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The beginning of the Chinese Art of Kempo
Budhidharma was a well-known monk who spent nine years at Shaolin Temple, in the Sanshan Mountain of China. According to legend, Budhidharma was born in India about 1400 years ago, the third child of King Sugandhain, and a member of the warrior cast. He is believed to have arrived at the foot of the Sanshan Mountains, in Hunan province in China around 520AD to lecture there on Buddhism. He spent his days in meditation facing the wall of a cave, which was located in the vicinity of the temple. After nine years of meditation, Bodhidharma set forth methods of exercise to be practiced by monks to strengthen both mind and body. He introduced a series of physical exercise, consisting of 18 katas. He developed a series of exercises and breathing techniques to enable one’s body to withstand the long hours of meditation and other severe forms of training. He explained in “Senzuikyo” how monks would develop their mental and spiritual strength toward the same end. These instructions are still respected as the most fundamental precepts of present day Karate-do. However, the influence of Bodhidharma is not certain. The Shaolin Monks of that time recognized the importance of physical exercise as part of their daily routine. Several katas of GoJu Ryu are written with numerals. These are Sesan (13 hands), Sepai (18 hands), Sanseiru (36 hands), and Suparumpei (108 hands). Some of these numbers may relate to Buddhism. This suggests there may have been some Buddhist influence on the development of Karate.
The native art of “te” was practiced secretly among the Okinawan people long before Chinese Kempo was introduced into Okinawa. The introduction of Chinese Kempo was first mentioned in a historical document written in 1372 during the reign of King Sato. But most likely, it was with the beginning of trade between Okinawa and China that the Okinawan people first came across the Chinese art of Kempo. When Chinese Kempo was introduced into Okinawa it was taken up as bare handed combat form by the Okinawans as a means of defense and not as an exercise for health. The development of barehanded fighting in Okinawa was directly influenced by the country’s turbulent political history. Many masters of Karate who have studied the history of Asian martial arts believe that the native Okinawan art of “te” was combined with the Chinese art of Kempo giving rise to the art of Karate. In Okinawa, the threat of foreign influences is carefully studied. These influences were woven into the fabric of Okinawan culture. Similarly, the art of barehanded combat was studied by the Okinawans and developed into the sophisticated martial art of Karate.
The development of Karate in Okinawa
Historical records provide us with some of the names of those who left their mark on the development of martial arts in Okinawa. In 1683, during the reign of King Sho Tei, a Chinese delegate named Wanshu, who was sent by the Chinese Emperor to Okinawa, stayed in an Okinawan village called Tomari. During his stay there, he taught the villagers a certain kata of Chinese Kempo. After Master Wanshu left Okinawa, the villagers of Tomari continued to practice the kata and named it after him. Today, Wanshu kata is still practiced as a kata of Tomari-te.
Kusanku is another Chinese Kempo master mentioned in the records. Kusanku and some of his pupils traveled to Okinawa in 1756 and taught Chinese Kempo to Okinawans. This is mentioned in a Japanese book known as “Oshima Hikki.” A Japanese, named Tobe Ryoen, who was shipwrecked on the Ryukyu Island, wrote this book. This is the first mention of any Okinawan karate in a Japanese record of any sort. Like Wanshu, the name of Kusanku still remains as the name of Shuri-te Kata.
The founder of Naha-te, the Grand Master Higaonna Kanryo Sensei, went to Fukien province in China to study Chinese martial arts in 1875. Higaonna Kanryo Sensei spent 15 years in China in mastering the martial arts.
As we have seen, three different styles of “Te” existed in Okinawa, namely, Tomari-te, Shuri-te, and Naha-te. These were simply named after the villages where the styles were practiced. As a general term, they were called “Todei” or “Karate,” in Japanese characters, meaning “Chinese Hand.” However, it is important to note that these three villages are in very close proximity.
The difference in the three styles is one of emphasis. Beneath the superficial differences, all of the Okinawan martial artists are one in the same in method and aim. This reflects the fact that all the Okinawan martial arts share the same purpose: “self – defense.” Among the students of various Okinawan martial arts, there exists respect and friendship for each other.
The establishment of Naha-te
During the first half of the twentieth century the names of the various karate styles changed. The style, known as, “Shuri-te” and “Tomari-te” were combined under one name known as “Shorin Ryu.” “Naha-te” late became known as GoJu Ryu (The Hard and Soft School). The founder of GoJu Ryu, Miyagi Chojun Sensei applied this name, GoJu Ryu, in 1931, who was a student of Higannoa Kanryo Sensei. Miyagi Chojun Sensei’s senior disciple, Shinzato Jin’an Sensei, gave a performance of kata at the All Japan Martial Arts Tournament, which was held to celebrate the Coronation Ceremony of Emperor Hirohito in 1930. After his performance, a master of Kobudo (Traditional martial arts) asked Shinzato Sensei which school of Karate he belonged to, Shinzato Sensei could not answer that question for at that time there was no need to have a name for each karate style.
