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Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu Connection: Part 3

How could it be that there is some trace of the Goju-Ryu form of movement in my Shorin-Ryu? I can say for certain that I did not move in the same manner before 2002, when I began to study under Professor Katsuhiko Shinzato. Prior to that time, my own personal problems limited me to a very linear form of Matsubayashi-Ryu, despite the best efforts of Sensei Rodney Shimabukuro to show me the correct way. Perhaps it took a pilgrimage to Okinawa for my eyes to open.

In any event, my form of movement changed drastically when I met Shinzato Sensei. Let me put it this way -- the beginning and ending points of the movements were pretty much the same, but everything in between was different. My focus shifted from Point A and Point B to how to move from Point A to Point B. "How to move" became my focus, and remains so today.

Kata is not simply a way to learn how to defend yourself, it is a guide to movement and body dynamics.

I have only learned the Kishaba Juku form of Shorin-Ryu from Shinzato Sensei. I have not learned from any other instructors and did not begin my Kishaba Juku training under after Sensei Seigi Nakamura and Sensei Chokei Kishaba had passed away. Nakamura Sensei taught Kishaba Sensei and Shinzato Sensei, and they had all trained under Sensei Shoshin Nagamine.

If there is any Goju-Ryu in my movement, it must have come from Shinzato Sensei. Did he ever study Goju-Ryu? To my knowledge, the answer is "no."

How about Nakamura Sensei and Kishaba Sensei. I do not know about Kishaba Sensei (Chokei Kishaba), but I do understand that Nakamura Sensei had studied Goju-Ryu, but with whom I do not know. This is something I will try to research.

There are actually two Kishaba brothers. Sensei Chokei Kishaba taught Shorin-Ryu. His younger brother, Sensei Chogi Kishaba, teaches the Yamani-Ryu form of bojutsu. Chogi Kishaba also happened to study Goju-Ryu under Chojun Miyagi.

Shinzato Sensei learned Yamani-Ryu bojutsu under Chogi Kishaba. Is is possible that Goju-Ryu body dynamics were introduced to Shinzato Sensei via bojutsu? Is is possible that bojutsu movement can influence Shorin-Ryu movement? For those of us who study Yamani-Ryu, of course the answer is "yes!" Bojutsu has a profound influence on the way we move in Shorin-Ryu. I often say that we move like bojutsu people who also practice Shorin-Ryu rather than Shorin-Ryu people who also practice bojutsu.

So, Seigi Nakamura and Chogi Kishaba, two of Shinzato Sensei's teachers, also learned Goju-Ryu. Is it possible that they taught Shinzato Sensei in a way that transferred at least some aspects of Goju-Ryu body dynamics?

When I visited Okinawa in 2002 to learn from Shinzato Sensei, I was amazed by his body dynamics. "Amazed" does not properly express my feelings. No words could. Let us just say that it was a jaw dropping experience. He would perform a movement and my jaw would drop because I could not believe that he was doing. Given my understanding of "Karate" at that time, a person should not be able to move as quickly and with as much power as he was doing. Now I better understand what he is doing -- there is a method to his movement. He has worked on body dynamics under the tutlelage of instuctors who also worked on body dynamics.

At one point during my visit, I asked Shizato Sensei, are there any people in other styles in Okinawa who move the way that you do? His reply was very interesting. I thought he might mention some people in other forms of Shorin-Ryu. Instead, he answered, "Some Goju-Ryu people."


Charles C. Goodin