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Hojo undo

Okinawan Goju Ryu Hojo Undo (Supplementary Exercises)

Kanryo Higashionna’s advice for using supplementary equipment in Karate (From Shoshin Nagamine Sensei’s book Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters)

The following training advice has been passed down from Higashionna Kanryo:

  1. The results of one’s efforts are cumulative: never rush or show off.
  2. Train in accordance with your ability
  3. Repeat each exercise until exhaustion and build intensity gradually.

Nigiri Gami (Clay Gripping Jars)

The Makiwara (punching board)

The chi-shi, also known as chikaraishi, consists of a concrete weight attached to an end of a wooden handle (similar to a lollipop).Chi-shi training is extremely vital to Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu. It should be used side by side with the practice of Sanchin and Tensho Kata. Correct use of the chi-shi will improve muscle tone, strength in the fingers, hands, arms and chest (amongst many other parts of the body), however these are only the external benefits. The ligaments and cartilage of the wrist, elbows and shoulder joints will also benefit from this form of training.

Kami (Jar) In Okinawa they have many types of jars. There are jars for sake there are jars for money; there are jars for water etc. Each jar can have a different shape. In Sanchin Kata we do a technique called double nukite (spearhand) strike. When you are doing this technique you can visualise your arms around a kami (jar), like what is demonstrated in this picture

Makiage Kigu: the training with this hojo undo equipment helps in the development and strengthening of the grip and wrist. The practice with makiage kigu is also a good supplemental exercise to develop the forearms.

Nigiri Gami




Chi Ishi




Makiage Kigu




Goju-Ryu katas

Gekisai Dai Ichi – 撃砕第一

Rip and Tear I or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage Ikata-gekisai-dai-ichi

This kata was developed and introduced in the 1940’s by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei. It’s intention was to popularize Karate-Doh to the general public and help establish a curriculum for school children. It contains powerful, basic movements that are quite easy to interpret and learn, however many of the techniques have multiple applications. Most the movements are done with a closed fist and with full power.

Gekisai Dai Ni – 撃砕第二

kata-gekisai-dai-niRip and Tear II or Turning Disadvantage into Advantage II

The format of this kata is very similar to Gekisai dai Ichi, however some advanced techniques and timing are included. Kake uke (open hand hooking block), mawashi uke (circular block) and neko ashi dachi (cat foot stance) are the additional techniques in the kata. In Gekisai dai Ichi full power and speed was utilized however, in Gekisai dai Ni the concept of ‘muchimi’ (a heavy, sticking but flowing action) is introduced in the kake and mawashi uke’s. ‘Muchimi’ requires stances with a lower centre of gravity, hence neko ashi dachi!

Sanchin Ichi – 三戦一 (Miyagi Sanchin)

kata-sanchin-ichiSanchin Ichi translates as “3 Battles One” or “3 Conflicts One”. This kata was developed by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei because he perceived Sanchin Ni, the original Sanchin kata he learned from Higaonna Sensei, was too long for beginners. As stated above, Sanchin Ni was determined to be too difficult for beginners to perform, therefore Sanchin Ichi was developed, leaving Sanchin Ni to be taught at a brown and black belt level. Brown and Black belts should do their own personal training using Sanchin Ichi and Sanchin Ni. Sanchin Ichi has all the same movements as Sanchin Ni but is shorter and no turns hence making it a little easier.

The Sanchin kata are the basis of the Goju-Ryu Karate system. All other kata are based on the Sanchin forms. The principals of the Goju-Ryu Karate are all encompassed within these kata. The Grand Masters in Okinawa have explained that in the olden days Goju-Ryu or Nata-te karateka would learn the Sanchin Kata and only one other Kata, based on that persons body type, therefore you would only two katas. Today we are very lucky to be able to learn the whole system, however we must remember Sanchin Kata was and still is an very important kata.

Saifa – 砕破

kata-saifaCrush and Tear or Smash and Tear

Saifa kata introduces tai sabaki (body evasion) and open handed palm-heel blocks and strikes (haito uchi). It mixes swift, light stances (neko ashi dachi & sagi ashi dachi) with solid, grounding stances (shiko dachi). Saifa contains a vast number of techniques like hammer fist strike (tettsui uchi), back fist (ura uchi), morote tsuki (double fist punch), ashi barai (foot sweep), haito uchi (ridge hand strike) etc, etc.

