Questions about Go Ju Ryu, Uechi Ryu, and Shorin Ryu?

Mtal

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Hi, I was wondering, what are the differences between Go Ju Ryu, Uechi Ryu, and Shorin Ryu? Does one have more White Crane influnce over the other? Do they all do the sanchin Kata? Is one more harder on the body? Do they all incorporate some throws and locks?
Well I am looking to get back into Karate. I used to do Shoto Kan years ago. I was kind of looking for something different. Okinawan Karate looks pretty cool. I like the White Crane influnce (would take that, but no schools around) and the hard and soft aspects. I am also in my upper 30's. I hear there are not really that many high kicks or deap stances. I also hear there are some joint locks and throws (sounds like to me making it more rounded). Oh, and I need something that gives me a good workout.
It's been a little hard finding out the differences. Go Ju I probably know the most of, and did try a class years ago. I see there is some locks in it, and the sanchin kata looks a lot like white crane. I also here they do some exercises like push hands (I have done tai chi). Oh but I also hear that sanchin might be bad for your blood pressure. I dont have a problem, but hate to cause one.
Shorin Ryu, all I get is that it is just like Go Ju. Is that right.
Uechi Ryu, actually I just came across it. It looks kind of interesting. They do not do as many Kata's as the other ones. It is newer, so I hear some stuff is changed in it. I also here is is very self defence oriented (do not know why that was said, that is all I read). Then I also hear that its roots are very close to white crane, but then I read somewhere else that it is not cause it is a newer style, so it is actually farther away from the white crane influence.
Well any info would be great. I am going to start to look at some schools, but I wanted to have an idear of what I am looking at before I go.
Thanks.
 

arnisador

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Uechi is the newest as a Karate style, but it is a barely modified form of Southern Chinese kung fu. The foudner studied Pangainoon kung fu in China and taught it in Okinawa, where it was eventually renamed and slightly expanded as a Karate style. It's softer (including its Sanchin) and more circular and open-handed than the others.

Shorin is an older Okinawan style, though of course it has a large Chinese influence; indeed, it's name basically means "Shaolin-style" fighting. It's relatively circular and open-handed, and carries on two of the three major early traditions of Okinawan Karate. Most versions don't teach Sanchin but do teach Rohai which is strongly crane-influenced.

Goju is the hardest of the three, though still softer than most Japanese styles. It carries on the third major early tradition of Okinawan Karate. It has a hard Sanchin (but a soft Sanchin-like kata called Tensho) and more closed-hand and linear movements, though again, not as much as a typical Japanese style.

I've studied the Uechi and Goju (though not to instructor level), both of which do indeed have some sensitivity drills, and a little bit of Shorin. Personally if I were to go back to any of them I'd go back to Uechi, but that's just me! All are good.
 

dancingalone

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Frankly, if you're a beginner, you won't see any of locks or throws for a long time to come. Beginners at most dojos do a lot of basics, moving, stepping, blocking, punching, kicking, etc. I've dabbled in all three systems, although I have the most experience with Goju myself. They are all fine systems. I recommend Goju if you are a slower person physically like I am, although I can pack a whallop! The whipping method Shorin-ryu people use benefits from a person with faster limbs than I have. Uechi was fun, but I found the preoccupation with toe kicks and the hiruken(sp?) fist to be distracting after a while. It seem practicing Uechi meant an inordinate amount of condition for those parts of my foot and hand if I wanted to be effective and true to the style. Banging on a makiwara was more my speed, so Goju it was.

The white crane is a bit of a holy grail for Okinawan karate people. They all love to talk about it, and you'll even see those Hakutsuru kata high sought after and coveted by even high level dan rankers. I think it's a bit of a red herring myself. The fact is that all three ryus you mentioned have evolved from their Chinese origins (even Uechi). You can see it by watching a karateka and then watching a Crane player. Their body structure and mechanics are very different, and the way jin (power) is created among the systems has also diverged. The link back to Fukien White Crane is interesting, but let's realize that karate is not Crane by a long shot.

