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WHAT IS KARATE?
The art of Karate is a system of combat developed on the island of Okinawa. Karate may allow you to defeat an opponent by the use of striking and kicking. The students practice hard physical training to develop fighting skills.This training requires strenuous physical and mental discipline. Karate helps with the development of a strong character and builds a feeling of respect toward our fellow man. The study of Karate, therefore, may be valuable to all people, male and female, young and old alike.
The literal meaning of the two Japanese characters which make up the word Karate is "empty hands." This, of course, refers simply to the fact that Karate originated as a system of self-defense which relied on the effective use of the unarmed body of the practitioner. This system consisted of techniques of blocking or thwarting an attack and counter-attacking the opponent by punching, striking or kicking. The modern art of Karate has developed out of a thorough organization of these techniques.
Karate as a means of self-defense has the oldest history, going back hundreds of years. It is only in recent years that the techniques which have been handed down were scientifically studied and the principles evolved for making the most effective use of the various moves of the body. Training based on these principles and knowledge of the working of the muscles and the joints and the vital relation between movement and balance enable the modern student of Karate to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, to defend himself successfully against any would-be assailant.
As a physical art, Karate is almost without equal. Since it is highly dynamic and makes balanced use of a large number of body muscles, it provides excellent all-around exercise and develops coordination and agility.
Many girls and women in Japan have taken up Karate because, in addition to its usefulness as self-defense, it is especially good for the figure. It is widely practiced by both children and older people as a means of keeping in top physical condition, and many schools are promoting it as a physical art among their students.
As a sport, Karate has a relatively short history. Contest rules have been devised, however, and it is now possible to hold actual matches as in other competitive sports. because of the speed, the variety of techniques, and the split-second timing it calls for, many athletic-minded people have come to show an interest in competitive Karate and there is every indication that it will continue to grow in popularity.
Western (non-Japanese) students may be interested to know that the Japan Karate Association emphasizes Karate's character-building aspects, in which respect for one's opponent (sportsmanship) is the cardinal principle. The maxims which are taught to the students can be summarized in the following five words:
CHARACTER, SINCERITY, EFFORT, ETIQUETTE, SELF-CONTROL
HOW THE WORD KARATE DEVELOPED
Prior to the 20th Century, many terms were used to describe certain forms existing in Okinawa. These forms were not found in Japan nor in China but many similarities were found in these countries. "Chan Fa and Ken Fat"
The meaning of "Kempo" in Japanese is "The Law Of The Fist" or "The Way Of Fist". "Kempo" is read as "Chan Fa" in Mandarin and "Ken Fat" in Cantonese in China. "Tode"
The great mighty Tang Dynasty influenced Japan in many ways. Government representatives had been exchanged during the Sui period but it was during the Tang period that the Japanese learned Chinese culture very deeply. There were many buildings built imitating Chinese design. So great was the influence by T'ang that the character "To" (also known as "Kara") was used as an adjective meaning "T'ang=China." For example, Kara Ningyo=China doll and To Jin=Chinese people. It is understandable that either Japanese or Okinawans named the fighting forms developed in Okinawa as "Tode" (then also read as "Karate"), not because these forms came from China but because of unknown factors. As a custom, when there was something unknown to Japanese people, they were pleased to believe that it must have come from China.
In 1905 Karate was included in the physical education curriculum of Okinawa's intermediate schools (junior high). The ideographs (Tode) were standard in Okinawa at this time. In 1905 the Okinawa Master Chomo Hanagi first used the other (Karate) ideograph for his book Karate Soshu Hen.
Meeting in 1936
In 1936 Ryukyu Shimpo, an Okinawan newspaper, sponsored a meeting of Okinawan Karate masters to discuss the status of Karate in Okinawa. Yabu, Kiyamu, Motobu, Miyagi, and Hanagi were invited to Naha, the capital city of Okinawa and also the "Mecca" of the Karate world. In this meeting, the unification of writing was discussed and it was decided to change the name of the art to "Karate" meaning "empty hand".
Reasons For This Change
1. They would establish the new origin. They believed Okinawan fighting arts could be independent from China even though they recognized that great influence by China that existed.
2. The new ideograph also represented the meaning of "Mu" "Ku" which has a stronger association with Zen philosophy than the old.
3. This was the art of fighting methods using no weapons but only the "empty hand".
After the meeting, the letter was standardized and has remained unchanged to the present day. The ideograph was used occasionally by people who were reluctant to use changes even in the early 1960's.
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The G.K.K. Today
The Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai as it exists today is an organization designed to serve its members. This is accomplished in part by sharing the expertise of many talented, dedicated individuals who combine their efforts to provide mutual support and growth. In this organization everyone learns and everyone teaches.