When Shinzato Sensei went back to Okinawa, he told Miyagi Sensei about the encounter. Miyagi Sensei thought about this problem for a while. Finally, he decided that it was necessary to have a name for his martial art style in order to promote and spread his system and also in order to cooperate with other schools of Japanese martial arts. Miyagi Chogun Sensei then named his art “GoJu Ryu,” after the precepts of traditional Chinese Kempo. In 1933, the Japanese Martial Arts Committee known as the Butoku Kai recognized the Okinawan art of Karate as a Japanese martial art. Miyagi Chojun Sensei conferred to decide a new name for their art. They decided to call their art Karate written in Japanese characters (Empty hand or weaponless defense art). Some Masters called their art Karate-do that means “the way of karate.”
Later several styles developed from one style. Shorin Ryu diverged into several slightly different styles. But GoJu Ryu remained basically stylistically unified. In mainland Japan, GoJu Ryu developed into an organization called “GoJu Kai.” A style also developed which combined GoJu Ryu and Shorin Ryu called “Shito Ryu.” Karate is no longer an exclusively Okinawan martial art form. Karate today is firmly established as a martial art form in Japan and in the international martial arts community. Consequently, the spread of karate has led to a divergence in methods and objectives in the practice of karate. The four major systems of Karate in Japan are GoJu Ryu, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu, and Shotokan.
GoJu in the USA
Grand Master Peter Urban Ph.D. Sc. D. (1935-) is one of America’s predominant karate instructors and pioneers. Master Peter Urban introduced Japanese GoJu Ryu Karate to the U.S. in 1959, and was one of the firsts to teach Karate in the eastern U.S. He began training at 18, in Japan, with Richard Kim, later with Gogen Yamaguchi and Mas Oyama. Master Peter Urban resigned in 1966 as East Coast GoJu Representative. He later broke away and formed his own American GoJu System and Association, (U.S.A.G.A.). O’Sensei Peter Urban received the academic degree of Doctor of Science in Polemikology, in September 1995, from the Eurotechnical Research University. He’s a member of the International Advisory Board and Chairman of the Educational Advisory Committee. Finally, the Kojasho Institute, (Kojasho Shinkokai) a college within the University structure bestowed him with their highest honor by posting him to the faculty, as a full professor, and member of the Advisory Board of Directors.
The U.S.A. GoJu System was propagated on the basis that the universe is constant change teaching and developing man’s phenomenal ability to adapt to any environment and situation. U.S.A. GoJu teaches that only through systematic logic, will you achieve your goals. Using as a basis Japanese GoJu and Zen Buddhism, GoJu embraces many systems and many philosophies. Zen-psycho therapy is used in that potential to the maximum. GoJu literally means Hard Soft, following the thought that the universe is made up of equal yet opposite matter: man – woman, fire – water, hard – soft, etc., thus, U.S.A. GoJu is in accord with the laws of nature. You can see the laws of nature at work in the block soft, hit hard theory of GoJu. Only through the constant seeking of knowledge and hard work will you know the true meaning of GoJu.
“You must fight with feeling! It is of the utmost importance that you fight with feeling, not just for reason alone. When a fight begins, the reason why it started is no longer important, you must then deal with the here and now. That is why it is vital to draw from all the resources of your being.”
“Always remember, to the true martial artist the words try and impossible do not exist. When you make up your mind to do something, you must do it with everything you’ve got.”
“When you are tired and feel that you cannot go on any longer, that is where true karate begins.”
There are three different opponents you will go against: the inferior, the equal, and the superior. You must train always to meet the superior opponent. You must prepare yourself to bring him down. Never be afraid to die; death is always with us. It is an inevitable part of life itself. Death is our companion, not our enemy. The real challenge that we must all face is found in combating life, not running from death. Remember the power to better yourself in life. We only find rest when we lay down our task of living and finally succumb to death.
A true karate-ka is one with the God-like capacity to think and feel for others, irrespective of his or her rank or position. A mind so delicate that it lifts him above all things ignoble and base yet strengthens his hands to raise those whom have fallen no matter how low. The ultimate aim of Karate therefore lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.
ETIQUETTE WITHIN THE DOJO SOCIETY
RULES OF THE ROAD
In any karate dojo, one of the most important rules of etiquette is behavior.
