Karate is a well-known art that can be learned for self-defence. However, apart from being an excellent form of self-defence, karate helps us in numerous ways, from improving brain and body coordination to assessing your breathing and dictating your mind. 

Goju Ryu is one of the most traditional and oldest forms of karate that originated from the lands of Okinawa, Japan. It was first introduced by Chojun Miyagi, a student of Kanryo Higaonna, in 1930. Its name, Goju, is derived from ‘Go’, which means hard and ‘Ju’, which means soft, as it includes a series of hard and gentle movements. It is one of the most original and basic forms of martial arts. Several other karate styles derive their roots from Goju Ryu. Goju Ryu is the most basic form if you are eager to learn karate and self-defence. 

What is Goju Ryu karate? 

Goju Ryu is a form of Japanese martial arts that combines hard and soft karate styles. The hard style of Goju Ryu involves a series of straight movements or linear attacks with a closed hand or fist. On the other hand, the soft style focuses on circular movements with an open hand mainly intended to block the opponent for a defensive mechanism. Along with the significant body coordination and different hand techniques, breathing plays a vital role in Goju Ryu. A key emphasis is laid on proper breathing throughout this form of martial arts. Goju Ryu is a unique form of art that helps you stay fit by improving your core strength, conditioning your muscles, coordinating your body movements and enhancing blood circulation.

History of Goju Ryu

Goju Ryu is a form of Okinawan karate founded by Chojun Miyagi in the early 1900s. Chojun Miyagi was born in 1888 in Naha, Okinawa. He learned the basics of martial arts and the Naha-te under his teaching Guru, Kanryo Higaonna, for 15 years until Higaonna died. He then visited Fuzhou, China, to learn and explore the Chinese martial arts techniques further, where he discovered a kung fu style called Fujian White Crane. When Miyagi returned to Okinawa after he visited China, he created a unique karate style by combining the basics of Naha-te and his learnings of Fujian White Crane. This karate combined hard and soft styles and got its name ‘Goju Ryu’. Meanwhile, Miyagi opened his karate school and taught thousands of students this new form of martial arts until he died. This karate style gained popularity in a short span of time and became prevalent among the karate legends. Eventually, karate Goju has achieved worldwide recognition and is taught in karate schools around the globe. 

Major styles of goju ryu karate

The styles and forms of Goju Ryu are referred to as ‘Kata’. There are a total of 12 katas in Goju Ryu. Sanchin, Tensho, Gekisai Dai/Sho, Seipai, Saifa, and Suparinpei represent kata in Goju Ryu. Let’s throw some light on these katas:

1. Sanchin: ‘Sanchin’ refers to ‘three battles’, which means bringing together and coordinating the mind, body and spirit. It is the part of Goju Ryu that focuses on meditation and breathing. It emphasises slow movements, focusing on strength, postures, body movements and steady breathing.

2. Tensho: It means ‘revolving hands’. It focuses on the soft and hard hand movements of the karate style.

3. Gekisai: It is the attacking and smashing technique of Goku Ryu. It involves a series of hard-hand movements.

4. Saifa: It means smash and tear. The kata focuses on the off-line movements from the opponent's range.

Other than the essential styles and techniques of Goju Ryu developed by Miyagi, there are several other deviations in the basic forms, such as Jundokan, Shodokan, Yamaguchi and Shorie-kan, practised by karate enthusiasts.  

Basic techniques and movements

The basic techniques and movements of Goju ryu karate focus on the skilled use of stances, block techniques, strikes, joint locks and a series of kata. Let's brief on these forms and movements.

Stances in Goju Ryu:

The most commonly used term in karate is ‘Dachi’. Here are some of the basic stances or dachi practised in Goju-Ryu Karate:

1. Zenkutsu Dachi: The basic stance is most commonly used in all the katas. It is the forward stance of the body.

2. Kokutsu Dachi: The backwards stance provides stability by putting the body weight on the rear leg. 

3. Sachin Dachi: The deep-rooted stance provides stability and support to the body.

4. Shiko Dachi: It is referred to as a horse stance that focuses on keeping the legs wide open and helps improve the body's balance.

Blocks in Goju Ryu for practising self-defence

The blocks in karate practised for self-defence are called ‘Uke’. Some of these are:

1. Age Uke: It is the most common upper body block that defends the upper half of the body.

2. Gedan Barai: It mainly focuses on blocking the attacks on the lower body.

3. Soto Uke: It blocks the outer attacks from the opponent.

4. Uchi Uke: it blocks the inside attacks.

The Goju Ryu Katas

The katas are the karate forms practised and performed during the fight. Sanchin, Tensho, Gekisai Dai/Sho, Seipai, Saifa, and Suparinpei are some of the katas of Goju Ryu. 

Grappling and Joint Locks

It is an offensive technique of Goju Ryu. It focuses on trapping, locking the joints, grabbing the opponent and offensive takedown.

A key Focus on Breathing

The Goju Ryu practitioners focus on thorough breathing throughout the blogs and katas. This imparts them strength and energy during the process.

Advantages of practising Goju-Ryu karate

From self-defence to improving strength, practising Goju-Ryu karate has several advantages, as listed below:

1. An effective fighting technique: This karate form includes hard-core fighting and offensive techniques that let you defeat your opponent.

2. Self-defense: It focuses on the soft-hard style of karate, wherein the soft and circular body movements are intended to confuse and block the opponent's strike 

3. Improved body coordination and quick reflexes: Goju-Ryu karate improves brain coordination, eyes and hands. It helps in body balancing and induces quick bodily reflexes.

4. Helps improve overall fitness and stamina: It is an excellent form of physical exercise and helps improve an individual's overall fitness by enhancing physical activities. It builds stamina and enables you to lead an active and fit life.

5. It improves heart health and blood circulation: It helps improve blood circulation by increasing blood flow. It is also an excellent cardio exercise and keeps your heart healthy.

6. An effective meditation that keeps you stress-free: It is an effective means of meditating and keeps stress away from you.

7. Improves body postures: The stances and karate styles of Goju-Ryu help enhance your body posture and build a strong personality.


Karate is the key to learning self-defence and an excellent way to focus on self-conditioning, from improving and controlling your breathing to leading a healthy lifestyle. If you are fascinated by martial arts and eager to learn karate and self-defence, Goju Ryu is the best way to start your karate journey.


Is Goju-Ryu defence or offence?

Goju-Ryu combines hard and soft martial arts, including defence and offence techniques.

Does Goju-Ryu teach weapons?

Yes, Goju-Ryu teaches breathing techniques.

What does Goju Ryu Karate focus on?

Goju-ryu karate focuses on close-range fighting where the opponent stays close to you and is defeated by grabbing and joint-locking.

How long does it take to master Goju Ryu?

It may take up to 3- 5 years to learn and master Goju-Ryu.

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