Sanchin practice is controversial. It's certainly true that some karate-ka overdo the tension and MAY be hurting themselves. I have seen no medical evidence that concludes that sanchin is harmful, but I personally have experienced headaches in my youth when I practiced sanchin with extreme tension across my body. These days I do it more Chinese-like, and I feel invigorated after repeated a few sets rather than tired as before.
 

Jin Gang

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Shorin Ryu is not "just like Goju" at all, really. They have completely different sets of kata, and move differently. Also, there are four major branches of shorin ryu, and several others which are branched off of those four. Each branch teaches some kata that the others don't, and have different own versions of the common ones. You'll have to find out which styles of shorin ryu your local schools are teaching. What you get when you go to a school will vary greatly, even within the same branch. To know exactly what to expect, you'd have to watch a class or two.
It's true that karate "should" have grappling and throwing practice, but in reality you will be lucky to find a traditional school practices these things regularly. Though these techniques are a big component of most kata's application, this knowledge is still being rediscovered and reverse-engineered by many teachers. Karate training in America has mostly consisted of punching, kicking, and blocking since the sixties. The school which has more is still rare, I think.
As for the white crane influence...you can see it a little bit here and there, though greatly changed from the origin. As was said earlier, none of the Okinawan styles really look like white crane anymore. I think that white crane was only one of several influences on karate styles.
The style which Uechi Ryu comes from is said to be based on the techniques of tiger, crane, and dragon. It's three major kata, Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu, are also found in Goju Ryu (though Uechi does them differently). According to its lineage, Uechi is the closest to its Chinese roots.
Shorin Ryu does not have sanchin. It has naihanchi, which some consider a "conditioning" kata equivalent to the way sanchin is used in Goju and Uechi. Naihanchi is the same as "tekki" in shotokan (which is mostly from shorin ryu). However, Okinawan schools practice it somewhat differently than the Japanese.
Seisan is found in some shorin ryu branches, though the shorin seisan is very different, much shorter and more simple, than the goju and uechi seisan kata.

The kata Rohai spoken of in an earlier post is found in Matsubayashi Ryu branch of shorin ryu. I know that Shito Ryu also has it (shito ryu collected almost all the kata from all the okinawan styles, naha, shuri, and tomari). It is probably one of the more "crane like" kata, though extremely short. It is considered an advanced kata, so you probably won't learn it for four or five years (around shodan or nidan).

I think the easiest way to tell the difference between all the styles is just to watch them

This website has general descriptions and lineages of some of the major styles, and a few videos
http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/023/eng/index.html

Another way to look at the differences is to put a style name or kata name into youtube or google video and see what you come up with. There are lots of videos of kata and practicing out there.
 

twendkata71

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Good post. That web site is a very good reference web site for Okinawan karate.
I have had the opportunity to study Shorin ryu and some Goju ryu. And they are very different in most aspects. The common thread between Shorin ryu,Goju ryu and Uechi ryu karate is that they all come from southern styles of Chinese boxing. Shorin ryu is supposed to have some connection to Shoalin temple styles. The other two styles do not have the implied connection to Shoalin.
 

Live True

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Oh but I also hear that sanchin might be bad for your blood pressure. I dont have a problem, but hate to cause one.

I can't speak to this personally, being very new to Uechi, but I did remember an article that may be of interest form George Mattson's Uechi-ryu.com site titled: Sanchin Breathing: Are you hurting yourself?
http://uechi-ryu.com/breathng.htm

Bill Glasheen (the author) had the following qualifications at the time of the article: A doctorate in biomedical engineering with an emphasis in systems physiology. A dissertation on rhythms in cardiopulmonary systems, which includes quantification of how respiration affects arterial and venous pressure, heart rate, and peripheral vascular flow. Five years of research in the field of cardiology. Renshi rokudan in Uechi Ryu (one "style" of sanchin). Nidan in Shorei Kai Goju Ryu (another "style of sanchin).

