View Full Version : Names for parts of the jo

J. A. Crippen
22nd March 2003, 03:52
Are there any online diagrams of names for the parts of the jo, like there are for the sword? Or better yet, since there aren't really that many 'parts' to the jo, can someone here describe the Japanese names?

In English of course we say the 'tip' or 'butt' of a stick. And there's the 'middle', the 'far end' and 'near end', the 'lower half', 'upper half', 'lower third', 'middle third', 'upper third'. I'm sure there are a few more but I can't think of them offhand.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

Meik Skoss
22nd March 2003, 13:59
The tip of the jo is jo saki. I suppose one could say manaka when referring to the middle of the stick, though I've never heard that used in a way that connoted "official" terminology. It's just, like, a part of the weapon. I mean, it's a stick -- how technical can it be?

Regarding "grappling" with the stick and similar tactics, sure that is possible. There are a number of taijutsu-ish techniques. Refer to *Jodo Kyohan*, by Nakajima and Kaminoda to get an idea of a couple of them. Since the jo (or keijo, in police parlance) is one of the weapons the Japanese law enforcement community uses for riot control, they've developed a number of modifications to what I guess one could call the bujutsu way of doing the techniques (I should mention that keijojutsu is based on Shinto Muso-ryu), so's not to unduly damage the people -- citizens all -- on whom they are performed.

Didn't used to be that way, but post-WWII keijojutsu, under the influence of SCAP and the new Japanese constitution, became an awful lot "friendlier" to people on the receiving end of things.

Returning to the point about grappling/non-lethal applications of jojutsu (or any other weapon's) techniques, yeah, they're there. Large BUT! ... Why would you want to use them in a life-or-death situation? (Assuming you're operating in bushi mode.) The odds'd be *very* much against you. Heck, one has only a 33% chance of surviving an armed encounter*, anyway, so why stack the deck in the other guy's favor?

*: a Jikishinkage-ryu kuden. You've gotta figure the other guy is a whole lot better, stronger, faster, at the top of his game AND has the advantage of terrain, surprise and position. That being so, it comes out like this: a) he kills you outright (33%); b) you kill each other (33%); c) you are extraordinarily lucky -- you kill him (33%). Given that one'd have one chance in three, at BEST, combat's not a thing that one would enter into lightly.

All that being said, there were times when one would've wanted to incapacitate and capture an opponent, so non-lethal technique was included in koryu curricula. But they were not necessarily the waza of choice. Kinda depended on the situation, "Case by case."

J. A. Crippen
22nd March 2003, 14:30
I supposed that there might be names for the different parts of the jo, to be used in combination with the names for grips. Eg, "gyakute in near half, then move left hand to far tip and pull back into honte". Given the apparent propensity for providing detailed names for nearly every part of a sword imaginable I figured that some enterprising jojutsu practitioner would have felt impelled to name all the parts of the jo that he could think of, sort of a 'keeping up with the Minamoto' thing. "If sword people can have lots of names then we'll come up with lots of names for jo too!" However, if nobody's heard specific names for the various parts of the jo, well, not a surprise.

I figured saki would be the appropriate term for the tip, but I wasn't sure, since it could be something like tou (head) and bi (tail), which I've heard of used for the two tips of a bo. Naka is pretty obvious for the center, of course. I wasn't sure if there might be specific words for the jo divided into thirds or halves. Again for the bo I've heard of bibu (tail part) and toubu (head part) for the two halves of the bo based on which end is striking or sweeping.

24th March 2003, 19:10
As far as grappling stuff goes, there's a number of waza in Tomiki Aikido that involve grappling, both as tori and uke, in the Koryu Dai San Kata.

My favorite are the ones where you have the jo and you beat the guy without one, proving (as the old joke around the dojo goes) that a guy with a stick can always beat a guy without one. :p

Don Cunningham
24th March 2003, 21:48
I don't know about "official" jo terminology, but in standard Japanese terminology, a shaft body is called boshin and an unsharpened shaft tip is called a sentan. I've heard these terms used in reference to a rokushaku-bo, so I guess these terms would apply to a jo as well.

Earl Hartman
25th March 2003, 00:35
"Sentan" just means "tip". It could refer to the tip of anything that has one. It is a common, garden-variety Japanese word, not a technical budo term.

Don Cunningham
25th March 2003, 05:21
"Sentan" just means "tip". It could refer to the tip of anything that has one. It is a common, garden-variety Japanese word, not a technical budo term.
I was not under the impression that budo used special technical terms rather than "common, garden variety Japanese" words. For example, we use terms like hajime (start) and mattei (stop) to control actions during judo randori. Nage-waza (throwing techniques) includes such throws as ogoshi (major hip), o-sotogari (major outside reap), tai-otoshi (body drop), etc. In kendo, I held my shinai (bamboo sword) by the tsuke (handle) and tried to hit my opponent's kote (wrist). All these years, I always thought these were just regular Japanese words. Gosh, I didn't realize these were really part of the technical budo terminology. :D

Earl Hartman
25th March 2003, 05:37
Well, they are. People who don't do judo have no idea what an "Osotogari" is.

