Physical Training Aug 2008
Our Sponsor, SDKsupplies

The Edged Kihon Jo

The Edged Jo

copyright © 2008 Kim Taylor, all rights reserved

It sometimes takes a while but I eventually get there. I have been told for years to treat the jo as if it has an edge, and for an even longer time I've been making wooden weapons in my shop, in fact I now do it for a living, so you'd think that I would have put those two things together a long time ago.

Like I said, sometimes it takes years but I do get there. I have now made a few jo with an edge on them and we have been using them to practice our kihon. To be honest we also checked them out for kata but more on that another time.

Each of my students has said the same things about the edged jo, it's intuitively easy to use and it provides great feedback on where the hands are, and how the jo moves during the various motions of the kihon. Everyone who has picked it up has been able to perform the kihon without any preparation or discussion. In other words, an experienced jodo student should be able to use this training tool without any special instruction. So why use it? As folks mentioned, it gives you lots of feedback on where your hands are, how they are moving (and should move), and it also promotes a much cleaner and better grip on the tear-drop shape than on a round shape where your hands can easily fall outward. Sure beats having to listen to sensei correct you every 30 seconds.

Grip on the edged jo

Simply make sure that the edge is in your hands in the same orientation as the edge of your sword, the narrowest part of the jo should be in the second joint of your little finger as you strike.

Here are a few photos showing it in use during the Shindo Muso ryu kihon as practiced in Zen Ken Ren Jo. I was going to provide a few photos of the jo in use while doing some Aiki-Jo as well but the hand positions are identical to these so rather than repeat the images I will leave you with an assurance that the edged jo is just as easy to adapt to Aikido as to Shindo Muso ryu.

honte no kamae
Honte no kamae.
honte no kamae grip
Honte no kamae, the right hand grip.

honte uchi yoi
Honte uchi, ready position.

honte uchi yoi, rear grip
Rear grip for honte uchi ready position.
The left hand rotates into the correct position by feel.

gyakute no kamae
Gyakute no kamae.
The right hand comes over naturally as the fingers find the edge.

gyakute uchi you, front
Gyakute uchi, ready grip of front hand.

gyakute uchi yoi, rear
Gyakute uchi, ready grip, rear hand.

hiki otoshi uchi yoi
Hiki otoshi uchi ready stance, front hand.

hiki otoshi uchi yoi, rear hand
Hiki otoshi uchi ready stance, rear hand.
This is just about the only time your hands aren't both in position on the edge.

kaeshi tsuki yoi rear view
Kaeshi tsuki, hands both turned into the correct positions for the thrust.
gyakute tsuki yoi
Gyakute tsuki, ready position.

gyakute tsuki yoi rear hand
Gyakute tsuki, rear hand at ready position.

gyakute tsuki thrust
Gyakute tsuki, the thrust.
The rear hand tends to stay in the correct position on the jo while touching the edge.

maki otoshi yoi
Maki otoshi ready stance, edge up.
On the movement down it is much easier to get the feeling of a cut rather than a circular push while using the edged jo.

ready position, kuri tsuke, kuri hanashi, tai atari
The ready position for kuri tsuke, kuri hanashi and tai atari.

tai atari
Tai atari, edge forward for the strike.
tai hazushi uchi yoi
Tai hazushi uchi start position, edge receives potential strike.

tai hazushi uchi receive thrust
Tai hazushi uchi, receiving the thrust.
With the edge it's easier to visualize taking the centre rather than pushing the attack to the side.

Tai hazushi uchi hasso
Tai hazushi uchi, moving from the thrust to hasso is also more clear.
The edge remains aimed at the swordsman.

Do Barai Uchi, receiving the cut
Do Barai Uchi, the left hand moves around the end and lines up nicely while using the edge.
tai hazushi uchi yoi
Tai hazushi uchi ready position.

tai hazushi uchi avoid position
Tai hazushi uchi, avoiding the cut, the edge lined up facing the swordsman.

These photos should give any information needed on how to perform the Zen Ken Ren jo kihon with the edged jo, and provide a pretty good idea of how to use it for Aiki-jo as well, if desired.

I hope to get a page up on to provide these to anyone wishing to try one out, but in the meantime don't hesitate to email or call and we'll get one made and sent to you.

Kim Taylor is owner of and is chief examiner for the Canadian Kendo Federation jodo section.

Our Sponsor, SDKsupplies
Physical Training Aug 2008