What is Karate? The History of Karate

What is Karate? is a question asked by millions of people world wide. Often understood by the masses as a martial art propagated by Mr Miyagi and involves catching flies with chop sticks and standing on drift wood in crane stance.

The origins of Karate trace back to the ancient travels of Buddhist monks throughout Asia. Unarmed and often attacked during their travels, a weaponless form of self defence became necessary for their survival.

The early influence of these holy men led to the development of a unique physical activity known as Martial Arts.

One very well known establishment for the practice of martial arts named the Shaolin Temple—famous for its academy lifestyle, where monks selected to enter become very skilful and renowned for their creditable deeds.

Martial arts practice infiltrated throughout the Asian frontier; mainly in China and then later imported to Japan.

So what is Karate?

Karate was founded in the Ryukyu Kingdom, or now formally know as Okinawa, and is a fighting art developed from methods called ‘te’. ‘Te’ literally means hand, and in ‘Karate Do’ translates to ‘Open Hand Way’. These ‘te’ predominantly use striking techniques including punching (including elbow strikes), kicking (including knee strikes),  maneuvering footwork, grappling and throwing.

Karate was then further developed by Chojun Miyagi Sensei who founded ‘Goju Ryu Karate do’ which translates to the ‘hard soft style open hand way’.

For more information about ‘What is Karate?’ there are a series of 5 videos on on Youtube from a lecture conducted by Charles C. Goodin Sensei from the Hawaii Karate Museum.

1 Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom and Hawaii


2 Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom and Hawaii


3 Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom and Hawaii


4 Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom and Hawaii


5 Karate in the Ryukyu Kingdom and Hawaii



I hope this answers your questions around ‘What is Karate?’. If you have anything else you would like to add feel free to comment below. Sharing is caring 🙂

Karate, diet and weightlifting for the holiday body

I am going to make a lot of people jealous writing this but never the less when you are preparing to head off on a one month holiday to America you need to share your secrets and tips on what you did to lose weight, get leaner, stronger and have more energy.

As a karate ka in Goju Ryu I feel it is my duty to test the limits of what can be achieved when we put our mind to something (albeit with the correct knowledge and tools). Bruce Lee once said “Knowing is not enough, you must apply, willing is not enough, you must do” and I have had a poster of that quote on my wall or written down somewhere since I was young. I haven’t always stuck to this mantra at everything in life but when I get that burning passion to succeed at something I could pretty much bottle it and slap that Bruce Lee quote to it.

Ok, so what was my burning passion, my purpose, my goal. I wanted to be fit, strong and looking my best for my first ever “tourist trap” visit of America. I don’t have any before photos but I have included a graph of my weight below (I use the Target Weight app on my iPhone to track some key metrics to help me achieve these weight loss goals).

But essentially the story goes that I hit 87kg, the ‘oh shit’ moment where I realised that I had only about 6 weeks left before I was heading to the States and was no where near what I wanted to weigh or how I wanted to look. Time to implement the usual karate and weight loss plan. I started by watching what I was eating, and running as well as a bit of weights and skipping. This worked until about the 1st of May when I was running up the Mount Gravatt Lookout, hurt my knee and spent the rest of the day hobbling like a cripple around the office at work.  An expensive trip to the physio that included acupuncture, some hard rolling with the forearm (give me foam rolling any day) and they shaved my leg for crying out loud!  Anyway, it  revealed that I had swollen my ITB (that pretty important band that runs up the outside of your leg and stops you from collapsing sideways when you walk) and that I should lay off the running for a week before attempting another 8 kilometres run up some enormous hill somewhere (I never died try that hill again).

