The style of Karate that I train, Goju, translates to “50/50 or hard/soft”. Go=hard, Ju=soft. Our striking is Go and our blocking is Ju. We are trained to move ourselves or deflect our opponents attack, rather than meeting it with force, and to use their momentum against them. Our fighting style is in-close, so we won’t usually be doing many flying, spinning kicks on you. We’re much more likely to catch your kick, whip out a few wicked elbows, sweep you to the ground, and stomp kick your face.
Shihan thinks that a lot of Karate training, and other similar martial arts, focus too much on the hard aspects. He calls them GoGo Ryu, and says they miss out on how valuable Ju is. Since I started training in Jiu-Jitsu (the gentle art), I have come to really understand and appreciate how important Ju can be. I have a tendency to try to be too hard when I roll. Since I’m not allowed to strike my opponents, I have no outlet for all my Go! However being “soft” or “gentle” does not mean you don’t still bring the pain, it just means you use as little of your your own strength and energy as possible to do so. “Maximum efficiency with minimum effort”. -Dr. Jigoro Kano, Ju-Jitsuka and founder of Judo (the gentle way).
I think I have the Go aspect of my arts figured out pretty well, but I’m having a hard time getting the Ju. The Go is very solid, it’s concrete and easy to grasp. The Ju is difficult to get a handle on…it’s sneaky and it keeps evading me! Being GoGo can be pretty fun, but I think I would be really dangerous if I could figure out the JuJu!
“Everything in the universe is breathing hard and soft.”
-The Bubishi, Eight Poems of the Fist