Jō     杖


Jō as a training weapon

The Jō (杖 = stick) is mainly used for defense. It is usually held asymmetrically with both hands. The hands can change the grip as required, the stick slides through one of the two hands. Jō techniques are partly borrowed from fighting with Yari (long lance) or Naginata. The Jo also has advantages over the metal sword because it is mechanically more stable when subjected to lateral loads.
In real self-protection, the Jō techniques can be performed with clubs, umbrellas or other similarly shaped objects. This is useful against attackers armed with short-distance weapons.

Jō against Bokken

All of Aikido Part I, Kenjiro Yoshigaski
The Jō in action against the Bokken. The first strategy is to maintain the distance so that the Bokken's attack cannot arrive. To do this, the Jō launches thrusts (tsuki) in the direction of the Bokken's hands.
Other techniques are the deflection of the sword strike and counter-attacks. The video shows techniques from Kata Jō 1 and Jō 2.

Dimensions and types of wood

A standard Jō is 127.6 cm long (4 shaku, 2 sun, 1 bu). It was floor to armpit for the average Japanese. So the Jō can be hidden behind the back. For taller people there is now the Jō in longer versions.
The thickness of the Jō is given by the diameter of the cross-section. There are three standard sizes, that is 8 bu, 9 bu and 1 sun, that is 24 mm, 27 mm and 30 mm, respectively.
In Aikido we use Jō with a length of 127.6 cm and a diameter of 8bu. The weight depends on the type of wood and is between 500 g and 700 g.
The wood for the Jō traditionally comes from Japanese oak. Akagashi is the red oak and Shirakashi is the white oak. This wood guarantees the necessary mechanical stability even with full contact and is recommended for Aikidoka. Because of the aesthetics, other woods are also used today, which then differ in weight and stability and can be significantly more expensive. Unsuitable wood splinters and breaks easily.


Jō in standard form in the types of wood Akagashi - Shirakashi - Iso no ki


The exercises with Jō in Aikido are commonly referred to as Aikijō.
Much of the Aikijō program was developed by Morihei Ueshiba in his dojo in Iwama. He had studied Jutsu, including the art of the spear (Sōjutsu) and the modern art of the bayonet or Jūkendō. It is said that the aikijō techniques have less resemblance to classical Japanese spear-sōjutsu and stick-bōjutsu systems, but rather are borrowed from bayonet fighting. Ueshiba had studied and practiced this during the Russo-Japanese War.

The Bō (棒, stick) is a long stick, about 180 cm. It came to Japan from China via Shaolin monks, but was originally tapered at one end. People who did not belong to the samurai warrior nobility were forbidden to carry weapons. However, since the monks were often attacked on their travels, they carried the Bō as a walking stick, which could be used immediately as a weapon in combat situations. While the Jō comes from the martial arts of the samurai, the Bō comes from the civil area.
The Bō is not part of Aikido. However, it can be useful to practice Bō with children using the adult's Jō. The Bo techniques are only of limited use for self-protection, as such long objects are rarely at hand.

Jō Practise


In Ki Aikido, exercises with the Jō in the forms Hitoriwaza and Kumiwaza are an integral part of the training and the examination program. They were originally developed by/under Koichi Tohei and codified in four Taigi (alternative names in brackets).

  • Taigi 23: Jo-tori
  • Taigi 24: Jo-nage
  • Taigi 27: Jo-gi 1 (Jo 1)
  • Taigi 28: Jo-gi 2 (Jo 2)
Taigi 23 and 24 are Kumiwaza. In Taigi 23 Uke attacks with Jo and is disarmed, in the other the attacking Uke is thrown with the Jo. Taigi 27 and 28 are performed as Hitoriwaza.

Doshu Yoshigasaki has completely revised and developed these exercises and techniques. The basic exercises in the Kyu program teach you how to correctly guide the jo with your hands and contain the basic blows and thrusts.

  • Tsuzukiwaza 20: Jonage
  • Tsuzukiwaza 24: Jodori
  • Tsuzukiwaza 25: Jo 1
  • Tsuzukiwaza 26: Jo 2
Jo 1 and Jo 2 can each be performed in three variants: as Hitoriwaza, as Jo & Bokken (with numerous situation variants) and as Bokken & Jo (in the 3rd Dan).
In the 3rd Kyu program there is Jo & Jo, but this is a simulation of Bo techniques which, as mentioned above, are more suitable for children.
In gymnastics (Kenkotaiso) and in the basic exercises (Aikitaiso) the jo is also used in Hitoriwaza. This trains coordination and breathing.

The only answer for all questions

Doshu, 3. September 2020
There are many questions in this world and human beings. Here is the only answer for all of them. Human brain imagines, so human beings cannot see the reality but imagine the world and themselves in order to act. If the imagination is good, they act in a good way. If the imagination is bad, they do bad things. If the imagination is wrong, they make mistakes.
Science is also a system based on imagination and so it cannot understand the reality. Science can only understand a part of the reality which can be measured by machine. That is why science can create very good things and also very bad things. What can we do about ourselves and the world? The only way is to create more imaginations so that we have a possibility of having better imaginations.
Actually, human beings unconsciously knew this and the way was called art.
Art is an activity to create imaginations through expressing them. In the beginning science and mathematics were also arts until the era of Leonardo da Vinci. Later mathematics and science were mainly used only for technology and machines.
Aikido as "Art of Life" is an activity to make one's life as an art. The whole activity of one's life must become an art. You must try to understand your own imagination at each moment by knowing what you are doing. Aikido training must help develop this ability.

The seven samurai - 1954

The classic
Japan in the Azuchi Momoyama period, 1587: Bandits repeatedly raid a small farming village and plunder the crops. When the next harvest is due, the farmers decide to hire some samurai. Although the village cannot offer any wages other than food, they win seven fighters for the defense.
The simplest but very effective weapon of the farmers are lances made of bamboo, they are neither Jo nor Bo!
The Lexicon of International Film describes Kurosawa's fascinating samurai epic as a gripping adventure drama, epic poem and philosophical meditation at the same time.
The plot of the film was repeatedly taken up and varied in different film genres; the best known is the western "The Magnificent Seven" by John Sturges from 1960.