And in common, garden-variety Japanese, "wrist" is "tekubi", not "kote".

And it's "tsuka", not "tsuke".


Andrei Arefiev
25th March 2003, 10:30
Originally posted by J. A. Crippen
Are there any online diagrams of names for the parts of the jo, like there are for the sword? Or better yet, since there aren't really that many 'parts' to the jo, can someone here describe the Japanese names?

I'm now translating (for ease of use) "Jodo Kyoten" by Yoneno Kotaro and Hiroi Tsunetsugu and they frequently use josaki for the "forward" tip of jo and jojiri (jo's butt) for the other one. In describing kaeshi zuki in particular, they speak of switching josaki and jojiri. They don't seem to use any other terms.


Meik Skoss
25th March 2003, 11:07
Andrei, you're correct in that josaki and jojiri are the terms used in Shinto Muso-ryu jojutsu. I've heard Sentan used to describe a tip, but not for weapons in budo. Boshin? Well, I can see where shin means the heart, body or core of something, but I've never heard it used in budo.

Don, Earl's point about context is a good one. Flying and mare, high and crotch, guillotine -- they're all common English words. But you'd have to be a wrestler to understand what they meant in context. And, as Earl says, it's tekubi, not kote. When it comes to Japanese, best go with Earl -- he has very extensive knowledge of and excellent ability in a language St. Francis Xavier was absolutely *sure* had been invented by the Devil (to prevent successful prosyletizing of Christianity). Dunno 'bout that part, but I do know about Earl and his Japanese. If it were judo, he'd be wearing a dandara obi.

Andy Watson
25th March 2003, 13:16
Please PM me if you want me to send you this diagram as a powerpoint presentation. It contains the English and Japanese terms for the parts of the jo and the tachi...

Don Cunningham
25th March 2003, 13:56
The term sentan is used to describe the tip of a jutte. While tekubi may be a more common reference for wrist, no one had any problems understanding me when I referred to the wrist as kote. In fact, all the Japanese I've met understood me when using terms like hajime, matte, yamai, tsuka (please excuse my typo in earlier post), etc. in general conversation, unless my Texas drawl screwed up the pronounciation. While Earl may be quite fluent in common, garden variety Japanese, I've never heard such terms described as "technical budo terminology."

In fact, most technical weapon terms are simply references using combinations of "common, garden variety Japanese" to describe otherwise unusual parts. For example, the hook on a jutte is called kagi which simply refers to the "right angle" shape. The protrusion on the other side used to mount the kagi is called kikuza which means "flower seat" (Actually, it refers to a specific flower, but I don't know how to spell it, but the shape looks sort of like how the protrusion is attached.) The term kaname is used to describe the pin in the end of a fan, but it also has wider meaning as "main point" or "key individual."

Finally, although they may not be judoka and have no idea of how to do an osotogari, nearly all Japanese can understand the name means "major outside reap." This is because the parts of the throw's name is composed of "common, garden variety Japanese" words.

Earl Hartman
25th March 2003, 20:29

I'm not sure how this started, but we seem to be talking past each other. I never said that many, if not most, of the words you describe are not common, garden variety Japanese words. They are. All I said was that "sentan" is not a technical budo term. I'm not sure where you got the idea that "hajime" (the imperative form of the verb "begin") is a technical budo term (if that is, ineed, what you beleive). I certainly never said it was, or that a Japanese would not know what to do if I said "hajime!".

Obviously, any literate Japanese person will be able to read the characters for various budo terms, such as the example you give, "Osotogari". This is due to the nature of kanji. However, this person, watching a judo match, would probably not be able to tell that this throw had been used unless he knew judo and had seen the throw done before. How many non-jo people do you know who know, specifically so they can explain how to do it, what "tsuki hazushi uchi" or "doh barai uchi" mean? Not too many, I would imagine. Yes, they can read the kanji, and if they saw the technique demonstrated, they would say "Aha, so that's why they call it that". But without explanation, they would not really know what the term means in its context. These terms are most definitely technical budo terms and are not likely to be used in everyday conversation by people who don't do budo.

For example, the term "tatesen" has a very specific meaning in kyudo. Although the term simply means "vertical line", people who do not do kyudo do not know what it means in a kyudo sense unless they have it explained to them. I submit, then, that even though they can read the kanji for this seemingly common, garden-variety term they do not really know what it means in its use as a kyudo technical term.

