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Usagi
13th December 2002, 02:52
I always trained with a jo that would fit in my armpit down to the floor.

Later i acquired a japanese shirokashi oficial jo that felt perfect :)

Acording to JoDo KyoHan (which i am not able to read YET) the Oficial measurement is 128cm (4 shaku, one kanji I don't know and one sun) in lenght and 2,6cm (8 sun).

This measurements are perfect for me.

And here stands my case:

I am 6 feet tall and have long arms.

What about my girlfriend, who's 5 feet 2'?

Help :)

Andy Watson
13th December 2002, 12:03
Renato

The measurement are 4 shaku, 2 sun, 1 bu. The length is critical from an esoteric standpoint. If the jo was only 4-2 this would read as shi-ni which is a homonym for "death". By adding the 1 bu it takes away this grammatical riskiness.

Your girlfriend who is 5'2" should find using the jo correctly quite easy as she is closer to the height of the people who originally used it.

No allowance is made for people of different heights I'm afraid, the challenge is to make the jo work for you regardless of your body dimensions.


One time when I was training in Japan (Uncle Albert story coming up) I went to one of Yano-sensei's monthly seminars and was paired up with a dimunitive Japanese lady who I towered over, me being 6'2". I spent half the session trying to escape when she had the jo. I just couldn't get away when she pursued me in katas such as hissage and kasumi, and by the end of the day I was black and blue.

Experience clearly counts.

R A Sosnowski
16th December 2002, 16:29
According to legend, the Jo dimensions of 4-2-1 [Shaku-Sun-Bu] in length (by coincidence, Musashi is proported to have used a Bokuto of 4-2-0 in length at Sekigahara) and 0-0-8 in diameter came to Muso Gonosuke in a dream during a period of time when Muso was meditating on his defeat by Musashi when Muso tried to use a Bo to best the swordsman. Legend also has it that Muso bested Musashi with the Jo in a second, historically uncorraborated duel.

Classical styles that I am familiar with have codified their dimensions of weapons in stone for the most part. I do know of one exception. The length of the Tendo Ryu Naginata has been allowed an extra 2" - my Naginata instructor had asked the current headmistress for an extention, which was refused until one of my Sempai, a six-footer, went to Japan and trained with the Soke for several years in the 1990's.

While doing Aiki-jo a few years ago, I had a custom Jo made to fit me using the arm-pit height heuristic - it is 4-5-5 in length (proportionally, the maker opted for a diameter of 0-0-9).

Likewise for the dimensions of the Bokuto. For the standard Bokuto used in Jodo, the blade length is 2-5-4 with a Tsuka of 0-8-0. However, my personal Bokuto has a blade that is 2-8-5 long with a Tsuka of 1-0-2, based on other heuristics for the maximum lengths of the blade and Tsuka.

Using a standard Jo-Bokuto set, the difference in lengths is 0-8-7; while using my personal set, the difference is only 0-6-8.

If I pair one of my personal weapons against one of the other standard weapons, those differences are 0-3-4 (std. jo - my Bokuto) to 1-2-1 (my Jo - std. Bokuto). If we add to the mix someone else's personal measurements that may be shorter than standard, then the variability in the differences increases.

Jo Waza are dependent on that set length difference of about two palm spans; in order to guarantee that critical dimension, it is only pragmatic that the dimensions of the weapons be fixed.

However, for those of us who are much larger or somewhat smaller than the average Japanese body dimensions during the Tokugawa shogunate, we simply have to adapt to the weapons.

Gambatte.

Jeff Hamacher
17th December 2002, 00:42
i know of examples in my own SMR jo group, along with what i've been told by exponents in other groups, where very short folks have been allowed to use a slightly-shorter-than-regulation weapon. naturally, this would be a major exception to what is otherwise a hard-and-fast rule in SMR.

as far as aikido weapons go, i sorta wonder about the sense in having people choose a jo that fits their body rather than using a standardized model. the first i knew about the "armpit measure" was the time i flipped through the Bujin Design catalogue. until then i just assumed that most aikidoka used a jo very similar in dimensions to the SMR model (not that i knew anything about SMR when i first started aikido training). having weapons of differing lengths would really mess with partnered training, wouldn't it?

oh, and on the topic of converting traditional japanese measures to metric, one source i read states that 8 bu is 2.6 cm while another said it was 2.4 cm. when i checked my own jo, it actually measured ever so slightly less than 2.4 cm (likely from use). the jo that i used to use for aikido measures about 2.5 cm, but my jo teacher said that it was too thick. anyone who wants to practise SMR can likely get proper weapons from their teacher, but i wanted to add my comments as a reference.

