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Today's Traditional Karate Styles


Almost all of the historical records of Karate have been passed entirely through personal oral transmission from master to disciple. The four main styles of Traditional Karate-do existing in Japan today are: Goju-Ryu/Kai, Shito-Ryu, Shotokan, and Wado-Ryu:

Goju-Ryu developed out of Naha-te, its popularity primarily due to the success of Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915). Higaonna opened a dojo in Naha-te using eight forms brought from China. His best student, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) later founded Goju-Ryu, 'hard-soft way' in 1930. In Goju-Ryu much emphasis is placed on combining soft circular blocking techniques with quick strong counter attacks delivered in rapid succession. In 1935, Gogen Yamaguchi (1909-1989) officially formed the All Japan Goju Kai Karate-Do Association, which is still in existence today as the Japan Karate Federation (JKF).

Shinto-Ryu was founded by Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952) in 1928 and was influenced directly by both Naha-te and Shuri-te. The name Shito is constructively derived from the combination of the Japanese characters of Mabuni's teachers' names - Ankoh Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna. Shinto-Ryu schools use a large number of Kata, about fifty, and is characterized by an emphasis on power in the execution of techniques.

Shotokan was founded by Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) in Tokyo in 1938. Funakoshi is considered to be the founder of modern karate. Born in Okinawa, he began to study karate with Yasutsune Azato, one of Okinawa's greatest experts in the art. In 1921 Funakoshi first introduced Karate to Tokyo. In 1936, at nearly 70 years of age, he opened his own training hall. The dojo was called Shotokan after the pen name used by Funakoshi to sign poems written in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterized by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.

Wado-Ryu, 'way of harmony', founded in 1939 is a system of karate developed from jujitsu and karate by Hienori Otsuka as taught by one of his instructors, Gichin Funakoshi. This style of karate combines basic movements of jujitsu with techniques of evasion, putting a strong emphasis on softness and the way of harmony or spiritual discipline.

 

50th Anniversary of International and All Japan Karatedo Goju Kai


Goshi Yamaguchi, President.    A Message to All Members.

This year is the 50th anniversary of establishment of Japan Karatedo Goju-kai that was founded in 1950. I heard that many Sensei especially former President Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei established Goju-kai wishing for revitalization of postwar Japan. Our predecessors established Goju-kai with great happiness because of realizing their hopes and long-time dream even in a turbulent society of Showa era I believe that not to mention the Japanese prosperity, the remarkable achievement for the past 50 years could be attributed to Japanese people's endeavor.

Members of Goju-kai have been working every single day to spread Goju-ryu Karate and to raise the young people through Karate practice with indomitable spirit. I hope that we want to pledge to unite under the banner of the saying "Learn a lesson from the past" to aim at more enrichment and development of Goju-kai.

We need to successfully hold our national cup on August 20 and a memorial ceremony on November 23 because all events in this year are hold as 50th anniversary's commemorative events. I am planning that an international seminar held after the memorial ceremony is aimed at exchanging opinions on our future and Karatedo for body and mind without regarding each participant's nationality.

It is undeniable for us to improve ourselves in order to fulfill our expectation for 21st century. We need to know the respect of human life and reconsider the statement of each of us mind. People in the world should become one to nurture a next generation. I hope that we raise the status of Karatedo and build a new Goju-kai.

On this time, we welcome Kozo Watanabe Sensei, the vice chairman of the House of Representatives as our honorary president with the recommendation from the supreme adviser Setsuo Sakai. The honorary president at the establishment of Goju-kai was Chojun Miyagi Sensei, the founder of Goju-ryu. The 2nd honorary president was Heiin no Miya. On this time, at the turning point of year 2000, we are honored that we could welcome an excellent honorary president. I am deeply glad for cooperation and effort of all the members and those concerned to hold the events in this year.


 

Hiromasa Kikuchi, Chief of Executive Committee

It is very significant and memorial year to Japan Karatedo Goju-kai to welcome its 50th anniversary of establishment.Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei who is the founder of Goju-kai, met dramatically Chojun Miyagi Sensei who is the founder of Goju-ryu, and was taught directly from Miyagi Sensei. Later, Yamaguchi Sensei took the responsibility on propagation and development of Goju-ryu in main land and established Japan Karatedo Goju-kai in 1950 through his attractive instruction.