Kote (literally "small hand") refers to either the forearm in general (not the wrist only) or to the armor that protects it and is not necessarily a technical term any more than "men" (face) or "doh" (trunk) are kendo technical terms either. However, I have rarely, if ever, heard a Japanese person refer to their wrist as a "kote" in everyday conversation.

The "kiku" of "kikuza" probably means "chrysanthemum".

Don Cunningham
25th March 2003, 22:00
I'm not sure how this started, but we seem to be talking past each other.
Uhhh, I think I was the one who first said that most "technical budo" terms are simply common, garden-variety Japanese words (or kanji characters, if you will). Of course, hajime is not only part of "technical budo terminology" even though it is also used in a budo context, specifically to start a judo match. That is my point exactly.

Although I own a couple of jo and have played around with them, I am not a jo practitioner and certainly not familiar with "technical jo terms." Yet, even I could understand that doh barai uchi probably has something to do with an inside sweeping strike to the stomach area. I understand that even though I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to do it. That's because these same terms are also quite likely to be used in conversation by people who don't do budo or specifically jo techniques.

As I explained before, sentan is a common, garden variety Japanese word. However, it is also used to describe a part of a jutte, specifically the pointy end opposite the handle and used for thrusting, so it still could be considered a "technical budo term" as well by your own definition of such words.

And yes, kiku in kikuza (flower seat) is the same kanji for "chrysanthemum." I just wasn't sure how to spell "chrysanthemum" that early in the morning. I guess the correct kanji for "flower seat" would be something like hana-za? ;)

Earl Hartman
25th March 2003, 22:47
Sorry, a doh barai uchi is not an inside sweeping strike to the stomach area. Thanks for proving my point.

You have probably confused "uchi" (inside), with "uchi" ("strike", the noun form of the verb "utsu", "to strike".

Your original response to the question gave me the impression that you believed the term "sentan" was a technical term for the tip of the jo. All I said was that it just means "tip". If you agree, fine. No blood, no foul.

"Jo saki" could be considered a technical term, though, I guess. I also like the term "naka hodo" for the middle of the jo: "somewhere around the middle". Nice and precise.

Regarding the familiarity of the average Japanese person with budo terminology, it has a lot to do with how common the art in question is. Everybody in Japan knows about judo and kendo, mainly because they used to be compulsory PE courses in Japanese schools (I think that may no longer be the case, though). However, when I tell an average Japanese person that I do "jojutsu", they almost always say something like, "Oh, you mean like old-fashioned judo, right?" while mimicing some sort of throw. When I say "No, I do JO-jutsu", you know, fighting with a jo", they stare at me blankly. Then I say, "you know, a jo, like a 'tsue'". ("Tsue" is the kun-yomi for the kanji for the technical budo term "stick".) Then their faces light up in recognition and they say "Ohhhhh, a TSUE. Now I get it. Never heard of it."

A while ago I was returning from Japan and went through the Customs area on my way to the plane. The Customs guy, wearing a uniform like a cop, asked me what I had in my weapons bag. I told him I had a bokken and a jo. He stared at me and asked "What is a jo?" I said "It's a 4.5 foot long wooden stick used for practicing martial arts". He got all bug-eyed and started freaking out and gargled "You have a WEAPON?!" I said, "No, no, it's just a stick for budo practice, kind of like kendo." He calmed down and asked me something about what I did with it and so I told him something like, "Well, when the guy tries to hit you with a sword, you hit him with the stick." He freaked out about weapons again and started getting really agitated. I couldn't understand what was going on, since I thought he was a cop, and ALL cops (at least all riot squad cops, anyway, AFAIK) do Shinto Muso Ryu jo, just like I do.

Anyway, a riot-squad policeman on duty there was watching as the Customs guy and I went around like this a few more times, me trying to explain that it was just a practice weapon and he getting all freaked out about the word "weapon". The cop had a jo, of course, and when he realized that I wasn't going to get the poor guy to understand, he came over, smiled indulgently, showed the guy his jo, and gently explained that what I was carrying was exactly what he was carrying and that for Customs purposes it could not be considered a weapon. The Customs guy turned absolutely crimson, snapped to attention, and bowed to me like I was the Emperor, mumbling his apologies for his abysmal ignorance by saying he wasn't a policeman, he was just wearing a uniform. I told him to think nothing of it, took my bag, and left.

As I passed the cop, who had returned to his post, our eyes met, I bowed slightly to thank him, he inclined his head slightly in return, and we exchanged the old "budo brother" greeting: a knowing smile with the eyebrow wave which said "You do jo too, huh? Cool".

The Customs guy, meanwhile, probably jumped off the top of the terminal on his next break.

Don Cunningham
26th March 2003, 04:11
In your condescending post, Earl, you failed to reveal exactly what doh barai uchi does mean. I apologize for confusing uchi (the noun form of the verb utsu, "to strike") with uchi, the term for "inside." Without the kanji, however, it is sometimes difficult to translate similar sounding Japanese terms, especially when they are spelled the same in romanji. So just what does it mean? I suspect the "sweeping strike to the stomach area" still applies. If so, my response is still about 75% correct, a reasonable percentage to achieve basic understanding.

