The Way of the Stick
The Shindo Muso Ryu was founded nearly 400 years ago in about 1605. The founder Muso Gonnosuke Katsukichi was a warrior who first trained in the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu founded by Iizasa Choisai Ienano. In this, Muso Gonnosuke received the rank of Menkyo, a teaching license. He also trained in Kashima Jikishin Kage Ryu founded by Matsumoto Bizen no Kami. There it is said that he received the secrets of Ichi no Tachi ( first sword) a mainstay of that tradition.
According to legend, Muso Gonnosuke had gone to Edo (Tokyo) early in the Keicho period (1596-1614). There he matched his sword against many famous swordsman but was never defeated. One day, however, he fought Miyamoto Musashi, perhaps the best known warrior in Japanese history. Gonnosuke knew he had met his match when he found he could not escape from Musashi's Jujidome technique. This movement was the secret of Musashi's Niten Ichi Ryu and involves locking the opponents weapons in an X-shaped block using the Samurai's long and Short swords.
Because of his defeat, Gonnosuke travelled around the country and studied many different styles of martial arts, determined to become strong enough to overcome Musashi's Jujidome. This practice was known as Musha Shugyo (warrior austerities). After several years, he arrived in the province of Chikuzen and stopped at a town which is now called Dazaifu City, in Fukuoka Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu.
There he confined himself for 37 days in the Kamado Shrine on Mount Homan. One night he had a dream in which a divine messenger appeared in the form of a child and told him to "know the solar plexus with a round stick". Keeping his heaven-sent message in mind, Gonnosuke devised a new weapon. It was a simple stick approximately 30 cm longer than the average Japanese sword. Muso's stick is now what has become known as the Jo.
Gonnosuke went on to develop techniques for his stick based on his previous experience with a variety of older weapons. He incorporated the thrusting movements of the Spear (Yari), the sweeping movements of the halberd (Naginata), and the striking movements of the staff (Bo) and the sword (Tachi). With this weapon and its new techniques, the art of Jojutsu was born. The legend says that Gonnosuke went back to confront Musashi again and emerged victorious, overcoming Jujidome and inflicting the only defeat ever said to have been suffered by Musashi.
Muso Gonnosuke's growing reputation brought him to the attention of the Kuroda Clan in Fukuoka, and he was retained to instruct Jojutsu to the warriors under its control.
Over the course of his life, Gonnosuke eventually awarded teaching licenses to more than ten of the warriors. They and their successors carried on the tradition within the lands of the Kuroda family, who jealously guarded that art as a secret clan tradition.
Today Jodo is practiced worldwide and in Australia the art is developed under the auspices of the Australian Kendo Renmei.
Jodo is taught at Shingen Academy at Black Belt level only. Shihan Geordie is a Yondan (4th Dan) in Seitei Jodo and trains under Sensei Russell Lawrence at the Budokan Academy.