Goju Ryu Karate is one of Japan’s principal styles of traditional karate and includes a mix of soft as well as hard techniques. The term “Go” means “hard” in Japanese, and is a reference to the use of straight, continuous attacks or closed hand movements. “Ju” stands for “soft” and is a reference to circular movements and open hand methods used to attack, block or control the opponent while in a fight.
As is evident from the name, Goju Ryu incorporates both hard and soft techniques – the hard linear attacks like closed punches, kicks and the like are combined with softer techniques like locks, throws, grappling and other similar moves. Goju Ryu primarily comprises two “kata”, or forms as they are called in Chinese martial arts, – the Sanchin and Tensho kata.
Sanchin kata lays special stress on breathing properly while the Tensho kata is more focused on teaching the softer techniques. Overall, the training includes exercises for conditioning and strengthening the body, learning the correct reactions to combat (for example how to generate power, how much distance to keep etc). Partner drills form another important aspect of Goju Ryu.
Major philosophies associated with Goju Ryu
According to founder Chojun Miyagi, Goju Ryu has a holistic nature and is not to be taken only as a form of combat sport. He believed that Goju Ryu radically aims at building character, conquering human misery and eventually finding spiritual freedom.
He philosophized that self-defense training should ideally be accompanied with mental training, and that that intellect cultivation was more important than strength cultivation.
Accordingly Goju Ryu – the combination of hard and soft – must be applied not only to karate but also applied to life.
To understand life and live it in a fulfilling manner requires a balance between hardness and softness. Even today, the majority of Goju Ryu schools stay in coherence with founder Miyagi’s philosophy and include it in the training curriculum.
As a club, we believe that true karate involves natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body.
This is the core teaching of Zen, the basis of Bushido, and our philosophy within the Goju Ryu Karate Kobudo Kenshikai club.
Kata in Goju Ryu training
Traditionally, the Goju Ryu training curriculum included twelve fundamental forms, or kata. Before progressing to the higher stage of sandan, students are required to be proficient in each of the twelve kata, which are two forms of gekisai, suparenpai, saifa, tensho, seiyunchin, sanchin, seisan, kururunfa, saipai, sanseiru as well as shisochin.
To help students be well versed with the practical applications of a kata, each is followed by a fighting drill for two people to practise their skills. Known as bunkai oyo, these drills help students hone their attacking or defending skills, establishing effective rhythm and flow, and also practise dangerous moves on an opponent under the safe guidance of a supervisor.
Typically, Sanchin is considered to be the foundation for all other kata. It is regarded as the most important of the 12 kata and is a must for a student to master. It can be considered a form of moving meditation – the one that aims to unify the three principal forces of the body, mind and spirit. Considering how important this kata is, trainers perform Sanchin techniques slowly to enable students to effectively develop the correct breathing technique, posture, movements, internal strength and also attain a stability of the body and mind.
Benefits of learning Goju Ryu Karate
The martial art form of Goju Ryu has several benefits to offer to those that practise it, here are some of them:
- Improved Physical Health: Practitioners of Goju –Ryu Karate undergo rigorous training that develops their flexibility, dexterity and strength, and also improves blood pressure and blood circulation in the body. It also cultivates the habit of regular exercise, a must in today’s sedentary lifestyle.
- Improved Mental Health: Goju-Ryu karate teaches its practitioners discipline and respect and the ability to maintain calm and tranquility at all times and in all situations. The improved physical fitness also contributes to a healthy state of the mind, which is a key requirement to success in all walks of life in general.
- Improved Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: the ability to effectively defend oneself against threat combined with the heightened physical and mental state attained by practitioners of Goju-Ryu karate inspire a sense of self-confidence and raise one’s self-esteem. This new found self-confidence permeates into other areas of one’s life and provides invaluable benefits.
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