 8th kata in seitei.  I forgot to ask if the two differed.  Whoops.  I'm a bit slow at the first strike, because the cross step is a bit weird.  I'm also slow at turning my jo around to catch the sword when it comes down for its strike.  My sensei's advice is "Don't be fast, be smooth".  I think I just need to get more comfortable with the motion.  I'm also slow after Kuri Tsuke changing into Kaeshi Zuki.  I think I'm concerned about hitting the sword side with my jo if they're not out far enough.  My sensei demonstrated it near the end with first threatening at eye height before completing the change. A jo through the eye would be scary indeed.  Practise => smoother and faster, hopefully. 


Seme is a psychological pressure you apply by keeping your weapon trained on your opponent and threatening.  I mostly hear about it in iai class, but it gets applied to jo as well.  It feels like there are a million things to keep in mind all the time and I always forget one (or a hundred) trying to think of the others. Hehe.

Good night


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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.