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Friday, April 20, 2012

Martial Arts Cards – 4: Jo-jitsu

Have you ever heard of Jo-jitsu?

Ju-jitsu, sure. But not this Japanese martial art.

While it is true I had never heard of it before I purchased a bunch of Dunkin Martial Arts cards back in the late 1970s/ early 1980, it did make me think that I gad seen its application in a few martial arts movies (old school).

This series of trading card may have been a one-shot from Dunkin. I can find next to zero information about this company anywhere, let alone when the series was published.

It's almost like they never existed... and except for these cards that I present to you every once in a while, we might never know they ever did. Just like this particular martial art!

Spooky. Okay, not really.

Let's get to the card, and then I'll present to you what else I have found about this martial art (again, not all that much)

Again... there were 88 cards in the Dunkin Martial Arts series, and this one is #15. The cards consist of a an almost-blurry image on the front depicting the sport/martial art, and on the reverse there are three brief paragraphs, one each in English, French and German.

Here's what the reverse looks like:

And here's a written version of it:

Japanese martial arts.
Fencing using a 1.20-m stick used to deliver side blows or attack with the tip. It is used for arm, leg and foot locks and even for immobilizing the opponent.

That is it. So... I decided to look on the Internet for more information. Guess what? There is not a lot of information out there. In fact... the only information I found was for Jojutsu - which is spelled differently, obviously, but the description I read of it is a close match to the Dunkin card.

Jojutsu (杖術) aka Jodo is a Japanese martial art using staves (jo), similar to bojutsu, in defense against the Japanese sword. The jo staff is usually about 4 feet (1.2 meters) long (so far so good!).

The martial art was NOT for the average person to fend off bandits or swordsmen, but was a skill practiced by professional warriors.

In fact, the defense against swords was invented by a swordsman. A great one, so they say... but how does one measure greatness?

After Gonnosuke Muso (surname first) lost a match against a legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto (surname first) (hmm, apparently great is not as good as legendary). In this match, Gonnosuke challenged Musashi using a long bo stick – something he was reputedly quite good at. However, the challenger Musashi defeated the bo-wielder with his famous two-sword style.

So... humiliated, Gonnosuke went to a Shinto shrine to purify himself and train harder with the priests, and created the martial art style of jo in which he combined long-staff, spear-fighting and sword and a few other minor combat styles.

Gonnosuke called this new fighting style Shintō Musō-ryū and challenged Musashi again. This time, the faster and more intricate techniques of this shorter 1.20 meter jo staff allowed Gonnosuke to mount an effective defense and penetrate Musashi's dual-sword technique.

Nowadays, this is known as Jodo – the way of the stick.

For your edification, HERE is a link to an NHK televised instructional demonstration of Jo-jutsu with a master explain (in Japanese) the art of Jodo. Despite the language barrier, his teachings come through quite easily. It's quite fascinating and it makes me want to go out and beat someone with a stick. I did a bit of Kendo (Japanese fencing with a bamboo sword) while in Japan, and can see how this sport is related. I think kendo may have been created as as a way for samurai (warrior) to hone their sword skill in combat against each other while avoid the whole disemboweling thing that a real katana (samurai long sword) might do. Then again, I have a card for that, too, so we'll see when I research it a lot more for next week. 

Here's a demonstration of jojutsu: 

There are two branches of this fighting style: the old style known as Koryu which uses other fighting styles and weapons, including a tanjo (short staff), a kusarigama (sickle with chain), jutte (truncheon), and involves the martial art of Hojojutsu where you tie up your opponent after subduing them. I had done that to Junko on more than a few occasions. I’m not even going to go there with a truncheon joke. It is reminiscent of police work.

The other branch is Seitei Jodo, which is used by Kendo (fencing) practitioners, Iaido which involves drawing and cutting with a real blade.

Anyhow... that’s all I could find. Hope you learned something, like a guy with a stick can take on and defeat a guy with a sword (or two)!

By Andrew Joseph

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