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 Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. Shintō
Musō-ryū oral tradition maintains that Gonnosuke once fought
Miyamoto Musashi, one of the most famous swordsmen of the
time, with a staff (bō) in a training match and was defeated
by Musashi's cross-block (jujidome) 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 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 weapon, which
he called a stick (jō) (as opposed to staff or bō), that
included the use of the thrust of a spear, strike of a sword
and staff and sweep of a naginata.
Factual documents of
the ryūgi are quite rare. It is said that there is
a record at Tsukuba Shrine, in Ibaraki Prefecture, that
reports that Gonnosuke was able to defeat Musashi in a rematch.
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.
Exponents 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, exponents 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.
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