Hope this is helpful!
 

Victor Smith

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Wow. talk about a complicated question. All answers are bound to be too short of reality.

Hiagonna Kayro taught the arts he studied in China during the later 1800's in the Naha area. His students preserved some of those arts in Goju Ryu and To'on Ryu. [To'on Ryu is only found in Japan in a small group and one instructor in Vancouver Canada. The kata content is different than Goju's.]

Goju Ryu is the creation of Miyagi Chojun from his studies with Hiagonna Kayro in Naha (who trained in China), including his teachers forms and other forms, including new beginner kata.

Shorin Ryu encompases a wider range of practices descended from areas like Shuri and Tomari. Some of the representative groups (in random order) are:

1. Soken Hohen's Shorin training from his Grandfather. He created the Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu system (the names have kept changing). This system descended from Matsumura Bushi from the mid 1800's. From the 1920's till after WWII he lived in South America. Returning home to Okinawa he spent the remainder ofh is life sharing part of his arts.
His art includes a family form of Crane training (kata Hakutsuru).

2. Itosu's Shorin training (also descended from Matsumura Bushi and others). Itosu crafted the Pinan kata for high school students training. His students (Funakoshi Ginchin-Shotokan and Mabuni Kenwa Shito Ryu) moved Karate to Japan.

3. Kyan Chotoku also a student of Matsumura Bushi and others including instructors from Tomari taught a number of instructors. Among them Nagamine (Matsubahshi), Isshinryu (Shimabuku T), Shobayshi (Shimabuku E), Seibuakan (Shimabukuro Z), Shorinji Ryu and other strong groups (only going from memory now).

Ueichi Ryu came from China in the late 1800's, but Uechi Sensei moved to Japan and didn't return to Okinawa until 1948 or so. The original version of the art only contains 3 kata Sanchin, Seisan and Sanseiryu

A quick survey of some basic kata

Goju and To'on Ryu included Sanchin

Itosu's included Naifanchi and the Pinan
Funakoshi Ginchin included Naifanchi (Tekki) and the Pinan (Heian)
Mabuni Kenwa included Sanchin, Naifanchi and the Pinan

Kyan's teaching did not use Sanchin, Naifanchi or the Pinan
Nagamine (Matsubayshi) included Pinan and Naifanchi
Shimabukuro Zenryo (Seibukan) included Naifanchi
Shiambukuro Zempo (Seibukan) included Naifanchi and Pinan)
Shimabuk Tatsuo (Isshinryu) included Sanchin and Naifanchi
Shimabuku Ezio (Shobayshi) included Sanchin, Naifanchi and Pinan
Shorinji Ryu did not use Sanchin, Naifanchi or the Pinan

Uechi included Sanchin (done full speed for full application)

I'm unfairly not mentioning many other Okinawan systems (say Kojo Ryu, Chito-Ryu, and many others) but I think this is a fair sampling of them. What you do see is there is no universal rule that applies. The real rule is instructors changes as they see fit.

When someone from way outside of the Okinawan systems takes a look, they find that the Goju and Shorin systems are using pretty much the same techniques, just variations of each other such as speed and timing.

As whether crane is a big influence on the Okinawan systems, it depends on who you talk to and which crane system you're looking at.

If you take the time to look at southern chinese white crane systems, you'll eventually see, even if the Crane - Karate link is true, things have changed so much the link is far less meaningful, IMO. Of course it equaly may have been the Okinawan's didn't train far enough in the Chinese systems to really get 'it'.

One interesting thought is that a kata like Seisan may be one of the true unifying links across all the Okinawan systems. Sure groups like Matsubayshi don't practice it (Nagamine had previous training when he began with Kyan and it may be that Kyan felt he didn't need seisan?), but many groups do.

While there are vast differences between Seisan execution and the number of techniques in the kata (named 13 for Seisan) There is a common core that remains present in all of the versions. That core might be the original Seisan source.

