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The Difference Between Go and Ju

by Ilea Jackson, submitted by Robert DaLessio

My presentation this evening is on “go” or “hard” and “ju” or “soft” as related to karate-do, remembering that “do” in karate-do speaks of the way of life rather than the fighting application.

I had a really hard time conveying what I wanted to say on this subject as my personal studies have been on a different subject lately. In fact, when I tried writing this a few weeks ago I ended up tossing the whole thing out and starting over.

We’ve talked about the difference between “go” and “ju” in this class many times and have discussed many different aspects. Today I want to focus on their interconnectivity. As I starting contemplating the subject the following passage from the Tao Te Ching came to mind. It holds a very special meaning for me anyway as the first time I heard it was at the memorial service for a very special baby girl.



Tao Te Ching #2

“When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.”

The key word that I want you to focus in on is “dependent”. In our society the word tends to have negative connotations, however, look around you. In this room we are dependent on each other to learn and grow in our chosen art and way of life. I would suggest to you today that we would never know the true meaning of “ju” until we have experienced “go” and vice versa. They define each other and give us reference points.

In application, we all have situations, thought patterns, and paradigms (which can be defined as the “lens” through which we see situations and other people) where we need more fluidity, more grace, and more “ju”. Sometimes this means accepting what is without regard to our feelings or reactions. On the other hand, we all have areas where we need more “go”, more strength, more discipline. For example, many of us, including myself, need more discipline in practicing our kata every day!

In conclusion, I hope you take away a sense that these two capabilities are connected and it is by applying and balancing them that we continue on our path.

NOTE: The above paper was submitted as part of Ilea Jackson's Fifth Kyu promotional requirements.