Goju‐Ryu Karate – Canada (LaSalle/Vollmer)

My sons, husband and I have been attending the Saturday Karate classes at the Vollmer centre for the last few years. This is part of the GKK Canada (Goju‐Ryu Karate‐Do KyoKai) organization under Sensei Pirrone. We enjoy this class very much. It’s a great opportunity to focus on physical fitness and discipline for the whole family. We very much appreciate that the Sensei allows parents of children in the class to participate as well!

There’s a lot to learn here and it’s difficult to find any official information about what we should know like the katas we learn in class. Some of the katas we learn seem to be slightly different than I’ve found in YouTube searches. So I’ve compiled some info here. It’s much easier to practise at home if you know what you’re supposed to practise.

Notes: This is compiled from my best attempt at understanding. I’m sure I have many mistakes here, please comment if you’ve found better videos or if you have corrections!

General Information

Organization Website: http://www.gojucanada.com

The 5 Pillars of Class:

  • Discipline
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Courtesy
  • Protection

Count to 10 in Japanese: ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, jyuu. (Try to know these forward and backward.) Video (Numbers 1-10).

Karate Stances: https://www.thekaratelifestyle.com/list-of-karate-stances/

Karate Gi (Uniform): Care and tie of the gi and belt + etiquette.

Know your karate lineage:

  • Myagi
  • Tada
  • Yamakura
  • Pirrone
  • You & I!

Basic Terminology:

  • Age (ah-gay): rising
  • Kiotsuke (kee-ut-skay or just a quick ‘skay’): stand to attention!
  • Rei: bow
  • Oss: basic greeting, translated from “to endure even when being pushed”
  • Seiza: formal kneeling position
  • Yoi: ready/attention
  • Yame (ya-may): stop/discontinue
  • Target regions:
    • Jōdan (joh-dan): upper level (face, neck, head)
    • Chūdan (choo-dan): middle level (chest, side chest, back)
    • Gedan (gay-dan): lower level (lower trunk area)
  • Uke (ou-kay): block
  • Tsuki (tsu-kee) : punch/strike
  • Blocks:
    • Jōdan Uke/Age Uke: upper level/rising block (also called Age Uke)
    • Gedan Uke: lower level block
    • Chūdan Soto Uke: outside forearm block (from outside moving inward)
    • Chūdan Uchi Uke: inside forearm block (from inside moving outward)

Kata (Form)

Katas are a form of mental and physical practise. As we practise the moves in the katas we are also practising balance, precision, patience and discipline. By stringing the moves together in a dance-like form, practising them can become a meditative process.

I want to reiterate that some videos are not exactly the same as we do in class. Usually they are using a different block than the high upper block we’ve been learning with. Or there is an additional final ‘leg’ of the kata. Or the video is blurry. Combine the video resources with the moves list to help you.

I highly recommend watching these with the video playback speed slowed down to help you follow along. We cast them to our TV and practise along in the family room.

# 1 – Kihon Jodan Uke Kata

(Kihon = Basic(s), Jodan = High/Upper, Uke = block)

During most of this kata your feet will be stepping in the sanchin-dachi stance. You can perform this kata with different types of blocks or strikes instead of the upper block we use most of the time.

Many videos of this kata often have an extra leg to them that our dojo doesn’t do. This makes it into a complete capital “I” shape when seen from above. I’m not sure why the difference. Just go with it.

Also called Taikyoku Jodan Kata (taikyoku means ‘first cause’), there is a video and more information here: https://blackbeltwiki.com/goju-ryu-kata-taikyoku-jodan.

Videos

This is a great video of the kata which uses an upper (jodan) punch.
This video is clear and goes through it a second time with hula hoops so you can really see the pattern you’re making on the floor. There is an extra leg at the end that we don’t do in our dojo. Uses a lower block instead of an upper block.
Similar to the first this video uses a lower block instead and has an extra leg at the end that we don’t do in class. But it’s performed at half speed which is nice.

