By Gary Lever
Many of my posts relate to the need to preserve an area of training, to prevent the art of Goju Ryu Karatedo dying out. This is a real danger. The art has changed, the people practising it have changed, society has changed, and the culture has changed. This is true not only in the West, but also in the birthplaces of all classical martial arts. The documentary 'Needle through brick' accurately sums up the problems faced by teachers of classical systems in a world which is uninterested.
People beginning martial arts these days are more likely to be drawn to them due to the popularity of the UFC or Jason Bourne films than stories relating to the transformation of a persons character through the pursuit of training. It appears to me that the main attraction of the martial arts these days is the fight, the win, the trophy, the prestige, the respect, the reputation, the opportunity to make money.
Our world is completely different to the one which Miyagi Chojun sensei lived in. I wonder what he would make of it? What has led to the popularity of MMA based training, or the modern systems such as Krav Maga, Systema, or reality based systems emphasizing 'combat proven' techniques 'effective' in the urban combat environment?
I wonder what would happen if I were to paint my dojo in camouflage colours with a couple of flaming skulls as decor, replace the dogi with combat trousers and a T-Shirt with some sort of 'beatdown corps' logo, change the bowing to hi-fives and man hugs, and replace the name Goju Ryu with a title more befitting the target audience of my newly invented modern art? I could advertise a 6 week introductory course at an extortionate rate, and play on the fact that my system is combat proven and then grossly exaggerate my job to tell everyone I'm involved in personal security and have provided protection for the royal family. I could tell everyone that despite my young age I've had plenty of 'real' fights and dealt with multiple armed opponents, been attacked with knives and guns, and risk my life on a regular basis to ensure that my system is 'battle ready'. I could advertise my new system telling everyone that it is a 'close quarter fighting method designed to eliminate the opponent as quickly as possible by using only the most lethal techniques'. I could teach elbows, knees, eye gouges, joint locks, chokes, strangles, grappling. I could devise two man training methods to condition the body for combat. I could rediscover 'old' training methods such as Indian clubs and Kettlebells and create exercises to develop 'whole body power' and combat specific strength. I could devise a method whereby my disciples could practise their two-person killing techniques at home by removing the attacker and drilling the technique in a solo form, like shadow boxing, as visualisation training. I could make up sets of such solo forms, linking them together to form longer sequences and then name them something like 'smashing a head part one' or 'ripping a limb (big version)'. People could then learn these sequences to practise a number of 'killing moves' in their own personal training so that when faced with a partner or opponent, the movements are already well rehearsed and combat ready.
I think I could earn a fortune from this idea.........
If you disagree and think I'm wrong or exaggerating, type in some of this nonsense into a search engine and see what pops up. See how much they charge, and see how many people are interested in buying into such things.
Incase I have been too cryptic in my description, the above system I have invented is of course Goju Ryu, just 'advertised' in a different way. To make it more appealing I chose to do away with a few things, or maybe just not advertise the stuff that makes me sound soft. Despite this, my new system is clearly not Goju Ryu Karatedo is it?
If you have answered no, what then makes it Goju Ryu Karatedo? What seperates this art from the more progressive modern systems? Do these things make it better or worse? Is it even worth preserving?