The jo (four foot staff) is a weapon that I have enjoyed the study of for many years, but have always lamented that the published material available about it centres around either the Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu style, or the Aikijo practices in many Aikido schools.
While living in Japan and training at the hombu dojo between 1991 and 1993 I was fascinated to discover that the jo was one the third wepon originally emphasised by the founder, Kaiso Kori Hisataka (1907–88). Unfortunately the practice of the jo lay dormant in the mainline school and the descendent schools.
In the intervening years I made it my mission to research the jo, a process that ultimately led to the introduction of the kata Ufuchiku no jo to our organisation. Subsequently Kaicho Shunji Watanabe of the Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha school (with which we were affiliated for several years) also reintroduced the practice of another kata (alternatively called Shishiryu no Jo or Kudaka no Jo).
In my research I began to realise that the practice of the jo was important among the bushi of the Shuri Court, and can be found in several styles of Udundi (palace hand) and Ti extant today.
With this background I am pleased to see that others have also seen the importance of the jo for karate practitioners, as it is a versatile weapon that has real relevance today. Poles and rods in the 3—4 foot range are common and can be used as makeshift weapons of defence.
The first book that I am aware of to take an indepth look at the Jo from a non-Aikijo persective has been written by Dan Djurdjevic.
Essential Jo promises to be “the most comprehensive text on the subject to date”, and is said to be well-illustrated with over 900 photographs.
I have ordered a copy, and look forward to providing a review soon.