Finding my martial path, my discovery of Goju Ryu

I’ve always wanted to study a martial art, from when I was a little boy, watching the shaolin monks on television performing all their superhuman feats, and training every day. I was jealous, I wanted to do that. As it happened I spent my teens playing rugby (which has helped me in my martial arts but that is for another article) and didn’t get to try martial arts until I started university. I was stoked, there were so many choices, I tried out taekwondo and jujitsu, but I had only one in mind Jiu-jitsu.

I had a lot of fun in my taekwondo session; it was very fast, lots of hitting and striking and some pretty girls as well. But I had already ready chosen the martial art I was going to train in, Jitsu. I wanted to be like a modern day Samurai, “the last Samurai” was my favourite film at the time, and I wanted to emulate their honour, strength and discipline. I know, I chose it for the wrong reasons; I didn’t do it because it was fun, but because I should do it.

Jitsu gave me a lot of grounding, a foundation if you will for my future Goju Ryu. I learnt to throw, fall, do basic locks and react to multiples, basic knife training etc. Jitsu did me a lot of good, and to this day my locks and throws are some of my strongest aspects, thanks to a large part to Jitsu.

I should of seen the signs that I was in the wrong martial art, I always asked about if we did some kind of kata/form, because I am a slow learner (I’m not an idiot, I just need to study it at my own pace)and I liked the idea of practicing a sequence by myself, I knew I would progress at a much faster wait, rather than wait for the next session. Combine that with the fact that some of the mates I enjoyed training with stopped going, my enthusiasm waned and I would put seldom appearances for the two years I was there. I would say in total I had about one full year of training out of the two years, but my heart wasn’t with it anymore, new faces were already ahead of me in the belt system.

So while Jitsu gave me a great foundation, I no longer enjoyed it and needed to search and find a martial art that suited me, It was time for me to go. For the next 6-9 months I did yoga with my sister, and let me tell you this, I don’t think its girly, and I find it extremely painful, flexibility is not a strength of mine, especially back then! It helped me to stay in stances over a period of time, and to use my breathing to help ignore and diminish the agonising pain I was in. Two qualities that I didn’t know at the time, but would help me build a strong foundation for my path into Goju Ryu.

I also tried to encourage a friend to be more active and we both did historical fencing at the university sports centre. While he enjoyed it a lot, he lost his motivation when I was giving it up. The problem was that they kept getting new people every week so the beginners would do the same drill all the time, while the advanced did their own thing. It was quite frustrating progressing for a few weeks, then literally starting from scratch again.

I tried Ninjitsu for one day, and while it gave me a eureka moment that made me discover how to do hip throws (I could never do them in Jitsu) they were a very cult like group that I didn’t fit into.

One day as I searched the university sports and societies website, I discovered a newly formed club called combat karate. The main association was at another university, and they had just set up this branch at my university. On its webpage its description was that of punching and kicking, throwing, weapons, self defence etc. I was excited I could learn a new martial art, while still developing my Jitsu skills, I had to try. I never knew that you could do a martial art that did striking and throwing and locks, this seemed mystical to me, I wasn’t aware of martial arts like this, nor really MMA.

Let me set one thing straight I was never interested in Karate; I always assumed it was just a commercial half assed thing for kids, not a real martial art. Boy was I wrong.

My first session I learnt to strike, do throws, and learnt the first 5 bunkai (bunkai is the self-defence aspect of kata, broken down into a realistic situation for training and practice). I had a lot of fun in the session, and it scared the hell out of me. I realised that it must be the real deal, it was the first martial art I had come across that scared me, and I wanted to do something that was realistic. Also it was the first martial art that I really enjoyed, since my few taekwondo sessions, I finally found the right martial art for me, I finally took up a martial art for myself, doing the things I wanted to do in it.

My sempai realised how motivated I was for it, when he finally taught me the whole of the first kata (which is really simple, but looks very complicated to someone who has never done kata before), then we had a three week break during Christmas, and he was surprised that I memorised the kata, because most people wouldn’t of bothered to practice during the holidays. Of course it wasn’t very good, I was a beginner, but I had the pattern and the sequence down. I was a Karate man now. It has been nearly four years since I started Goju ryu Okinawa karate, and I haven’t regretted it.

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2 Responses to Finding my martial path, my discovery of Goju Ryu

  1. i understand now why you were so eager for me to try other martial arts when I lost interest in Karate. You were so insistent on me trying other things and at the time I didn’t understand why.

    • djsolly1 says:

      I’m glad you do now, I realise that Goju isn’t for everyone, nor have I ever thought it was, there are many paths in martial arts, each valid in its own way.
      You obviously enjoyed martial arts at one point, and I didn’t want you to give up all martial arts because you lost interest in karate for similar reasons that I gave up Jitsu.

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