Wandering Along the Way of Okinawan Karate: Thinking about Goju-Ryu

Wandering Along the Way of Okinawan Karate: Thinking about Goju-Ryu

by Giles Hopkins


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A personal, philosophical, and historical exploration of Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate written by an experienced master.

In Wandering Along the Way of Okinawan Karate, Giles Hopkins draws on his fifty years of martial arts experience to take the reader on a journey through the meaning of kata (form) and bunkai (application) in Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate. Hopkins offers his personal reflections on the enigma of karate kata while explaining many of its little-understood applications. With skill and insight into kata's connection to nature, the book addresses key topics such as why some movements are done slowly while others are fast, the significance of steps and turns, and the role of tradition in karate. The purpose of kata solo patterns is to solidify specific self-defense techniques. Contrary to the commonly held belief that kata techniques can have multiple interpretations, Hopkins argues that kata embodies specific martial principles that must be followed rigorously for it to be truly effective. He also reveals the spiritual dimensions of martial arts by explaining its deep connection to nature. Providing new understanding of kata structure, themes, and martial art principles, Hopkins sheds light on the practitioner's journey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623174477
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 454,460
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Giles Hopkins is a long-time karate instructor and the author of many books, including The Kata and Bunkai of Goju-Ryu Karate (NAB/Blue Snake Books). A practitioner of martial arts since 1973, he holds black belt rankings in a number of styles, as well as sixth-degree rankings and a teacher's certificate in Okinawan Goju-ryu and Matayoshi kobudo from the Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei and the Okinawa Kodokan.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1


Don't Hit Anyone 9

Same Difference 14

Well, That's About the Size of It 20

Keeping the Elbows Down 24

Where Have You Been, My Blue-Eyed Son 30

Off with Their Heads! 35

A Block Is Not Always a Block 41

Weeding the Garden 45

When a Tree Falls in the Forest and Other Thoughts on Bunkai 47

Seiunchin Once Again 54

Footfalls in the Forest and Suparinpei 60


The Homogenization of Technique 69

Say What? 76

It's a System, Like the Trees in the Forest 81

Rooting in Sanchin 87

Trails and Suparinpei 91

What's Wrong with That Guy's Kata? 96

Why We Train 102

Things Aren't Always What They Seem 106

On the Dojo Floor … What of Tradition? 112

Authentic Movement 117

Watching the Deer … and Movement 122


Patterns or Structure of Kata 129

Shu Ha Ri: The Stages of Training 134

It's the Clothes, You Know 138

That's What We Call Y'ur Basic Basics 142

Picture This 147

Rhythm and Timing 153

Conventions 157

Imagine That 161

Watching Kata 167

How Many Different Versions Are There? 172

Connections 177


The Landscape Is a-Changin' 185

Ah, He's Just Old. What Does He Know Anyway? 189

A Step at a Time … Maybe Fiat's the Problem 195

The Influence of the Times 200

What Seemed So Familiar 205

It Was a Gray Day 210

Looking at Oak Trees 215

Questions One Should Be Asking 220

Hojo Undo 224

The Hemlocks Are Dying 229

Katahdin 236

Conclusion 244

Appendix: Revisiting the Principle Kata Analysis (Bunkai) 249

Bibliography 259

Index 261

About the Author 273

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