ITB injury from running

Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with this. So I decided to do a bit of research and find out why this happened to me and what I could do to avoid it. What I was about to find out would be one of the single best discoveries of my nutritional/fitness exercise and overall health life since starting Goju Ryu Karate. I stumbled upon a podcast by the fat burning man Abel James  who had a podcast called ‘What is the Paleo diet‘… well, I took one look at it, thought, what the hell is the Paleo Diet and had a listen. Boomtown! I hit the jackpot on that one. Thanks ITB for failing on me. Also you can see exactly where I implemented Paleo, just above 13 May at 84kg’s. You can also see how I was able to control my weight fluctuations (that I thought were normal once I started cutting out grains, wheat and lowering carbs in favour of healthy fats).

So I am not going to go into ‘Paleo’ or anything here just that I found it and it worked and it fit into my Goju Ryu Karate lifestyle and philosophy seamlessly. Finding this podcast then led me onto Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and from Mark Sisson I stumbled across his post on building muscle using Mehdi’s stronglifts.com 5×5 approach.

Eat, Lift, Eat! Karate time!

The result is that I cut down on my cardio, spent less time on exercise, ate more, felt less hungry (then my karate diet from a previous time) and spent less time in the gym lifting heavier things then I had ever lifted before. This allowed me to strip down to 80kg’s (as of today) and perform a lot better during my karate classes.

From today’s post, I encourage you to take a look into incorporating Paleo into your lifestyle, whether that is Goju Ryu Karate or for any other weight loss or strength gaining goals, or just give it a try. I am happy I stumbled upon it and I am sure the word about it will continue to spread like wildfire. Additionally, the concept of lifting heavy things, doing ‘less’ cardio for weight loss and just burning more energy doing things that you enjoy, like Karate! will stick with me long after my trip overseas!

Until I return, enjoy your training and if you have any other tips on what has worked for you in regards to karate and weight loss or just achieving your goals in general, feel free to share them below.

I’m outta here and will be returning in July ready for some more awesome karate good times! Probably going to have to go through my karate diet again too 😛

Karate dead lift

I know it ain’t pretty but you gotta work hard!

Goju Ryu Karate t-shirt











What is Goju Ryu Karate?

The literal meaning of Goju Ryu Karate do is Hard Soft Style Empty Hand Way and represents the traditional Japanese style of Goju Ryu developed by Chojun Miyagi Sensei in Okinawa in the early 1900’s. Now I don’t want this to turn into a History lesson as no doubt the origins of karate, or any other martial art, would be a murky story at best.

So instead, I am going to take this opportunity to give a recollection of ‘what is Goju Ryu Karate?’ the definition from the perspective of the karate student learning the art in today’s modern world. As surely we could discuss at length about the origins, its meaning and why it was developed way back when wars were being waged, technology was in its infancy and the stress of life and availability of time was not impacted by our Western influences.

In my post ‘the purpose of karate‘ I discussed that each student first starts karate training with some sort of purpose in mind, whether it is learning a self defence, getting fit or just to get involved in some sort of sport/training and meet new people. My purpose was to learn self defence because I was young, learning marketing and economics at University and with it hitting the town with my friends and getting into all sorts of dramas in the streets of Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. My purpose was to learn how to defend myself but also to be able to have my friends back or to protect the girls I was with if something was to happen. That aligns with one of my values of protecting and helping others, something that has resonated throughout my life and continues today.

It wasn’t until I met James Duggan Shihan and bombarded him with questions (as any good student does to their Sensei) trying to extract as much information out of him to achieve my purpose and be self sufficient in the art of self defence that I discovered that this ‘Goju Ryu Karate’ had a deeper purpose that extended beyond the physical but into the mental and philosophical. One of the initial findings about Goju Ryu Karate was that it extended beyond a physical self defence or fitness model and more into a system or way of living. The ‘do’ in karate do. This ‘way’ was all encompassing is something a student learns in the dojo but applies at work, in family life and in anything we put our mind and body into.  At that time it was just a concept but it was difficult to implement, I can say now that as a nidan I am now starting my journey into implementing the ‘do’ the ‘way’ into those other elements of my life.

