If you tell a Japanese that you practice jodo, he or she will correct you: you mean judo? No, jodo, I say (Aad of Wijngaart) then. It's the way (do) of the stick.
A jodoka used a wooden stick with a length of 128 cm to conquer an opponent armed with a sword.

The first who was defeated by the stick, is the most famous swordsman in Japanese history: Miyamoto Musashi. At least, that history tells us. Around the year 1600 there lived a samurai called Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi. After many years of training, fighting and victories he met Musashi. He beat him with his trademark technique jujidome: he caught his sword blade between its long and short sword!

Muso was defeated and therefore very dejected. He went to Mount Homan in Fukuoka and trained vigorously at the Buddhist hermits. After 37 nights he had a divine vision in disguise of a child. The child said to him: "Maruki o motte, suigetsu o shire". That means if you hold a round stick, think of the solar plexus.

That was all he heard. He developed a martial art based on a round stick that was longer than a sword, but short enough to hold between two hands. Therefore both ends of the stick can be used for a quick punch and/or stroke.

Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi (from the Buko Hyakunin Isshu).


"Maruki o motte, suigetsu o shire", 

if you hold a round stick, think of the solar plexus.


After he had taken revenge, Muso taught in Fukuoka jojutsu the Kuroda clan. This art was enriched and refined by his disciples through the centuries. The school name Shindo Muso Ryu, year 2003, includes this style more than sixty different jo kata (= exercises).

The samurai in Fukuoka used the jo primarily for police, because it could defeat swordfighters without defeating it. Other police weapons came from the Shindo Muso Ryu, like the Jitte, a metal bat, used by the Japanese police very late 19th century. Techniques were developed to control and tie the prisoners. Sword techniques were adapted in the form of twelve kata for the long and short sword.

Three centuries flourished jojutsu in Fukuoka. But with the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century changed everything. No one could live more like a samurai. Japan was invaded by America and could no longer continue in his isolation. Nevertheless, out of love, the members of the Shindo muso ryu tried to keep this art alive.

They built a dojo (=practice dorm) approximately 9 meters long and 6 meters wide, next to the house of their teacher. Fortunately, the Japanese were smaller then than now.

The jojutsuka (=practitioners of stick-Art) Fukuoka introduced their art even in Tokyo, where it attracted the attention of influential sword instructors.

One was Nakayama Hakudo still famous as kendoka and as iaido instructor (the art of sword drawing). Nakayama thought that the kata of Shindo Muso Ryu was very highly developed. Practicing jojutsu gave him a deeper understanding of kendo.

His jojutsu instructor, Uchida Ryogoro had his own views. He saw that all Japanese men of that time was walking with a cane, just like the Europeans. On this basis, he developed twelve kata of sutekki-jutsu: stick techniques. Today, we are still practicing this art as part of the jo training; then it's called Tanjo-jutsu.

Jojutsu drew even more attention in Tokyo by the work of Shimizu Takaji. Around 1930 he was appointed as an instructor at the police jo Tokyo. Thus was jojutsu again as in Fukuoka, a tool for the police. At this moment you see a Japanese police with stick. Because Shimizu had to train large groups of students to the police, he developed twelve basic exercises - Kihon in Japanese. The name jojutsu was also replaced and called by the name jodo. Despite the name change, jodo is still a very traditional martial art, which is close to its historical roots.

IAIDO was firstly known in 1932 and popularized by Nakayama Hakudo (1873-1958) who was creator of Muso Shinden Ryu (夢想神伝流) style.

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Beginnerscursus jodo FOTO: BINH TRAN

This is partly due, we use a real weapon, a stick of hard oak, without the protection of the body. The attacker in the kata use a wooden sword, not to spare the other, but because the blows with a stick on a metal sword can easily bend or break. Since it was meant for!

The kata techniques are carried out in full speed. Of course we control the jo, so we do not break each other's bones, but the jo stops at the target, such as the forearm. So if you want to practice jodo you should not be afraid of a little pain.

But let's go back to Shimizu sensei. He greatly help out to spread the art of jodo.

It is said sometimes that he certainly has taught practitioners during his lifetime.

After the 2nd World jodo was one of the three martial arts in the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei, the Japanese kendo organization has millions of members. Now there are about ten thousand practitioners of jodo.

You usually start with the twelve Seiteigata. Selected by Shimizu and adapted from the curriculum (= the learning path) of Shindo muso ryu - intended as an introduction to the principles of the stick. Once one has mastered the Seiteigata, the old forms will be practiced.

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Jodo dutch championship 2014. FOTO: BINH TRAN

There are also championships in jodo. The games consist of kata, which are reviewed by three referees.

After the three combatants have shown the five kata's, the referees decide who performed the best. The Dutch Kendo Renmei had the honor to organize the first European Jodo Championships in November 2002 in Papendal.

Mainly through the international kendo community, jodo was brought to Europe. Here in Holland members of the Dutch Kendo Renmei Jodo started around 1980's. Various times are topseminars in jodo attended by top instructors from Japan, as Shizufumi Ishido sensei from Kanagawa per year. These seminars are accessible and educational for each NKR-iodo-practitioner.

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