Since by nature we all learn by trial and error, many things will be forgiven in a dojo, but bad behavior is definitely not one of them. This rule applies to every student within the dojo society regardless of their rank, in fact the higher the rank, the less tolerance there is for any breach of etiquette what so ever. Starting with the “sensei” or “teacher” down through the “sempai’s” or “assistant teachers” in the black belt ranks, and then finally through the “kyu” or colored belts, it is the responsibility of each student to make sure that those who follow in their foot steps, do so with the highest possible level of personal behavior.
ENTERING THE DOJO
The first lesson you will ever learn once you have been accepted into any karate school is how to enter and exit the “dojo” or “training hall” properly.
Prior to entering the dojo for the first time a senior student or “kohi” will usually instruct you in the art of “bowing in. Every karate dojo in the world has a shrine at the designated “front” of the dojo, this is referred to as the “Shomen” and regardless of how many times you enter or leave the dojo during the course of your daily training, you must always bow to the “Shomen” first. This is done by standing at the dojo entrance and facing towards the “Shomen”, be sure that your feet are together, keep your legs straight, your arms should be at your sides and touching the sides of your thighs, your hands should be open and facing downward along the seam of your gi with your fingers and thumb together. To bow, bend forward at the waist to about 45 degrees, keep your eyes looking downward and do not let your arms move or leave your side, pause for a second at the bottom of the bow then unbend. The entire bow should take only a few seconds, but it should be performed with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Remember: “in order to bow well physically – you must first learn how to bow well in your mind”.
Should you ever find yourself entering or leaving the dojo with a large group of students, do not push or shove, but instead patiently wait your turn. If the opportunity presents its self always allow those senior students in the group to enter or exit the dojo first, since in a karate dojo everything is dictated by your rank within the dojo society.
In a karate dojo, as is it is in life, it is very bad manners to be late.
Sometimes, however, this may be unavoidable, in which case you will be required to bow in quietly and then kneel in seiza just to one side of the dojo entrance. If you arrive while everyone else is also kneeling in seiza or reciting the dojo kun, do not make any noise what so ever, just wait quietly until the sensei or senior instructor acknowledges you and invites you to join the class. This may not happen right away, and it is important to remember that you must remain kneeling where you are until your are invited in, at which time you may be asked to perform some task as a penance for being late.
Once you are invited to join the class, you must first bow while still kneeling, then get up quickly and join the class by finding a place in the last row unless some other space is indicated to you. This may or may not be your normal place of rank within that particular class, but as I mentioned earlier, in a karate dojo as in life, arriving late usually requires you to pay a price for your tardiness.
THE LINE UP
At the beginning of each class you will hear the most senior student present call, “line up”. Upon hearing this command you must move quickly and quietly to stand in “heisoku dachi” or informal stance at your appropriate place of rank within that particular class. Depending on the size of the class you will often find that your place within the rank of students will vary from class to class. This is to be expected since the more senior students there are in a class, the further down the line you will be.
The line up is done in rank order from right to left facing the “Shomen” or the “front” of the dojo. As a result unless you are actually teaching the class, you will always have a more senior student to your immediate right, this could even be a student who wears the same color of belt as you, but who would have achieved that rank before you did. To your immediate left you will then find a student of similar or lesser rank and so on down the line until finally at the end of the line you will find the newest or most junior student in the class. If you are ever required to start a new row due to the number of students ahead of you, be sure to start the row by standing behind the student on the extreme right end of the line in front of you, be sure that the line you start is of the same width as those in front of you, and that you are lined up directly behind the student in front of you.
One day, if you train long enough and hard enough, you too may find that it is your turn to give the command, “line up”.
EVERYONE STARTS AT THE BOTTOM (Rule #1)
Upon joining a karate dojo you will find that no one gets special treatment.
Everyone starts at the bottom. By that I mean that even the President of a large company who may be well known and respected, or for that matter even your boss at your place of work; if he or she were to join your dojo they would find that despite their rank within the business community, even they can not simply join a dojo and without any previous training move to the head of the line just because of their status or wealth outside of the dojo.
Like I said, in a karate dojo everyone starts at the bottom – where you go from there is entirely up to you.
THE STANDING BOW
The single most important technique in karate is the bow.
The standing bow for example, is used not only to bow into and out of the dojo at the beginning or end of each class, but it is also used for example when bowing to another student, or an instructor before performing any form of partner training. The standing bow is also performed prior to the beginning of each kata, and at the end of each kata, and it must never be omitted or performed casually as it is extremely important that all of your karate training and all of your katas begin and end with courtesy. Starting from a “heiko dachi” or “ready stance” bring your feet together while at the same time bringing your hands to your sides so you are now in “heisoku dachi” or “informal attention stance” remember, when bowing bend forward at the waist to about 45 degrees without letting your arms move or leave your side, pause for a second, then unbend. The entire bow should take only a few seconds, but it should always be performed with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Remember – “in order to bow well physically – you must first learn how to bow well in your mind”.
