Karate and Kobudō

Karate and Kobudō


Goju-Ryu Karate was founded by Kanryo Higaonna Sensei in Okinawa, Japan in the late 1800’s. It was developed from a combination of Chinese martial arts and the traditional martial arts of the Okinawan Islands. Toshikan Dojo and Sensei Mac Newton are members of the International Okinawa Goju-Ryu Federation (IOGKF).

“Go” means “hard” and “ju” means “soft”. Therefore, goju karate means hard-soft empty hand. The name describes how, in practice, and in self-defense, one learns to use hard techniques such as punches and kicks, as well as soft, flowing techniques such as grasps, sweeps and take-downs. Defensive blocks can be either hard or soft.

A typical karate class will include stretches and warm-up exercises, practicing blocks, strikes and kicks, moving techniques, combinations, practice on bags, practical applications, self-defense and sparring for students interested in the more competitive aspects of karate. The most important aspect of our classes, though, is the practice of “kata”. There are 13 kata in the IOGKF practice of Okinawa traditional goju-ryu karate. Kata are the series of movements that simulate battles. Since kata is done solitary, many adult students eventually find that this is the most meditative aspect of karate practice.


The weapons in our training system include the bo (long staff), the nunchuku, the sai, the eku (oar or paddle), the tunfa (the origins of a police night stick), the tekko (steel knuckles), timbe/rochin (shield and short spear), and the kama (hand sickles). Kobudō is an old system of practice developed for Okinawans to defend themselves against the swords of the samurai. Today, the practice of weapons training is archaic and anachronistic because, naturally, it is not legal to use these weapons outside of the dojo. However, it is a practice mostly of kata, of body awareness and coordination. It is an athletic practice, but can also become meditative.

Toshikan Dojo and Sensei Mac Newton are members of Ryukyu Kobudō Tesshinkan – the international kobudō organization based in Okinawa and founded by master sensei Tamayose Hidemi.