Usagi
17th December 2002, 11:12
First, thank you all for sharing your knowledge with me.


Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
having weapons of differing lengths would really mess with partnered training, wouldn't it?



With all due respect, why should it?

It shouldn't be that much harder then training with someone with shorter arms.

The targets remain the sames.

We might consider the "one inch advantage" on this one, but this would be relative ( a shorter person with a shorter weapon can close in and render a longer weapon wielder vulnerable)...

By what was exposed by all three posts, the size of the jo has a meaning that must be respected.

Just out of curiosity, what was Gonosuke's height? In the novel (fiction) he was about 6 feet tall.

Jack B
17th December 2002, 15:56
the first i knew about the "armpit measure" was the time i flipped through the Bujin Design catalogue In 1988 Miyake sensei came here straight from a visit to China, having learned and passing on tai ch'i staff and cane forms she learned in a mountain village. We cut staves from PVC pipe for the seminar, and she had us cut them to armpit measure. The canes, BTW, were rather long, coming to about hip height IIRC.

R A Sosnowski
17th December 2002, 16:42
With all due respect, why should it?

It shouldn't be that much harder then training with someone with shorter arms.

The targets remain the sames.

We might consider the "one inch advantage" on this one, but this would be relative ( a shorter person with a shorter weapon can close in and render a longer weapon wielder vulnerable)...

By what was exposed by all three posts, the size of the jo has a meaning that must be respected.

In using these two dissimilar weapons in Jodo, the most important aspect is the MA, that is, the combative distance. Practicing with standard-size weapons allows this to be built into the practice implicitly.

Outside of formal practice, one can work with personal-sized weapons. However, it is a hard enough practice just using standard-sized weapons. ;)


Just out of curiosity, what was Gonosuke's height? In the novel (fiction) he was about 6 feet tall.

I can't say that I have ever heard of a historical reference to this. Of course, the novel is not a reliable source.

And now for the mathophiles, :D


oh, and on the topic of converting traditional japanese measures to metric, one source i read states that 8 bu is 2.6 cm while another said it was 2.4 cm.

You can do the conversion yourself:

1 Shaku = 11.93" = 30.3022 cm (given 2.54 cm/in.).
1 Sun = 0.1 Shaku = 1.193" = 3.0302 cm.
1 Bu = 0.1 Sun = 0.01 Shaku = 0.1193" = 0.3030 cm.

Therefore, 8 Bu = 0.95" = 2.42 cm. Actual weapons' measurements may vary slightly. Typically a Jo made in the US is 1" (2.54 cm) in diameter and primarily for Aiki-jo practice. Therefore the Aiki-jo is generally a bit thicker than the standard SMR Jo which come from Japan.

HTH.

Usagi
17th December 2002, 19:20
I always felt uncomfortable with the idea of "standart sized weapons".

For sometime my aiki-jo was longer (almost 5 feet) and heavier.

When i changed for the "standart" SMR jo, i felt a lot more comfortable in working with it.

That is why I find it odd that people from diferent heights than mine (6f 1) should use the same size I do.

A standart SMR jo, in my girlfriend's hands appears to be a bo.

It is an assumption, but simple movements like gyakuteuchi or kaeshizuki become harder to acomplish when using a staff that is too short (slips from the hands) or too long(hard to make the movement "technically" correct).

But i am here to learn, not to preach.

Where am i wrong in my assumption?

Usagi
17th December 2002, 19:27
Originally posted by R A Sosnowski
In using these two dissimilar weapons in Jodo, the most important aspect is the MA, that is, the combative distance. Practicing with standard-size weapons allows this to be built into the practice implicitly.


Sorry, but your post gave me a little confusion.

In most of JoDo (correct me my misconceptions) the pratice is held with two dissimilar weapons: a sword and a Jo.

Theorically, the jo should be able to reach beyond the sword (independently from either one's size).

I always believed maai to be something relative to the dimensions of the body of the fighter.

That is why i am having such a hard time in understand this "standart jo".

By two dissimilar weaponsyou meant two dissimilar jo?

Is there jo versus jo pratice in SMR?

Jack B
17th December 2002, 19:39
Just a little in Okuden.

Adam Young
17th December 2002, 21:05
Renato,

I think what Ray was talking about (and I hope he'll correct me if I am wrong) was dissimilar weapon types, e.g. jo and sword, naginata and sword, etc. Normally, when using dissimilar weapon types, one needs to really focus on maai because simplistic "I can't hit him so he can't hit me" thinking doesn't work. However, working with standard-sized weapons (even of dissimilar type) vastly reduces one variable element of maai - weapon size - and lets one concentrate primarily on his and his opponent's combative spacing in terms of the body itself.