If you find yourself bowing to a partner always keep your eyes focused on theirs, however, when bowing to your sensei or to the Shomen always be sure that your eyes are looking downward.
The “seiza” or “kneeling position” while a very common occurrence is used most often at the beginning and the end of each class, or when you are instructed to sit and watch a demonstration of some kind.
To get into the seiza position from an attention stance, bend down on the balls of both feet then first place your left knee on the ground, then your right knee, then sit down and tuck your feet underneath you. Be sure and always keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed when sitting in seiza and your knees should be aligned with, but not touching, the knees of the person on your right or your left. Rest your open hands comfortably on the upper portion of your thighs with your fingers and thumb together and pointed slightly inward.
Proper posture in seiza is very important, and for anatomical reasons male students should have about a 12 inch to 14 inch width between their knees, while female students should have their knees together.
BOWING IN SEIZA
At the beginning of each class prior and to any form of training, the entire class will kneel in the seiza position and bow in turn to the Shomen and then to the sensei. The first bow is to the Shomen and the shrine at the front of the dojo. This is done in rank order at the command, “Shomen ni rei” this first bow is done as a sign of deep respect to the memory of the long line of Masters and Sensei who came before you and who in turn passed the art of GoJu Ryu Karate down to your sensei.
This second bow is to your sensei. This is done in rank order at the command, “Sensei ni rei” this done as a sign of deep respect to your sensei without whom there would be any dojo for you to train in and therefore no one who could pass the art of karate on to you. In return the sensei bows to the entire class as a sign of deep respect to the students who come to train, because without students to teach there would be no one for the sensei to pass his or her knowledge on to.
When you are bowing to either the Shomen or to your sensei you will either remain respectfully silent, or as is the practice in many dojos, it is permissible to say “onegaishimas” which roughly translated means “please teach me”.
To perform a bow from the seiza position first move your left hand from your left thigh and on to the floor about two hand lengths out in front of your left knee with your finger tips pointed inward, then, slightly behind in time, move your right hand from your right thigh and on to the floor about two hand lengths out in front of your right knee with your finger tips pointed inward so that your right hand is facing your left hand so that your and your index fingers are slightly touching. Now without letting your elbows touch the floor lean forward and bow your head stopping this motion just short of touching the back of both your hands. The bow is done entirely from the waist and since it is a more formal way of bowing you should pause for slightly longer than you do when performing a standing bow. When coming up from the bow slide your hands back to their starting position in reverse order, that is your right hands first followed by your left hand and then sit up straight in a relaxed posture.
Respect by all students regardless of their rank for the past, the present, and the future is the best way of assuring that the art of GoJu Ryu karate will be spread in tact to the next generation.
This is the command to meditate.
When “mokuso” is called, you must close your eyes, lower your gaze, tuck your chin in towards your chest, relax and quietly begin taking long slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is important to learn to breath not just with the upper portion of your lungs but also from your lower abdomen or “hara” as the Japanese call it. Your “hara” is the lowest part of you abdomen and is located approximately three fingers widths below your navel. By learning to breath from here you will develop greater power and speed as your karate training progresses.
It is during this meditative process that you want to “quiet your mind” and to try and rid yourself of all thoughts unrelated to your karate training, you must seek to find an inner sense of peace, or a relaxed state of being, this will help you to stay focused through out the training that is about to begin.
Remember – “in order to train successfully in the dojo, you must first have a dojo mind”.
If you use the time spent in “mokusoh” to properly focus your mind prior to each class, you will over time in all likelihood notice a definite increase in the quality of your techniques.
This is the command to stop meditating.
When “yame” is called open your eyes immediately and sit up straight. When your turn comes quickly rise up by starting with your right foot, then your left foot and stand in “heiko dachi” or “ready stance” and await further instructions.
It is usually at this time that the sensei or a sempai will lead the class in the “dojo kun” or dojo creed.
After the ritual of bowing and mokuso is complete in many karate dojos the class will recite the “dojo kun” or “dojo creed”.
The “dojo kun” can best be described as “a verbal affirmation” of certain principles or truths. You must make a point to learn your dojo’s creed as soon as possible and when reciting it always try and speak it in unison with the other students, but never so loudly that your own voice stands out from all the rest.
It is important that you believe in what you say, and you must then use this belief to help you do your very best, not only in the training that lies ahead but also in your daily life outside of the dojo.