Steps

  • Face front wall. Bow.
    • Say the name of the Kata. Arms open stance.
  • Quarter turn left. (Face left wall.)
    • Left arm block.
    • Punch right.
  • 180° turn to right. (Face right wall.)
    • Right arm block.
    • Punch left.
  • Quarter turn left. (Face front wall.)
    • Left arm block.
    • 3 punches: Right, Left, Right (“Kya!”)
  • Counterclockwise ¾ turn to the left. (Face right wall.)
    • (Sweep right leg in front of left, pivot on left leg counter-clockwise, end with left leg in front of right.)
    • Left arm block.
    • Punch right.
  • 180° turn to the right. (Face left wall.)
    • Right arm block.
    • Punch left.
  • Quarter turn left. (Face back wall.)
    • Left arm block.
    • 3 punches: Right, Left, Right (“Kya!”)
  • Counterclockwise ¾ turn to the left. (Face left wall).
    • (Sweep right leg in front of left, pivot on left leg counter-clockwise, end with left leg in front of right.)
    • Left arm block.
    • Punch right.
  • 180 ° turn to the right. (Face right wall.)
    • Right arm block.
    • Punch left.
  • Quarter turn left. (Face front wall.)
    • Fists to armpits.
    • Open and cross palms at chest (left hand below right).
    • Arms to sides. Bow.

Tips

  • The wall you start off facing is the “front wall”.
  • Turns always lead with your blocking arm.
  • Most of this kata is done in the sanchin-dachi stance. Don’t pick your feet off the ground, slide them along the floor.
  • Your path will trace a capital “I” pattern from where you begin.
  • There is an additional leg of the “I” at the end in other examples of this Kata. This is not included in the form used by the LaSalle Goju-Ryu Karate club.

#2 – Tsuki-no Kata

(tsuki = punch/strike)

Unfortunately most of the videos for this kata are extremely blurry or include a kick which we don’t do. Low resolution videos are difficult to slow down because they get choppy, but this first one is pretty good!

More information and videos (similar version but with a kick) found here: https://blackbeltwiki.com/kyokushin-tsuki-no-kata.

Videos

This video is very clear (yay!), but my kids are debating whether it’s the same.
This video is great for the camera angle but it’s very blurry.
Another blurry video but this one is in a group. The moves are performed when called out which is nice for getting the pattern/beat. Warning: video is LOUD!

Steps

Transcribing the steps for this kata is a work in progress. This one was much more complex and the pattern is not as simple. Also, figuring out what hands are doing in the blurry video or when the back is turned is quite challenging. The differences between high stance and low stance I’m still not completely sure about, but a low stance is shiko-dachi and high stance is sanchin-dachi. I transcribed this kata based on the beats called out in the 3rd video.

  • Face front wall. Bow.
    • Say the name of the Kata. Arms open stance.
  • Low stance (Face front wall)
    • Right leg slight step back, wide legs (shiko-dachi stance)
    • Left hand downward block, right hand to armpit (fist)
    • Punch (middle) with right fist
  • Low stance (Face front wall)
    • Right leg step forward
    • Punch (middle) left
  • High stance (Face front wall)
    • Left leg step forward
    • Punch (middle) right
  • High stance (Face front wall)
    • Right leg step forward
    • Punch (middle) left
  • Low stance (Face front-left corner)
    • Left leg step forward 45° to the front-left
    • Punch (middle) right toward front-left corner
  • Low stance (Sweep along front wall left-right)
    • Right leg step out to front-right corner
    • Swing extended right arm horizontally to front-right corner
    • Punch (middle) left to front-right corner
    • Punch (middle) right to front wall
  • High stance 180° turn (Face back wall)
    • Bend right elbow so fist faces up (to block in front of your face). Left fist under right elbow
    • Right leg crosses in front of left turn 180° (counter-clockwise), end with left leg forward
    • Left inside block, right hand to armpit
    • Punch (middle) right
  • High stance (Face back wall)
    • Right leg step forward
    • Right hand inside block
    • Punch (middle) left
    • Punch (middle) right
  • Low stance (Face back wall)
    • Left foot big step forward
    • Left (high) punch
  • Low stance (Face back wall) 180° turn
    • Right foot step forward to back-left corner
    • Right (high) punch to back-left corner
    • Keep right hand extended high, sweep arm around 180° (counter-clockwise) (face front wall)
    • Left leg is now forward
    • Left (high) punch (facing front wall), right fist to armpit
  • Low stance (Look at right wall)
    • Right leg comes forward then step out to right wall
    • Right punch to right wall (body faces front, head faces right wall)
  • Low stance (Look at right wall)
    • Left leg step in front of and past right leg to right wall performing a 180° turn (clockwise)
    • Left punch to right wall (body now faces back wall, head faces right wall)
    • Look at left wall
    • Right hand strike to left wall, palm open down, left fist to armpit
  • Low stance (Look at left wall)
    • Left leg step to left wall 180° turn (clockwise) (body now faces front wall, head to left wall)
    • Left hand strike to left wall (palm open down), right hand to armpit open palm up.
  • High Stance (Face front wall)
    • Left foot step back
    • Hands in defensive fists (left fist down, right fist up)
    • Breathe out
  • High Stance (Face front wall)
    • Right hand punch up
    • Left hand punch low
    • Right hand punch middle (“Kya!”)
  • Close (Face front wall)
    • Right foot step back beside left
    • Scoop hands to chest, open and cross palms at chest (left hand behind right).
    • Arms to sides. Bow.

