The jo staff is a wooden staff used in many forms of Japanese martial arts kobudo, such as jujitsu. The form of martial arts that uses a jo staff is called jojutsu, or jodo. The jo staff is a little more than four feet in length made entirely out of wood.
This weapon is used similar to that of a sword or other stave. The jo staff can be made pretty quickly from various trees, and thick branches. This is one advantage fighters had that swordsmen didn’t. If there came a time to fight, a jo staff could easily be manufactured.
The jo staff is a shorter version of the bo staff, another Japanese weapon. It is said that in the early 1600s, a samurai warrior named Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi came up with the idea after he was defeated in a duel by the famous Musashi, but not killed. His weapon of choice at the time was a bo staff, but it was too long. So through deep mediation while in the mountains, he came up with the jo staff which is about two feet shorter than the bo staff. After he started using the jo staff, it is said that Muso was never defeated in a duel again.
Studying the Jo Staff
There are two branches of modern study of the jo staff. One is called koryu, or ‘old school’ jodo. The other branch is called seitei jodo. Jojutsu has also been modified for the Japanese police force, referred to as keijo-jutsu or as police stick art.