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The Jo in Taiho-Jutsu

In recent news events seen in video and photos, we view police using 4' staffs to control and disperse crowds. In the U.S., law enforcement agencies most commonly utilize the 24" or the 36" batons for crowd control/ disbursement. The 48" staff (the Jo) is not used. The question arises; do some of these foreign law enforcement agencies know something we don't? If so, should the Jo be incorporated into the basic Taiho-Jutsu course? Prior to further discussion, let me say that I'm biased in this area. The Jo is probably my favorite weapon. I teach it, genuinely enjoy it, and know the weapon.

The first thing to look at is the actual length of the Jo. At 48", it would seem most impractical for the officer on foot patrol to carry, and only the trunk of one's car would really house the weapon. Similarly, its length does not make it practical for correctional officers to employ. The same holds true for security guards, detectives, et al. One could argue that if used only for crowd and riot control, there would be no need for anyone other than SWAT-type units to carry the weapon, and at those times, it is almost always in a vehicle. On the other hand, there are times when the crowd duties require regular, non-specialized officers to become involved.

Another question is "what advantage does the Jo have over the 36" baton (hanbo or tanjo) in these areas?" In the footage seen on video from overseas, the police seem to be using the Jo as a long club, swinging it high overhead and clubbing the intended victim. While the victim may well be an assailant deserving of arrest, there seems to be wisdom lacking in hitting him/her with a 4' staff.


There are numerous techniques which may be used with the Jo. Included are striking, blocking, takedowns, and restraints. The strikes are rather harsh, and done with two hands, adding to the power behind the weapon. The 36" riot baton may be used with one or two hands. When used with both hands, the techniques generally consist of blocking and "pushing" moves, rather than power strikes. Force may be justified when threatened with force, armed or unarmed, but it seems the 36" baton can do nearly all the 48" Jo can do in these specific situations.

There is, additionally, the vital issue of proper training. Even if departments would authorize the 48" Jo for use, the training necessary for its proper and efficient use is more than departments could offer. The training for unarmed techniques is lacking, and for baton use so minimal it is almost dangerous. How much more so would this be the case with the Jo, given the above information?

In conclusion, it would seem that even with this very brief look at the topic, the incorporation of the Jo into the Taiho-Jutsu basic course would be too impractical, and not be advocated, despite its use oversees.

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