Seiunchin – 制引戦

kata-seiunchinTo Travel Far and Conquer or To Attack and Pull into Battle

Seiyunchin is a long and strength-sapping kata. It contains pulling and gripping techniques, throws, hidden techniques and requires a strong upper and lower body, good breath control and lots of stamina. There are NO kicks in this kata!! This kata is most performed at tournaments throughout the world. The techniques are well suited for practical, close-in fighting.

Sanchin Dai Ni – 三戦第二

Higashionna Sanchin

Sanchin Ni translates as “3 Battles Two” or “3 Conflicts Two”.  This has many meanings.  First it refers to the struggle to control the body under physical fatigue.  With fatigue the mind begins to lose focus and thus the spirit begins to diminsh as well.  Therefore Sanchin develops discipline, determination, focus, perserverance and other mental attributes.   The Chinese refer to this as Shen (spirit), Shin (mind) and Li (body).  Another possible interpretation refers to the “Three Burners” of the body as decribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
One of two “heishu ” Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin is probably the most misunderstood Kata in all of Karate.  In contrast, it is probably the single most valuable training exercise in Goju-Ryu.  Like the other Kata of Goju-Ryu, Sanchin (Samm Chien in Chinese) can be found in several Chinese arts, particulary the southern styles including four styles of Crane Boxing, Dragon Boxing, Tiger Boxing, Lion Boxing, Dog or Ground Boxing and Monk Fist.  Sanchin has such aspects as deep, diaphramatic breathing found in many internal arts as well as external attributes like mechanical alignment and muscular strength.  Because many martial artists have little or no understanding of the true history and nature of the Chinese arts from which Okinawan Goju-Ryu has its roots, Sanchin has become little more than an isometric form performed with dangerous tension and improper breathing techniques.

The original Sanchin that Higaonna Sensei learned from RuRuKo (1852-1930) was performed with open hands and with less emphasis on muscle contraction and “energetic” breathing.   With the changes brought about by Emperor Meiji (Meiji Restoration Period 1888-1912), Higaonna Sensei changed the open hands to closed fists as the martial meaning was no longer emphasized.  Later Miyagi Sensei would again alter the Kata in pattern alone which is Sanchin.

Shisochin – 四向戦

kata-shisouchinFour Direction Battle

Again like seiunchin kata, close range techniques are used throughout this kata. Rapid whipping techniques are blended in with those requiring ‘muchimi’. Joint locks and breaks are a feature of Shisochin kata. You can see the Chinese influence in this kata as there are only four (4) closed hand techniques in this kata with all the rest open hand techniques. Hanshi Miyazato would do Shisochin Kata quite often at demonstrations. Much practice is required to master this kata especially to get the focus Hanshi Miyazato had.

Sanseru – 三十六手

kata-sanseruThirty Six Hands

The techniques in this kata seem basic, direct and hard, however there are some unique and advanced, close-in techniques. Joint and knee locks and kicks, low front kicks while moving forward and blocking after turning are techniques that require lots of practice. Slow movements evolve into fast, explosive ones. A feature of this kata is use of koken  (top of wrist) at the end of the kata. This last movement (morote koken uke in shikodachi) is an often misunderstood movement with an array of close-in applications.

Sepai – 十八手

kata-sepaiEighteen Hands

Circular, whipping movements and body evasion (taisabaki), dropping your body to rise up and push your opponent off balance and faints are all found within this kata. There are, as in ALL the other kata, many hidden techniques and movements. Certain hand techniques require a unique use of certain part of the hand eg, performing the gedan furi uchi after swiveling 90 degrees requires the hand to be shaped like it would when one knocks on a door.

Kururunfa – 久留頓破

kata-kururunfaForever Crushing and Breaking

Again the use of taisabaki, joint locking and breaking techniques are prominent within this quick and fast kata. Many open handed techniques could either be interpreted as a joint lock or a block, and depending on the circumstances could be used as both. The use of the hips to aid some hand techniques enhances both the power and effect of the technique.

