GIKKU:GojuryuInternatonalKaratedoKobudoUnioinYUZENKAIPhilosophy of Karate last update JUN.9, 2023  HOME
1  About the philosophy in Goju-Ryu karate

 Many Ryu-ha’s names originate from founder's name.  For instance, "the Syoto” is the penname of Funakoshi Gichin.  "The Shitou" is the combination of the initials of two initiators, Itosu Ankou and Higaonna Kanryo.  Uechi -Ryu is the initiator’s family name itself. 

..But " Goju"-ryu originates in the proverb "法は剛柔を呑吐す" (HOU wa GO-JU o dondo su) seen in ancient military book “Bubushi” in Okinawa. 
..What is the meaning of the HOU(法), the GOU(剛), and JU(柔)?The HOU(法) is a metaphysical concept meaning Truth, Existence, Transcendence. The Hou(法) is often expressed by another word "TAO(道)". 
..Laozi(老子), the ancient Chinese philosopher, explained TAO(道) like as follow way. TAO does nothing.  However, TAO does everything.  TAO is like a water. Water does not appeal his voluntarily act to others .  However, everything is supported by water.
This thought is the basis of the view of nature and life in the Orient. 
..Incidentally, there is incorrect explanation about Goju-ryu that explains “GO(剛)” is a punch and kick and “JU(柔)” is a joint throwing technique. ut above memtions are superficial.
 “GO(剛) is suppressed by “JU(柔)”. We might say that the former is refuted by the latter.Iin the same way , “JU(柔)” is cut by “GO剛.”
The ceaseless activity of their own inherent nature makes these stages moments of an organic unity, where they not merely do not contradict one another, but where one is as necessary as the other; and constitutes thereby the truth of Gou-ryu(剛柔流) of the whole.”

..If Okinawan Karate has own philosophy ,it originates from the Taoism of Chinese. Okinawan karate's effort to the research this had been insufficient.It is the reason I love "Goju-Ryu Karate". Gojuryu is philosophical Karate as shown in name it self...In the next section,I try to explain the Gojuryu Karate philosophy seen in old Okinawan martial arts book "Bubishi".

1-1 The Eight Principles of Karate in the “Bubushi.” 拳法之大要八句

(1)人心同天地 "Jin shin wa ten chi to onaji" 
...Human spirit and body are equal to the movement of heaven and earth.

(2)血脈似日月 "Ketsu-myaku wa nichi-getsu ni nitari" 
Stream of blood look like the motion of Sun and Moon.
We Karate-ka exist in Nature. We should aim at knowing Nature. Our aim is to achieve a stable mind and body that is integrated naturally. The final stage of Karate is equal to finl stage of Zen. This stage is called “Mui-Shizen(無為自然;Abandoning artifice and just being oneself” in oriental philosophy. “Karate” is Reallya way of life.
gojuryu internatinaol karatedo kobudo union yuzenkai japan
(3)法剛柔呑吐 "hou wa go-ju o donto su"
..Truth has two sides, a hard side and a soft side. And they are executed naturally and flexibly like human breathing.

(4)身随時応変 "mi wa zuiji ou hen su"
The body moves naturally and flexibly.A true technique is invoked from the mindlessness.

(5)手目逢空則入 "Syu-moku wa kuu ni aeba sunawachi hairu"
Eyes and techniques never miss a chance.

(6)碼進退離 "Me o motte shintai no ri tosu"
Make it the limit a one-yard interval between forward and retreat.

(7)目要観四向 "me wa shihou o mirukoto o yousu""
The eyes must see 360 degrees

(8)耳能聴八方 "mimi wa yoku happou o choukin su"
The ears must hear the sound from all directions. This passage suggests the superiority of hearing over sight in Budo.

1-2 Maxims for Karate-ka by Wai Shizan (Wang Shijiang) in “Bubishi.
(1) The veritable hero does not show himself to the peopleA truly courageous person is always tender.He never originates abusive words.The person who always devises Karate should not be arrogant.The person does not make light of others true honesty.The veritable hero does not show himself to the people.A true expert is hidden from the people.