If I am used to practicing against an opponent with a certain sized sword, and I use a certain-sized naginata, and then give each of us significantly larger or smaller versions of the same weapons, maai gets a heck of a lot more difficult to manage as a new variable has been introduced.


I always believed maai to be something relative to the dimensions of the body of the fighter. When using standard similar weapons, it largely is. At least, one's "burden of awareness" of maai is lightened a bit by the certainty of weapon size. However, normally I understand maai to be an awareness of anything that impacts on (i) how far my weapon is to my opponent and (ii) how far my opponent's weapon is to me. That will include body size, weapon length, slope of the ground, etc.

When I did sword-sword practice in Japan, maai was pretty tough to get a lock on, particularly as I was taller than most other people I worked with. But when I started bo, I found that my maai went all to hell - I was taking great steps to give myself powerful strikes, but would end up far too close to my opponent. That was with standardized but dissimilar weapons. If you had me use a different bo each time, I don't know how I would have managed.

Cheers

R A Sosnowski
17th December 2002, 23:30
Adam,

Basically you've got it right.

In dissimilar weapons sets, such as Jo vs. Bokuto or Naginata vs. Bokuto, the lengths are different (implying different effective ranges) and the effective uses of each as laid out in the various Kihon Waza are basically different.

Ma is the combative distance between the two combatants mediated by the lengths of the two weapons; with standard-size weapons, that part of the relationship between combatants is fixed as you mentioned. Individual body dimensions are a factor in Ma -- in empty-hand arts, they are the sole factor ignoring the terrain and the surrounding environment which would not usually be considerations in a Dojo setting.

However, Ma is also dynamic; it is not a static element frozen in time - implicit in Ma is the element of time. It brings life to the weapons work.

HTH.

Jeff Hamacher
18th December 2002, 00:08
Mssrs. Sosnowski & Young have answered the question of "standardized weapons vs personalized weapons" most handily, so i won't add anything on that score.

Originally posted by Usagi
>> It is an assumption, but simple movements like gyakuteuchi or kaeshizuki become harder to acomplish when using a staff that is too short (slips from the hands) or too long (hard to make the movement "technically" correct). <<

i have similar problems: i'm slightly taller than you and i have slightly longish arms even for my height. this is one of those situations where the student must remember to accommodate the weapon and not expect the weapon to accommodate them!:D

Usagi
18th December 2002, 03:20
Arrest my case :D

And i would like to thank you all for your kindness in sharing your views.

(That doesn't mean that others should refrain from posting anything else; i am thirsty for more :) )

Jack B
18th December 2002, 16:05
Ok, can't resist adding an anecdote from I don't remember where...

Shimizu sensei was short, and when he went into hikiotoshi no kamae the jo would hit the floor. Some of his taller gaikokujin students would intentionally hit the floor the same way, and then adjust to proper kamae. Perhaps if they had longer jo, they wouldn't have to break form to imitate sensei! Or perhaps if Shimizu had a shorter jo. Perhaps we are supposed to bounce our jo off the floor.

Physical differences also create problems in other arts. My Iai sensei amazed his sempai because his lower-leg to upper-leg ratio is different. Japanese tend to be proportionally similar, but when sensei would do Oroshi, his legs just didn't fold up the way they are supposed to. He said they all gathered around and pointed and were flabbergasted that his body just wasn't built right.

Andy Watson
18th December 2002, 16:27
Jack

I have also heard that story and it's existence is still evident watching some of the senior members of the British Kendo Association - Jodo Bu, still doing the same thing after they contracted the habit from Hiroi sensei.

Oops. Tee hee.

Luckily the younger generation are driving this out.

:laugh:

Jack B
18th December 2002, 21:10
Kaminoda sensei, also short BTW, teaches that you should catch the jo in the middle of the stick when going into hikiotoshi no kamae. You just propel/drop the jo back with your lead hand and us ethe trailing hand to stop the movement. This way your lead hand is free to turn over while the jo is in motion, coming directly into kamae more quickly than if you push the jo all the way and then have to disengage your lead hand.

This might also ameliorate the floor-hitting, although if you're the right height this would definitely stop the jo for you.