Without resorting to the same patronizing tone, my original post was that sentan could be used to describe the tip of a jo. It was your supercilious reply that suggested that certain Japanese references should be considered "budo technical terms" and should not be confused with the "common, garden variety Japanese" language.

By the way, I have a copy of a illustration showing the parts of jutte dating from the Meiji era which clearly uses the kanji for sentan pointing to the tip. Does this now make sentan a "budo technical term"?

I realize my own Japanese fluency may be questionable. However, I suspect the common misunderstandings of "technical budo terms" specific to jo-jutsu by average Japanese persons you encountered are more related to your own mispronounciation rather than their lack of understanding common Japanese terms or familiarity with the more esoteric martial arts. I recall once telling my co-workers that I had witnessed a protest against criminal teachers or politicians. After their laughter subsided, they explained the protesters had been chanting "Shinzai hontai!" ("New tax protest!") -- not "Sensei honzai!" ("Criminal teachers/politicians!" ). (Note: The sensei title is also commonly applied to political leaders in Japan.)

Finally, I may not be as smug regarding my own personal understanding of Japanese culture, but at least I always had the common sense to check my kendo shinai and bokken at the ticket counter along with the rest of my luggage. Despite my own meager Japanese language skills, I certainly never had any difficulty communicating with the Japanese custom agents about what was in my bags. If they asked, I simply showed them.

For future reference, you're correct in that only the Japanese national riot police squads regularly train and use jo. The prefectural police officers usually train in either judo or kendo or a combination. I think the riot police use jo mainly for crowd control during public protests against criminal teachers. :D

Mark Tankosich
26th March 2003, 04:51
After their laughter subsided, they explained the protesters had been chanting "Shinzai hontai!" ("New tax protest!") -- not "Sensei honzai!" ("Criminal teachers/politicians!" ).

FYI, "protest" (or more accurately, "opposition") is "hantai," not "hontai," and "crime" (not "criminal") is "hanzai," not "honzai."

Sorry, but Earl is right on this one...

Mark Tankosich
26th March 2003, 06:53
PS I think that what you mean is "shinzei" (i.e., "new tax") not "shinzai."

(Don't feel too bad; you did get "sensei" right ;))

Anders Pettersson
26th March 2003, 09:18
Originally posted by Don Cunningham
Finally, I may not be as smug regarding my own personal understanding of Japanese culture, but at least I always had the common sense to check my kendo shinai and bokken at the ticket counter along with the rest of my luggage.
Just to point out that in most countries, (anyway all I have travelled to) you have to carry your own luggage through customs.
When you arrive at Kansai airport you pick up your luggage and then walk out through customs.
When you leave the country you walk through security check and the officers control your luggage and then you check it in at the ticket counter.


Andy Watson
26th March 2003, 10:16
Jeez you guys. Calm down. I seem to remember that this thread originated by asking the question about the names of the parts of the jo, not who understands Japanese better.

Why don't you take this and start a new thread named "You might be better than me at X but I kick ass with Y".

Let's all shake hands and be friends.


Don Cunningham
26th March 2003, 14:13

You're correct. I used my ad lib phonetic spelling of the correct Japanese terms rather than the recommended transliterations of the Japanese kanji. I was mainly trying to relate a funny anecdote about how slight differences in pronounciation sometimes lead to misunderstandings. How my romanji "spelling errors" make Earl right, though, is beyond me. Do you also believe that Japanese terms used in reference within the martial arts are considered "official budo terminology" rather than "common, garden variety" Japanese? If so, both you and Earl are definitely misinformed.


As a person who has several passports renewed before they expired because the pages were completely filled with entrance and exit visa stamps for countries all around the world, I can assure you that airline passengers are always required to control their own luggage when passing through immigration and custom control stations. My point was that it's a lot easier to show a customs agent the contents of your luggage rather than try to communicate in their language, especially when a person is apparently unable to adequately convey their intended meaning.

Furthermore, I have personally experienced the weird behavior peculiar to all low-level Japanese bureaucrats and government employees. I doubt any customs agent was prepared to commit seppuku for misunderstanding a gaijin's poor attempt to describe the contents of their bag. However, I am pretty sure he had a few choice comments later about the arrogance displayed by such visitors.

Jack B
26th March 2003, 17:30
Well, I agree with both Don and Earl. Most of the terms people attach mystical significance to are indeed common Japanese words. My sensei originally taught on his backyard patio, and called it the "Ii Tenki Dojo". Someone asked him admiringly if Tenki meant "Heaven Spirit"; it does, literally, but it is the common term for weather; as in "Good Weather Dojo".

