Portuguese staff fencing in Brisbane, Australia
Isn’t Jodo a Japanese martial art?
Yes, it is. Jōdō is the modern Japanese ‘way of the jo’ or stick, which is derived from older methods of Jojutsu.
Portuguese Jogo do Pau (which employs a 1.5m to 1.6m long staff) is not related to Japanese Jodo in any way. ‘Jogo’ in Portuguese means ‘game’ or ‘technique’ and ‘pau’ means stick, so ‘Jogo do Pau’ can be roughly translated as ‘game of the stick.’
I’ve read that Jogo do Pau originated in India, is that true?
Probably not. There are some visible similarities between Jogo do Pau and various other staff arts such as Canarian Juego del Palo, French Bâton, Italian Bastone, North African Tahtib and Indian Silambam.
Any similarities are, however, more simply explained by independent parallel development than by a single source of origin theory. The physical capabilities and limitations of both people and similar forms of weapon will typically result in some visibly similar techniques.
Why practice with staves today when people don’t carry them around?
We primarily practice Jogo do Pau for the same reasons other people practice other martial arts and sports such as Kendo and modern sport Fencing: for fun and competition while preserving a fascinating cultural activity and getting some exercise with friends at the same time.
Swinging a two-handed hardwood staff around through the motions of striking and parrying transitions is a also good form of exercise for the whole body. For those with a competitive streak, fencing an opponent with staves is a challenging and rewarding sport in its own right.
Is Jogo do Pau practice dangerous?
Not when practiced carefully and responsibly by suitably fit people, under proper guidance from an experienced instructor. All martial arts practice (and any form of physical exercise) involves risks, weapon-based martial arts especially so, but these risks can be mitigated with proper care, control, attitude and equipment.
Jogo do Pau has been practiced relatively safely in Portugal for centuries with minimal protective equipment. Although most routine practice is conducted without any protective equipment, we do employ some (such as masks, jackets, and gloves) when the speed and intensity demands it. The most important safety measures, however, are a positive attitude and respect for our training partners.
Will unarmed techniques, such as kicking or wrestling, be practiced?
No. While there is certainly significant value in practicing unarmed martial arts independently, within Jogo do Pau practice sessions the focus is on using the staff to remain outside unarmed striking and grappling ranges as far as possible.
How much does it cost?
One of the advantages of Jogo do Pau practice over some other weapon-based martial arts and modern sport fencing is the relatively low cost of entry for beginners.
To start with, you’ll just need yourself, some athletic clothing suitable for outdoor practice, and a 1.5m timber staff (contact us for specific details before you buy a staff). We will be able to lend you a staff when you first begin.
Eventually you’ll need to invest in some specific gear and protective equipment for more intense training and free play, but that won’t be necessary for a while.
Outdoor training sessions are free, whilst indoor sessions held within the Collegium in Armis training hall attract the normal training fees for those classes to help cover the hall hire.
Can anyone join and participate?
Due to the nature of Jogo do Pau practice you need to be at least 18 years old to participate. You’ll also need to have a basic level of fitness and mobility that permits you to safely practice fencing with the staff without endangering yourself or your training partners.
How do I get started?
If you are interested in learning more or trying Jogo do Pau out for yourself, email us at jdpbne(at)gmail.com.