GojuRyu Cross-Pollination

On the last weekend of June I hosted a gathering of karateka from both Sekai GojuRyu RyuSyoKai (http://www.ryusyokai.org) and Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai (http://www.goju.com) at my house in LaSalle, MI. It was an informal gathering to train, visit, and get to know each other.

We started with brief introductions and sharing warm-ups. We all stood in a large circle and took turns demonstrating yobi undo which everyone then tried out.

Next we did all the Goju kata, without much discussion until after we had completed all of them. For each kata we picked a different direction to make things a bit more challenging.

Those of us with a RyuSyoKai background demonstrated several rounds of kakome kumite. This is a group of five people with one person in the middle

and the other four are to his sides, in front, and behind. The person in the middle performs a simple I-pattern kata while the four surrounding him take turns alternately attacking and defending to match the kata. This is a great exercise for development of timing, and conditioning if you like.

We also did some work with partners on fundamental tsuki-uke and keri. One partner would strike chudan and the other blocked and countered, making sure to use both arms: one to check and the other to block, control, and counterstrike. Another partner drill demonstrated the importance of using the obliques for kicks, both for the delivery and the return.

Next we split into smaller groups and compared differences in kata then mixed the groups around and compared different kata. It's still very interesting to me that despite very different lineages there are actually very few significant differences in the kata.

Throughout the afternoon I noticed some recurring concepts:
- Visualizing the spine as the axis of torso rotation and keeping one's spine as straight as possible to avoid disrupting that axis
- Using koshi in the horizontal, vertical and side-to-side planes and combinations of those three planes - Economy of motion and avoiding exaggerated motions

At the end of training we experimented with some of the tools that I've been using for solo training. We also posed for the obligatory karate training photo. ;) In the photo from left to right are: Sensei Ken Maunz, Ron Schooley, Sensei Mark Lester, Angie Monday, Matt Loiselle, Sensei Paul Babladelis, and Tim Calkins.

After training, we barbequed and discussed in more detail many of the things we'd worked on earlier in the day. I enjoyed it so much that I'm thinking I ought to make it an annual event. Next time I won't give such short notice.

Thank you to everyone who attended and shared their valuable insights and experience!