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The heart of the jo

There is an old aphorism... "The heart of the jo is an arrow."
I enjoy aphorisms like this because they are frequently multi-faceted.  One can often draw multiple lessons from a statement like this.
In a purely superficial sense, one could take this to mean that both are long, cylindrical wooden objects, with the jo a bit larger, such that the arrow could fit within the jo, or that one could perhaps carve an arrow out of a jo.
More usefully and instructively, I've always taken this to mean that it is just the very tip that is the sweet spot for striking - that the rest of the jo is a delivery vehicle for the tip - just like in an arrow, the shaft and fletching is the delivery vehicle for the arrowhead.  One of my instructors was fond of calling the jo a "one-inch long weapon with a fifty-inch long handle."
You can also glean from this aphorism that, just like an arrow, the jo is not useful unless it is pointed at the opponent.
This past weekend I learned another interpretation of this aphorism.  An arrow is not immediately useful unless it is fitted to a bow and drawn - that is, placed under tension.  In the same way, the SMR jo is frequently compressed between the practitioner's hands so that to thrust or strike with it, just like with an arrow, you release it.
The jo is not just being held in position by the hands, it is being actively propelled by one hand and restrained by the other, sort of like pressing both the brake and the accelerator in your car at the same time.
Whenever both ends of the jo are palmed, the hands are squeezing toegther, compressing the jo, almost as if the jo is straining to leap forward into the heart of the enemy and the only things holding it back are the jodoka's front hand and his will.

Patrick Parker

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