Some of the terms used in martial arts are poetic, like TenChi Nage (Heaven-Earth Throw), but most are pretty boring, like Migi (right) and Matte (stop) and Ude Garami (entangled arm). However Earl too has a good point about the technical connotations attached to a term when used by a specific martial art. These are, of course, case by case. Japanese would understand the words but not immediately grok the details of the technique it described. Some of the terms, like Suigetsu, have many layers of meaning even within the practice of the art. A normal Japanese would know that "Water moon" means "solar plexus" and might even know some of the poetic etymology of the word, but would be clueless about the implications that might be taught as kuden within a ryu. Yaegaki means "eightfold gates" but that doesn't mean anything until you have studied for a while (maybe not even then)! Japanese is a high-context language. From what I've seen everything in Japanese has multiple meanings.

Earl Hartman
26th March 2003, 21:24


For the last time: I never said that "sentan" is a technical budo term, and I'm not sure where you got the idea that I said it was. It is just a "tip", as I said in my first post. Indeed, the only reason I said anything at all is because your original reply gave me the impression that it was YOU who believed that it was a technical term for the tip of a jo or a bo. As I said previously, if that is not what you meant, fine.

While I have not used up a bushel of passports as you claim to have done, I know how to behave at Customs, in spite of the fact that you seem to assume that I was being high-and-mighty with the Customs agent. Of course I opened my bag for the guy. However, he was either new to the job or a stickler for protocol. He saw what I was carrying but was hung up on the fact that they were "weapons" for budo practice, so he didn't know what to do. Eventually he deferred to the policeman and let me through. However, he had no idea what a "jo" was when I first mentioned it; I had to tell him it was a "tsue". And he had never heard of "jojutsu" in his life. This is not so uncommon in Japan; people who are ignorant of traditional budo usually have no idea that such an art exists. So, when I say "jojutsu", people assume I mean "jujutsu", since that is something they have heard of. It has nothing to do with pronunciation.

Your little anecdote about hentai/hontai/hantai sensei/sansei/sensai/ or whatever, while humorous, has nothing to do with me. I lived in Japan for 11 years and have been a Japanese/English translator/interpreter for more than 20 years. The Japanese people who have mistaken me for a Japanese over the phone on more than one occasion don't seem to have a problem with my pronunciation, so the fact that you seem to have trouble making yourself understood is no particular concern of mine. You should stop projecting your problems onto me. Also, people have developed standard Romanization systems for a reason. If you want to be understood by other people when you are romanizing Japanese it might be a good idea to make use of them.

I stand by my original point: various words and terms used in budo (and I am not talking about words like "hajime" here), while of course made up of elements common to Japanese, are often used in the context of a specific art in a way that makes no sense to people who are not conversant with that art. "Doh barai uchi" is a case in point: it is made up of three common characters: "doh" (trunk), "harau" (sweep), and "utsu" (to strike). So, it is not unreasonable to assume, just by looking at the kanji, that it might mean something like a sweeping strike to the stomach area (how you confused the two "uchis" I don't really know; when "uchi" (inside) is used to modify something it usually precedes rather than follows the word it modifies, at least in my experience). However, that is not what it means, regardless of your confidence in your (educated) guess.

I don't understand why you seem so miffed about this, since you do not, as far as I know, practice jo. I don't practice judo, so even though I can read the kanji for "tai otoshi" or "seioinage", and so can ASSUME what the techniques might look like, I do not KNOW what they look like. This is not surprising; I don't know much of anything about judo at all. Hell, there are tons of jo techniques that I don't know yet, since I am not advanced enough to have been instructed in them. I can read the names for them, but I do not yet know what they are, or why a particular kata has a particular name. This is what I mean by the difference between being able to read a kanji and really KNOWING what it means in its specific context.

As far as doh barai uchi is concerned, scare up a copy of "Jodo Kyohan" and look it up.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on this subject.

Don Cunningham
26th March 2003, 22:25
I didn't say that sentan is or is not a "technical budo term." In fact, I think your suggestion regarding the concept of "official technical budo" terminology is not much more than a myth.

It reminds me of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant. One touches the snout and states that elephants are like a snake. The second feels the foreleg and declares that elephants are like tree trunks. The third grabs the elephant's tail and exclaims that elephants are like rope.

This problem seems to be common with those who have studied a specific koryu art in Japan. They assume that whatever is considered proper within that context extends to the entire culture. Let me try a reverse analogy. The common term for a necessary room in the U.S. is "bathroom," while in Europe, the term is "water closet." On board ship, the technical term is a "head." Imagine a Japanese person sailing on an American vessel and then declaring that all Americans use "head" as the official technical term for water closets and bathrooms.