Tips

  • The wall you start off facing is the “front wall”.
  • When in a ‘low’ stance you will be in shiko-dachi.
  • A ‘high’ stance is sanchin-dachi.

#3 – Gekisai Dai Ichi Kata

(Attack & Destroy One)

The first couple steps of this kata are similar to the first one. And it contains repeating patterns that make it a bit easier to learn. Happily it was quite easy to find several good videos of this kata.

There is a great video and set of written instructions found here: https://blackbeltwiki.com/gekisai-dai-ichi.

Videos

And excellent view of this kata from all angles.
A fast version of this kata, unfortunately hard to see when their back is turned.
Another great view of this kata. Starts around 40s into the video.

Steps

  • Quarter turn left. (Face left wall.)
    • (Step right foot forward & slightly out, quarter turn left.)
    • High stance (sanchin-dachi).
    • Left arm high block (jodan uke).
    • Step forward with right – high punch right.
  • Step back with right foot. (Body faces front wall.)
    • Low stance (shiko-dachi).
    • Left arm low block (gedan uke).
  • Quarter turn right. (Face right wall.)
    • (Left foot comes up to position, right foot pivots.)
    • High stance.
    • Right arm high block.
    • Step forward with left– high punch left.
  • Step back with left foot. (Body faces front wall.)
    • Low stance.
    • Right arm low block.
  • Step forward with left foot. (Facing front wall.)
    • High stance.
    • Left inside block (uchi uke).
  • Step forward with right foot. (Facing front wall.)
    • High stance.
    • Right inside block.
  • Kick with left foot, step forward into a lunge.
    • Left high elbow.
    • Left hammer fist down into left low block.
    • Punch right.
  • 180° twist to the right.
    • Pick up right foot & step down shoulder width apart.
    • (Feet and body facing right wall. Head faces back wall.)
    • Horizontal strike with right fist.
  • Step forward with left foot. (Facing back wall.)
    • High stance.
    • Left inside block.
  • Kick with right foot, step forward into a lunge.
    • Right high elbow.
    • Right hammer fist down into right low block.
    • Punch left.
  • 180° twist to the left.
    • Pick up left foot & step down shoulder width apart.
    • (Feet and body facing right wall. Head faces front wall.)
    • Horizontal strike with left hand open palm down.
  • Quarter turn to the left. (Facing front wall.)
    • Left leg sweeps behind and steps back toward back wall into a lunge.
    • Both fists to armpits.
    • Strike both fists out, right hand below & facing upward, left hand above and facing downward.
    • TIP: The leg that is forward is the fist that is lower.
  • Reverse the lunge and the strikes. (Facing front wall.)
    • Left leg comes forward beside right, then step back right leg toward back wall into a lunge.
    • Both fists to armpits.
    • Strike both fists out, left hand below & facing upward, right hand above and facing downward.
    • TIP: The leg that is forward is the fist that is lower.
  • Right leg comes forward beside left.
    • Stand up.
    • Back of right fist into open left palm.
    • Open palm lower hands in front then to sides.
    • Bow.

Tips

  • The wall you start off facing is the “front wall”.
  • Begin this kata from the musubi-dachi stance (heels together, toes apart).

#4 – Gekisai Dai Ni Kata

(Attack & Destroy Two)

TBD…

Wrap Up

Discipline and practise are key pillars of karate. This is hard to do in today’s busy world where we hardly have time to breathe. When you have kids it’s even harder. Watching how fast my kids pick this up and memorize things is honestly awe inspiring. Admittedly it’s been a tougher process for us adults. A little bit of practise is better than none. Some practise is better than a little. Do the best you can and find acceptance in yourself. Be courteous to yourself too! Hopefully this post is helpful for others, especially the other families with us in class.

If you have corrections or additions to this post, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or post a comment below!