Origin of KarateIt is generally believed that the art of Karate-Do can be traced back to sixth century China when a sect of Buddhism composed a sutra or collection of precepts to promote the physical development of the monks and missionaries and to help protect them from bandits and criminals.
In the ancient times there was no law prohibiting people from arming themselves. Weapons were standard in fighting, and most cultures have their own sword fighting system. Japan is renowned for its Samurai culture that was developed in the 18th century. In the later part of the 14th century under the ruler King Hassi of Chuzan of Okinawa, a policy was enacted prohibiting the people of Okinawa from arming themselves.
In the 16th century, Japan's most southern clan, the powerful Satsuma clan, invaded Okinawa. They colonized Okinawa for use as a trading post with China. They also levied taxes on their goods forcing the people of Okinawa to secretly develop the so-called " Te" (weaponless fighting) to defend themselves. The Okinawans also used their available farm tools for defense and developing fighting systems. These systems were referred to as "Te", meaning hands, techniques, and methods.
Karate SchoolsIn 1868, the Meiji restoration ended the Japanese Samurai feudal system and established a centralized governing system. Japan opened free trade with western countries and western culture and educational system flourished in Japan in the late 1800's and early 1900's. At this time, there were no specific styles, names, ranks or belts that are known today. The three prominent centers of Karate in Okinawa were Shuri, Naha, and Tomari. You must understand that the teaching methods at the time were not like today's systematic rational methods. There were only a few Katas in each location, which were taught and developed and only a small number of people took the private lessons. Later, Karate came to Tokyo, the capital of Japan, which recorded an exhibition in 1922 of Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi's Karate-Do later became the modern Shotokan system.
In the 1920s many prominent Karate masters came to Japan. The most prominent Karate Masters were Kenwa Mabuni, founder of Shito Ryu, and Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju Ryu. It was not until the 1930's that a label was claimed and developed as a style, forced by the other established Japanese martial arts societies. Chojun Miyagi, a senior disciple of Kanryo Higaonna, first claimed a label to his style as Goju-Ryu (Hard Soft Style). Kenwa Mabuni named his style as Shito-Ryu. These two were very close friends and developed most of the technical bases of today's Karate.
Gichin Funakoshi aimed to teach only university students who were candidates for the governing leadership group. Funakoshi did not like his students to participate in tournaments. That young Japanese group developed today's sparring methods and later developed the basis of today's tournament systems, not those of Okinawan residents' Karate instructors. Okinawan masters never even dreamed of competing with each other under established rules. They thought Karate techniques were so deadly that it would be impossible to hold any tournament. All Japan Collegiate Karate tournaments in the 1950’s were the first tournaments ever held in Japan including Okinawa. It went on to develop Karate-Do worldwide.
Goju-Ryu Karate-dois a fulfilling and enjoyable martial art, that improves all aspects of all around fitness; balance, strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, and agility. It is a style identified by its combination of two extremes; it practices and utilizes both hard and soft techniques. Where other styles may focus solely on external techniques based in hardness and athletic strengthening of the body, Goju-ryu chooses to practice external techniques in tandem with breathing techniques and slow soft movements which lead to greater control of the body. A simple way to think of it is that it is like Tai Chi, and Northern Shaolin kung-fu fused together.
In Japanese Go means hard, and Ju means soft. The soft aspect not only is in relation to the physical, but the mental and spiritual training of the individual. It is the belief of the original founder of Goju-Ryu, Chojun Miyagi, that the combination of both extremes will lead to inner and outer tranquility for the individual. Goju-Ryu itself originated from Okinawa as all karate did, and should be considered less of a Japanese art and more of an Okinawan art. Karate was being developed long before the Ryukyu Islands were made a part of Japan. It is like Hula Dancing from Hawaii, it is considered Hawaiian even though it is part of the United States. Like all karate, Goju-Ryu’s foundation is its Kata. Kata are pre-arranged sets of movements and techniques which are performed by the individual as if defending against imaginary attackers. Kata are like living textbooks, each can be interpreted in many ways and provide the karate practitioner with an idea of how to defend themselves when facing an attacker. Goju-Ryu’s Kata vary greatly in their purpose and complexities, each with deep meaning, and practical purpose;