Sesan – 十三手

kata-sesanThirteen Hands

The opening three Sanchin dachi steps with the morote chudan uke (double middle level block) and chudan gyaku tsuki (reverse stomach punch) appears to be similar to that as in Sanseru kata, BUT, in performance and application they are NOT! This is a powerful, fighting kata with many superb close-in fighting techniques.

Suparinpei – 壱百零八

One Hundred and Eight Hands

The longest of all the Goju Ryu kata, Suparinpei is said to contain all the techniques from all the Goju Ryu kata. Quick blocking and simultaneous striking are found all over this kata. Just like in a fight, you have to pace yourself and your breathing to end off this kata strongly. This kata is also known by it’s original name, Pichurin.

Tensho – 転掌

kata-tenshoRevolution of the Wrist or Revolution of the Heavens or Turning Hands

Tensho kata was created by Miyagi Chojun O’Sensei. Tensho literally means ‘turning hands’. This is the ‘JU’ (softness) of Goju and Miyagi O’Sensei developed this kata from the ‘Rokkishu’ kata of the Fukian White Crane System. The hand movements and breathing require a high level of co-ordination.

Shaolin forms


Pao Ying Kune

Leopard form

Leopard teaches agility and strength

Lung Ying Kune

Dragon form

Dragon shows you inner spirit and how to ride the wind


Fu Hok Seung Ying Kune

Tiger crane form

The crane is a form of vitality, endurance, balance and precision counter attacks and lastly

Sha Ying Kune

Snake form

Snake pulls them all together, building chi energy, accuracy, and timing


Other Forms

  • Tie Tsing Kune (Steel Sinew Fist – Breathing Form)
  • Lunyang (Two door fighting system)
  • Tom Hoi (Two man self-defence drills)
  • Wu Dip Doe (Butterfly Sword Form)
  • Shaolin Beau (Spear Form)
  • Kwan Dao
  • Double Broadsword Form

Kobudo katas

Bo (棒)

Shushi No Kun, is the base kata for the system. This kata is common to most Okinawan kobudo systems, in slightly different iterations. It is said to come from a Chinese expert named Shushi, who came to Okinawa in the early 1800’s and lived in Naha (Fred Lohse, 2008).

Choun No Kun, is said to have been made about 250 years ago by a Tomari warrior named Choun, which means roughly  ending the morning mist. It is also practiced in Yamane Ryu and some Taira linage schools (Fred Lohse, 2008).

Sakugawa No Kun, is also common on Okinawa in various versions, and is said to be named for its creator, Tode Sakugawa, a famous Okinawan martial artist. Matayoshi Shinko learned it from Chinen Yamane. Matayoshi Shinko also taught a second Sakugawa no kon, Ufugushiku no Sakugawa, which is very similar to the main version, and was created by Oshiro Chojo (Fred Lohse, 2008).

Tsuken No Kun (Chikin No Kun), is named for the island it comes from, Tsuken Jima and is said to be over 400 years old. It is also said to have been passed on by Tsuken Oyakata Seisoku, compiled on the island, and to contain reverse techniques and techniques countering a spear. Matayoshi Shinko learned it from Gushikawa Teragua (Fred Lohse, 2008).

Shiishi No Kun, is the last kata formally taught in the system. It is also taught in some Taira lineage schools, and is sometimes called Sueyoshi no kon. It is named for its creator, though a stone reference in the name also refers to the technique of tossing small stones with the feet that is contained in the kata, and is said to be over 300 years old. It was supposedly created by Shishi Oyakata, a martial arts instructor to the Ryukyu king, and passed down only to members of the royal family and the eldest son of the Shishi family. Matayoshi Shinko learned it from Shishi Ryoko (Fred Lohse, 2008).

Ufutun-Bo, a village form. Its name refers to a militia, and is said to have been made by a garrison commander at Urasoe castle. It may also have been influenced by local bo dances (Fred Lohse, 2008).  This kata has no hand/grip changes in it and is said to be more realistic for fighting.

