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Unlocking the essence of Karate

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As a classical martial art the essence of Goju Ryu is contained within it's kata. With the correct keys it is possible to unlock and perceive the strategies, methods, principles and techniques that are embodied in these living encyclopedias. The key is investigating and testing how to apply the kata. It is necessary to think deeply how, when and where the fighting methods can and equally important, can't be used.

It could be said that there are two phases, that of Controlling and of Combating. You must use the methods of control before the techniques of combat, otherwise you will be unable apply the way of kata to defeat them.

The controlling methods:
Spirit (Ki) - Intention, concentration and discipline. In Japan this referred to as Ki. These qualities are fundamental to the pursuit of this school's teaching. Children benefit from these especially as they learn self respect and help instill a positive image of themselves.

Attitude (Kamae) - To assume the appropriate physical and mental combative posture that is determined by the opponents own posture, body language and intent.

Entering (Irimi) - How to approach and engage the opponent safely across the distance separating you, this is the space that we control to defeat the opponent.

Receiving (Uke) - First to accept the enemies attack. Commonly referred to as blocking when taught at the children's level. The force is met, redirected, harnessed and absorbed by the use of correct body mechanics.

Rooting - Is the natural use of gravity whereby a triangulation of force is made between the feet and the centred belly (hara).

Pressing - Having received the opponent and rooted, force is then redirected back into the attacker limbs or torso. Stances are used to change the vectors of force both to whist stand and repel an invader.

Sticking (Muchimi) - By extending and maintaining the direction of pressing through the attackers limbs/body into their centre line, we can maintain physical contact with the attacker.

Leading - Float, Sink, Spit and Swallow, the Chinese analogies of controlling the force and balance of an enemy. Push up, pull down, push out and pull in combine in limitless combinations lead the opponent so as to unbalance or collapse them.

Restraining - The holding methods necessary to position and restrain an attacker long enough to deliver the combative technique.

The combative techniques:
Having first contained the enemy using the above stages then comes the counter attack. This is by the use of one or more of the following five techniques:

Nage waza - throwing techniques
Ne waza - ground fighting techniques
Shime waza - strangulation and choking techniques
Kansetsu waza - joint locking and breaking techniques
Atemi waza - vital point striking techniques

Often three attacks are used, not just one, the first meets the enemies resistance, the second weakens and the third defeats. Whilst only one action may be perceived there are always three phases. For example in this school the punch can make contact with the fist, then the forearm and then the elbow, although only one action there are multiple attacks.

Sodokan Goju Karate Association
Best viewed at a display setting of 800 x 600.
Mike Clark 1997-2005. Reproduction of material on this site is not permitted