Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Seiyunchin Origins

Miyagi Chojun teaching Seiyunchin 
As with most Gojuryu history, the origins of Seiyunchin are hazy at best, though it seems the kata has long been known and practiced in Okinawa. It is pronounced in different ways depending on the various schools, including Seiyunchin, Seiunchin, and Seienchin. The former pronunciation was the one I heard most at Yoyogi Ryushinkan, though not the only one. 

Moreover, different kanji can be used, so it is often written phonetically in the katakana script as セイユンチン. The most common characters used by Okinawan masters such as Eiichi Miyazato and Morio Higaonna are 制引戦, meaning "control pull fight.” These seem appropriate given the throwing and grappling techniques found in the kata, as well as Miyazato Sensei's Judo background.* Another set of kanji is 征遠鎮 and pronounced Seienchin, more commonly used in Shitoryu. This loosely translates as “attack far suppress.” More information on the history of this kata can be found here
* See next post for further clarification on the kanji used in Gojuryu for this kata.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Renshukai Update

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as "Renshukai" at the refurbished Shinjuku Sports Center in Takadanobaba on Monday and Friday evenings. Aragaki Kancho regularly instructs during the Monday sessions, with the focus on kata, especially Sanchin.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ryushinkan Seiyunchin Kata

On the tatami again - and with too much motion of the head in the opening stages. Watching videos of one's own kata performances provides valuable insight into the many areas that can be improved, especially posture and other bad habits which are not visible in a mirror.  

Friday, 9 December 2016


Seiyunchin (制引戦) is the first "black belt kata" and has many unique and interesting aspects. There are no kicks; only hand techniques are used, such as back fist and elbow strikes. There are techniques to unbalance, such as leg sweeps, throws and close-quarter strikes.
The shikodachi stance is employed throughout, moving both diagonally and in straight lines. 
The kanji characters used above mean respectively 'control,' 'pull' and 'fight,' and this is clearly seen in the opening, which begins slowly in a series of solid stances, drawing the opponent in and pulling down, before exploding into rapid strikes. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Saifa Kata in Detail

Here is Saifa in more detail. More information, including videos, can be be found here.  

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Busaganashi 2

What is significant about the Busaganashi posture is that it is the only occurrence of “Sagiashi-dachi” or “egret stance” in Gojuryu kata.  There exist two photographs of Chojun Miyagi in which this posture is visible. The first (above left) shows Miyagi as a young man blocking a kick and punch and delivering a kick to the groin from underneath his opponent's thigh. The second (above right) is of an older Miyagi teaching the technique to his students.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Busaganashi 1

Chojun Miyagi was said to have learned Saifa from Kanryo Higaonna who studied White Crane Kung Fu in Fuzhou, China for ten years under Ryo Ryo Ko. While many of the techniques appear in White Crane forms, there is no form in modern White Crane Kung Fu which is recognizably Saifa.

The second section of the kata can be seen in traditional Fukien White Crane forms.  It is also the posture of the Busaganashi, a statue of a deity which Chojun Miyagi brought back from his travels in China. The Busaganashi stands in the Jundokan dojo to this day. 


Monday, 7 November 2016

Renshukai Update

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as "Renshukai" at Shinjuku Sports Center. The budojo there has been nicely refurbished and is often full with a variety of practitioners of martial arts and related activities in the bustling student area.

Monday, 24 October 2016

2016 Goju-Kai Kata Seminar

The fourth "2016 All Japan Karatedo Goju-Kai Association Kanto Regional Kata Seminar" will be held on Sunday, November 20 from 10:00 to 16:30 at Sugamo Gymnasium in Tokyo. The address is 3-8-7 Sugamo, Toshima Ward, Tokyo 170-0002 and registration is from 09:30. The kata to be taught will be SanchinTensho and the Kaishu kata. The seminar is intended as part of the preparations for upcoming black belt testing, and is a great way for students to ensure a more thorough understanding of kata

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Saifa, written in Japanese as 砕破, which can be interpreted as  "smash and tear" or "crush and break," is the first advanced Gojuryu kata students learn after Gekisai Dai ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni. It contains quick whipping motions, hammerfists, back fist strikes, double punches and sweeps. It emphasizes moving off-line from an opponent's main force, while simultaneously closing distance and exploding through them. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

39th Kanto Area Karatedo Tournament

The 39th Kanto Area Karatedo Tournament will be held at Koshigaya General Gymnasium on 13 November 2016.  
The address is 2-33 Mashibayasi, Koshigaya-shi, Saitama Prefecture. The event opens at 09:00 and the competition proper starts at 09:45. 
The tournament features 14 categories of kumite and 9 categories of kata, ranging from children's events to an over 40s senior division for men and women.
There is also a team kumite competition, with each team featuring three members and up to two teams per entering organization (dojo, sports club, etc).