“Karate’ then being the ’empty hand’ has both literal and philosophical meanings to the student. Literal in that the art of Goju Ryu Karate is weaponless as our body is used as the weapon but philosophical as to achieve peace without conflict by using the mind. Any conflict that can first be resolved without utilising the physical is an achievement of the karate ka. If the conflict escalates to the physical then the karate ka is able to apply the empty hand to divert the flow of energy between the realms of control or destruction. I.E minimal damage at first to your opponent through controlling the space that they occupy or if that fails to self preservation where our training and courage is called upon.

Finally the art of Goju Ryu can be disseminated. Ryu is simple, ‘style’, the curriculum of the Goju Karate system and what a karate ka needs to achieve in order to master the art. Whilst simple in translation it requires a journey of a lifetime to achieve and provides a continuum that determines the level of understanding of a karate ka. It is the measuring stick that we are assessed against and requires tools such as gradings, weekly training and conversation with our Sensei and fellow karate ka community to allow up to progress against it. This delves almost into the ‘Go’ (hard) and ‘Ju’ (soft) or the style. These two words are at the pinnacle of the style and are used philosophically to formulate the meaning behind the movements and physically to smoothly navigate attacks from our opponents to implement a level of control or to devastate our opponents and destroy them for self preservation.

Wow, what a mouthful! I hope that gives you some sort of understanding as to “what is Goju Ryu Karate” from my perspective and what I have learnt throughout my journey through the art. Naturally, I will probably change my mind about this stuff when I am older, wiser and have progressed further through the dan levels but hopefully I am on track. At least in my mind I am and I get results through training with this philosophy.

Finally, if you are thinking of starting Goju Ryu Karate do I highly recommend you find a local dojo such as Brisbane Goju Karate and get stuck into it. There is no reason to be scared of starting or to delay as every student that enters the dojo begins as a white belt and the shaping process begins to turn them into a martial artist. Good luck!

Domo Arigato and happy training!

Jay Killeen Sempai


The Spectrum of Speed and Strength

On Sunday, 11th March 2012 Seiichi Fujiwara Hanshi, the President & Chief Instructor of Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai and 8th Dan All Japan Karate do Goju Kai came to visit Brisbane, Australia under the invitation of Glenn Stephenson Shihan the Head Instructor of Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai Australia.

I previously met Fujiwara Hanshi at a previous seminar in Sydney back in 2011 when I graded for my 1st Dan in Goju Kai but spent the majority of the time under the instruction of the Goju Kai kata master Kiahara Shihan (please feel free to correct me on any spelling errors here as I am unable to find any other sources).  This was the first real opportunity I have ever had to train so closely to Seiichi Fujiwara Hanshi albeit shared among hundreds of other students just as hungry as I was for guidance and correction.

I would like to focus this post on two key messages that Fujiwara Hanshi was trying to communicate to us (through translation). It is amazing how much can actually be translated just through the use of some key words in English such as ‘power’, ‘smooth’, ‘hard’ all along with immaculate demonstration of the technique.

The first key message was something that I am going to use to reiterate my post of Strong and Heavy. In this post I spoke about having gradual tension in Sanchin dachi up from my feet through the thighs, into my core and then maximum tension in the laterals directed downwards. I am going to amend this to say that there should be maximum tension down through the lats, into the core and down through the thighs until finally relaxing into the ankles and feet so that there is stickiness with the ground. Fujiwara Hanshi demonstrated this on Jamie Shihan by asking him to hold full tension all through his body, then simply being able to push Jamie Shihan over like a block of concrete until he lost his balance and had to abandon the stance. Secondly, he asked Jamie Shihan to implement the correct form of tension through the body and relaxing into the ankles and feet (as demonstrated by shime over all muscles and then squeezing the ankles to ensure they were relaxed). This then allowed Fujiwara Hanshi to push Jamie Shihan from all directions without losing the interface with the ground. Our explanation was of a building being nothing but beautiful if it did not have strong foundations with the earth.

