What Is Goju?

 by Jon Reingold & Christopher L. Chin

This principle would be the ability in one instant to be relaxed and in the next instant to be fully powered up. This can be illustrated by the development of the body, through Sanchin training, to "turn on" in an instant in order to become armored to protect against any attack; then, just as quickly, to "turn off" the power and become supple enough to counter-attack with lightening quickness. A more spiritual interpretation of the hard-soft philosophy 'would be the strength to withstand life's stresses and strains while remaining compassionate warm-hearted in our conduct toward others.

A Little Okinawan History

Okinawa, also known as the Ryukyu Islands, is quite far from the rest of Japan. For many centuries the Okinawans traded predominantly with the Chinese. Okinawan culture, as a result, was greatly influenced by the Chinese. In fact, Okinawa was not even part of Japan until the Japanese invaded and occupied the country and subjugated the people. 

You may have realized by now that the philosophy of the balance of hard-soft, as well as other seemingly opposite ideas, is not unique to Goju. For centuries the Chinese have understood the balance of apparent opposites, of Yin/Yang -, of a universe balanced by opposing forces blending into each other, with a little of each represented in the heart of the other. It is clear these Chinese concepts found their way into Okinawan culture. 

Goju-Ryu is also a melding of native Okinawan martial arts (Naha-te, literally hands of Naha, a city in Okinawa) with certain martial arts of Fukien Province of southern China. It was Higashionna Kanryo who traveled from Okinawa to Fukien Province and combined these arts to form Naha-te. Higashionna Sensel traveled to China as a teenager to learn martial arts. He trained and lived with a martial arts master named Ryu Ryu Ko. The arts they trained included Fukien White Crane, which is characterized by powerful short range movements, quick long range movements, circular motions, and harmony of breath and motion (Sound familiar?). Several years after he returned to Okinawa, Higashionna began teaching. Higashionna was 49 years old when he took on a 14 year old student named Miyagi Chojun...

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