The biggest characteristic of Goju-ryu is the ‘respiration method’ with an accompanying shout. It emphasizes strong breathing in and out and ‘putting strength into inhalation and exhalation.’ Among the katafor tanren, Sanchin is the most basic technique in the Naha-te system. It is considered that fostering physical strength, including respiration, is essential for karate. Sanchin makes it a principle to concentrate on the pit of stomach while practicing zenshin (advancing) or tenshin (body turning) etc. at the same time. Naifanchi,” one of the kata for tanren in the Shuri-te style, focuses on lateral motion.

It is believed that the ‘ups and downs of body,’ ‘deportment and movement,’ ‘power of concentration,’ ‘alertness,’ ‘instantaneous power,’ and ‘endurance’ can be improved by becoming able to handle the hard exercises depending on the right respiration method for both offence and defense. Training emphasizes the Tanrenho of respiration, in which you try to figure out the ‘in vain’ and the ‘practical’ by conducting repeated practice based on kata and aim to achieve sufficient bone and muscle power. “Sanchin” is regarded as the most basic technique in Goju-ryu. So, it is even said that, “Goju-ryu starts and ends with sanchin.”

The Nafuda kake

Usually in the shimoza, one finds nafuda kake, a display of wooden name plates, which indicate member¡¯s rank and dojo status. It is not uncommon to have separate kyu and dan nafuda boards. This method of member tracking serves as a source of motivation and creates as well a strong sense of bond among members.

Nafuda are usually constructed out of light wood such as fir or pine. They may remain natural without any form of stain or finish. A special brush is used to write names on the nafuda, adding authenticity and beauty to them. In many cases on the back side of the nafuda plates, information concerning training and promotion of the respective member are recorded. This allows for quick review of members training history. Nafuda plates can be re-used, when a student drops out, simply be sanding the wooden name plate, however dan holders nafuda, should be generally kept since attainment of black belt is of permanent status.

It takes time and attention to maintain the nafuda display. But this effort is an investment in creating an air of traditional seriousness and purpose. A dojo is nothing more but its members.