Jeff Hamacher
18th December 2002, 23:55
interesting the hear the differing view on how to manipulate the jo while taking hikiotoshi no kamae; within our group, we're taught a somewhat different approach.

the version of the "hikiotoshi floor strike" story that i heard gave the following moral: Shimizu-sensei's jo struck the floor because of his height, not because this was correct technique for all SMR practitioners. striking the floor with the jo should not be a specific goal in learning the technique. as it relates to our current topic, i think that this is another good (and famous) example of how the exponent must adapt to the standard weapon.

if i might introduce a tangent ... what effect will increasing average human heights have on standard weapon sizes in these various japanese martial arts? do you think that, at some point in the future, some weapons' dimensions will increase in size to accommodate typically larger humans?

Usagi
20th December 2002, 05:41
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher
if i might introduce a tangent ... what effect will increasing average human heights have on standard weapon sizes in these various japanese martial arts? do you think that, at some point in the future, some weapons' dimensions will increase in size to accommodate typically larger humans?

In the Edo period, weapons had their standart measurements changed in order to cope with the needs of the times.

As most of the Classical arts are now vehicules of personal expression, i don't see any new "acomodations" of sizes.

And judging by this whole thread, in near future we will see men seven feet tall wielding two shaku and two sun DaiTo because "its traditional" :D

(just kidding!)

Kiz Belle
20th December 2002, 12:52
Until I read this thread, I'd never heard of the "jo sized to fit in your armpit" idea. I'd always just used and seen the standard length jo's. Well, as soon as I read this, I raced out and grabbed my jo to see how it measured up, and guess what? It fitted in my armpit EXACTLY!

Whoo hoo! Destined to be a jo master! :D (just kidding)

BTW, I'm 5'3" and a half, so if you were wondering I guess I'm about the average height jo's were made for.

Kiz - Mistress of the Armpit Jo

Jack B
20th December 2002, 16:33
Sounds like you're perfect, Miz Belle!

Happy solstice to everyone! Ho ho ho!

fogarty
20th December 2002, 17:46
And happy Tohji (“~ŽŠ, winter solstice) to you too. No traditional bath with yuzu (a citrus fruit) again for me this year. If it weren't for a few calendar changes this'd be Christmas too, but that's a different story. And maybe New Years?

About joh sizes, there used to be many and many types before it got standardized by Matsui, Kenji's research (see Hunter Armstrong's www.hoplos.com for the English translation). Children still commonly use shorter ones, even at the Zenkoku Taikai you see them. And not tanjoh, I think. I was there, my loss should be recorded.

Relating a different story, in Maryland at a gasshuku, I picked out a joh that I later learned by comparing with others' was missing the one bu. So the meaning might be "to die" as pointed out elsewhere. Anyway, I ended up in Shi.koku. There's a popular horror movie out called Shi.koku but written with death.country instead of four.country. Sometimes I wonder if that's because I drew the short one. Fate?

Left that one in Canada; using a proper sized one now. Or trying to.

Nollaig shona duit,

Andrei Arefiev
25th December 2002, 10:24
Mr. Fogarty,


Originally posted by fogarty
About joh sizes, there used to be many and many types before it got standardized by Matsui, Kenji's research (see Hunter Armstrong's www.hoplos.com for the English translation). Children still commonly use shorter ones, even at the Zenkoku Taikai you see them. And not tanjoh, I think. I was there, my loss should be recorded.

I wonder if you might know what size exactly is the jo that children use? We will be getting some kids to join our jodo practice here in Moscow, and while the older ones fit the standard jo quite nicely (or is it vice versa?), the younger ones might be better with a shortened jo. And if we have to do it, it'd be best to cut it down to the correct size.

Also, do you have a direct link to the translation that you mentioned? I don't think I've ever seen it at that site.

Thank you,

fogarty
29th December 2002, 12:47
I'm really sorry about that; I can't find it either. Maybe I had to e-mail Hunter Armstrong directly. It's called "The History of Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu" by Matsui, Kenji, translated by Hunter B. Armstrong, edited by David A. Hall, Ph.D. Here are some bits:

Appendix III Length and Diameter of the Joh

The set length as a whole, when and why it came to be, is completely in the clouds. . . . However, it is questionable that there was a fixed length in ancient times, as there is no such conclusive evidence. In the oldest known _densho_ -- mentioned at the beginning of this monograph -- the term used for the stick was "boh," and no set length is given. However, in the _densho_ of Harada Heizoh (d. 1733), the father of the revival of the ryuh, these words are written: "holding the wolrd in the palms, by means of a _go-shaku_ (five-foot) _boh_. . ."^57 We find still another view in an article in a 1913 issue of the _Fukuoka Daily Newspaper_, which cites Shiraishi Hanjiroh stating that, "The _joh_ is set at 4-_shaku_ 1-_sun_ 1-_bu_." Consequently, it seems that there is no conclusive basis for a length of 4-_shaku_ 2-_sun_ 1-_bu_, although in a number of old _densho_, under "Ushirozue" in the Chuhdan section, there is the statement, "the traditional length is 4-_shaku_ 2-_sun_ 1-_bu_." As well, Nakayama Hiromichi wrote that "the length of the _joh_ is set at 4-_shaku_ 2-_sun_.^58

. . .