Monday, 26 September 2016

Renshukai Update

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as "Renshukai" at Shinjuku Sports Center. Aragaki Kancho has been supervising early evening sessions on Mondays and Fridays as his schedule permits.  Kancho is also supervising sessions in the day time at Shibuya Sports Center. 

Aragaki Kancho supervising a "Renshukai" session 
It is a great privilege to get personalized instruction from Aragaki Kancho. The focus is on kihon and Sanchin kata. As the kihon basic techniques reappear in many guises throughout all the kata, it is essential they they be thoroughly mastered in their pure form through careful and steady training.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Ryushinkan Gekisai Dai Ni Kata 1

A tatami dojo is not the easiest place to do kata but this is an effort at Gekisai Daini.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Autumn Shibuya Ward Tournament

The 2016 Shibuya Ward Autumn Karate Tournament will be held on Sunday, October 23. The tournament has kata and kumite competitions, with a total of 20 categories for kumite and 15 for kata, according to age, sex and rank. Participation fees and forms should be processed by September 16.

The opening ceremony is at 9:15 and competition begins at 9:30. The Venue is: Shibuya Sports Center at 1-40-18 Nishi Hara, Shibuya-ku in Tokyo. The nearest stations are Hatagaya and Yoyogi Uehara.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Gekisai Dai Ni Kata

The two regular kata that students first learn in studying Gojuryu are Gekisai Dai Ichi, and the derivative version of it, Gekisai Dai Ni

The main difference between the former and the latter is that Dai Ni introduces open handed techniques and new stances. It is in Gekisai Dai Ni that students are introduced to the neko ashi dachi stance, where it is combined with the wheel block (mawashe uke), which is initially learned and refined in Sanchin kata.

Friday, 2 September 2016

The 42nd All Japan Karatedo Championships

The 42nd All Japan Karatedo Championships took place at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium on August 27 and 28. 

Three members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan competed in the men’s senior kata and men’s open kata competitions. 

The level, naturally, was very high but the dojo's representatives performed well, finished respectfully and did us all proud. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Monday, 15 August 2016


More footage form the World Budo Festival at Okinawa at the end of July 2016.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

IOGKF Honbu Dojo

A link to the IOGKF Honbu Dojo main website, which refers to the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan dojo as one of the most famous karate dojos in Japan. The IOGKF was founded by Higaonna Morio Sensei in 1979. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Renshukai Update

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as "Renshukai" at Shinjuku Sports Center.

Yakusoku Ippon Kumite, Sanchin, Tensho, Kakie, as well as the "open hand" kata, are all part of the curriculum.  

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Gojuryu World Karate Festival

A recent news feature on Gojuryu from July 26 on the Gojuryu World Karate Festival (or Budosai) being held in Okinawa once every four years. With over 1000 participants form 63 countries, the event this year finished on July 31. RBC is an Okinawan TV startion - Ryukyu Broadcasting Corporation. More information is available here.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Gojukai All Japan Tournament

The 42nd All Japan Karatedo Championships will be held at Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium on August 27 and 28, 2016. Three members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan will participate in the men’s senior kata and men’s open kata competitions. Other members will act as staff during the tournament and their support is much appreciated. Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium is an indoor sports arena located in Naka Ward, Yokohama. For more information, please see the official website of Gojukai.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Gekisai Dai Ichi Kata Instructional

As the title says, a useful instructional guide to performing Gekisai Dai Ichi.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Black Belt Seminar

The 2nd Gojukai Kanto Regional Kata Seminar will be held on August 7 from 13:30-16:30 at the sports gymnasium at Sugamo Elementary School in Toshima Ward. The trainers will be senior instructors of Gojukai in the Tokyo and surrounding areas, and the sessions will focus on Sanchin, Tensho and other relevant kata according to Dan level. Those eligible to participate in the seminar are all black belt members of Gojukai, including those intending to take the 1st Dan examination this year. The school is located at 1-Chome 24-10 Minami-Otsuka, Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Gekisai Dai Ichi Applications

This video from 0:48 to 1:25 shows Higaonna Sensei and Terauchi Sensei demonstrating the applications (Bunkai) of the Gekisai Daichi kata.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Gekisai Dai Ichi (Taira Masaji Sensei)

Taira Sensei's version of the kata places great emphasis on using the hips to drive the blocks and strikes. It is quite a different approach from those I have generally seen on mainland Japan, but very impressive and educational nevertheless.  