ETIQUETTE DURING CLASS
Once the training starts it is very important to put aside all unrelated thoughts. You must make every effort to only concentrate on the specific task at hand and especially on improving the quality of your own techniques. On “seeing” what cannot be seen. In the beginning this will be a very hard concept for you to grasp but you must push yourself both physical as well as mentally if your karate is ever going to improve. In short, “always do your best”. In fact to do otherwise would be disrespectful not only to yourself, but also to your classmates and your instructor who have come to train with you.
When moving from one area of the dojo to another always does it quickly and quietly. When changing positions in line be sure not to cut through the lines or to pass in front of anyone else, instead go behind and around them. Whenever you watch a demonstration, do so respectfully and silently, without leaning on the walls or doing anything that would distract others. If you have a questions about any of the techniques that are being taught during class never call out, instead always raise you hand and wait to be acknowledged, then ask your question in the politest possible terms.
When training with a partner always be sure and bow properly before you begin and after you finish your training together. This applies every time you change partners regardless of their rank.
Sooner or later you will learn to perform a “kiai” or “spirit cry”.
A kiai is not unique to karate, but it is a sound that will be unique to each individual student. This sound does not come from the throat, but instead it originates deep in your abdomen or “tanden” and is usually expressed during the maximum point of attack or defense in all GoJu Ryu katas. In the beginning most students will simply say the word “kiai” but in fact “kiai” is simply a Japanese word that when translated into English literally means, “yell”.
So what is a kiai?
My personal definition of a kiai is as follows: “a kiai is a unique, personal vocalization, brought about by a strong emotional feeling.”
In karate a kiai is most often used at the moment when the students maximum physical, mental and or spiritual power is required in combination with a specific movement or technique. What you will learn to do over the course of your training is to draw on all your mental, physical and spiritual energy and focus and release this energy for maximum power and effect at the appropriate moment in your kata or during class.
Don’t be afraid to kiai loudly.
The overall tone of a class is often set by the level of spirit in the class, which can often be raised with a strong kiai on your part. So you if you have a strong kiai it will often spur others to work harder as well. On the other hand, if your spirit is poor, or your kiai weak, you might actually bring down the class spirit, so always do your very best.
In the end your own personal kiai will be as unique as you are, never be embarrassed by what you think it sounds like, if there is spirit and conviction in your actions then your kiai will always be strong.
If basic techniques are the “heart” of GoJu Ryu karate then most assuredly kata is the “soul” of GoJu Ryu karate.
Just what is kata?
My definition of kata is as follows: “A kata is a series of pre-determined defensive and offensive movements and techniques that have been handed down from past masters as a means of helping a student to understand, and cope with, their personal physical limitations, while at the same time helping the student to develop a strong spirit, and a peaceful mind through the art of karate.”
In the end kata is all about control – physical, mental, and spiritual control. If you do kata often enough you will finally come to understand what this means. So how often is often enough?
If you need to ask you will never find the answer.
END OF CLASS
Often this comes all to soon.
When your class is at an end and “Line Up!” is called once again, be sure and quickly line up in in the same manner and rank order as you were at the start of your class. Finish as you started, with a positive attitude and a willing desire to always do your best no matter what lies ahead.
It is very important that the lessons you learn at each class leave the dojo with you. How you use and apply these lessons in your everyday life is up to you, but your progress depends on you remembering them and building upon them.
Upon instruction come to attention, and then bow, after the final bow to the Shomen and the sensei students will often say “arigato gozaimashita”, which means “thank you very much” or simply say “thank you” in English in either case it is the level of gratitude is important.
In truth “class” never ends.
After each class there is usually some cleaning required in the dojo.
Try and take and active part rather than sit back and watch others do the work.
In many dojos the most senior students often perform these tasks since they know that respect for the dojo or training hall is just as important as respect for your teachers and fellow students.
EXITING THE DOJO
When your class is finished be sure that you exit the dojo in the same manner as you entered it, with courtesy and respect.
Once again this is done by standing so you are facing the Shomen, be sure that your feet are together, keep your legs straight, keep your arms at your sides with your hands open and facing downward along the seam of your gi and with your fingers and thumb together. To bow, bend forward at the waist to about 45 degrees, with your eyes looking downward and without letting your arms leave your side, pause for a second then unbend. The entire bow should take only a few seconds but it should be performed with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Remember what I said earlier – “to bow well physically – you must first learn to bow well in your mind”.
TRADITIONAL GOJU KATAS
Gekkisai l and II - Attack and destroy Chojun Miyagi, after World War II, created this Kata. In the beginning, this Kata was practiced only with the open hand. This Kata was designed to introduce fundamental attacks, stances, and three basic blocks, namely,; jodan, chudan and gedan.
