The 31 jo kata – I have a kind of a love-hate relationship learning this. I love it because practicing the 31 jo kata forces me to be more aware of my posture, balance and extension of the self through the jo. But when done badly, it can be disastrous because it could lead to ingraining oneself to a level of complacency, if you are unable to “autocorrect” yourself (does that makes sense??). Which is why I feel that weapons training is the hardest for me to grasp. I do believe that in order to achieve a sense of control of the self, my mind and the weapon must be as one. Sensei always advise us to set a certain goal when we are training. This is to make our training more purpose-driven as we discipline ourselves to strive to work towards a certain goal. In my own way, I used my 31 jo kata practice as part of my personal quest to truly understand the principles of the ‘square, circle and triangle’ in Aikido. There are moments during training when I try to consciously visualise each of these 3 shapes to understand the movements of the entire body.
“The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolises serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.”
O Sensei (Taken from: http://www.koshinkan-aikido.co.uk/)
O Sensei used the three principles to help his students understand the concepts of the movements and techniques used in what they are learning. My Sensei’s advice to us was whenever we practice the 31 jo kata on our own, it is imperative that we inculcate a sense of discipline, focus and purpose in our movements.