I never feel the key is the system, rather the instructor. All fo those systems are great if you have a great instructor that motivates you correctly. Watch schools, talk to students (and previous students) and check out the instructor. That's the more important issue.
 

Brian S

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I never feel the key is the system, rather the instructor. All fo those systems are great if you have a great instructor that motivates you correctly. Watch schools, talk to students (and previous students) and check out the instructor. That's the more important issue.
__________________

I'll second that!! Excellent post Victor.

:ubercool:
 

TimoS

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Shorinji Ryu did not use Sanchin, Naifanchi or the Pinan

Actually, Joen Nakazato's Shorinji ryu Kyudokan has Naifanchi. They practise only Naifanchi shodan. Other than that, fully agree with you, especially on your point that the instructor is more important than the style. One of the seniors in my previous style said that the style becomes important (to some, at least) around the time you reach shodan
 

TimoS

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Seisan is found in some shorin ryu branches, though the shorin seisan is very different, much shorter and more simple, than the goju and uechi seisan kata.

Don't think I've seen the Uechi Seisan, but I've seen videos of Goju Seisan and although it is quite different from Shorin Seisan, which I'm familiar with, I find that there are many commonalities also. In my opinion, they probably stem from the same kata and just have evolved along different paths.
 

Victor Smith

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Timo,

I believe you are right about the Shorinji-ryu using Naifanchi, I don't have access to my home records right now. From several sources I have heard each of Kyan's students who became instructors did adopt Naifanchi to their systems, but they also each used a different source.

As for Uechi Seisan try
This shows Uechi Kanei performing the 'short-er' version of the form. There are several strikes that can be added at the beginning for the 'long-er' version and both are practiced. The rest of the form remains unchanged.

Uechi uses finger tip strikes, toe tip strikes and thumb and knuckle strikes. Their form does not use the flat fist.

In all of the Seisan variations the link is they have a common embusen. The commonality:

1. A row of techniques going forward
2. A turn
3. A row of techniques going backward
4. A series of techniques in a "+" pattern.

When you get past the type of techniques, the extension of some movements into others, and the choice of adding extra rows of techniques at the ending to the original core, you see the expression of various instructors needs, IMO.

But Okinawan kata, which moved in very fluid directions, still rarely changed the core embusen. So 15 Patsai still is recognizably Patsai, and so forth for other kata.

It may be by keeping the core embusen intact their changes were not changing the past, but reacting to their current reality.

of course the last is just my opinion.
 
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TimoS

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Timo,

I believe you are right about the Shorinji-ryu using Naifanchi, I don't have access to my home records right now. From several sources I have heard each of Kyan's students who became instructors did adopt Naifanchi to their systems, but they also each used a different source.

Here's the version of Nakazato's Shorinji school http://www.shao.sakura.ne.jp/data/kata03.wmv (the page has all their kata). I have also heard that their version of Naifanchi is different from what is practised in e.g. Seibukan, but as I haven't yet seen the Seibukan Naifanchi, I can't really compare them. I have done a version of Naifanchi in my previous style, but it's again different from the Seibukan version
 

Brandon Fisher

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Good to hear you are interested in Okinawan Karate.. Not all the styles do Sanchin I believe Shobayashi Shorin Ryu might and I know Hohan Soken at one time did teach Matsumura Sanchin but quit apparently due to the health risks. Uechi Ryu and Goju Ryu are built on Sanchin especially Uechi Ryu.

Shorin Ryu is not like Goju Ryu they both have distinct differences. Shorin Ryu is a more upright higher stances where Goju ryu uses both high and deep stances depending on what they are practicing at the time. So Shorin Ryu schools use deeper stances than others. Shorin ryu Shorinkan for example and other Kobayashi schools of Shorin Ryu use higher stances primarily its difficult to notice the stance sometimes when looking at it but in fact the stance may be very strong. Matsumura Seito uses very high stances also but some lower. Seidokan under Seiki Toma lineage uses a combination of both high and low stances similar to the same application as goju ryu.

