The Jo Kata is a practice done with a wooden staff known as a “jo.” It comes from traditional Japanese martial arts and is part of Aikido training. We use it at SJL not because we are martial arts students, but because it is an effective practice for developing self-awareness and for embodying new skills and qualities. Acting from Center, one of SJL’s Five Core Practices of Effective Leadership for Social Justice, is about engaging life and work from the place where we have the most balance, poise and power. It’s about responding to the pressures we face intentionally based on what we most care about, rather than reacting unconsciously in ways that are not aligned with our purpose and values. The Jo Kata is a great practice for building a centered presence, accessing our full power as leaders, building both steadiness and agility, and learning to work in coordination with others. We do this practice not for its own sake, but because it can help us achieve our goals for our own development, and our broader goals for social justice.
SJL staff were introduced to the Jo Kata primarily by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, director of the Strozzi Institute in Petaluma California. The videos in this section are his. They offer an introduction to the Jo Kata as he uses it at the Strozzi Institute. He is an advanced practitioner of Aikido, and in these videos he practices the Jo Kata in a dojo in the tradition of Aikido. We do it less formally in our office, in a nearby park, or wherever we can find a safe and suitable space. If you want to take up this practice, we encourage you to find a teacher. Good luck!