The highest authority in the G.K.K. is Shihan Motoo Yamakura, the author of the series of books and videos entitled “Goju-Ryu Karate-Do, Fundamentals for Traditional Practitioners”. Master Yamakura generally oversees the operation of the organization and provides direction in the art and on the administration of the G.K.K., although most organizational functions are handled by the Assistant Chairman, CEO, Directors, and other officers. Most offices are open to election and officers are selected from the membership. We try to rotate officers to keep the G.K.K. democratic and to help our members grow through experience.
The organization serves its members by providing legitimate Goju-Ryu training and credentials such as rank certification, membership cards, dojo charters, teaching authorization and so on. The organization provides training material both written and taped, and regularly holds seminars and tournaments for its members. By drawing on the collective talents of our membership, we can offer training to complement Goju-Ryu such as weapons and other martial arts such as Judo, Jujitsu, Tai Chi, and Aikido; but our primary intent is the study of traditional Goju-Ryu Karate-Do.
This organization has been in existence since 1959. We have more than one hundred fifty five active black belt members and more than thirty member dojo. There are G.K.K. clubs on both coasts, from Florida to Minnesota, and throughout the Mid-West as well as in Canada, Chile, India, and Sri Lanka. Members are encouraged to practice and exchange ideas with other schools, and to get together for seminars and tournaments.
The organization has been rather selective in acceptance of member schools and, as a result, is not as large as it could be. In this manner we manage to maintain a relatively high quality of membership. Most of the members or schools were recommended for membership by existing members, and new applicants are expected to provide evidence of their qualifications and expectations. We can be selective because the G.K.K. is a non-profit organization. In other words, there is no financial motivation for having additional members and we do not solicit new member schools. All organizational time and effort are donated, and each member is expected to do his part. Only expenses for materials and supplies, seminars and special events come from member fees.
As with any organization, we need money to operate, and our philosophy is to balance income against expenses. We endeavor to keep member fees as low as possible and still meet their needs and the organizational expenses. Therefore, the fee schedule varies from time to time. Currently, there is a $15 dollar U.S. membership fee and $15 dollar U.S. annual renewal fee for kyu ranked students, and $25 dollar U.S. fees for dan ranked members. Members receive membership cards and a patch at no charge. Certificates of rank cost $15 dollars U.S. for kyu ranks and $25 dollars U.S. for dan ranks. Instructor Certificates and Dojo Charters are supplied at no charge, as are Newsletters, some training information and other written items. Individual school dues, promotional fees and etc. remain with each school.
The obligations of our members are primarily to themselves, to improve in character development through Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. The obligations of members to the organization are to abide by its constitution, goals and regulations - these items being established by the membership. When applying for membership you agree to follow the rules, and as a member you have a voice in their establishment. Generally, it is the intent of the G.K.K. to make legitimate training available to as many people as possible. This has been accomplished for the most part by operating through educational facilities, churches or community centers, where dues average $25 dollars U.S. per month and we have access to large groups of students who can participate at minimal expense. We encourage whole family participation.
This organization has grown to its present status through the combined efforts of a dedicated group of talented Goju-Ryu practitioners who emphasize the precepts of traditional Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. We welcome all serious practitioners to participate in our organization and to share with each other.
Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai International
The Goju-Ryu Kyokai International is an organization that contains various Martial Arts divisions. These include the Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai, the karate division; the Kobudo-Kai, the weapons division; the Jujitsu Division; and the Judo Division.
Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai
The Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai has been in existence since 1959. It one of the oldest and largest Goju-Ryu karate organizations in North America. It has more than thirty active schools and more than one hundred and fifty active dan rank members. The G.K.K. is not-for-profit and operates under the guidance of Shihan Motoo Yamakura, eighth dan Goju-Ryu Karate.
The Kobudo-Kai is the weapons division and offers training and rank certification in the weapons commonly associated with martial arts. There are certified instructors and examiners in various member schools located the U.S.A. and Canada.
The Jujitsu Division offers training and certification in traditional jujitsu with Goju-Ryu influence. The division has more than forty active dan rank members and more than ten active programs in North America. There are sixteen certified examiners in the division who can instruct and award rank through U.S.M.A. and U.S.J.A. as well as through this organization.
The Judo Division offers training and certification in Kodokan Judo. The division has more than fifteen active dan rank members in three locations in the U.S.A. There are five certified examiners who can award rank through U.S.M.A. or U.S.J.A.
Other Martial Arts
The organization has instructors qualified to teach Tai-Chi, Aikido, Iai-Do, Kendo and other martial arts, but no organized divisions for these. Contact the school in your area or the headquarters for additional information.