As you know, Gogen Sensei spread the attractiveness of Goju-ryu to all over the world and persistently dedicated his long life to the development of Goju-ryu Karatedo.All of us have worked for development of Goju-kai under new president Goshi Yamaguchi with taking over the will. We have more than 200,000 members in 50 countries in the world thanks to all of your assistance.

In this year, we decided to hold several events such as annual national cup (August 20), memorial ceremony (November 23) and international seminar and releasing the memorial book, so the executive committee already started preparation.It is our task that we hold these memorial events successfully to worship deceased Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei and start 21st century with fresh feeling. We are sorry that we ask sharing responsibilities from executives and members even in this lingering recession, and I, as a chief of executive committee, appreciate your understanding our situation and your help.
 

Goshi Yamaguchi Shihan's Message to Karate ka.

At the invitation of Paul Starling Shihan during a Seminar at his Macquarie University  Dojo Sydney Australia in October 1998.

 

THE CONFLICT OF BUDO & SPORT The development of karate-do is seen not only in Japan but widely throughout the world. Today there are over 164 countries affiliated with the (World Karate Federation). Each country is working their best so that Karate  will  become an Olympic sport. In 1985 Karate was once recognised as an Olympic sport by the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee). However this was cancelled because of the existence of two federations I.A~K.A. (International Amature Karate Federation) and W.U.K.O. (World Union of Karate Federations). In 1991 the I.O.C International Olympic Committee demanded those two federations join and in 1993 they united  as W.K.F. World Karate Federations.

The development of Karate do  is seen in many events; after this unification .  In 1994 there was an "All Asian Competition" hosted at Hiroshima, Japan. This year there is going to be another competition hosted in Thailand. The Federation couldn t make Karate become an Olympic sport in time for the Sydney Olympic Games, however there  are still negotiations for Karate to become an Olympic sport for the 2008 games. Meanwhile, For the 2004 Olympic Games to be held in Osaka Japan,  Karate is proposed as the host game. If Karate is recognised as an Olympic sport it will certainly be given more recognition. However I personally,  as one of the Karate leaders have great concerns regarding Karate becoming an Olympic sport. Personally I see Karate as a sport and as Bu~do (martial arts). Many people from the  Western country ~ see martial arts  in more physical terms, but in Asian cultures Martial Arts is an approach to an ideal, a physical and spiritual figure. The body and the mind.  If Karate is only valued in competition (like the Olympics) , I am afraid that the most important part of Budo is going to be lost. Karate featuring Bu-do and sports at the same time is valued highly, however if it develops only for competitions the balance is going to be severely broken.  Tonight, I would like to ]ook back into the history of GoJu Ryu Karate-do and talk about the development of this style in depth regarding Bu-do.

 

Goju Ryu Karate do was named by Sensei Miyagi Chojun. {CHOUJYUN}. Sensei was born in 1888 in Okinawa (Southern Islands in Japan) and at the age of ~4 (1902) he started training under Higaonna Kanryu Sensei.From 1915and 1917 Sensei Miyagi travelled to the Fukukeh prefecture in China and studied the roots of the style he was learning and aimed for further development. In 1927 my father Gogen Yamaguchi first met SenseiMiyagi Choujyun and was instructed. My father was keen to know more about the essence of "Okinawa te" which he had been learning about since he was a young child. In 1929 my father made a Karate Studying Association at Kyoto Ritsumeikan Universityand in 1931 he invited Miyagi Sensei as an honoured Shihan. Because of the war, my father travelled to Manchuria, He later returned to Japan in 1948. In 1950 he successfully made the J.K.C.A. (Japan Karate-do GoJu Kai Association) and in 1965 he made I.K.G.A.International Karate do Goju Kai Association

 

In 1970, on the 21st of June, my father Gogen Yamaguchi made his first visit to Australia. Also during The same year on the 7th of October 1970,Paul Starling Shihancame to Japan as an Australian team member to represent Australia  for the first W.U.K.O.  World Karate do Championships . On the 25th April 1972 Paul Starling Shihan came to visit Japan again (on return from representing Australia again in the 2nd World Karate do Championship in Paris France). During that same year my father visited Australia once more and stayed at the home of Paul Starling Shihan's parents. During The following year in 1973 my father Gogen Yamaguchi  and I  wel-comed him into the  Nihon Karate do Senmon Gakko Japan Karate do College, as the first Instructor participating and he graduated  as a Renshi-Shihan. On the 2nd July 1974 I first visited Australia. In 1977 with Kippei Sakamoto Shihan, and in 1978 with my sister Wakako. I have continued to visit Australia {yearly or bi yearly} and many Australian students visit Japan, building a very good relation-ship between Japan and Australian Goju Kai.

