Nov
08

Aiki Jo, Part 2: “Ichi no Jo” by Autrelle Holland

The first kumijo is a close cousin of the first 6 moves in the 31 Kumijo. Let’s talk about what uchijo does first. Uchi attacks from hidari tsuki no kamae with choku tsuki, and then uses uchi choku barai to parry a counter thrust. So right away we learn that there is protection even as there is an attack being made. Uchi then attacks again with choku tsuki. After that, uchi steps back to parry a strike with migi kaeshi barai. I remember Patricia Hendricks Sensei at a seminar once calling this parry uke nagashi. After this, uchi finishes up with migi gyakute tsuki.

“ICHI”

Ukejo has some unique issues to solve at every point of the kumijo. From the very get go, uke has to use proper timing distance since uke starts with the jo held vertically, but uchi starts in tsuki no kamae. Rather than parry, when uchi attack with choku tsuki, uke counters with irimi footwork and attacks with kaeshi tsuki to uchi’s chest. One note here: Both uke and uchi attack with omote footwork. This is the same omote that we refer to in taijutsu. The condition that make omote the most viable is the both partners start ai hanmi, that is, both with the left foot forward. As uchi advances with the left side forward it is the most direct attack, omote, to the face or chest. Just as uke’s counter thrust lands true, uchi counters with uchi choku barai.

The choku barai should knock uke’s jo down and aside, creating an opening and slightly unbalancing uke. The main impetus for uchi’s movement is the footwork. When countering kaeshi tsuki with the barai technique, uchi actually moves toward his own right side, across the line, trying to dominate the line and the space. When done as a start-stop practice, this is easy to practice as a three count movement. In reality these three things happen on one count, so for some, the awase practice can be a bit confounding at first. This is because uke’s timing with kaeshi barai should be to “start last but arrive first.” In other words, timing should be that when uchi is struck with uke’s kaeshi tsuki at the exact moment that uchi expects his own choku tsuki to attack. Uchi has to, at a split last second, ward off uke’s thrust with uchi choku barai movement. The lesson in these motions for uchi is that he must still give a fully committed attack without overly anticipated the kaeshi tsuki and the counteraction for it. Here’s the blow by blow account of the one count:

* Uchi: Hidari Chok Tsuki
* Uke: Hidari Kaeshi Tsuki
* Uchi: Uchi Choku Barai

“NI”

Now that uke’s jo is down and aside, uchi make a rapid attack again with choku tsuki. Uke responds with a flowing parry, the jodan gaeshi movement. This is different from the jodan dome barai movement. Jodan gaeshi requires that uke move boths hands so that they meet near the center of the jo, in order to change to a striking technique. Since the jo is not held in a sturdy manner, this parry is designed to cover the path of attack while the body moves to avoid the strike. Uke changes to migi hanmi while making jodan gaeshi.

* Uchi: Hidari Choku Tsuki
* Uke: Moving to Migi Hanmi, Jodan Gaeshi

“SAN”

Uke strikes at uke’s head with migi jodan uchi. In the “old” form this was the end of Ichi no Jo. The current practice is that uchi steps back and parries the strike with migi kaeshi barai. Uchi has to be careful here. If the parry is too firm, he will give uke the impetus to immediately strike again with renzoku uchikomi. Also, if uchi steps back at a bad angle, or hold the jo at a bad angle, uke’s jo will slide down uchi’s jo and smash his hand. Uchi’s footwork and handling of the jo, if done properly, will allow him to “catch” jo, and make a proper attack after.

* Uke: Migi Jodan Gaeshi Uchi
* Uchi: Migi Kaeshi Barai

“SHI”

Before uchi can attack again, a little finesse is required. He must give uke’s jo a tiny “push” to make room to perform migi gyakute tsuki. If the push is too big, uke will counter him immediately during the motion. He gives a tiny push, and then attacks with gyakute tsuki. Uke uses taisabaki to avoid the thrust, and strikes uchi with renzoku uchikomi to finish the Kumijo. The final strike is hidari jodan uchi. Since uke doesn’t parry the thrust at all, he must have perfect timing, or his elbow can be struck as it is raised to make uchikomi.

* Uchi: Migi Gyakute Tsuki
* Renzoku Uchikomi

“HENKA”

There are a number of ways to vary the Ichi no Jo once the kihon is fully understood. Obviously, uchi can vary as in the 31 Kumijo. I have already detailed that in my earlier posts about the 31 Kumijo. There’s no reason why one wouldn’t practice these here either, as it will provide practice with the 31 Kumijo as well. Uke may also want to experiment with different endings as well, whether it be a strike with the jo, a jo garami nage, or a jodori technique. Mixing taijutsu and jo nage with the kumijo is important because they all have the same feeling. Pat Hendricks Sensei said that “at any point uke should be able to drop the jo and finish with a taijutsu technique.” The Kumijo can also be linked to combine them. The easiest way to go from Ichi no Jo to, say, Ni no Jo, is to change the tempo. At “san” uke should attack immediately with renzoku uchikomi. All uchi has to do is step back and parry the second strike with hidari kaeshi barai, and then thrust with jodan choku tsuki.

Coming up next: Ni no Jo.

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