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Renshukai Update for June

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as "Renshukai" at Shinjuku Sports Center. Aragaki Kancho supervises early evening sessions on Mondays and Fridays as his schedule permits. 
Kancho is also supervising sessions in the day time at Shibuya Sports Center. As ever, the focus is on Sanchin kata

Friday, 17 June 2016

Gekisai Dai Ichi

In the "open hand" kata, there are two initial forms referred to as Gekisai Ichi (or Gekisai Daiichi) and Gekisai Ni (or Gekisai Daini) which are in practice very similar. Ichi and Ni mean 1 and 2 respectively, while "dai" means #. The "Dai" is sometimes dropped in the nomenclature.

Gekisai (撃砕) means "attack and destroy." These kata were created around 1940 by Chojun Miyagi and Nagamine Shoshin as beginner kata, to introduce the basic forms of karate (kihon) to middle school students in Okinawa, and to help bring about the standardization of karate, as well as to teach a basic set of techniques for self-defense. 

It is said that the two Gekisai kata were strongly influenced by the Shuri-te techniques that Chojun Miyagi learned from Anko Itosu, considered by many to be the father of modern karate.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Shibuya Ward Tournament Results

Belated congratulations are due to members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan for their fine performances at the 2016 Shibuya Ward Spring Karate Tournament on April 29. 
Kamano-san won outright in the men's kata competition in the category for brown belts and below, while Oshima-san finished third in the men's kata competition in the "masters" division.These results show the continued high level of kata performance attainable under the instruction of Aragaki Kancho.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Goju-kai Sanchin Kata

This is the Goju-Kai version of Sanchin Kata performed by Goshi Yamaguchi, son of the renowned teacher Gogen Yamaguchi. This version includes the turning and directional changes that play a key role throughout the Gojuryu kata. The speed is somewhat faster than the Okinawan style but the two kata are essentially the same in principle. When preparing for the turn, the instep of the right foot should be placed on the floor beyond the position of the left foot, with the body remaining firmly facing forward. The knees will be almost touching. The turn should be performed without any change in the height of the stance - i.e. no "bobbing" up and down.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Sanchin Breathing and Application

Further key points on Sanchin Kata from Higaonna Sensei, especially on the breathing and practical applications of the kata. However, it is fair to say that the basics of Sanchin kata can be found in all the other kata in Gojuryu karate. Looking at it another way, if you cannot perform Sanchin kata well, the other kata will suffer for it.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Kirsten has asked me to post a link to this article on a natural testosterone product in MMA. I have no experience or knowledge of the product, but am happy to post the link anyway. Use at your own risk... 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Sanchin Kata performed by Higaonna Sensei

The motion is not merely slow but controlled - all areas interplay to create a constant state of tension. However, the head and neck are essentially still and motionless.  To achieve this and avoid unnecessary movement, the shoulders, by contrast, should be relatively relaxed. When the heels are drawn slightly in before stepping forward, the balls of the feet remain "stuck" to the floor, creating additional torque and tension. Movement both forward and (especially)  backward is led by the trunk or hips, not by the legs or arms.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Sanchin Kata - Key Points

Here are some of the key points to bear in mind when practicing Sanchin kata as outlined by Masaji Taira Sensei. Taira Sensei is a student of the late Eiichi Miyazato, the founder of Jundokan, the head dojo of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Renshukai Update

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan train together as "Renshukai" at the newly refurbished Shinjuku Sports Center, with Aragaki Kancho supervising early evening sessions as his schedule permits. At the center's budojo, various styles of martial arts are practiced by students of all ages.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Ryushinkan Sanchin Kata

This is Sanchin Kata as practiced at Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan. Sanchin is the foundation for all other kata, and is generally considered to be the most important one to master. Only the Sanchin Dachi stance is used throughout. The lower half of the body is solidly rooted to the ground, while the punches draw their power from the earth through the legs and hips, enabling the strength of the whole body to be channeled and focused into one punch.

