The Aikido Jo, the staff of Aikido, can certainly be used as a tool to improve your empty-handed techniques.
Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei spent many years in Iwama, Japan experimenting with the Aikido Ken (sword) and Aikido Jo (staff). One of his main students at that time, Morihiro Saito, witnessed this process and was one of Morihei's main uke (receiver of technique).
The study and practice of weapons was a long-term passion of Morihei's. He only allowed Morihiro Saito Sensei’s Aikikai Hombu Dojo classes to include weapons practise. Morihei didn't teach weapons at Hombu dojo!
Using weapons in Aikido training can add an element of intensity to your practice, that forces you to focus your mind. Also, You'll be able to understand important principles of aikido movement and technique.
The staff of Aikido was used by Morihei to teach aiki principles. Aiki-jo is similar to jodo as both involve using the staff like a ken (sword). But it has a very different aim and feel.
Jodo techniques are usually faster and sharper because it uses straighter attacks and defenses. Aikido jo techniques are slower and softer because circular movements blend more harmoniously with attacks and defenses.
Jo is available in white or red oak, but
also comes in different types of wood, even laminate, because of the different types of uses for the aikido staff.
example Instructors teach it for... weapons taking practise, correct
distance and timing practise, and learning the 31 jo kata moves. All of
these exclude any contact so softer woods can be used.
Instructors also include light contact and full contact, so harder wood
or laminate is used. This is because the softer woods will split and get
damaged, and constant replacement becomes expensive.
I personally use a Japanese made white oak Jo, which I find excellent for solo drills and partner practise.
Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrates the 31 jo kata that O-Sensei taught him. He also shows how each of the movements are used.
I recommend you check out Saito Sensei's videos. By analyzing
his moves you can gain some insights... look for the positioning and ki in his technique.
When you practise your own 31 Aikido Jo kata, feel yourself being attacked as you perform each movement. Try and sense which moves are the most useful.
Want to avoid or prevent many of the problems
and setbacks that may come up in your Aikido practise? Do you want to learn in the fastest possible time?
Of course you do!
Just follow these
1 - First of all develop a good level of physically fitness.
2 - Work on relaxing your body, and loosening up your joints.
3 - Then, plenty of practise on stretching and flexibility.
4 - Develop your general muscle strength, speed, and power.
5 - Learning important nutritional needs and remedies.
6 - Then study and learn techniques in a focused way!
This is covered in step-by-step detail in Aikido Success Blueprint A massive collection of info... ideal for beginners, seasoned students, and instructors.