History of Goju Ryu Karate

The list of Goju Ryu Karate-Do is a long one and continues to grow. The list includes Japanese Goju-Ryu, Okinawan Goju-Ryu, Jundokan Goju Ryu, Meibu-kan Goju Ryu, Shodokan Goju Ryu, Shobukan Goju Ryu, Shikokan Goju Ryu, Seiwa-Kai Goju Ryu, Goju-Shorin Ryu, Goju-Kai USA, Shorei-Goju Ryu, Yuishinkan Goju Ryu, USA Goju Ryu, Nisei Goju Ryu, Sansei Goju Ryu, Tenshi Goju Ryu, Kazen Goju Ryu, Chinese American Goju Ryu, African Goju Ryu, Chinese Goju Ryu and Sanjuu Kan Goju Ryu. This is our art.

Although Goju-Ryu is a popular style, taught all over the world, there are very few books on the subject. Goju Ryu Karate displays the oldest martial arts traditions with a history that can be traced back at least a thousand years, keeping the primitive traditional form of martial art, yet full of fighting spirit.

The system is based on a concept that all hard and rigid is not good, however all soft and gentle can be equally harmful. The two should complement each other. This combination of the two gives Goju Ryu its beauty, disciplined form and circular flow and graceful movement. But lest anyone believe that Goju is merely a beautiful style of dance with little of the art of defense, he need only watch two Goju students spar against one another.

Goju Ryu has received the most Chinese influence of all of the Japanese styles of karate followed closely by Shorin Ryu and Shito Ryu. With the ‘Go’ (hard or positive) and the ‘Ju’ (soft or negative) in consistent harmony, one is equalizing the other as with the rest of the universe. Through Goju Ryu training a simple act like blocking or striking will eventually occur naturally, a side effect of a pure of thought, mind, and repetition.

There are many primary characteristics of Japanese Goju Ryu. During the 14th century Kempo is introduced into Okinawa. It wins popularity and is trained as an art of self-defense, under the name of ‘tote’(i.e. Chinese hand). At Okinawa the native fighting art ‘te’ was practiced long before the introduction of Kempo. It is believed that ‘te’ was combined with ‘Kempo’ by the Okinawans and developed to the martial art Karate.

The ban on carrying weapons on Okinawa was first decreed in 1477 by King Sho Shin. The weapons ban was still in place when Japan invaded Okinawa in 1609, but the Japanese also decided to ban the practice of martial arts. Consequently, the Okinawans had to continue with their martial arts training in secrecy.
During the next three centuries the martial art developed into its own character and became known as ‘Okinawa-te’. This Okinawan art then split or divided into three main styles:

  • Shuri-te: Influenced by the hard techniques of Kempo and characterized by an offensive attitude
  • Naha-te: Influenced by the softer techniques of Kempo including breath control and ‘Ki’. It was characterized by a more defensive attitude with grappling, throws and locking techniques
  • Tamari-te: Influenced by both the hard and soft techniques of Kempo

By the end of the 19th century Shuri-te and Tomari-te were subsumed under the name Shorin Ryu, which during the years has developed into several slightly different styles. Naha-te becomes known under the name Goju Ryu (the hard and soft style) and has remained basically unified.

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