By Joy Niemack
Goju Ryu karate is a blend of Japanese and Chinese influences and is the most holistic form of martial arts. Goju Ryu is similar to Kung Fu and Aikido, but is distinct from Taekwon-do.
More importantly, Goju Ryu is about respect. It is about respecting traditions, respecting instructors, instructions and fellow participants.
Leaving your shoes at the door, you enter into a very different place. In the dojo, pictures frame the walls and accolades proudly displayed. Here at the dojo past as well as present instructors are revered. Clint Cockcroft is an instructor who is highly respected. He has trained for 25 years, has been instructing self-defence for nine years and has achieved his black belt. He also has trained in other martial arts forms such as Aikido and Kung Fu.
Although Goju Ryu is concerned with meditation and focusing on breathing techniques, it can be aggressive at times. Goju Ryu is a practical self-defence form. The main aim is to improve and work your way up the belt system. This weekend, numerous members received their orange and brown belts. The colour of the belts represents people’s ranks. The members have to perform Kata’s or sequences in front of the Sensei. He then grades accordingly.
Thomas King, the chairperson of Rhodes Goju Ryu Club, believes that it is popular because there is no physical fitness required. He says, “You can adapt your body and form to it; it is also good for your health, flexibility and awareness.”
Monika Dresen as member of Goju Ryu said, ”I enjoy Goju Ryu especially after a day of stress. I can come here to relax and forget about everything.” She also enjoys the good-spirited and friendly members of Goju Ryu, saying “Everyone here gets along and the instructors are helpful.”
Participants of Goju Ryu should be respected because it requires a lot of dedication and discipline. The sequences take a lot of practice, skill and balance. The participants’ flexibility was impressive and their role playing was realistic. The imagination is also involved in Goju Ryu as there is seldom sparring. Instead, you imagine an attacker coming towards you and then your reaction is acted out.
This combination of so many ancient forms should be tried, not only so you can defend yourself but as a form of fitness and relaxation.