Sanchin - The three battles, three steps forward. Miyagi Chojun created this Kata as one of two basic Katas of his Ryu. As GoJu means hard (Go) soft (Ju), the Sanchin represents the (Go) Kata. It is a very difficult Kata to master, using only fundamentals and not using techniques per say. It was designed to perfect coordination between mind and body, using Sanchin dachi and a basic hand movements. This Kata is a self-training method to tighten muscles, coordination breathing with mind control. The emphasis is on power training and perfection. It is said that it takes a minimum of seven years to perfect this Kata.
Saifa (Motomo Yaburu) - The final breaking point, crush and destroy, defeat, greatly, the maximum. This Kata changes from fundamental to complex techniques. It does not begin with defense only but starts with combination techniques. It also has reverse techniques.
Seiunchin (Senchin) - The storm within the calm; The moving cloud; also known as the Tiger-Kata. Usually this Kata is taught at the lkkyu level. It is a difficult Kata to master even for black belts. Until one obtains Ni-Dan, this is the main Kata to practice. The shiki-dachi is emphasized, as well as hand techniques more than leg. There are over 50 techniques in this Kata with at least half attacking.
Sanseiru – 36 - This is the Dragon Kata, using very strong attacking techniques. There are at least 39 techniques in this Kata with 36 of the techniques in attack formations with seven kicks.
Seisan-13 - Advanced tiger techniques from Seiunchin. Although advanced from Seiunchin, it looks easier to perform. The emphasis is the open hand with 56 techniques in all, a utilization of speed and a concentration on small techniques.
Seipai (Seippa) – 18 cupful - A dragon Kata with half of the techniques of Sanseiru, but an emphasis on reverse techniques and breaking.
Kururunfa - come, stop, defeat, holding your ground and stave the waves. This Kata originated in China and was modified in Okinawa. This Kata is traditionally a Sandan Kata. It utilizes takedowns, breaking the arms and throwing. Before one can be a Sensei, this Kata must be mastered.
Seisochin - The Kata of “The fighting 4 monks”. A number 19. Only the GoJu Ryu of Miyagi, Chojun Sensei, use this Kata. The other Naha-Te schools do not use it.
Suparempei (Pechurin) - This Kata is the most advanced Kata in Naha-te. All techniques of Naha-Te are in this Kata. 108 Hands. This is a creation of General Yac Fei during the Tang Dynasty and both Shuri-Te and Naha-Te use this Kata. However, after Miyagi Chojun returned from Shanghai, he modified this Kata without taking out the essence. The modification was only in the directional movement, Therefore, if one should see Pechurin performed and Suparempei performed, he would see a directional difference but not a change of postures, with the exception of the Shorinji-Ryu, not to be confused with Shorinju Kempo. Practitioners of Shuri-te do not practice Pechurin.
Tensho - This is the Kata of the SNAKE. The breathing hands, turning palm and change of hands–grip. The Tensho represents the (Ju) Kata, of GoJu Ryu. It is soft and hides the fighting spirit below the surface, whereas, the Sanchin shows outward physical power. A very defensive Kata using the open hand, with circular movements, blocking, trapping, and utilizing an opponents Chi against him. A Kata designed to take advantage on an opponent’s weaknesses.
Gankaku - Serious Beauty, Crain on a rock – composed by Yamaguchi, Sensei, at the age of 72. This is the very last composition of the traditional GoJu system. It has many (Ju) Taichi, White Crane, Mantis type techniques. An awesome extremely high level composition. This Kata epitomizes GoJu Ryu.
It is safe to say that Kata is not only the soul of the martial arts, and in this presentation, the soul of Karate. But it is also much more than that. It is the language of the martial arts. In Karate each Kata is in a way, a letter in the karate alphabet and one must learn this alphabet before one can build words. The language is simple and direct to the point, the grammar a little more difficult. When one has passed and graduated from alphabet making, the words, vocabulary appears elementary.
The masters, knowing this, taught a selection of Katas, in sets of three or five in the case of children (the Pinan Katas were devised specifically for this purpose). Many masters have developed their own unique series of Kihon Katas specifically for this purpose. When one can read, write, and speak a language, then one can exist in the particular society for which the language was meant to be.
Maestro Peter Urban’s 10 Minimum Standards Fight School Networks
“Kata is the way to Kensho – seeing into one’s heart”
URBAN Teikyoku - The “I” Pattern Kata. It teaches the practitioner fundamentals that will form basic fighting skills. It emphasizes various to the point street fighting and trapping techniques.
URBAN Gekkisai - The Iron Guard. O’Sensei Peter Urban developed this Kata to eliminate the redundancies of performing Gekkisai l and II. The Iron Guard was designed to introduce fundamental attacks which include take down and control (Arrest) techniques.
URBAN Tensho - The Breathing Hands. This is the kata of the snake. This form employs many Aikijutsu and trapping techniques. It has all the ingredients of the traditional Tensho as well.