When properly executing Sanchin, all the muscles are flexed and tensed throughout the kata. Most styles of martial arts employ a version of Sanchin that follows the "hard" style of karate.  In Gojuryu, however, the idea is to remain soft until a hard motion is executed, and then tense briefly at the right moment. This allows for better overall movement since continuous tensing is not conducive to easy or speedy movement. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Sanchin Kata

Sanchin (三戦) means "three battles," and has been described as a sort of moving meditation, whose purpose is to unify the mind, body and spirit. The techniques are performed very slowly and with intensity, so that the student masters precise movement, breathing, stance, posture, internal strength, and stability of both mind and body. 

Sanchin is a kata of Southern Chinese origin that is found in the Chinese martial arts of Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, Pangai-noon and the Tiger-Crane Combination style associated with Ang Lian-Huat. One interpretation of the name is that it refers to the “internal” battle to unify the physical, mental and spiritual.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Leg Sweeps and Take Downs

As Wikipedia states: "Karate's nage waza (投げ技 or throwing techniques) is the set of techniques whereby the opponent is thrown to the ground. While typical students of karate focus most of their attention on learning striking techniques, karate throws are considered indispensable for self-defense and, although not always taught, are part of the classical art.” 
The leg sweep or ashi barai (足掃) is similarly employed, and can be found in many kata. Including Gekisai Ichi, Gekisai Ni and Saifa. This video shows a karate style that emphasizes throws, sweeps and take downs, and such real applications should be borne in mind when practicing and performing kata  

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Fukyugata 1 - Okinawa Shogenryu

Here is another video of fukyugata - this time with step-by-step correction and advice. Each style of karate - in this case Shogenryu -  has minor variations, but the basics never vary, confirming the adage, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Monday, 18 April 2016

"Renshukai" Venue Change

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan are continuing to train together as "Renshukai," with supervised sessions in the day time at Shibuya Sports Center, while the location for the evenings has reverted back to Shinjuku Sports Center as of April. The evening sessions are on Mondays and Fridays at the recently refurbished Budojo (Martial Arts Hall). Shinjuku Sports Center is at 3-6-1 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku.  Aragaki Kancho supervised the first session back on the evening of Monday, April 4, and continues to train members in the daytime and evening sessions, as his schedule permits.
Sports Facilities in the City

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Fukyu kata dai ichi

Here is a demonstration of Fukyugata. In this performance, the oizuki punches are all joudan or upper level, which differs somewhat from Gojuryu, where they are all chuudan or middle level except for the final two.  

Friday, 8 April 2016


At the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo, many newcomers were first instructed in Fukyugata, a simplified form to introduce beginners to performing kata.  

Fukyugata is the name of kata practiced in many styles of Okinawan karate, particularly Matsubayashi-ryu. There are two Fukyugata. Shoshin Nagamine (Matsubayashi-ryu) created Fukyugata Ichi and Chojun Miyagi (Goju-ryu) created Fukyugata Niwhich became Gekisai Ichi. They were developed as beginner kata because the more traditional kata were considered too challenging for novices.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Ryushinkan Kata

Gojuryu kata as taught by Aragaki Seiro Kancho and practiced at the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan Dojo are listed in the photo below (read from right to left). Sanchin kata is described as kihon, or the fundamental kata.  The “kaishu kata” (literally "open hand kata") are:

Gekisai Dai Ichi
Gekisai Dai Ni
Seiunchin (or Seiyunchin)

Tensho, the “soft” counterpart to sanchin kata, is listed at the end, on the very left side. We will be examining each kata in forthcoming posts, especially from the perspective of Aragaki Seiro Kancho's unpublished "Philosophy and Mindset."

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Zen Meditation

Zen meditation has always played a key role in the development of Japanese martial arts, as it has in Okinawan Karate, which has its roots in Chinese and Shaolin Kung Fu.

 "Zen" refers to seeing into and discerning the truth of the way things are, then harmonizing the mind to properly correspond with that understanding. It is also to maintain the harmony of body, breath, and mind by sitting in a stable position with a focused mind.

How to do Zazen
"The practice of zazen isn't only sitting, but discovering that all of our everyday activities have the same value as zazen to do them as the practice of Zen. It may seem as if practice is something special, somehow removed from regular life. However, our practice is to undertake all our daily activities as if they were the same as zazen and to continue and maintain that practice." This applies to karate as much as Zen. More information is available here.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Training Schedule Update

The evening training session on Monday, March 14 has been cancelled as Heiwadai Municipal Gym is closed on that day. Instead, there will be a group training session at the same venue in the afternoon on Sunday, March 13 from 13:30 to 15:00.

