Musō-ryū jō is said to be the oldest style
in Japan for using a stick (jō) in combat.
It was founded
in the early 17th century by Musō Gonnosuke,
an exponent of both Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū and Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryū. Tradition has it that Gonnosuke, in addition to mastering the secrets of Shintō-ryū, mastered the secret method of the Kashima lineage called "Ichi no Tachi".
Musō-ryū lore maintains that Gonnosuke once fought
Miyamoto Musashi, one of the most famous swordsmen of the
time, with a more than 4ft-long wooden sword (yonshaku bokutō *) in a training match and was defeated
by Musashi's cross-block (jūjidome) technique.
to legend, Gonnosuke was dissatisfied with this outcome
and retired to Mt. Hōman, in what is now Fukuoka Prefecture,
in Kyūshū, where he engaged in a series of shugendō austerities,
all the while contemplating the reasons for his defeat.
Finally, he received "divine" inspiration in the form of a dream about
a new method of using a staff-like weapon, making it shorter
(128cm) and thinner (25mm) for more rapid manipulation. He devised a number of techniques for this new innovative weapon, which
he called a stick (jō) (as opposed to staff or bō).
Factual documents of
the ryūgi are quite rare. It is said that there is
a document at Tsukuba Shrine, in Ibaraki Prefecture, that
reports that Gonnosuke was able to defeat Musashi in a rematch. Also at Tsukuba Shrine, it is said there is a treasury record of a 4-shaku 9-bu ōdachi (124cm large sword) donated by Musō Gonnosuke.
* An early English translation of Kaijō Monogatari suggested Gonnosuke used a staff and this became popularly cited in the West. However, the Kaijō Monogatari describes Gonnosuke fighting Musashi with a 四尺余り木刀 which concurs with Nitenki's account of a bokutō being used in the match, despite there being a discrepancy on its location.
is conducted in two person pre-arranged forms (kata). In Shintō Musō-ryū jō there are a total of 64 kata which are divided into a number of
sets, each with a different character and purpose.
Practitioners begin their study of jō by learning a set of twelve basic stick and sword techniques (kihon waza), which contain all the essential movements of the style. They then proceed through the different sets of kata of stick versus sword(s).
Although frequently misunderstood, this type of traditional partnered kata training is conducive to ingraining highly-developed patterns of principle into the trainee's body through an ongoing process of continuous repetition and correction.
It is often said within Koryū Bugei (classical schools of martial arts) that when all of the curriculum's body of kata become just one, practitioners are able to exit the forms and attain the ultimate state of unboundedness.
included in the curriculum of Shintō Musō-ryū are
twelve kata of the swordsmanship system called Shintō-ryū
Kenjutsu (pictured right). The first eight kata are long sword vs long
sword(s), followed by four kata that are short sword vs
addition to Shintō Musō-ryū jō and Shintō-ryū kenjutsu, a number of associated
arts are taught during an exponent's training.
These are considered assimilated arts within Shintō Musō-ryū and include
Uchida-ryū Tanjō (walking stick)
- Ikkaku-ryū Jutte (truncheon - pictured left)
- Isshin-ryū Kusarigama (ball, chain and sickle)
The separate roles of Uchidachi and Shidachi are used for all kata practice, however the true nature of the relationship between Uchidachi and Shidachi is not an adversarial or competitive one.
Rather the traditional role of Uchidachi, being the more experienced, skilled and senior practitioner, is that of the teacher who modestly guides and draws up Shidachi as a student, both technically and mentally, through an ongoing process of refinement and one-on-one interaction over time.
As such, the quality of Uchidachi makes all the difference to the outcome of training and why there's an old Japanese saying of "keep looking for a good teacher for three years rather than just learning for three years”.
In terms of Shintō Musō-ryū styles, we follow the lineage from Shimizu Takaji Shihan.
In Australia, our Dōjō has been uniquely exposed to the in-depth teachings of both Hamaji-ha and Nishioka-ha, and those useful and pertinent variations in both waza (techniques) and associated riai (underlying rationale) between Shimizu Shihan's first and last menkyo respectively.
Our Dōjōchō's involvement within the transmission and teachings for 20+ years, including all the assimilated arts, has been, predominantly, an exclusive result of the extensive one-on-one training with and uninterrupted personal instruction from Japanese Shihan (master teachers) during regular and ongoing travel to Japan.
Likewise, all densho documentation or catalogues (makimono) have been issued and received in person directly within Japan.
Training & Location
We hold full public liability and professional indemnity insurance through SportsCover Australia, and operate on a non-commercial (non-profit) basis with membership/insurance and training fee schedules that are intended to cover costs only, like venue hire and liability insurance.
Training should not be taken lightly, it's demanding and intense, and given the size of the entire curriculum it does require a dedicated commitment. It's suitable for a person without disability, regardless of gender or previous martial arts experience and there's a minimum age requirement of 18.
Of course, potential students are welcome to watch a training class and visit by prior arrangement.
Thursday 6:30pm - 8:00pm*
Sunday 3:00pm - 4:30pm*
* Member only classes - Visitors by appointment only
St Davids Hall
855 Logan Road
Dōjōchō: Greg Clarke
To arrange to visit us or to enquire about Shintō Musō-ryū jō and Shintō-ryū kenjutsu training, please don't hesitate to use our Nitojuku.com contact form: Click Here