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Karate was developed in Okinawa and used by the people to defend themselves against the Japanese who had invaded their country. The Okinawans were forbidden to carry any weapons and studied Karate in secrecy as a method of unarmed self-defense.

At a meeting in 1936, on the island of Okinawa, Masters Chojun Miyagi, Chomo Hanashiro, Choki Motobu and Chotoku Kyan agreed that the martial art being taught in Okinawa should be called "Karate," meaning an "empty-handed self defense art." Prior to this date, self-defense, as practiced in Okinawa, was generally known as "te" (a self-defense art developed in Okinawa), or "to-te" (a Chinese style of self-defense) meaning "China-hand(s).

The word "kara" suggests that Karate is a technique that permits one to defend oneself barehanded. However, there is a deeper meaning to Kara (empty) as found in Zen concepts. Just as a clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives.

Te or hands is an important weapon in the art of Karate. Although many other parts of the body are used, the te of Karate signifies the main emphasis of technique is placed on the hands. This has also been true of the systems from which Karate has been derived from to-te (China hands), Okinawa-te and Karate.

One who studies Karate-do, "do" meaning "the way" of Karate, must always strive to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle. However, in deciding to stand up for a righteous cause, then one must have the courage and fighting spirit expressed in the saying "even if it be ten million foes, I go."

The "way" symbolizes the path of Karate training and the individual journey towards growth and personal development. The way of Karate is not an easy path. The training and discipline required of Karate-do do not end in the dojo (training hall). You are encouraged to live the way of Karate in order to experience the fullest rewards. Karate is not merely a means of self-defense. It is rather a philosophy and an expression of life lived 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For the unification of body, spirit and mind, Karate-do must be practiced, not only in the dojo, but at all times in daily life.

As a student of Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do, you will be learning one of the most effective systems of weaponless self-defense known to man. Karate as developed and perfected on Okinawa, combines the best elements from other fighting arts such as kenpo, kung-fu, ju-jitsu, judo and others. It employs the systematic and scientific application of deadly hand and foot strikes to an opponent's most vital body parts. Advanced Karate students can demonstrate almost unbelievable feats of human accomplishment such as smashing through stacks of boards, tiles, bricks and rocks with the conditioned parts of the anatomy. Unfortunately, many people associate Karate with only these aspects and do not understand the real or true Karate. These feats of smashing and breaking are not the goal of Karate and are only used to show the power that advanced Karate students can apply to a strike or a thrust.

Goju-Ryu Karate-do as developed by Grand Master Chojun Miyagi, has a double Chinese heritage. Miyagi's teacher, the honorable Grand Master Kanryo Higashionna, studied White Crane Kung-Fu in China for thirty years and was the founder of Naha-te, an improved art which combined the good points of Okinawa-te with Kung-Fu. Miyagi went to China after having mastered Naha-te and studied Pakua, a soft or internal system comprised of circular movements, which he later combined with Naha-te to form Goju-Ryu.

The meaning of Goju is derived from two contrasting terms – "go" meaning "hard" and "ju" meaning "soft." Goju-Ryu is interpreted as "hard - soft" style or "powerful - gentleness." The name refers to the mental attitude of the practitioner and to the secret of training the body and spirit. "Ryu" in Goju-Ryu translates as "style."

Goju-Ryu combines fast, circular, open-handed blocking with powerful punching and striking techniques. The kicks are all very practical as they are predominately kept low in order to be most effective. The use of sweeping, throwing and joint locking techniques are emphasized in Goju-Ryu, along with training in ground fighting and grappling. Unique to this style is the use of breathing forms to develop inner strength and peace. Harmony of the mind, body and spirit is emphasized.

Training in the art of Karate is based on three main factors. These factors are technique, speed, and strength. Technique is the most important factor in learning and mastering Karate. The only way one can develop technique is through constant devotion and daily practice. Speed and strength are developed as one learns technique and develops skill. In order to be effective, the use of speed and strength must be properly balanced according to the principles of Karate. There are a surprising number of body parts used in attack and defense. When conditioned and hardened properly, these body parts become the weapons that have been forged upon the anvils of discipline and hard training.

To fully understand the art of Karate, one learns the principles of Zen (literally meaning meditation). Zen is not taught or practiced as a religion. Karate-do uses the principles of Zen to help perfect techniques and develop mind and body coordination. The principles of Zen as applied to Karate-do make the body work as an efficient, well-coordinated unit. In many other martial arts, one must learn these Zen principles separately, then try to apply them to the art. In Karate these principles are taught within the art. Karate-do and Zen teaches that the ultimate fight is within oneself. The real battle is with one's own mind.

Karate spirit is one of the most important elements needed to progress in Karate. This is the determination and courage displayed in every movement that is performed. Karate spirit cannot be attained until the actual movements of every technique, every kata, become mind-body reactions. These can be found in the saying Zen (mind) Ken (fist-body) Ishoa (oneness).

Those who study Karate learn how to use it in their everyday lives, for it is not just principles and techniques applied in a training hall. For the true Karate student, there is no separation of dojo and life itself.

Although the martial arts were originally aimed towards life preservation and self-defense, today people come to us from all walks of life, each with their own set of reasons for wanting to train. Some want to learn self-defense, others want to compete in tournaments, some seek to become physically fit and others just want to have fun.

I have developed proven teaching methods that will not only help you learn the art of self-defense quickly and easily, but will also provide a wide range of benefits for students of all ages. Expand your concept of Karate beyond a single focus on self-defense to include mental, physical and spiritual health. Karate is more than just a block, kick and punch. Karate is an approach to living life to its fullest.

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