Members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan continue to train together as Renshukai," with Aragaki Kancho supervising many of the day-time sessions at Shibuya Sports Center. The evening sessions, currently held at Heiwadai Municipal Gym on Mondays and Kami-Itabashi Municipal Gym on Wednesdays, will switch back to Shinjuku Sports Center from April, when it reopens after renovations.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Shibuya Ward Spring Karate Tournament

The 2016 Shibuya Ward Spring Karate Tournament will be held on Friday, April 29 (Showa Day), a national holiday in Japan. There will be kata and kumite competitions divided into categories by age, gender and grade. There are 20 categories for kumite and 19 categories for kata.  

The opening ceremony is at 9:30 and the competition itself begins at 10:00. The Venue is Shibuya Sports Center at 1-40-18 Nishi Hara, Shibuya-ku.  The nearest stations are Hatagaya  and Yoyogi Uehara.

There are many different dojos and university sports clubs in the ward, so the tournament is a good opportunity to see and compare various styles of and approaches to karate.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Miyazato Sensei and Jundokan

Fascinating footage of the late Miyazato Sensei at his Jundokan Dojo in Okinawa, performing the kata Sepai and providing general guidance. Some of the other great instructors at the dojo are also shown. Jundokan, which I also had the pleasure of visiting some decades back, is the "parent" dojo of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan in Tokyo. Also featured is a sashi-ishi training implement as actually used by his teacher, Miyagi Chojun Sensei, the founder of Goju-Ryu

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Renshukai Update

Warming-up exercises at "Renshukai"
More than 20 members of the Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan dojo continue to practice and train together in several groups around Tokyo and the surrounding suburbs, including Renshukai, made up of ten or so practitioners who regularly practice on Monday and Wednesday evenings respectively at the municipal sports centers in Heiwadai and Kami-Itabashi.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Kakie & Renzoku waza

This video shows some the ways in which kakie can be developed from the basic "pushing and pulling" together of hands into various applications from the kata, and ultimately into a form of jiyu kumite or free-style sparring.  Kata applications should always be understood as much as possible in their various forms, and then practiced in isolation in order to add depth and meaning to the performance the kata itself. Goju-Ryu emphasizes a close-quarters, infighting style of combat, and kakie is the ideal starting point to develop many of its techniques. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Why Kakie

A brief clip of Masaji Taira Sensei explaining the principles of kakie. Taira Sensei is the head of the Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai. His teacher was Eiichi Miyazato, the founder of Jundokan.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Renshukai currently trains in one of the two budojo at the municipal sports center in Kami-Itabashi on Wednesday evenings. The facilities are modern, comfortable and user-friendly, and more than spacious enough for the approximately ten members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan who regularly participate. Monday's training at Heiwadai was canceled due to snow.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Karate Push-Ups

Some of the various parts of the hand used in striking are shown in the diagram on the left. One way to strengthen these areas is push-ups, which can be done on the palms, fists, knuckles, fingertips and even wrists (not shown in the video). Care should be taken, however, to keep the shoulder, arm, wrist and hand in a straight line directly beneath the chest to avoid injury through twisting or spraining. 

For those not used to such practice, start off by doing the push-ups from a kneeling position to reduce the force on the joints. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Making a fist, or Seiken, correctly is important in avoiding injury. Starting with the fingers fully extended and the thumb pointing upwards, fold the four fingers at the first and second joints until the fingertips touch the base of the fingers at the third joint. The fingers should be drawn in tightly. Continue to draw in the fingers until they are pressed tightly into the palm. The thumb is then folded firmly over the fingers and pressed against the index and middle fingers. 

If the thumb is not tucked in, it can get caught and damaged during contact. The thumb also provides support for the fingers. The thumb should never be extended over the top of the index finger. Finally, it is important that the forearm, wrist and fist form a straight line. If this is not done, the pressure on an angled wrist can cause serious damage. Contact is generally focused on the first knuckle of the index and middle fingers.

Friday, 8 January 2016

New Year Training

Happy New Year to all readers in this year of the Monkey

The January evening "Renshukaitraining sessions for members of Gojuryu Karatedo Yoyogi Ryushinkan will be on Mondays and Wednesdays at Heiwadai and Kami-Itabashi Municipal Gyms respectively.  As Monday is a national holiday in Japan, the time will be earlier than usual, starting at 16:30.