This past week I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to talk and work with Sensei Jack Bieler of Denton TX on my jodo. The practice was sublime as usual, but this time I really had the feeling that Sensei was tailoring and directing his instruction right at me and my problems and foibles (I'm fairly sure that the other participants felt like they were receiving special attention from Jack too - he's that great a teacher!). Following is my list of notes and pointers from the jodo sessions. As usual, any mistakes or foolish misunderstandings are mine - not Jack's.
- Trust the kamae, when properly structured, to do what they were designed to do, either protect you and/or forestall Sword.
- Widen the feet a bit to counterbalance the jo
- Shochugeiko can mean "grip practice"(if stretched a bit, or made into a pun) ;-) - In honte the jo lies diagonally across both hands. In gyakute the jo lies in-line with the knuckles of both hands with the door-knocking knuckles of both hands on the 'edge' of the jo.
- Don't draw backward such that a lot of the jo lies behind you. Rather, stretch forward to encompass the jo so that most of it stays in front of you.
- Honte is honte - weaponize the jo before you use it - The jo must be in honte before you apply leg/body power. Don't use leg power to lift the jo, use arm power to lift and position (weaponize) the jo, then apply leg/body power through it.
- Jodan is jodan - both of these positions (honte and jodan) recur throughout the art, and their structure and use should be uniform.
- Tsukizue and monomi are mirror images of each other in several ways - one steps forward to the right, the other back to the left. Both control/threaten the entire centerline. One applies kuzushi into the back heel, the other applies kuzushi into the front toes.
- Hikiotoshi - set kamae so that jo lies in proper plane before you start. Throw the stick using front-hand grip power. Back hand has to follow rather than propel b/c when back hand propels, the body stops and you can't catch up with your own jo in time. Contact near middle of jo and twist hips so that the back heel comes up. Stretch yourself forward almost into sutemi, then step. Project the sword 3'x6' behind, as in sumiotoshi. must control Sword's hips. In paired practice, responding to this gives Sword practice in tsugiashi and ayumiashi.
- A cool drill - Sword drops his tip a bit so that hikiotoshi misses and Sword takes control of chudan. Jo bounces off ground and reverses path, sweeping sword from below and controlling centerline with honte (this feels like tsubamegaeshi to me) - this comes from the end of Ranai.
- Hold the kamae without bobbling if Sword disappears.
- Hiding in the shadow of the jo - as in gyakutezuki, etc...
Incidentally, re. the italics above -
"Back hand has to follow rather than propel b/c when back hand propels, the body stops and you can't catch up with your own jo in time."
This was Sensei Bob Rea's same lesson to us re. okuriashibarai! the following foot has to follow and must not propel, because you stop and lose timing with uke when you try to propel! The synchronicity between instructors at this seminar was incredible!
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