After over forty years of training, Sensei Chinen organized his thoughts on what constituted the basic elements of Goju Ryu curriculum. In 1996 he codified the eight elements or principles that he called the Goju Happo and arranged their order to parallel the way students are taught.
Generally, before students join a karate school, they would want to learn what would be taught and what the style emphasized (philosophy). Then their training would progress to proper breathing techniques (kokyu ho) and general exercise to warm up and condition the body (hojo undo and kigu undo). Next, the students would learn structured forms (kata) to teach them specific offensive and defensive karate techniques and how to move without a partner. After learning the forms, the practical applications from the forms (bunkai oyo) would be taught to apply structured self-defense techniques with a partner. Next, sensitivity training with "sticky" hands (kakie) is introduced to allow a freer interaction with a partner. Then students begin cooperative and controlled sparring (randori), and advance to dynamic sparring (kumite) which is more aggressive and has less rules than randori. Last in order is the history and tradition (rikkishi and dento) of the style.
Following is a more detailed description of Sensei Chinen’s Goju Happo:
The philosophy of Jundokan International is embodied by our notions for training (dojo kun) which are recited during the closing ceremony after each karate class. Dojo Kun is a set of guidelines written and passed down from Miyazato Sensei. These guidelines were based on common advice that Miyagi Sensei would give to his students. These guidelines were designed to help us in our daily lives in and outside the dojo.
- Be humble and polite.
- Train considering your physical strength.
- Practice earnestly with creativity.
- Be calm and swift.
- Take care of your health.
- Live a plain life.
- Do not be too proud or modest.
- Continue your training with patience.
Sensei Chinen always emphasized that Goju Ryu karate is primarily about self-defense, but he would continue to explain all the additional benefits like self-confidence, improved health, and learning to develop relationships with others. He would say that, ultimately, our training results in good citizens who are worthwhile contributors to society. If you carefully consider the meaning of each dojo kun, you will realize that each is about self-improvement not aggressive behavior or ego building. The number one goal of Jundokan International is to teach traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu karate, but in doing so, students will learn important life lessons which will serve them well outside of karate.
Proper breathing is important for good health. Goju Ryu is known for its breathing techniques which are evident in the forms of Sanchin and Tensho. The five types of breathing demonstrated in these two forms include: long inhale, long exhale; short inhale, short exhale; long inhale, short exhale; short inhale, long exhale; and irregular rhythm. The breathing should be coordinated with each body movement and, when done properly, results in greater strength and endurance. This is very obvious when considering the sports of swimming and long-distance running: if the athlete doesn’t breathe properly in coordination with the body movements, his/her performance will suffer dramatically. Karate breathing is the same.
Exercise and Supplementary Training (Hojo Undo and Kigu Undo)
Hojo Undo is supplementary exercise such as pushups, sit ups, and working with a partner for resistance training. Another aspect of Hojo Undo includes Kigu Undo which is exercise with traditional Okinawan training tools. These tools include makiwara, tan, chi ishi, nigiri game, ishi sashi, and kongoken. Use of these traditional tools increases strength, coordination, timing, balance, and conditioning - they are specifically designed to complement and improve how the body moves in self-defense situations.
The simple definition of kata is that it is a set pattern of offensive and defensive techniques. The true meaning is much deeper: the katas of Goju Ryu are the heart and soul of the style. They are an encyclopedia of unique techniques which have been developed by the masters who created the forms, often as a result of real-life self-defense situations. The katas of Goju Ryu consist of three categories: Kihon (basic), Kaishu (literally open-hand, meaning explosive energy), and Heishu (literally closed-hand, meaning contained energy). The sole Kihon kata is Sanchin, a breathing kata which is the foundation upon which Goju Ryu is built. The sole Heishu kata is Tensho. The Kaishu katas include Gekisai Dai Ichi, Gekisai Dai Ni, Saifa, Seiyunchin, Shisochin, Sanseru, Sepai, Kururunfa, Sesan, and Pechurin/Suparinpei. Additional curriculum katas include Fukyu Kata Dai Ichi, Fukyu Kata Dai Ni, Fukyu Kata Dai San and a stance training forms called Dachi, Formation Eleven and Formation Twelve.
Practical Applications (Bunkai Oyo)
Bunkai oyo is the analysis of each part of a kata and practicing how to apply it for self-defense. Kata, practiced without bunkai oyo, is just meaningless motion. When we see a kata being performed, some applications are obvious, but some are often hidden. Sometimes, what appears to be a block may actually be either a block or a strike. A forward movement may, in the application, be a backward movement. Many applications are hidden or may only be implied by the kata movement. That is why bunkai oyo requires an open mind and a deep understanding of the kata.
Sticky Hands (Kakie)
Kakie is normally performed by two practitioners, each extending and retracting one arm while pushing wrist to wrist in a back and forth motion. The wrists are in continuous contact (hence the term “sticky hands”) and there is a constant resistance to the push but not so much as to prevent movement. Kakie helps to develop a keen sensitivity to the motion, balance, and even the intention of an opponent. It also improves strength, conditioning, and footwork. Sensei Chinen related that in his early years at the Jundokan dojo in Okinawa, free sparring was not allowed and kakie was the primary method to develop fighting techniques because it could be used to transition into strikes, foot sweeps, joint locks, throws, and chokes.
Controlled and Dynamic Sparring (Randori and Kumite)
Karate randori is a type of cooperative free sparring practice with a partner where movements are fluid, random, and controlled. As the skill level of the practitioners goes up, the speed and variety of techniques also increases. If a large disparity exists in skill or rank between the two practitioners, the higher ranked person must not take advantage of the lower ranked person. During randori you must be able to trust your partner’s control, especially when practicing new and challenging techniques.
Kumite is a dynamic competitive sparring which more closely approximates realistic speed and power. Control of techniques is still required but cooperation is not. Modern jiyu kumite (free sparring) is associated with tournament point fighting and is sometimes reduced to a formalized game of tag.
History and Tradition (Rikkishi and Dento)
History and tradition are the last Goju Happo, not because they are least important, but rather because they are the last thing that most students concentrate on in their training. New students have many reasons to study karate - the number one reason is to learn self-defense. The beginning student doesn’t realize that history and tradition provide the foundation and context around which our style and our organization have been developed. As students become more proficient and experienced in their karate training, they will naturally want to know more about the origin and precursors of the style.