On the 20th May 1989 my father Gogen Yamaguchi passed away and Paul Starling Shihan took place as the Australian GoJu Kai President and Chief Instructor (according to Gogen Yamaguchi's wishes). From 1991 he has represented the Oceania territory as Goju Kai Branch President for this continental area of the I.K.G.A.  I respect him greatly as staff of the I.K.G.A. and also as a good friend whom I can trust and of course as one of the greatestof Karate leaders. The origin of Karate is familiar through many books. It originated from Chinese Kung Fu and from 500 years ago was renamed  from the Martial Art syles 'TE'  to KARATE.-  There are basically two major influences from China. "Nansen Hokuba" the term represents the characters of the North and the South. The Northern people were nomads who rode horses, & The Southern people were fishermen working on boats. GoJu Ryu has a strong influence from the south. It developed as "Naha te" where as the art from the north was recognised as "Shuri te". The Shotokan Ryu and WadoRyu karate is influenced from "Shuri te"

Regarding "Naha te" , the origin of our GoJu style has developed from a stance of standing on a boat. "Sanchin dachi", it developed the fighting of close range and using the upper body, where as shu r i te" developed from a horse riding stance "Kibadachi" and has the ability to use tbe lower body (such as kicks). ~ fighting range is further than with the "Naha" style. The character of "Naha" is soft and silent, and is more defensive. In contrast "Shuri" is more hard, active and offensive. "Naha" endures and defends. "Shur i" moves forward and attacks. By applying Ritsuzen (Zen while in stance), breathing,  and the approach of developing the ideal body & spirit has lead to the style of Goju Ryu.

The name Goju comes from the ancient Chinese Scriptures "Bubishi". In this scripture there are eight passages named "Kempou Hukku". One of the eight is called "Houdonto Goju", "Go" and "Ju" refers to explicitly and implicitly respectively. "Houdonto GoJu" describes the essence of nature which symbol-ises that everything in the universe comes from the two contrasted figures. 'To learn the style of "GoJu" means that one should always study both hard and soft, explicitly and implicitly, and from silence and activeness. It is important to have the blend of both at all times, training also comes from the blend of the mind and the body. In the old days the teaching of the Martial Arts was very secret but Miyagi Sensei changed the tradition so everybody can learn it equally. He aimed for Martial Arts to develop a strength and respect in the practitioner and a  respect for virtue, and as a final goaL an ideal human figure for the society. He developed a Modern way of training.

When Miyagi Sensei was jogging on the seaside, he was asked by many people "why do you run so much ?"  and Sensei answered with a laugh; 'In case some body attacks me, I can retreat as quickly as possible. Of course, Sensei wasn't running so he could run away quick. He always told his students,  "run so you are always fit and if a problem occurs react more quickly than anybody else and   therefore resolve the  conflict!" The depth of his teaching is seen in his words ;  "Hitoni tsurezu, Hito-utazu, Kotonaki wo moto to suruhari", "Do not get hurt by people and Do not hurt people, always stay calm as if nothing happened".

This is called "The Philosophy of Safety".

Not to get hurt means to be strong so no one will hurt you. This is not only physically, but is also deciphered to mean that one should ensure that your daily attitudes are right so no one will back stab you while you are not present. Never to hurt people means at first do not use violence to hurt people and also to have a strong mind always and you can care for others at all times.Lastly, do not have negative attitudes such as ignoring everything. Solve your  problems as quickly as possible, as if no problem existed. (a problem becomes more problematic the longer it is left). It is a short passage but has depth in its meaning and we have a lot to learn from this. It is very difficult to achieve, however it is also great human future goal which we can work for.

Miyagi Sensei also says "Bujin wa Shizuka de are". "Samurai (warriors) be silent (calm)". The chinese figure "silent' is formed from the meanings "blue" and "conflict". In one way, silence is valued as a hidden explosive potential. Silence is a waiting posture of containing enormous energy and Silence in the eye of the typhoon.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Karate-Do Bu-do or is it sport~? This question has been discussed from many perspectives. As I said before, I think Karate features the characteristics of sports and Budo. Sports originated from conflictive environments. To train and to become strong has been referred to Martial Arts. The sports rituals in Athens Greece Is an ancient Roman ritual, ~We see that to train for strength and for the development of physical ability has been done from a long time ago.  How about Budo in Japan? Kendo, Judo, Kyudou, {with the arrow}, Naginata Do etc. All had developed from feudal system as its background. The society formed by warriors (Bushi, Samurai) has always been in conflict and the art of fighting has developed from that age.