The second key message I got from the day was how critical it is in Goju Ryu karate to use tension to control the Spectrum of Speed and Strength. What I mean by this is that, in the paragraph above it was explained that tension cannot be applied to the entire body when standing in Sanchin Dachi as the relaxation of the bottom portion of the legs and feet allow the body to retain an interface with the ground. The same can be said for executing strikes whereby complete tension throughout the strike is ineffective as the relaxation of the muscles is required to achieve speed, tension is then required again at the point of impact to ensure energy remains within the target causing damage. In the application of a strike the relaxation gives speed whereas in the stance it gives stability. Ultimately, power is a combination of strength and speed and at certain times throughout the execution of techniques a combination of the two are required to maximise effectiveness.

This use of contraction and relaxation of the muscles is evident in the timing of techniques, throughout different parts of the body in stances, and is impacted by different breathing techniques and mental vision. Tencho kata gives us a great platform to practice this. When standing in Sanchin Dachi with double chudan uke there is compression of the core created through the outward turning of the wrists and in the inward squeezing of the elbows along with the crunching of the abdominal and pinching at the back of the shoulders and down through the back. Then we withdraw our left hand back into carriage where maximum tension is used by contracting the laterals to lock the left arm into carriage creating more compression. Our focus then shifts to the right hand in chudan uke that is then relaxed to execute the smooth motions of the blocks then applies contracts to withdraw the arm into carriage. This tension impacts the speed we need to block a strike and the strength we need to pull the opponent into our space (queue Occupying Space). This constant change of focus gives room for lots of errors as we train our body to retain compression and tension in one side of the body as the other relaxes to execute blocks.

I look forward to focusing more on these teachings and researching more into the use of muscle contractiom, speed and strength to maximise power. Thanks to Fujiwara Hanshi for providing the inspiration to look into this more (this article was a great read) when developing my kata as it just provided a bit more clarity into what it is that we are doing in kata and how it can further be applied into kumite and bunkai.

Oh and I was presented with my Nidan Certificate in Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai Seiichi Fujiwara aswell! Happy days!


What is Goju Ryu?

What is Goju Ryu? - Chojun Miyagi Hanshi Founder of Goju Ryu Karate doWhat is Goju Ryu?

In the late 1800s, an enthusiastic youngster by the name of Chojun Miyagi, born of noble class on the island of Okinawa, began to study this unique empty hand combat. His mentor, a family friend, recommended a well known instructor in their region. This instructor would inspire Miyagi to venture to mainland China to further explore various martial arts methods in a quest for advanced studies.

This search led Miyagi to the hard school of Shaolin Chuan and the soft school of Pakua Chan. His experience during this short period in China proved invaluable.

Upon returning to Okinawa Miyagi commenced teaching a martial arts system that has proven to be successful. Its success was recognised by the education department and local authorities as a tool that provided locals with a new form of cultural activity and physical education.

Master Miyagi founded the Goju style of karate. Goju Ryu, or the ‘hard and soft’ style, was named in 1930 following a demonstration by one of Master Miyagi’s students at a Japanese martials arts festival.

In 1931 Miyagi Sensei ventured into Japan with his Goju Ryu. He disseminated the Karate of Okinawa through universities, in the process claiming national popularity. His most committed student was Gogen Yamaguchi of the Retsumeikan University, Kyoto.

The Japanese martials arts fraternity, Butokukai, formally accepted the registration of the Goju Ryu as a practice of karate in 1933.

Miyagi Sensei is said to have been the first karate teacher to propagate the art to the western world. For more information about the historyof karate please read “What is Karate?

The Purpose of Karate

This is straight from the Nemesis Dojos martial arts handbook and written by James Duggan Shihan.

The definition of ‘purpose’ in the World Book dictionary is

“Something one has in mind to get or do; plan; aim; intention”.

