O’Sensei’s development of practices involving the Aiki Ken and Jo were passed on to successive generations in the Iwama tradition, and have, to this day, continued to be developed as partner practices often referred to as the Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi. Based on the skills and movements inherent to the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi, Morihiro Saito Shihan and Hitohiro Saito Shihan have continued to build and refine the weapons partner practices so that it is possible to practice fluid dynamics using both offensive and defensive tactics. From these practices Aikidoka can extend the ideas to develop precise technique in relationship to one or more attackers with both empty-handed taijutsu and more general weapons partner practices. The basis for the utility of the practices is the usage of large external objects that increase visibility and awareness of all aspects of Aikido technique, as well as distancing, movement, energy extension and absorption, and timing.
At Shugyo Aikido Dojo we teach the Suburi, Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi to all students as part of a standardized curriculum in the traditions passed to us through our lineage with Morihiro Saito Shihan, Hitohiro Saito Shihan, and Pat Hendricks Shihan, and we encourage advanced students to continue exploring variations on the standard repertoire and identify connections with empty-handed partner practices.
Because of the continuous evolution of the partner practices, and out of respect for the leaders of our style, this series focuses on generally applicable elements of the partner practices, rather than laying out entire sequences that are subject to change. This approach will help ensure that the skills discussed will never become obsolete, as opposed to the practice sequences, which can and do change often. For example, at this moment in time, the 1st Ken Tai Jo involves parries as part of a lengthy series of interactions between two partners. Instead of attempting to describe the entire 1st Ken Tai Jo, the more limited and productive goal in a given paired article and video would be to describe only a parry, which is involved in several other partner practices as well. It is much more empowering to practice and master one individual movement at a time, because this allows the Aikidoka to use those movements in any way desired, and easily mimic any contemporary sequences.
This is the 3rd in a multi-part series on the elements of the Ken Tai Jo, Kumi Jo, and Kumi Tachi. All articles in the series are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the partner practice elements (click here to subscribe to the channel). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the weapons partner practices, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the practices with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.
Note: all the practices described in these articles assume a ki no nagare relationship, meaning that the attacks and defenses occur simultaneously.
Reverse Parry with the Jo
In this article on the Aiki weapons partner practices, we examine the skill of using a reverse parry with your jo against an attack. The scenario to be considered is that the jo is on the left side of your body but the attack is coming toward your right side. The attack may come in the form of a thrust or strike with a jo or bokken, and the goal is to absorb and deflect the attack while stepping back, using a parrying motion with the tip of the jo that is initially pointing toward the rear. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this partner practice. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:
- Drop and connect
- Transfer momentum backward
- Anchor and parry