(2) Pursue meeting a good friend and talk about the secret together.Karate-ka should receive others in modesty regardless of a trifling thing.It is necessary to talk about the secret together by Karate-ka when meeting a good friend.Moreover, do not associate with a bad Karate-ka.It is because of this that a lot of good relations with people are lost.

(3) Attitude is important when encountering a strong enemy.Do not show fear when coming across a powerful enemy.A true technique goes away if you become by esperate.When the enemy attacks in a straight line, counterattack from the side
by operating in a circle.When the enemy attacks by operating in a circle, attack in a straight line.

(4) Balance and activity of one’s feet.Height of advancement and skillful retreat and posture are important.Attack exists from top and bottom.The change is infinity.Attack it properly like the thunder in a cloud or like the moonlight and
the meteor.Acquire not only hands table but also the movement of the back from experience clearly.Bad power is trained, and the truth is helped.

1-3  Important Things about Attack and Defense.

1 .First of all, attack enemy’s west if you hope to attack the enemy’s east.
2. Next of all, note the enemy from behind if you hope to attack the enemy from the front.
3. Use the back for soft power.
4. Attack the enemy’s thumb if the enemy grips your.
5. Use feint tactics if you want to defeat the enemy.
6. Invite the enemy to relax his guard if he is knocked down
7. Shoot the enemy with the back of the head if the enemy clings.
8. Attack the enemy’s testicle vital point when the enemy clings.
9. Attack the enemy’s throat if you are bitten by the enemy.
10.Hit the enemy’s face if you head is gripped
11.Attack the enemy’s throat if you are bitten by the enemy
12.Attack the enemy by “nukite” when approached suddenly.
13.Use the kick when the enemy starts moving away.
14.First of all, attack the right when you want to attack the left of enemy.
15.First of all, you must attack the tip of the hand when wanting to step on the enemy’s foot and break it.
16.Move your center of gravity behind when you kick high.
17.You must attack the enemy’s face using “nukite” if your hand is twisted
by the enemy.
18.You must attack using “nukite” when the enemy grips your sleeves.
19.You must attack using “hizageri” if the enemy grips your trousers.
20.Aim punch the moment from which the enemy comes out ahead at a dash.
21.You must think about hanging the enemy’s foot and lifting it up for an
enemy who likes to kick.
22.You must not use the kick when the enemy is taking a low stance.
23.Keep in mind you must bear the in-fighting when the enemy takes a highstance.
24.You must attack the upper part of the enemy who attacks the lower part.
25.Lower and avoid posture during a dash when the enemy comes to grip your
26.Use the joint technique when your throat seems to be gripped by the enemy.
27.You should avoid the enemy’s kick more before and behind and left and right
than to receive it by the arm.
28.It becomes a strong technique if the enemy’s hand and foot can be attacked simultaneously.
..Strictly speaking,Okinawa, birth place of Karate,had been irrelevant to Japanese Samrai not at all. Okinawa and Japan were another Nation until 1879. Okinawa was Ryukyu kingdom, and strongly infuruenced by China. So, in Karate Dojo in Okinawa,there are no respect to Japanese Samurai's God such as Kashima-daimyoujin(鹿島大明神)and Katori-daimyoujin (香取大明神).
picture;a typical Japanese dojo

 So there are no culter,no philosophy on humanbeing and life from Zen philosophy in Okinawa. When the foreigner who searches a Samurai spirit (Busido) come to Okinawa ,his wish is never achieved.  
 Karate had been not able to become an equal member of Japanese Budo such as Kendo, Judo, Kyudo. One reason is Japanese martial arts values a philosophy more than a technique.After all, Okinawan karate, unlike other Japanese martial arts, belongs to the culture of southern China and belongs to Taoist culture.
 Chojun Miyagi 、Kenwa Mabuni and Gichin Funakoshi's earnest wishes were to have added Okinawan Karate to affiliate with Japanese Budo. They persisted the position in Dai Nippon Butokukai(Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society ;1895-1946)
and efforted the acquisition of Renshi title, Kyoshi title in DNB. Consequently, they were accomplished. However, Karate shared neither the history nor the philosopy of Japanese Budo.It is ,so to speak, a nuance of "Odd one out". So, afterwards for a long term, the image of Karate was barbarous lower-rank martial arts.
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