Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu Connection: Part 4

Somehow, there appears to be a trace of Goju-Ryu body mechanics in the Kishaba Juku Shorin-Ryu that I am learning and teach. It must have come to me through the instruction of Sensei Katsuhiko Shinzato. But what form of Goju-Ryu body dynamics?

My first impression of Goju-Ryu was of muscular, thick necked, men who seems to strain and grunt, especially when carrying heavy stone jars! They seemed to be doing extreme dynamic tension -- like balloons ready to pop! I have to say that some Goju-Ryu people still look like that to me today.

However, I became aware that there are different ways to move in Goju-Ryu. While some students are very "hard", others have a much softer form of movement. The "hard" students are hard from the beginning while the softer students are "hard" only at the split second of contact. There are Goju-Ryu students with fantastic kime, and power that is derived from their entire bodies, directed and amplified by their koshi, and channeled, with no waste of energy, to their intended target.

Look at photographs of Kanryo Higashionna and Chojun Miyagi. They have completely different body types. Higashionna was slim and light while Miyagi was muscular and thicker. I also understand that Higashionna and Miyagi used different forms of breathing, Higashionna's being softer. Miyagi Sensei was not Higashionna's only student. While Miyagi's Goju-Ryu became the main style, it was not the only one, and Miyagi's own students may have learned differently.

My point is that the image of a tight, straining Goju-Ryu student is not the only one (I am not suggesting that Chojun Miyagi looked or moved like this -- I tend to think that he did not). I mentioned that I have had the opportunity to observe Sensei Alan Lee, who learned from Tomu Arakawa, who in turn learned from Kanki Izumigawa, who learned from Higa Seko. Lee Sensei is built more like Higashionna Sensei. His movements are light and his kime is extremely sharp -- he is relaxed until the split second of contact, and then he is relaxed again.

I also have had the opportunity to train briefly with Morio Higaonna. Despite his fearsome appearance (my students worried that he was killing me), his touch was like silk. He too was relaxed, and could deliver power like a steel whip.

Now we are getting closer to what I mean by the trace of Goju-Ryu mechanics that may be in present the Kishaba Juku form of Shorin-Ryu -- body generated power, using a relaxed body, amplified and directed by the koshi, with tension only for the split second of contact, energy transfer on the recoiling hip, with energy recovered for the next movement...

With such a core mechanic, I tend to think that the style through which it is expressed should not matter. Hard soft, soft hard, coiling and recoiling, relaxing and tensing, compressing and releasing, contracting and expanding. It goes on and on. the style does not matter. It is not what you call it -- it is how you move.


Charles C. Goodin