Each student arrives at the karate dojo with a particular purpose of karate in mind, either to get/keep fit, learn self defence, or perhaps to develop greater sense of personal awareness and confidence. Whatever the reason, there is usually a path within karate for them to achieve that goal.

Learning any skills should be an adventure and, as with any real adventure, there can be barriers, pitfalls and difficulties along the way. In Karate do the greatest opponent you will ever confront is yourself and your own fears.

The best weapon against the enemy of failure is to establish a particular purpose for Karate do and keep it firmly in mind at all times.

Your progression through Karate do will depend on your determination and persistence. These attributes will come into play in both your training and in your day-to-day life. Eventually you cease to be an opponent and become more a player in the game.

In karate there should never be a dull moment, unless we choose it to be that way. The Daruma or prophet of the Buddha said, “To fall seven times is to rise eight; life begins now”.

Rise to your goals and purposes and you will find your own way – the ‘do’ – in Karate do.

What purpose did you have when deciding that you wanted to start learning karate or become a martial artist; and how far along the path do you think you have travelled in achieving that purpose?

Feel free to add your comments below and help contribute to someone else in Brisbane that may be thinking about starting karate or already be training with us at Brisbane Goju Karate.  We are taught to gain knowledge but we inherently gain the responsibility to pass that knowledge on.

10 Tips for Losing Weight in Karate

Peak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceedPeak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceed

Now that the new year of karate training, or whatever martial arts style you are into, many of your will be struggling with getting back in shape after the Christmas/New Year binge. This most definitely includes myself, and it sucks big time. You may have worked extremely hard, also like myself, getting in tip top condition for your end of year grading. Or in my case, the biggest grading I had after two years being my Nidan Grading.

So now that we have established that we are all hurting, you can’t get out as many pushups as before, you can feel your new gut getting in your way during your sit ups and you are generally more tired and lethargic, sleeping more, drinking more and eating more. We need to find a way to put the brakes on and get this karate journey back on track.

Hopefully, my list below will help you with this. Now I am no dietitian, personal trainer, doctor or astronaut. What I am is someone that has previously seen results through the following list of tips:

Weight Lose Tip 1. Know Your Daily Recommended Calorie Intake

Naturally, there are more calorie/kilojoule calculators on the internet than there are fast weight lose schemes. With a little bit of research (I wouldn’t go past your countries health department/government website such as The Department of Health and Ageing for Australia) you should be able to come up with a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is how much energy your body needs to survive if you become a couch potato and a Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) that suits your age, height and current weight. The DRI adjusts based on your activity level and will give you a calorie intake to maintain your current weight.

Weight Lose Tip 2. Set SMART Goals

Once we know this we can set a daily/weekly calorie deficiency target that is SMART. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (or words to that effect).

A good SMART objective for weight loss for a myself as a young, fit martial artist would be something like this

“Lose 5 kilograms in 3 months by reducing my calorie intake by ~400 calories per day on average”

Obviously it is specific as we have figures in there, it is achievable as it is within the range of a healthy calorie deficit for someone my age and fitness level. It is achievable as I can lose the weight and still have a healthy BMI. Realistic as I have done it before and timely because we are doing it in 3 months.

Weight Lose Tip 3. Make it Your Decision

It is all good to have a plan, set smart objectives and tick all the right boxes. What we ultimately need is the personal drive and discipline to go through with it. This won’t work if you are not doing it for the right reasons. You may need to reevaluate why you are doing this before you start. If it is to achieve your goal of passing your next grading then that will be a good motivator and one that your instructor will support. If it is because someone else is telling you to do it you may end up applying a negative association to  the journey you are about to embark on. This in my opinion happens a lot with personal trainers. You pay someone to push you but when they are not around you have no desire to push yourself. You cannot outsource will to a personal training. As martial arts instructors we aim to change your discipline and behaviour by giving you the will to do things outside the dojo and not just in the training arena.