URBAN Empi-Ha - Forms of Elbow – Utilizes various elbow and hand combinations. This Kata teaches cunning offensive fighting techniques using SER. Sudden Energy Release, in rapid succession.
URBAN Seiunchin - The Horse Cat. Known to some as Seiunchin. Shows the cat base fighting spirit of GoJu Ryu, although it has an abundance of Kiba dachi (Horse Stance). The Kiba dachi develop strong legs and joints for the many attacking techniques contained within this Tiger Kata.
URBAN Seisan - The Spit Fire. This Kata is an advanced Tiger Kata which employs strong aggressive fighting techniques. Good development of the Spit Fire will easily enable the practitioner to instantly incapacitate his opponent.
URBAN Kooroorunfa - Violence. It utilizes various street-fighting techniques to include throws, take downs, breaking and disarming an opponent with weapons.
URBAN Suparempei - Organized Freedom. It also introduces many street-fighting techniques. The arsenal includes a variation of Stealth offensive and defensive techniques to wit: disarming the armed, dumping throws and close-quarters combative incapacitation.
URBAN Bo - Classical virtuosity. Introduces basic combative techniques using the Bo/ Jo/ Shepherd staff/ Cane instruments.
URBAN Han - The Working Hands – is “The Example” of many basic (Go) Hard (Ju) Soft techniques. The working hands also incorporate in its arsenal eight dynamic kicking techniques.
PROPER PROCEDURES AND COURTESIES IN GOJU RYU
This is to help all students understand the proper procedures and courtesies. Proper procedures, courtesy, and respect are not options but are required behavior for any student studying Martial Arts.
All students must first understand that he / she is a student and must attend class to learn GoJu Ryu. You must separate yourself from the world outside when you enter the Dojo. The only way you can do this is by following proper procedures to ready yourself for class.
When you enter the Dojo:
- Remove your shoes (You will place them in a prescribed place, neatly)
- Bow towards the Instructor and flags
- Repeat this procedure each time you enter and leave the Dojo
How to address the Master Instructor, or high ranking remember:
- Never call the Master Instructor or Black Belt by name only. The proper way to address the Master is as Hanshi, Kyoshi, Renshi, etc.
- The instructor will be addressed as Sensei; all other high ranks, no matter what age, will be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Sir / Ma’am. All adults and elders are addressed in the same manner. This is the proper way to show respect to older persons and high ranks. This was at one time an American custom.
- When answering the instructor or high rank, always reply “Yes, Sensei” or “No, Sensei” (Sir / Ma’am), speaking clearly and loudly, especially during class. It is important for the instructor to know that you understand his instructions.
- The Gi (uniform) should be clean and worn properly at all times. All patches should be worn on the Gi. DO NOT wear your obi (belt) outside of the Dojo. You do not wear sloppy and dirty clothes outside the Dojo, so don’t do it in the Dojo. Dressing neatly shows courtesy to your instructor and to the public.
- When arriving late, let the instructor know by raising your hand and asking permission to join class. Let the instructor know before the class, if possible, if you are leaving early. DO NOT leave class without permission. If the instructor is not available, let one of the higher – ranking students know the circumstances.
- Inside the Dojo, keep the noise down. Running, playing, and loud talking is unacceptable behavior in the Dojo. PROFANITY IS NOT PERMITTED AT ANY TIME. The Dojo is a place of business.
- Practice ONLY the technique(s) you have been assigned. Each rank has different requirements. It could be harmful to a person to go beyond his / her knowledge without proper supervision.
- Give yourself enough time to loosen your body before class. This is very important, so that you can do your best, without danger of injury due to improperly stretched muscles.
- If you feel ill during class, notify the instructor immediately. If you are injured, you may come to class and practice lightly. This helps you stay in shape, yet does not cause further injury. You will also miss material covered if you are absent from class.
- Remove all jewelry, rings, earrings, watches, etc. These items can be damaged and can cut or scratch others. Avoid bringing valuables to class.
- Zazen – legs tucked under buttocks
- Back straight, fists / hands resting on knees
- Keep the feet shoulder width apart
- Hands clasped behind the back
- Avoid all unnecessary movements
- The highest-ranking students are to the right of the lower ranking students.
- If there is more than one student of the same rank, the more advanced student stands to the right.
ALWAYS PRACTICE, NOT ONLY AT SCHOOL, BUT ALSO DURING YOUR FREE TIME AS WELL, IN ORDER TO GET THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT.
ALWAYS CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT THAT IS THE WAY OF GOJU-RYU.
TRAINING HALL CREED, OBJECTIVES, AND KARATE TERMINOLOGY
- We who are studying GoJu Ryu Karate do aspire to these virtues:
- Everyone will be responsible for studying the pamphlet.