C'mon, the jo is basically just a stick, for gosh sakes. We also use one in Kodokan Judo's relatively modern kata, Goshin-jutsu, so most Japanese with any basic judo experience should recognize one. We just don't get hung up on whether sentan is the proper technical term for either end of a stick or if there is a more official technical budo-only reference. In fact, I've wondered why it's not just called a yonshaku-bo since it is basically a rokushaku-bo with a couple of shaku wacked off.

It's been my experience that most Japanese budo instructors use "common, garden variety Japanese" words to describe things, not just official budo terminology. Even the more esoteric terms used by Japanese sword collectors have a basis in history. That is, they were common, garden variety term some time in the past, just no longer in common usage today.

By the way, I have been mistaken on the telephone for a Japanese native speaker on more than a few occasions myself. That's no big thing. It's surprising that those who understand my Japanese perfectly on the telephone when they have no idea of my true nationality often found it necessary to correct my pronunciation in personal conversations, even to the point of not understanding common terms spoken. That is a cultural issue, not one of pronounciation, in that many Japanese are so convinced that only other Japanese can truly speak their language that they can not reconcile this when faced in person with a non-native speaker.

And yes, I do understand the need for standardized romanji. I use it when writing an article or book, but never thought anyone would be so critical of my misspelling in a simple anecdote on an Internet forum post.

Anyway, get over it. You take yourself waaaaay too seriously. Try letting go of the elephant's tail. :p

Mark Tankosich
27th March 2003, 11:16
I never thought anyone would be so critical of my misspelling in a simple anecdote on an Internet forum post.

You're kidding, right? ANYONE who has studied even 6 months of basic Japanese knows the importance of proper romanization! Your spelling for only ONE of the words you tried to write was correct, for crying out loud! I read what you wrote to my (Japanese)wife, and her reaction was "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Aren't you the gentleman who once wrote that you can read Japanese...except for hiragana!?! That's like saying you know how to drive, but don't know how to start the car!

Earl lived here for 10 years and is a translator/interpeter. I've been here a total of 11 years and lecture at a Japanese university (in Japanese). Your language credentials are what, exactly?

I repeat, Earl is completely correct in what he wrote about specialized terminology. If not, can you tell me why a 700 page budo jiten has been published (for Japanese people, completely in Japanese)?

Like Earl, Ive nothing more to say to you on this, and ...I'm outta here.

Don Cunningham
27th March 2003, 15:02
Earl lived here for 10 years and is a translator/interpeter. I've been here a total of 11 years and lecture at a Japanese university (in Japanese). Your language credentials are what, exactly?
I've been quite upfront about my credentials. I lived and worked in Japan as a telecommunications engineer and manager (kaicho) with NEC Corp for three years and for nearly eight years with Fujitsu. My function was mainly to assist in technical knowledge transfer (hardware and software design information) to their respective American subsidiaries and to produce end-user documentation in English for central offices. My own Japanese language skills are self-taught and frankly somewhat dubious in many cases. As for reading Japanese, I was referring to my skill at reading things such as newspapers articles. I am not aware of any Japanese language newspapers that employ the use of romanji. If you lived there for nearly as long as you claim or your wife is Japanese, you should know that as well.

As for budo terminology, I am not suggesting that all Japanese are familiar with the specific phrases or descriptions used in most martial arts. What I do know is that these are usually composed or based on basic Japanese terms which are commonly used. Thus, a Budo Jiten (Martial Ways Dictionary) certainly makes sense and fulfills a useful purpose, i.e., to describe the use of terms as applicable to budo.

Earl's statement that sentan is a common term meaning "tip" and therefore could not be used to describe the end of a jo because it is not part of the "official budo terminology" is simply silly and shows a basic fault in his logic. There is no "official budo terminology" that excludes the use of common, garden variety Japanese terms. In fact, budo terminology consists nearly entirely of common, garden variety Japanese terms.

If you don't understand this concept, you should not be lecturing on Japanese at any university.

Earl Hartman
27th March 2003, 19:44
Jesus, Don, what is the matter with you? I NEVER said that "sentan" could NOT be used to describe the tip of a bo or a jo. I just said it meant "tip" and therefore could be used to describe the tip of ANYTHING, including a bo or a jo. I have no idea how you got the idea that I somehow said it was verboten to use such a term to describe the tip of a bo or a jo, or that I believed that there was something called "official budo terminology" that couldn't be used outside the dojo or something. I'm beginning to think that you have trouble understanding English as well as Japanese.

All I said was that while the more "esoteric" terms (that is, technical terms that are specific to a particular art) used in budo are, of course, made up of common kanji (indeed, how could it be otherwise?), these kanji are SOMETIMES used in ways that make their meaning not immediately understandable to people who are not versed in the context in which they are used. However, This does NOT mean that ALL such terms used in budo are this way (they aren't, obviously) or that such terms require years of study before they can be understood (they don't). Usually, a simple explanation suffices. It is not rocket science.