Find strength in yourself and you increase your changes of success.

Weight Lose Tip 4. Find Support With Your Friends and Family

Next step is to get someone else on board that you can be accountable to. Your friends and families, or even work colleagues, people that you see on a daily basis or in regular intervals will help you with this. I would recommend someone that does not have too close of a relationship as they may be soft on you and allow you to take shortcuts. Also it is good to talk about goals we have set ourselves with other people as it goes from being an idea to a choice.

Weight Lose Tip 5. Change Your Diet

Now we come to the bits that will actually help you to get the weight off, and hopefully to keep it off.

Most karate students or martial artists are already getting a good amount of exercise in their weekly routine of training. What is lacking is the discipline within our diet.

First thing first, research the foods that you currently eat and find out their serving size, calories per serve and compare that to your target daily calorie goal. You will be surprised how many calories are a serve of honey, or in two slices of white bread or a latte. This gives you a very good point of reference especially once you get a grasp on how many calories you burn running or riding a bike or training in karate for 90 minutes. It starts to become very apparent that it is easier to not consume the energy than it is to burn it off.

My personal strategy is to increase my protein intake (tins of tune, chicken breast, kangaroo, protein powder supplements, egg whites, soy milk) along with fibre (psyllium husk, whole grains), minimise my carbohydrate intake by cutting out simple carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Do some research on the glycemix index (GI) of food as this measures the rate at which the your body absorbs energy and impacts blood sugar levels, insulin and has a huge impact on apetite, hunger pains and the underlying desire to eat.

Find some super foods such as freeze dried acai for antioxidants, white tea to boost your metabolism and and get stuck into your vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach and drink the recommended daily amount of water. A lot of emphasis on water and magnesium to help the body to absorb the water and use it for greater functionality.

Weight Lose Tip 6. Lift the Weights

To substitute the new diet we are going to take on, we will opt to lift some weight so that we grow those muscles (which will feed off the high protein and carbohydrates) and ultimately increase our overall basal metabolic rate as our body requires more energy to be a couch potato with those new muscle fibres to feed.

For someone that is new to weights, the easiest way to begin is by working the large muscle groups by doing bench press, squats, dead lifts and chin ups. Anything that will get those large muscles pumping. Also some of the smaller muscle groups such as the abdominals, calves, triceps will be worked during your martial arts class and you may not have the appropriate recovery time for those muscles to repair themselves between weight training days.

If you are unable to gain the equipment to work these muscle groups I recommend a martial artist to research kettlebells as they require minimum space, can be done in short training sessions and give a complete workout for the body.

Weight Lose Tip 7. Implement a Cardio Routine

Skip, run, cycle or swim either before class, after class, in the morning, when you get home from work. Anytime you get a spare 30 minutes to an hour, you can do this at a low pace just to get your heart pumping into the fat burning zone. This may add up to an additional 300 calories burned per session and will be another stake in the coffin of the Christmas gut.

Try not to overdo cardio for weight lose and follow the general rule of 80% of weight lose coming from diet and 20% from exercise. The greater the energy put into cardio exercise the more you start to use energy derived from within the muscles and this needs to be replenished usually by eating carbohydrates after exercise. So you can run a marathon a day but you need to up your carb intake to align with your activity level which negates the calorie deficit objective. Stick to long walks on the beach.

Weight Lose Tip 8. Measure Your Progress

If you don’t have a set of scales you will need to go out and buy some, find some, borrow some, beg for them. As part of our SMART objectives we had measurable and the scales will be the key factor in success or failure. If you do not measure you do not know whether what you are doing is working.

Measure your body weight whenever you want but keep it to a routine that has little variables that can effect it. Also only measure yourself once per day as there are too many factors that can change. This is why most people measure themselves after they wake up and after relieving themselves. Keep it consistent, do it daily where possible and track it on a graph or write it down, get an app on your smart phone or tell someone who can.

