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Articles Home » 剛柔流 Editors Commentary » Modern day Goju-Ryu
Modern day Goju-Ryu

If you return to the early 60's in the United States you find that Martial Arts, in general, spread across the country rather quickly. Tae Kwon Do schools spread like wild fire and the various Karate styles that were prominent throughout cities all across the US grew respectively. I would venture to say that because of Bruce Lee, Kung Fu and all its cousins found homes in even the rarest of places. One sad note was that far to often Karate and other Martial Arts Schools were started under the direction of self taught, self proclaimed and self promoted "Masters" who were short on knowledge but long on seeking fame and financial gain. With all the attention that was facing the Martial Arts World, some change was inevitable.

Tournaments grew from small local encounters to competition on a national and even global scale. It seemed that there was a national, international and/or world championship held every month. Trophies filled the windows of the local Dojos (training schools) and jumping and flying kicks, spinning back fists and other newly developed techniques entered the realm of tournaments altering the essence of those martial arts schools who elected to participate in the tournament circles.

Okinawa's GoJu-Ryu as well as other Okinawa Styles,were not easily adapted for tournament competition. The basic nature and intent of the techniques infused in Okinawa's Karate were well rooted in the ancient ways and absolutely not intended for use in a modern competition atmosphere. However, with the popularity of tournaments growing every week, traditional styles had a choice adapt to the game of tag played at modern tournaments or suffer the consequences. Many of the traditional schools existing, Okinawa styles included, adapted the modern techniques that were developed for tournament use. The result of all this action and reaction to tournament competition created a rift in the world of Martial Arts. Traditional verses modern training and technique. Many of the so called "traditional schools and instructors" were not willing to give up time honored values simply to teach concepts for what many thought would be short lived tournament competitions.

However, with the new fame attached to the word Karate because of the success of the tournaments, new Dojo's began popping up on just about every street corner in every town across America. Oddly enough, there were more students signing up for "Karate" lessons then ever before. Tournaments grew in number to a point where you could find one or more within 100 miles of your town on just about any given weekend.

Many of our more traditional schools and instructors, rather then change their method of training their students, kept up with the training methods and techniques handed down to them from generations of predecessors from their style. Other instructors decided to break tradition and modernize their methods to include presenting the newly developed techniques being used in tournaments. The result was a unique blend of both the old and the new.

You suddenly found people from various new (recently developed) styles and other officially recognized styles adapting to kata that was not in their original format. One such kata was Sanchin. Another popular kata was Seiyunchin. Almost over night these two kata were performed by students from just about every style as one of their tournament favorites. It was at this juncture that the biggest separation occurred between Goju-Ryu Associations, schools and instructors.

Goju-Ryu associations begin with Okinawa and spread across the globe from there. Though each association is independent of the other, their roots all return to Miyagi Chogen Sensei and the Garden Dojo. As one would assume, each of the existing associations differ slightly in their structure and their presentation of Kata. However, in each you find the core (12 Kata) of GoJu-Ryu:
Sanchin, Geki Sai Di Ichi, Geki Sai Di Ni, Saifa, Seiyunchin, Sanseiru, shisochin, Seisan, Sepai, Kururunfa, Suparinpei (Pecchurin) and Tensho.

The root and essence of the Okinawa GoJu-Ryu style is contained within these kata. While you will see slight differences in the performance of the kata, dependent on the association, the intent and flow of the kata remain intact. Bunkai for each kata varies. The variance is not usually in the technique itself, rather, it is found in the bunkai for the technique.

Even in the wake of modern times, Okinawa GoJu-Ryu has not lost the original foundation established by Miyagi Sensei. The soul of GoJu-Ryu is found in the 12 Kata, each of which is still performed today by each of the Okinawa Associations in its original (Koncho maintained) format. GoJu-Ryu remains, til this day, a unique style of martial art that holds on to its traditional roots by maintaining the sanctity of its soul, Kata.

By jimsandaju

Modesto, California

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