- The purpose of the guide is to develop your skill and mind.
- You are required to know all your Japanese terminology.
- You are required to know the application of every Kata (form).
- Students MUST observe the rules of courtesy in the Dojo at all times.
- Students must know the Training Hall Creed by memory, and be totally familiar with the objectives.
THE TRAINING HALL CREED (KUN)
- We will train our heart and body for a firm and unshaken spirit.
- We will pursue the true meaning of the martial way so that our senses may be alert.
- With true vigor we will seek to cultivate a spirit of self denial.
- We will observe the rules of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence.
- We will follow our God and never forget the true virtue of humility.
- We will look forward to wisdom and strength, not seeking other’s desires.
- In all our lives through the discipline of Karate, we will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Way.
- We shall always practice patience.
- We shall always keep the fighting spirit of GoJu.
- We shall be quick to seize opportunities.
BLOCK SOFT, HIT HARD, THINK BIG, PLAN YOUR WORK, AND WORK YOUR PLAN!
- Everyone works!
- Nothing is free!
- All start at the bottom!
- The Sensei’s word is law by consent of the governed!
- To fold.
- To throw a bad punch.
- To throw a bad kick.
- To fake kata.
- To be slow.
- To stay ignorant.
- To act first and think later.
- To make excuses.
- To waste time.
- To rely on others.
- To increase body awareness in one’s daily environment.
- To establish correct distance and the maintaining of that distance when attacked.
- To increase physical fitness by exercising daily.
- To properly execute karate techniques at vital body areas.
- To be able to defend oneself against an attack.
- To be able to list and demonstrate the basic kicks, blocks, and strikes.
- To be able to demonstrate katas and explain their applications and meanings.
- To be able to demonstrate offensive and defensive fighting styles against an opponent using control and clear snapping techniques.
- To be able to establish a practical means to attain self defense:
- Talk, verbalize, communicate, discuss
- Body (mental, physical, self)
- Have a clever mind
- To establish a good sense of self – preservation (survival) of one’s physical being against a physical assault. It is not the preservation of one’s physical being against a mental assault, it is the ability to protect oneself through knowledge, skill, strength, speed, endurance, and experience against an attack or surprise attack from an individual.
THE EIGHT ESSENTIALS OF GOJU RYU
- Man and his mind are like heaven and the earth.
- The blood and the veins (rhythm of the circulatory system of the body) are like the cycle of the sun and the moon.
- The law of the breath is hard (Go) and soft (Ju), in and out.
- Fu (To exhale): The air that is exhaled is like an arrow. When punching make sure you exhale one half of your air in order to release your Chi (intrinsic energy) properly.
- Jin (To inhale): The air that is inhaled is like a returning wave. When the punch is returning you should inhale and swallow one half of your air and one half of your Chi. One half of the air is swallowed and lowered down into your tanden (a point three inches below the navel).
- Go (Hardness): While inhaling the inside of the body becomes like iron. You should learn to channel your Chi into the bones of your body using this strength to absorb the blows of your opponent.
- Ju (Softness): While exhaling the outside of the body becomes like cotton. The body becomes relaxed outwardly but becoming like iron inwardly. Anger and fear must be banished when facing an adversary. Always use your physical and mental strength combined. This will make you win the fight.
- Your body must harmonize accordingly to each situation. Chi (Controlling your opponent): Make your opponent’s movements your own by flowing with his movements.
- When your hands meet, you must enter ku (emptiness). Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought. Face your opponent squarely and solidly without any deviations, but not giving away any emotion or intent.
- Advance and retreat with the proper distance (Maai) when the opportunity presents itself.
- Nen (Awareness): If your opponent comes to attack, move away with his actions. If your opponent moves back, follow his movements and actions.
- Sen (Attacking): All preparations for your attack must be completed mentally and not physically, otherwise your opponent will read your actions causing you to fail in your attempts.
- The eyes must watch all four directions (Left, Right, Up, and Down). Do not become so engrossed in your own techniques that you fail to observe your opponent’s actions. This will cause you to lose.
- The ears must listen in all directions (Left, Right, Up, Down, Forward, Behind).
Belt System/Patch Explanation
The circular patch represents the world in which we live.
The crimson “G” represents God, Goodness, Gentlemen, and GoJu.
The design surrounding the “G” represents the hilt of the sword with the “G” being the blade.
The Society of Harmonious Fists surrounding the world reminds us that we must always remain in harmony with nature.
The Kanji represents the system and where it was originally founded.
“Noblesse Oblige” represents the Latin term “Nobility Obligates”. Therefore, as disciples of GoJu Ryu Karate do we are obligated to be people of noble character