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Kamado Shinto Shrine
Kamado Shinto Shrine
Kuroda (Tachi), Shimizu (Jo)
Shinto Muso Ryu Jodo (also called, Shindo Muso Ryu) is the Japanese martial art of stick fighting to defend primarily against a sword attack.
The first jo techniques were developed in the early 17th century, the Keicho Period, by a Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi (夢想権之助勝吉), a renowned warrior who is believed to have dueled with and defeated the famous Miyamoto Musashi. Initially, he was defeated by Miyamoto Musashi, and withdrew to Kamado Shinto Shrine (see below) to meditate. Based on a vision, he developed the jo and jo techniques, and won in a later encounter with Miyamoto.
Muso Gonnosuke`s inspiration has become the motto of Shinto Muso Ryu:
"maruki o motte suigetsu o shire"
"Using a round stick, know the solar plexus"
The development of Jo techniques was influenced by other weapons such as the sword (tachi), spear (Yari), and halberd (Naginata), which contribute to the versatility of techniques of the Jo.
The Jodo curriculum evolved and assimilated the following schools of weapons: Tanjo, Kusarigama, Jutte, and Hojo. There is also an assimilated school of jujutsu called Matsubayashi Ryu.
"Jo" literally means "Stick" in Japanese. It is made of Japanese oak, and its cylindrical shape makes it difficult to break. The typical length is 128cm and the diameter is 2.4cm - 2.6cm. It is about 30cm longer than the average sword, and weighs 550g.
Jodo is comprised of 12 basic techniques called Kihon, and several sets of kata. Originally there were 64 Kata in the curriculum. Kata are practiced in pairs: Uchidachi wields the tachi (a wooden sword called a bokken), and Shidachi wields the jo.
Unlike other martial arts like Kendo, there is no protective gear or equipment worn in Jodo. Therefore, within the structure of kata, Jodo practice consists of real training exercises with the Jo as an actual weapon. Jodo has evolved but the method of training still uncompromisingly preserves Jodo`s roots as a combative weapon.
When SMR founder Muso Gonnosuke initially suffered a humiliating defeat to Miyamoto Musashi, he went to Kamado Shinto Shrine, located on Mount Homan in Kyushu. In present day, Mount Homan is in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu.
Kamado Shinto Shrine is still the spiritual home of Shinto Muso Ryu. Traditionally, when an individual receives the license of Menkyo, the Menkyo certificate is presented in person to the head priest, who blesses it and enters the Menkyo holder`s name in the Shindo Muso Ryu Densho (registry). Not all Menkyo holders have made the journey to Kyushu to do this, however,
Background and Current State of Shinto Muso Ryu
Shimizu Takaji, originally from Kyushu was a student of Shiraishi Hanjiro, the 24th Headmaster, along with Otofuji Ichizo. Shimizu moved from the island of Kyushu to Tokyo in 1927 and taught Jojutsu to several groups including the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department and Kobudo Research Group at the Kodokan Judo Headquarters.
Despite some controversy upon Shiraishi Sensei`s death, Shimizu Sensei was considered the 25th Headmaster. However, before his death in 1978, no headmaster was named. Therefore, controversy arose between Tokyo and Kyushu dojos regarding who would succeed him. Several Menkyo Kaiden from Tokyo went to Kyushu to discuss the issue of succession and the future of Shinto Muso Ryu. However, no decision was formalized. The resulting division within the Ryu is still in effect today.
Otofuji Sensei, still located in Kyushu, was the self-proclaimed 26th Headmaster. After Shimizu Sensei`s past away, he ordered the closure of all dojos outside of Kyushu. By this time there were several thousand Shinto Muso Ryu members in the Tokyo area, including many foreigners.
The Shihanke and master swordsman of Shinto Muso Ryu was Kuroda Ichitaro. Kuroda started studying Jodo from Shimizu in 1928 - incidentally, the same year he was an all Japan Kendo champion. He was also a master of Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido, and a master of calligraphy. He was Shimizu`s first and longest student. Kuroda died in 2000.
The Tokyo Renbukan re-opened in the 1980s. Currently, Shinto Muso Ryu exists worldwide, but because the Ryu is so fragmented and the curriculum is so large, over time differences in actual techniques and performance of kata have arisen. After Shimizu`s death, Kuroda made some additions to the curriculum and revitalized some of the older Pre-World War II techniques that had been neglected. In addition, every instructor has their own emphasis, methods of teaching, strengths and weaknesses.
Although splintered, there are several main groups that are quite active: 1) The International Jodo Association headed by Hiroi Sensei that adheres more to Kuroda`s and Shimizu`s method of training, 2) The Nihon Jodo Kai headed by Kaminoda sensei, 3)The International Jodo Federation headed by Nishioka Sensei`s organization, Sei Ryu Kai, Pascal Krieger, and Phil Relnick, and 4) those groups connected with the Fukuoka branch in Kyushu.
Jodo has always had differences between groups - some kata have several different ways of performance. However, they are all Shinto Muso Ryu! I encourage you to be JUNANSHIN - keep a flexible mind and be willing to learn all that your instructor is willing to share.
This website focuses on Jodo training and the SMR curriculum. This website is intended to be a supplemental resource of information to compliment your own training. My sincere hope is that you will be encouraged to learn, think for yourself, ask questions and continue to train hard.
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