Uechi Ryu I believe practices 8 kata but they must be perfect in practice and application. The style is not really that new has it was originally call Pangai Noon and than Kanbun Uechi passed away it was named Uechi Ryu.

As far as joint locking and throws yes every okinwan karate style incorporates them at the more advanced levels. In okinawan karate the basics are extremely enforced so joint locks and such are normally reserved for high ranking karate-ka. But they are there and they are devastating when done correctly.

Here are some videos for you:
Goju Ryu (Higaonna Sensei, 10th Dan (recently promoted) – Seisan)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=XjddaBWugLs

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wD7LH92TDuA

Uechi ryu (Shinjo Sensei, 8th Dan)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Hkz-8_Q6hOs

Shorin Ryu (Matsuda Sensei, 9th Dan of Meibukan Shorin Ryu)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=7tn9EpYc5pc

I hope this helps!!
 

chinto

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ok Shorin ryu system, there are 4 major ones in that. namely Kobayashi Shorin ryu, Shobayashi Shorin ryu, Matsubayashi Shorin ryu, and Motsumura seito . they have either Shuri-te, or Tamari-te in them. but they are some of the oldest systems of karate. They do have a fair amount of White Crane influence in them along with some other systems, and the native Okinawan systems they were blended with and developed with. there are a couple of versions of the crane Kata in the Shorin ryu systems
Goju ryu came from Shorei ryu that was systematized by Kanryo Higaonna who studied ryo ryu ko, also ru ru ko systems in fuchou and wai shin zan in fuchou as well. he brought it back to Naha and mixed it with what he had learned of the Naha system of karate to become Shorei ryu and his student who succeeded him, Chojun Miyagi changed the name to Goju ryu ( hard soft style.) it is a harder system then most Shorin systems .. there is a goju version of the hakutsuru ( crane ) Kata in goju ryu as well.

the last Uechi ryu is provably the least modified and newest of the systems to be tought on Okinawa. Of the ones you mentioned. I do not know if the Uechi ryu system has a Hakutsuru Kata
 

chinto

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and the 5th major branch is Shorin ryu Seibukan


ok, not fumilare with that branch myself, and do not know its linage. but I have heard the name a few times here.
 

TimoS

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ok, not fumilare with that branch myself, and do not know its linage. but I have heard the name a few times here.

The lineage is from Chotoku Kyan. Kyan taught Zenryo Shimabukuro, who founded Seibukan. Currently the style is headed by his son Zenpo Shimabukuro. Off-hand I can't name who taught Kyan, as there were several teachers
 

twendkata71

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Kyan Chotoku Hanshi's teachers were:
Oyadomari Kokan,Matsumora Kosaku, and Itosu Ankoh. After viewing the karate that his students teach,pass down,etc. I would have to believe that Itosu and Matsumora had the most influence on what his karate style became. Oyadomari was a tomari ti person and the other two teachers were Shuri ti teachers if I am not mistaken.
 

chinto

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Kyan Chotoku Hanshi's teachers were:
Oyadomari Kokan,Matsumora Kosaku, and Itosu Ankoh. After viewing the karate that his students teach,pass down,etc. I would have to believe that Itosu and Matsumora had the most influence on what his karate style became. Oyadomari was a tomari ti person and the other two teachers were Shuri ti teachers if I am not mistaken.

yes but I can say that the style I study, Shobayashi Shorin ryu is 70% to 80% tamari-te and the 20% to 30% left over is shuri-te... and Kyan Chotoku Hanshi was the founder of the style.
 

TimoS

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Just a couple of points: first, I'm pretty sure that Itosu was not one of Kyan's teachers, but I will check. Second, and I've said this before, Kyan was not a hanshi. If he had lived later on, sure, he most likely would've been a hanshi, but back in his days karate people just didn't get those titles
 

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