This is the same with anything. My kids were wrestlers in high school. The terms used in wrestling for various techniques are English terms. I can read the words and I can look them up in a dictionary. However, since I don't know anything about wrestling, I have no idea what they mean IN A WRESTLING CONTEXT. What is so hard to understand about that concept?

Your confusion aout what "doh barai uchi" means is a case in point. Anyone can easily look up the common meanings of these characters in any kanji dictionary and thus make an educated guess as to what the technique MIGHT be. Sometimes this guess will be quite close, sometimes not. However, knowing the meaning of the individual kanji of which a compound word is made does NOT mean that you really KNOW what the word means when it is used in its specific context. Learning language like this is like "learning how to swim on a tatami" as the Japanese say.

Also, by the way, the chances that you were "kaicho" (Chairman of the Board) of NEC are about as high as my chances are of eventually becoming the Chairman of the Board of Chase Manhattan Bank or Lloyd's of London. In other words, zero. I am sure you meant "kacho".

Also, it is not "romanji", it is "romaji".

Anyway, if you want to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I am actually saying, not with what you think I'm saying.

J. A. Crippen
27th March 2003, 23:58
Okay, so after all that...

While not the point of my original post, in most budo studies perfectly ordinary words are used for perfectly ordinary things, but occasionally ordinary words are used for not-so ordinary things. A great example of 'technical' vocabulary that I like to trot out now and again is the term 'compile' used in computing. Traditionally it means something like 'to put things together', as one 'compiles a dictionary'. In computing it means something sort of similar, and indeed originated from the traditional meaning, but is laden with meaning that is only apparent to those involved with the subject. The non-computer person can suspect that 'compiling' means putting some things together into some grouped form. The computer person knows that it isn't so much a 'putting together' as it is a 'translation' from a higher level language into a lower level language, usually into a set of hardware level instructions for some sort of processor. The same rationale for terminological development applies in budo, as it does in nearly every complex human endeavor.

Even more important in a technical domain is the development of terminology describing what may seem to be ordinary, simple things in complex detail. In a complex endeavor even the simple things require some terminological standardization to prevent confusion. Reducing the noise in the communications channels by increasing the complexity of the coding, so to speak. In computing, this amounts to very specific terms for things most people lump together, such as detailed names for types of wiring. A 'bunch of wires hanging out the back' to the nontechnical person may be a 'power harness', an 'external interface', a 'cable bundle', or any number of other seemingly simple terms. To the novice they seem interchangable, but with continued exposure or education their individual meanings separate into specific terms used to designate specific purposes. Differentiating these terms allows for greater accuracy and specificity in communication, one of the primary goals of human languages.

In budo the same reasoning applies. A karateka and a non-karateka both watching a kata will describe it differently, even in their native language. Two kicks that look alike to the outsider are clearly different and have different names attached to them, a 'front kick' and a 'groin kick', which when performed well are nearly indistinguishable except by toe position and close attention to hip rotation. It doesn't suit the necessity of accurate and clear communication to call them the same thing when they have different purposes. This is even more clear when considering 'uke' and 'uchi'. What's a strike and what's a block? They usually look the same in most arts, but the difference is clearly in intent. If this were not communicated by different terms then the differentiation could only be learned by experience, which doesn't provide for an efficient use of one of humankind's most powerful systems of information transmission.

With all that said, I want to get back to the point. I was looking for some commonly used and accepted terms for parts of the jo (you know, a 'tsue', a 'stick', specifically one that's longer than three feet but shorther than six, since those would be 'tanbo' or 'hanbo' and 'rokushakubo' or maybe just 'bo'). There are plenty of specific terms for different parts of the sword (even though 'the pointy bit at the sharp end' would certainly suffice). I felt reasonably certain that there had to be a few for parts of the jo as well. Here's what posters have provided.

The tip of the jo is 'jo saki', literally 'jo tip'. The middle part of the jo is 'naka hodo', literally 'near/around the middle'. The part you hit ('uchi') with is 'mono uchi', literally 'hitting stuff'; this is just as on a sword. Some people refer explicitly to the near end of the jo, calling it 'jojiri', literally 'jo butt'. Adding what I know, the usual terms of endearment for the actions using a jo are 'uchi' for 'strike, hit', 'uke' for 'parry', 'harai' for 'sweep', and 'tsuki' for 'thrust, poke'. Oh, and switching ends is 'kaeshi'. Now I can speak clearly about jo to Japanese speaking jodoka, which is a nice thing.

Eventually I'll put up a budoka word list for the public. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while. And yes, a major part of it will consist of ordinary Japanese terms like 'suigetsu', 'naname', 'tenkan suru', and 'yaegaki'. That's the point, of course, to point out a lot of ordinary terms that are used in an ordinary way, but are *really* useful to know when trying to describe something.

