What is Goju-Ryu Karate?
The literal translation of the Japanese term Goju is “hard/soft” - go meaning hard and ju meaning soft. Ryu means school, thus Goju-Ryu is the hard/soft school of Karate.
Goju-Ryu Karate is one of the four original Okinawan styles of Karate, and was founded by Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953). Sensei Miyagi had spent years in China training with the Chinese masters of White Crane style Kung Fu before returning to Okinawa to formulate what is now known as Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate Do.
Traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate has a very pure lineage.
Gojo-Ryu Karate is a traditional martial art that was handed down from the founder Sensei Chojun Miyagi to his student Sensei Anichi Miyagi and then to Sensei Morio Higaonna in an unbroken line, which means the art has not been diluted or embellished through the generations like many other martial arts have. Instead, Goju-Ryu Karate persists as a highly effective fighting system today. It is not a sport style of Karate but offers its students a practical method of self defence in any situation.
Characteristics of Goju-Ryu Karate
Goju-Ryu Karate has a great variety of hand and foot techniques and employs hard and soft techniques with both circular and linear movements. Particular emphasis is placed on strengthening the body and mind with supplementary exercises.
The basic idea of the hard and soft style is use a soft blocking technique to block a hard strike or to deflect the strike rather than to meet force with force. Likewise, when attacking, Goju-Ryu employs a hard technique against a soft target and vice versa. For example, in Okinawan Goju-Ryu a palm heel strike (using the relatively soft palm heel of the hand) is often used to strike something hard like the head. Another example for the hard/soft aspect is a kick (hard) into the groin (soft).
Japanese counting in karate
In most Karate styles, techniques are performed ten times, and it is common use in dojos all over the world to count in Japanese. Just like the bowing, counting in Japanese is a characteristic of Karate.
As a student, you should learn to count in Japanese out loud too, because the time will come when you are giving commands to fellow students (or because you have become a Karate instructor yourself), so you better know how to count in the way Sensei does. Students are familiar to his type of counting in Japanese and will be less startled or giggly if they hear the commands in a familiar way.
Counting and demonstrating
As an instructor, you will find that Japanese counting, performing a technique, and watching your students at the same time is quite demanding and can get you puffed and out of breath in no time.
Important points here: Do the techniques slowly, and count BEFORE you do the techniques. Your students are conditioned to do the technique when they hear the command. Thus, you must not start yourself with your own technique until you have completed the command.
Doing a repetition of 10 techniques is not a race against the clock. You won’t win a medal for rushing through it quickly. The slower you do it, the more people can concentrate on doing each individual technique with power, speed and precision. THAT is what you want to teach them, not to have them rush through it, leaving you breathless in the process.
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