Weight Lose Tip 9. Give it Your Top Effort

Once you have the fitness you need to work harder to take advantage. Don’t leave anything in the tank.

If you find that the results don’t come straight off the bat, give it some time. This is not a fad weight lose diet, this is about changing behaviour so that when you have reached your goal you do not go back to the old ways and be back at square one.

Part of the journey of karate is learning about perseverance, determination and will. Think of it as part of your overall karate journey.

Weight Lose Tip 10. Results Equal Reward

After achieving the goal, you need to be rewarded. The weight lose itself will be reward enough, but you need something special that isn’t a binge fest. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break, enjoy the moment and show off the results to your friends and those that have supported you along the way. Be vocal and bask in the sunshine of success. This will also make you remember down the track if you ever find yourself off course what it feels like to give it your best shot and give you the motivation to get back on the fitness band wagon.

If you are still here reading this than thank you for your time. As always, you get inspired to write these based on events during the day. In this case it was speaking to one of our students who is attempting their 2nd kyu later in the year and looking themselves for inspiration to lose 10-15 kilos. I will go back through and re-link to more sources as I go to help you out.

But if you do have any further advice to add or want to talk about it feel free to comment below. I am more than happy to help and share some of the things that I have learnt after crawling the internet for information, applying it and getting great results.

Nidan Grading Part 2

Waking up early Saturday morning on the 11th of November, 2011, James Duggan Shihan took myself and Andrew (along with other students attempting gradings) to the seminar hall for some early morning Sanchin and Tencho training. In hindsight this was probably one of my most productive sessions not only to improve on some marginal changes that I required but also to prepare mentally for the grading that was to occur that afternoon.

The biggest change I had to deal with in my Sanchin kata was standing off centre in my sanchin stance. What I mean by this is that I was leaning back into my rear leg throughout the stance which was putting my weight distribution back too far. I had previously corrected this in my top half of my body by straightening my back but inevitably, when one problem is corrected you have to be cautious of other problems occurring. In this case it was sitting back into my stance, similar to slouching in your chair whilst driving a car or sitting in an office chair. But as always, just having Jamie Shihan there to take a look and give some feedback allowed me to at least give this a go at correcting in time for the grading. We also focused a lot on Tencho and finalising a few points in the breathing.

Later in the day, aft completing some of the standard sessions through the seminar, Glenn Stephenson Shihan (our head instructor for Goju Ryu Karate do Seiwakai Australia) took us through Seiunchin kata. This was intense as Glenn Shihan had very high expectations for us throughout this session. At one stage I recall the quote of the day being “This is Goju Ryu not kan ga roo”, referring to someone who was executing a yori ashi dachi by hopping onto the front foot instead of pushing from the rear and creating drive in the technique. All in all, it was another great session to prepare for the grading.

Let’s skip ahead now to the grading as I have delayed this way too long already (first post being back in November).


So after all this, I found out that evening that both Andrew and I passed our Nidan grading which made me extremely happy. I was also very happy that the grading was brought forward to Saturday afternoon (it was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon) so I was able to have a few celebratory drinks and enjoy the Sunday a bit more without freaking out about the grading.

New Years Resolution

Karate New Years ResolutionMake Learning Karate Your New Year’s Resolution Brisbane!

I remember when I started karate training back in 2005. I had stopped playing soccer due to an injury and had been inactive for a couple of months. This topped with an over indulgence over the Christmas period and I was feeling pretty flat (energetically, not physically). This lead to my New Year’s Resolution to start karate training.

I was share housing at the time while studying at Griffith University and asked one of my mates if they would be interested in joining a karate club that I had found in Norman Park at the Active Life Fitness Centre. Since we had done everything together from a young age he was as keen as I.

Now reflecting back on that day, I find that it would be unreasonable not to think that a lot of people would have gone through that same martial arts New Years Resolution in Brisbane. If you find yourself wandering down the same path that I did then you have to read these 5 top tips for keeping your New Years Resolution of becoming a black belt in karate or martial arts in Brisbane.