Oh, and as for obscure kanji and terminology, try Japanese medical language. Or even better yet, Buddhism. "So where again is this 'diamond world' you speak of?"

Don Cunningham
28th March 2003, 13:53
"Sentan" just means "tip". It could refer to the tip of anything that has one. It is a common, garden-variety Japanese word, not a technical budo term.

Are you confused or what? Just read your previous post. You've switched sides so often that I have trouble following your drift.

Douglas Wylie
28th March 2003, 19:46
I cant figure out, for the life of me, what you two are arguing about.

It seems to me that you both agree that-

1- Sentan means tip.

2- Using a word in conjunction with budo does not bar its use for something else.

3- Context is important in language.

So, what is the REAL problem here?

Is it personal/ attitude/ ego/ insecurity?

What is the deal, gentlemen?

Don Cunningham
28th March 2003, 20:56
Okay, I found Earle's condescending tone a tiny bit irritating. Frankly, I disagree that there is any such thing as "official" budo terminology. Different styles and context may use terms or phrases for specific applications, yet neither does that exclude the use of common, garden variety terms nor does it imply that certain terms are considered "official budo" terminology.

Maybe I should have just dropped it after one reply. I guess Earle can keep on impressing Japanese custom agents with his importance. I am not buying it, though.

Diane Skoss
2nd April 2003, 13:59
There's value in discussion of what various parts of the jo are called by various people. For example, although my husband has never heard the word sentan used in reference to the tip of the jo, I most definitely have. It was on a single occasion, and it was one where the Japanese teacher was quite probably modifying his Japanese to help me explain what he was saying to a non-Japanese speaker. Of course, with me, using garden variety Japanese doesn't help much, since I learned virtually all of my Japanese in the dojo and locker room. Does that make Meik wrong and me right? No way. It just means we have different experiences, which we have both shared with you.

What does not have value (or a place here) are adjectives loaded with negative meaning applied to the writing or character of an individual. It is extraordinarily easy to convey unintended meaning when communicating over the Internet (wonder why I post so rarely?). As writers, we need to be careful; as readers we need to cut the writer slack, and be generous, erring on the side of giving the writer the benefit of the doubt in analyzing the true meaning (and deep analysis should not really be necessary; we're just discussing vocabulary here!).

Douglas Wylie has summarized the valuable content of the discussion. I would add that there isn't any "official" budo terminology, but there are plenty of words and phrases that are used in particular ways not easily understood by the non-practitioner in the various arts in Japan. These terms might casually be referred to as "budo terminology" (remember, we aren't writing any dissertations here; casual and occasional loose references are permitted).

Please stick to terminology and jo-related discussion in this forum. Thank you.

Diane Skoss

Don Cunningham
2nd April 2003, 14:32
What does not have value (or a place here) are adjectives loaded with negative meaning applied to the writing or character of an individual.
I'm guessing that I am the guilty party cited since I referred to Earl's earlier comment as having a "condescending tone." Well, maybe that was a bit harsh. Another thing which does not have value, though, are arrogant critiques without purpose other than to demean the comments of others. Slamming someone for simple romanji misspellings to distract from their contrasting point of view also doesn't add much value to the topic.

I've worked for years as a telecommunications engineer, both in the U.S. and Japan. As such, I've traveled all over the world, visiting my peers in many other countries. The telecommunications industry has what can be referred to as "official" technical terminology. In this, I mean terms which refer to specific concepts and which are generally universally accepted. Although they may be similiar to common terms, these have specific meaning and uses which do not refer to anything outside the telecommunications field. For example, terms like line, trunk, Erlang, etc., are not applied to everyday situations, yet have significant meaning to those of us in the field.

Earl's comment that "sentan" only refers to the tip of some thing and is not "official budo terminology" shows a basic misunderstanding of the Japanese language. Rather than admitting his error, though, he continued to insist that "jo-saki" is the only term heard in his experience and therefore the only "official" reference. What a load! What arrogance to assume his experience is the only one of any real value. Gimme a break...:mad:

Diane Skoss
2nd April 2003, 19:45
Hi all,

I requested that this thread (and I request this for all threads in this forum) be confined to discussion of jo terminology.

Don, your last post can in no way be construed as contributing to a discussion of jo terminology. Since I have no wish to see any sort of "who said what" and "who should apologize to whom" (which is what it is degenerating into) in this Jo Forum, I am closing this thread. There is no point in continuing

I don't care how the rest of E-budo is run. In the jo forum, we have civilized and informative discussions (or better yet, we spend our time training). I won't tolerate anything else, and since I've been assigned the job of judging, then I have adjudicated.

More than one opinion/experience can be valid at the same time. Again, I ask all posters to carefully consider how they may come across, qualify your opinions, and be respectful of others.

Diane Skoss