Bu-do was polished by the fighting arts and also by the way of how the warriors lived. Again it is the blend of the mind and body. Bushido is the old name in the Samurai ages and this is adapted into the modern world for it's moral advantage. I think that Budo and sports both have similar influences to the society and to individuals. The effects from sports is seen in Budo and the effect of Budo is seen in sports. A common feature is seen with in the two.Modem sports is transcended from religion and ideology .It does not ask for race and nationality. It gives an equal right for everyone to play. The basic figure of Budo is from "Bushido" and the background of "Bushido" is from Confucianism and Japanese Shintoism. So the spiritual Budo approach has a strong relationship to religious and moral issues.

'To win over people and to win over yourself',  skills and strength of the mind, honour for victory not being affected by personal desires and money.As a result, the traineeship of "Budo" is seen as a hard and difficult task. The morality of a sportsperson is valued for sportsmanship and they are expected to be a healthy person and take an active  part in the society. On the other hand very hard training tasks were assigned to "Bushi (samurai)" to maintain his position. The core of Bushido spirit is from Confucianism and it states that;

 Dignity to people comes from "respect and humility"Facing one's weaknesses and negative sides. Bushi stayed  loyal to their masters as their point of respect and  humility. "Respect" and "humility" are the elements which  helps personal development. The unity of people hoping for peace in the world and within their own country is one of the greatest aims of sports. "Bushido" in the conflictive age worked for peace. The five teachings of "Jin", "Gi", "Rei" Chi~ and ~Shin' in Confucianism are the basic determinants of Bushido.

Jin symbolises the most valued virtue in the human soul~. The translation literally means to care deeply for others and to have compassion for all humanity and living beings. In the "Bushi ages, "Jin" was recognised as the most important element of their leadership.

Gi represents justice. This is the way of the truth in living. There is a term Giri' which is related to justice. It is seen as duty or obligation which in broad terms points out love for others - the conduct of these two elements are praised as bravery and one does not fear death nor ever kill  to protect the truth.

Rei differs according to each individual,  but has a meaning of thankfulness to the figure of God. The meaning is that one must never merely bow ones head or body to God,  The essence relies on how much you can become modest in the heart. Many Rei , as  seen in Budo is the manner of humility for yourself.  Your own Individual attitudes of respect for humanity, the natural world, and all of creation and your unique place within it.

Chi is knowledge and ones own personal ability so it can be applied to support others. Use your knowledge to help humankind and nature.

Shin, is simply to believe. But moreover it is what is constant in one's soul. It never lies. Belief in oneself and the belief of others.

In conclusion, regarding these five elements. 'Bushido' aims for pure human identity. Aim for perfection. To let Karate do carry on the name of Budo as Bushido (by way of a background) and the essence of its development, we must firstly understand the teachings of the Pioneers fully and truly with great depth. This is a precept way and above the superficial realm of competition and of records.

The truthful meanings of the ancient teachings must not be changed . To respect the old sayings regarding caring and love for your family and others, respecting your teacher, loving friends, and the giving of your time and patience when needed.The competition of Karate today is conducted under certain limitating rules and regulations, however originally it was judged under true kime a life or death situation.  It was born from an era torn and ravaged by wars and conflicts and therefore Bushiwere eager to l ive and to protect their country and family and to become stronger.

Today as we approach the 21st Century, peace has been corrupted, and we take note of our duties in a much broader frame work. Karate do should never ever be a tool  to hurt people with ones fighting abiliity. It is nice to see it being recognised as an enjoyable sport. However at the same time we must look at the way the Ryu-Style and Do-Way have developed via their unique humanistic approach.It is therefore a fact that Karate do has now been viewed as a blending of Sports and Budo, for better or for worse. I think that perhaps the development of Karate do is an essential progression for the coming age, and in this manner  it will hopefully be of benefit to a much better and peaceful era than those of the past.

We should apply many of the teachings of Karate do to our life experiences within the world we live in today.


Goshi Yamaguchi, 

President,
International Karate do Goju Kai Association.
October, 1998 Sydney Australia.

 

 

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