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Gōjū-ryū (剛柔流, Gōjū-ryū),
(Japanese for "Hard-soft style") is a style of
karate that uses a combination of hard and soft techniques. It is
commonly believed that the concept of combining the two extremes originated
in a Chinese martial arts doctrine known as wu bei ji (pronounced bubishi in
Japanese.) Gojū-ryū combines hard striking attacks such as kicks and punches
with softer circular techniques for blocking and controlling the opponent,
including locks, grappling, takedowns and throws. Major emphasis is given to
breathing correctly. Goju-ryu practices methods that include body
strengthening and conditioning, its basic approach to fighting (distance,
stickiness, power generation, etc.), and partner drills. Goju-ryu
incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum.
"Go" means hardness or external force; "jū"
means softness or internal force.
The naming of Gojū-Ryū came about more by accident than design. In 1930,
numerous martial arts masters asked Chojun Miyagi’s top student, Jin’an
Shinzato, while in Tokyo as to what school of martial arts he practiced. As
Naha-Te had no formal name he came up with the impromptu name Hanko Ryū
(Half-Hard Style). On his return to Okinawa he reported this incident to
Chojun Miyagi. After much consideration Chojun Miyagi decided on the name
Gojū-Ryū (hard and soft school) as a name for his style. This name he took
from a line in the Bubishi (a classical Chinese text on martial arts and
other subjects). This line, which appears in a poem, the Hakku Kenpo
(roughly, "The eight laws of the fist"), describing the eight precepts of
the martial arts, reads, “Ho wa Gojū wa Donto su” (the way of inhaling and
exhaling is hardness and softness, or everything in the universe inhales
soft and exhales hard).The development of Gojū-ryū goes back to Kanryo
Higaonna, (1850–1915), a native of Naha, Okinawa. As a teenager he trained
with an Okinawan master named Arakaki Seisho, before moving to Fujian
Province, China, to study Wushu (Kung Fu) from Master Ryu Ryu Ko Roshi.
Higaonna returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji Era (1868–1911)
and continued in the family business of selling firewood, while teaching a
new school of martial arts, distinguished by its integration of go-no (hard)
and jū-no (soft) kempo in one system. The word karate (empty hand) was not
in common use at that time, and Higashionna's style was known as Naha-te. It
is accepted that Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken was the strain of kung fu that
influenced this style. As such, this style and that of Uechi Ryū were built
upon a similar foundation.
Higaonna's most prominent student was Chojun
Miyagi (1888–1953) who began training under Higaonna at the age of 12. After
Higaonna's death Miyagi sailed to China and studied there for several years,
returning to Naha in 1918. Many of Higaonna's students continued to train
with him, including Higa Seiko (1898–1966). However, Higaonna's most senior
student Juhatsu Kyoda, who studied under Higaonna one month longer than
Miyagi, formed a school he called Tōon-ryū (Tōon is another way of
pronouncing the Chinese characters of Higaonna's name, so Tōon-ryū means "Higaonna's
style"), preserving more of Higaonna's approach to Naha-te.
Gojū-Ryū was the first officially recognized style of Karate in Japan by Dai
Nippon Butoku Kai and the only style of Karate with a full historical
representation in both Okinawa and Japan.
The history of karate itself is one of
cultural and social exchanges with China going back to the Tang
dynasty—-hence the Korean name for karate, "Tang Soo" or "Chinese hands."
Before the development of modern Karate started by Gichin Funakoshi,
Okinawan karate styles generally took after the names of the towns they came
from, thus "Naha-te," "Shuri-te" and "Tomari-te" were karate styles that
came from the towns of Naha, Shuri and Tomari, respectively.
Goju Ryu Karate
The late 19th century saw the great karate masters going back to China for a
"martial-arts pilgrimage" of sorts. The great Chinese pugilist Liu Liu Ko ("Ryū
Ryū Ko" in Japanese) in Southern China taught a handful of these Okinawan
students who went on to become karate legends.
The use of tensho or "soft" techniques in Goju-ryu reveals an obvious
influence from the Fujian White Crane style (known as "Fujian Bai He" in
Chinese). From White Crane, Goju takes the circular movements and fast
strikes. From Tiger Style, Goju takes the strong linear attacks and the
tiger claw pinching (especially in kyusho-jitsu). Also, one of the main
components and sources of Okinawan karate is the native tradition called "tuite":
grappling, joint locks and breaks, throws, sweeps, which often led to ground
fighting. These techniques were widely practiced in Ryūkyū's small villages
and were blended with Chinese martial arts to give birth to karate. In kata,
usually low stances and/or hands in chambers are the signs of a technique of
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