1. Stop Thinking about Starting Karate

No… I don’t mean stop and never start. You need to get out there and give it a try. It may seem simple but a lot of people (including myself!) love the idea of starting something new and can see all the positive benefits but never actually go out and give it a shot. The best thing you can do is to find a local dojo and turn up for a class to see what it is like. You might find that it is everything you imagined or you could find it is not for you. Either way you can embark on an amazing journey or put the idea to rest and find something else that suits you.

2. Involve Your Friends

If you have set a goal in life, like wanting to learn self defence or becoming a black belt in karate, then you have a significantly higher chance of reaching that goal if you talk to someone about it. This makes you accountable to somebody else besides yourself. We all know how easy it is to justify to ourselves why we aren’t at the gym or out running. Better yet, find a friend who wants to join with you because you just can’t fool your friend when you don’t show up to your new karate class to train with them. This will be a great helper in getting you to start but also continue training and you will also find you will become a lot closer to that person once you have done a few kumite sparring sessions with them.

3. Bring the Kids Along

If you have kids they may also be interested in starting a class. If they aren’t interested then just sit them down to a screening of the Karate Kid (the original one ofcourse) and you will have them converted over night. A handy hint as well is that Mr Miyagi in the movie (as portrayed by Pat Morita) is a direct reference to the founder of Goju Ryu Karate Chojun Miyagi  Either way, if your children are just as excited as you about training and feeling the same benefits that you are then it will keep you motivated to keep going. Children are also more likely to utilise the skills in their day to day lives as they deal with bullies and being teased throughout school. You might find that it will help for the whole family to build confidence and be able to handle confrontations more easily.

4. Don’t Stop Once You’ve Started

I remember my first month of training and how much I hated walking/crawling up the stairs to get through the front door. Karate is an amazing physical workout and we advise all first timers to take it easy for the first couple of weeks as their bodies cope with the intensity of karate and self defence training. Mind you, the incredible feeling of all your muscles aching gives you that evidence that what you are doing is working and that you will soon reach those short term weigh lose goals and get a fitter more toned body.

5. Enjoy the Learning Experience

The first few classes can be daunting when the instructors are speaking commands in Japanese and everyone around you looks like they know what they are doing and you do not. We totally understand when we teach you so just enjoy yourself and know that we are there to help and will answer any questions you have. It can also be frustrating at times being taught something new, especially if you don’t pick it up straight away (not all of us are as gifted as our Sempai’s). Just remember that practice makes perfect. In my personal experience (now one of those gifted Sempai’s) I found it took around 6 months even for my body to get to the level of fitness required to start nailing all those extra techniques and combinations.

End of Year Bash 2011

End of Year Bash is like Christmas Day for the karateka at Brisbane Goju Karate. It is the yearly event where we all come together to share gifts of punching and kicking. While it is guaranteed to be an enduring day fraught with bumps and bruises it never fails to put a smile on our faces. The End of Year Bash, or Party in the Park for the kids karate students, always puts a smile on your face and sometimes a blood stain on your gi.

All karate students across Brisbane are welcome to come along and join in the Brisbane Goju Karate End of Year Bash so keep this blog bookmarked for more information about the End of Year Bash 2012!

End of Year Bash Highlights for 2011

2011 saw the first year that Gladiator Cam was introduced to capture all those gut smacking and ear clipping kicks and punches. Enjoy the highlights reel below and don’t forget to leave a comment or two at the bottom sharing your favourite moments from the End of Year Bash 2011.

Sempai Jay Vs. Sempei Andrew


Shihan James Vs. Sensei Kain


Sempai Jay Vs. Sensei Kain


Sempai Rod Vs. Shihan James


Sempai Andrew Vs. Shihan James


Sempai Guy Vs. Sempai Rod


Sempai Rod Vs. Macca