At the same time, for a man of six-foot height, even a five-foot _joh_ could still be comfortably handled when reversing ends. In connection with this, as mentioned previously, Musoh Gonnosuke presented a sword to Tsukuba Shrine; it was an _ohdachi_, 4-_shaku_ 9-_sun_ 3-_bu_ (149.38 cm, or 4 ft 10.8 in) long, which is exceptionally long for a Japanese sword. Perhaps Musoh Gonnosuke was a large man.

Yokota Enji (d. 1876), the Bakamatsu period Jigyoh instructor, left a number of _joh_ to posterity. They are of different lengths: 3-_shaku_ 9-_sun_ (118.2 cm, or 3 ft 10.5 in) and 4-_shaku_ 3-_sun_ 3-_bu_ (131.2 cm, or 4 ft 3.7 in); further illustrating the lack of uniformity.

. . . I end my citation.

As for the exact size, they might even be using tanjoh for all I know, I don't recall off hand the standard size. Maybe I'll get a chance to ask next month if I'm lucky, and escape my half-fortune from Sensohji the other day.

Keiko's fine, but life's harsh. . .

shonuff
16th December 2003, 21:57
Some people use Jos that come right under the armpit.
Bos have to be about 6 inches taller than you, I believe.

BUT!!!!

Most weapon makers make jos 50 inches in height or cut 2 inches off to make then an even 4 feet. For me a 53-54 inch stick works best.

Now the Bo. I'm 5'11. I should have a stick 78 inches long. No one sells 77 inch long Bos. They sell 5 or 6 foot(72 inch) bos.

You just can't go into your average martial arts store and pick up personally comfortable sticks, usually.

Usagi
17th December 2003, 16:44
Last october i finally had my first hand experience with ZNKR JoDo.

I used my 1,27m jo made of the brazilian wood known as Pau D'Arco (arches wood), which is heavier than shiro kashi.

It felt perfect and i really enjoyed the pratice.

I still believe that the size should be a personal matter rather than a standart.

I didn't knew about Gonnossuke's ODachi, but Yoshikawa seemed to believe that all of his characteres were large, strong and tall (From Musashi to Kojiro, all were described as being 6" up) :)

Does the makimono of the SMR presents a description of Gonossuke?

rupert
18th December 2003, 02:47
I have been interested in weapon length for some time. Personally, I feel that one should be able to pick up a weapon of any length and be able to use it.

As for optimal length: Since most are for use outdoors - the longer and heavier the better, the only restriction being what one can confortably handle. Think about it - the taller you are, the longer the arm, the longer the weapon - the more advantage you have - as long as you can handle it well, of course. Shorter weapons are also useful and would likely be used once the range shortens - like drawing your sword or dagger once the opponent(s) has moved closer than say the, length of your pike or staff. A staff is better longer because tactically one can hold it mid-staff for close range or quarter-staff (near the end) for long range.

I have heard the armpit argument, and it has merit, but everyone is different. Choose what has most advantage within the limit of what you can handle. Of course, it would be difficult to train if all had different styles of staff, but it might be more 'enlightening'.

Rupert Atkinson

Usagi
5th February 2006, 15:26
I have heard the armpit argument, and it has merit, but everyone is different. Choose what has most advantage within the limit of what you can handle. Of course, it would be difficult to train if all had different styles of staff, but it might be more 'enlightening'.

But the whole point of this discussion was: there is a point in standartizing weapons sizes on SMR?

The argument on MA sticks, no doubt about it, but to me, different people handling similar sized weapons would lead to diferent technical approaches. As mentioned in the "Shimizu's Incident", some inconveniences might arise. :rolleyes:

I tried once to use a 5feet long 1inch diameter staff to practice SMR techniques, in order to try to feel what would be like for my diminitive short handed 5feet tall student to use my jo (standart size), and i didn't felt comfourtable at all. Too big too heavy and too thick.

But some years ago i came to my present philosofy; the "Soleil factor"(in homage to the Circ):
Enough practice can make anything featable, be it the best solution or not :)