Legend has it that Muso Gonnosuke invented the first set of forms for using a jo (a wooden staff of approximately 4-foot length) in order to defeat the famous swordsman Miamoto Musashi, around the early 17th century. Musashi had beaten Gonnosuke in a sword duel and uncharacteristically spared his life, enabling the latter to return sometime later and repay the compliment, courtesy of his jo technique. “Muso” means “dream”, as Gonnosuke had the techniques revealed to him in a dream after meditating for thirty-seven days. The jo became part of the Muso Shinto Ryu syllabus along with its smaller cousin the tanjo. The syllabus is further enhanced by Muso Shinto Ryu kenjutsu, where the kata protagonists both use bokuto (wooden sword representing a sharp steel katana).

Jo practice has become refined and systemised by the ZNKR as Seitei Jodo, which is taught at Hagakure Dojo in addition to our iai syllabus.

Jo practice is split into two main sections: individual/paired kihon waza (technique) and paired kata (forms) simulating actual combat between jo and bokuto.

There are five levels of jodo kata development:

  • ZNKR – set of 12 kata formulated by the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation)
  • Omote- first series of traditional school, 12 kata
  • Chudan- middles series of traditional school, 12 kata
  • Ranai- extension of middle series, 2 kata
  • Kage- secret series of traditional school, 12 kata