Sai (釵)

  • Dai Ichi Sai (Nicho Sai)
  • Dai Ni Sai (Sancho Sai)
  • Shinbaru No Sai (Matayoshi No Sai)

Tunkua (柺)

  • Tunkua Dai Ichi
  • Tunkua Dai Ni (Demonstration Kata)
  • Tunkua Dai San (Dojo Kata)
  • Sendi No Tonkua

Nunchaku (ヌンチャク)

  • Nunchaku Sandan (Matayoshi No Nunchaku)
  • Nunchaku Waza (Junbi Undo for Nunchaku)

Nunchaku waza

  1. Let go of nunchaku with left hand, strike downwards.
  2. Catch it behind the right arm.
  3. Switch sides without letting go.
  4. Switch sides without letting go.
  5. Let go with left hand and strike downwards.
  6. Strike across.
  7. Catch behind the right arm.
  8. Catch behind the left arm.
  9. Catch behind the right arm.
  10. Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
  11. Figure 8 with the right hand and catch under the armpit.
  12. Figure 8 with the left hand and catch under the armpit.
  13. Catch behind the left arm.
  14. Catch behind the right arm.
  15. Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
  16. Hit up high (temple).
  17. Hit up high (mouth).
  18. Hit up high (neck).
  19. Put behind the right arm with out letting go.
  20. Catch behind the back.
  21. Catch behind the back.
  22. Catch behind the left arm.
  23. Catch behind the right arm.
  24. Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
  25. Let go with left hand (strike low) and go out into front stance.
  26. Put and catch nunchaku around the neck.
  27. Remove nunchaku from behind the neck by pulling them over the head.
  28. Hooking movement with both hands – Blocking with string.
  29. Punch forward (with both hands).
  30. End with nunchaku into front of you in side stance.Double butt end strike – KIAI!

Kobudo hojo undo


  1. “Jodan Uchi” (上段打): Strike to the top of head
  2. “Jodan Naname Uchi” (上段斜め打): Strike to side of head
  3. “Yoko Uchi” (横打): Strike to side of chest
  4. “Gedan Naname Uchi” (下段斜め打): Strike to side of knee
  5. “Kake Uke – Tsuki” (中段掛け受): Middle block in cat stance > Poke in front stance
  6. Chuon no kun block: Jodan naname Uchi > Low sweeping block
  7. Fisherman’s poke
  8. Sand flip
  9. “Osae uke” (抑え受): Pressing block down
  10. Uppercut over reverse leg > Step in with other leg > Thrust
  11. High/low block over front leg
  12. Gather low > Jodan naname Uchi
  13. Jodan naname Uchi > Pull into horse stance > Step foot up and together > Pierce
  14. Reverse baseball strike > High/low block > Jodan naname Uchi
  15. Reverse grab and high/low block > Scoop and sweep > Step > Jodan naname Uchi
  16. Jodan naname Uchi > Up > Down > Side > Jodan naname Uchi


  1. High block-side of neck strike
  2. High block-start w/ left foot
  3. Seiken-punch with blunt end of sai
  4. Middle trapping block
  5. Low block-extended
  6. Gathered low block
  7. Punch-hj #-hj #6
  8. Punch-low extended strike-poke-hj #6
  9. Punch-middle block-low block-back fist to wrist-hj #6
  10. Hj #3-hj #4-vertical hammerfist to wrist-circle like naname to wrist-hj #6


  1. Back fist to side of head
  2. High block-start w/ left foot
  3. Seiken-punch with blunt end of tonfa
  4. Seiken-flip tonfa out-poke with extended end of tonfa
  5. Low block-extended
  6. Gathered low block
  7. Uppercut-downward strike
  8. Punch-downward strike-over the top strike
  9. Punch-strike to side of head-over the top strike
  10. Punch-Figure 8


  1. Jodan uke-strike to side of head-over shoulder catch
  2. Uppercut-catch w/ opposite hand-l foot
  3. Ju-side strike-side strike-down-ju-ju
  4. Poke-horse to FLS
  5. Punch-lunge hand on 45 deg angle
  6. Eye smashing technique (dart throw w/ upper hand)
  7. Down block in crane stance-45 deg angle
  8. drop on back knee-side strike-rise and upper cut-down-ju-ju
  9. Middle block crossed w/ reverse leg on top
  10. Jodan uke-45 deg angle