Posts Tagged goju ryu
You know, Karate sometimes gets a bad rap these days. You see all the MMA guys trashing their opponents, and you wonder why, if Karate is so good, you don’t see it in the octagon. The reason, of course, is the problem with Classical Karate training methods.
In traditional karate classes students are lined up in a mass, and they kick and punch and do everything as one unit. This is fine, for beginners. The sad fact, however, is that one rapidly travels through being a beginner, and then needs to have a different teaching method.
Class exercises are fine to warm up, but there is no real exchange of information going on between teacher and student. Oh, you think that everything is in the forms, that you just need to do the forms and enlightenment will burst upon you? Well, true to a certain extent, but there is also the fact that if you hold to this opinion too hard you are saying that karate is for stupid people.
Oh, I’m serious. Look, Karate, be it goju or shotokan or uechi ryu or whatever, depends on physics. And, once a person has mastered the first set of physics, there is a second set of physics pertinent to the mind and the spirit. But, because of antiquated training methods, methods that were used to control unruly children (not teach them) nobody in the martial arts really knows what the second set of physics is.
Let me take one point and blow it up a bit. I had a student who had the most terrible form, and he had taken a year of classical martial arts training. He was terrible, but-smile in the eyes of his teachers-he was rigid.
So his shoulders overextended, his body was always turned the wrong way, his punches wouldn’t hurt a six year old girl, but he was deemed good because he was rigid. All his muscles locked into place at the execution of technique. And, you can see this same tendency on any number of youtube Karate videos.
Now, one of the first rules of combat is, ‘a sitting duck is a dead duck.’ Heck, the reason that bully told you to stand still and face him was because he wanted a stationary target. And this goes against the real karate somebody would learn if they could get past the rigid, no information instruction that is offered in nearly every karate class in the world.
Real Karate is liquid, and the focus points are so short they can’t be perceived, and the karateka is able to move in any direction without preparation or telegraphing. True Karate is like a whip, and only the fist tightens, and that momentarily when it smacks through some fool’s face. Karate is a study in motion, not in rigidity, and that is just one of the problems with Classical Karate Training.
If you want to see some excellent karate, check out my Temple Karate DVDs. I’m old, I’ve been doing classical karate for over forty years, but I’ve still got some liquid left in me. There are eleven forms, with TONS of self defense applications.
At first I thought it was my teaching, and maybe it was, but what it really was was that the guy wanted a more classical approach.
And, I am sure he didn’t want to take privates and spend money, he preferred the small monthly class fees.
I saw him a year later, he wasn’t very good. It wasn’t the fault of the system, he just wasn’t very good.
The upshot of this is that I began examining Goju. I found it interesting.
I found the two man drills quite nifty. I found a couple of things about the system disturbing.
Breathing is important, but you should base the system around it. You should install the breathing, make sure it was being done correctly, and just check it periodically. But in Goju they were breathing and breathing, and it seemed that breathing was more important than fighting. I know I’m overstating it, but the point is there.
And, I found a couple of other things that disturbed me. Specifically, the toe out horse stance.
I heard a high ranking master explain the toe out horse stance once: it makes the small of the back soft.
Whoneeds a soft small of the back? What is the point of that? And I’ve never found an explanation for this. PerhapsI shall some day. Perhaps someone will comment on this blog and take me to task. That’s cool. If I learn something I certainly would welcome being taken to task. Until then, the excessive breathing, and the funky horse stance are things I’ve handled in Matrix Karate. In fact, you can take Matrixing and fix Goju ryu, if you wish. Nothign wrong with the system at heart, just needs some tweaks of physics. Anyway, checkout Monster Martial Arts, particularly Matrix Karate. Who knows, you might be the one to fix Goju ryu.
Goju Ryu Karate is the invention of Chojun Miyagi. That’s right, all you Karate Kid Aficionados, there really was a Mr. Miyagi. Interestingly, however, the real Mr. Miyagi was not a Karate purist.
