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BOOK REVIEW: The Character of Goju-Ryu

by Steve Wilson

In "The Character of Goju-Ryu, Kata Implications for Experienced Practitioners", Mr. Stamper does an amazing job of discussing, analyzing, exploring, explaining, and evaluating the kata of Goju Ryu. The book perfectly recites so many thoughts, processes, questions, and journeys I myself have taken during the thirty-eight years I have studied Goju Ryu. Mr. Stamper explains each of those processes very clearly. He put into words many thoughts and experiences I personally have had but that I could never properly explain or convey to my peers or students in the manner that I was seeking to express myself.

He "very clearly" explains the difference between "Do" of modern day traditional karate intended for the general public and the "Te, Bujutsu, or Koryu (classical) kata practice before it was taught to the public. He not only explains the differences but explains why those differences exist, the reasons/purpose for both methods, and why both methods were/are necessary for those interested. Due to his wonderful work and ability to express his martial education and analysis so clearly, he will save me hours upon hours of explanation and discussion with my advanced students. Now I can say, "read this book" and then we can have a wonderful meaningful discussion!
     
I'm impressed and envious that Mr. Stamper was able to discern the complexity and meaning of the ancient Koryu kata of Bujutsu, that I could not. I remained confused for many years and unlike Mr. Stamper; who was able to analyze, break down, and "figure out" the real meanings and purposes on his own; I had to have it explained to me via a first generation 89 year old direct student of Miyagi Chojun Sensei. Much of what Mr. Stamper shares in his book is VERY similar indeed, to what that first generation student from 1930 shared with me. In short, Mr. Stamper's analysis is on the money... This precious resource made the lessons received from that first generation student even more clear and tied up some loose ends I still struggled with due that resource having passed away.
     
I am so grateful to Mr. Stamper for taking the time and energy to share his vast experience and understanding with the rest of us. There are many "master" who could learn a lot by reading this book! From my perspective this book is a must read by every serious practitioner of Karate-Do. It will be required reading for all of my Yudansha. Mr. Stamper, thank you so much!