I’ll tell you about this after the video.
Most people think of the founder of an art as pure, he studied only one style, and never dabbled. This is because of the true believer mentality inherent in many people who learn one thing, and hold to it as the most important thing ever learned in the history of mankind. The founders of martial arts systems, however, are a varied bunch; Aikido, Kung Fu, Taekwondo or whatever, the founders invariably studied many arts before settling on the method they thought was best.
Miyagi’s initial training in the martial arts was under Ryuko Aragaki. a neighbor of his, who was considered quite the fighter. Miyagi must have done well, for Aragaki introduced him to his teacher Kanryo Higashionna. Miyagi had 3-5 years of martial arts training at the time.
For thirteen years Miyagi studied with Higashionna. Higashionna was considered to be one of the foremost Karate men of the time, and he was renowned for his Sanchin Kata. He was fond of standing and letting up to four men push on him, and holding his ground.
After thirteen years Higashionna died, and Miyagi decided that to move on in the martial arts, he would have to study with the people who trained his teacher. Thus, he made the pilgrimage to Fujian province in China, where he studied Shaolin and Pa Kua Chang.
Now Miyagi was accomplished in both hard and soft style martial arts. He returned to Okinawa and taught his system, eventually choosing a name from the bible of Karate, the Bubishi. The name was goju–’hard/soft.’
The Gojo system is thus based on hard karate, but illustrates a development of hard to soft. There are hard blocks, and yet there are drills and concepts which take the student into the softer aspects of the martial arts. Being a full bodied martial art, the style became one of the few Karate styles to rival the mainstream karate of Funakoshi.
In the final assessment, Goju is a strong system. It has resulted in the systems of Jundokan, Meibukan, Shorei kan and isshinryu. But the strength of the system lies not solely in Karate, but in the strivings of a man to understand both the hard and the soft, and who then formulated the Goju Ryu Karate System. If you want to learn the truth about Karate, check out Matrix Karate at Monster Martial Arts.
The Art of Karate may be analogized to three bottles.
First, when you learn a classical art, like Shotokan or Goju or Uechi…it is like crawling up the inside of a bottle. The closer you get to the top, the harder the climb, yet the more sky you see.
Second, breaking bottles requires a higher degree of skill and artistry. You must stand an empty bottle and chop at the neck. The angle of the chop and the construction of the glass make a break possible. Make sure you have practiced much before you do this, and be careful not to cut your hands. If you want a good example of this, just check out the first karate kid movie. Though it is just a movie, it does show the art.
Third, digging up a bottle is…an entire article. So simply do a search for the title of this article…’Digging through the Soil of Human Experience…and the Perfect Karate Punch.’ Guaranteed, it is worth it.
Get an absolutely free martial arts book at Monster Martial Arts. It’s at the top left of the home page.
I like Karate as a first art because it is solid in the basics. Later, when you have experience, it’s fun to twist the basics, create different types of energy, learn sneaky ways of bashing somebody. But, in the beginning, Karate is the best. Straightforward power that can out kick a donkey, out slam a gorilla, and is just plain fun!
If I had not learned this as my first art, I would not be where am today. The basics, the foundation; a solid point upon which to stand, was essential to me as a martial artist. Few people truly understand what the basics are, let alone how important they are. Karate taught me all of this and I finished the program with confidence that I could apply what I had learned.
It’s true that people don’t understand what basics are. Take a look at the Pan Gai Noon Sanchin form. Goku does it for breathing, Shotokan does it for technique, uechi does it for dynamic tension…and they all are only partially right. Ground the weight, turn on the tan tien, and put the energy in the hands. The other theories are all right, but they miss the boat if they don’t concentrate on these three principles, and just these three principles.
Here’s a vid snip of me teaching Sanchin to my son many years ago. Karate was his first martial art, and it saved his life. Literally. Take a look at the columns at Monster Martial Arts and you’ll come across the tale.
Talk to you later.