Martial Arts • Karate Do • Health

What is a martial art? In Roman mythology, Mars is the god of war so any fighting art (or war art) was known to European culture as a martial art (or "art of Mars"). To be very general, most European-sourced fighting styles tend to be closed-handed (fist) while many Asian-sourced fighting styles tend to be open-handed or mixed.


Asian Martial Arts (10,000 foot view)

There are many Martial Arts but this web page follows one thread of Asian martial arts as it flowed from India, to China, to Okinawa, to Japan, to America, then finally to Canada.

Who B D Text
Bodhidharma 482 539 This Zen Buddhist Monk brought Buddhism, and martial arts, from India to China
  • some sources say he walked (from India to China?); other sources say he went by ship
  • According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks which led to the creation of Shaolinquan (Shaolin Kung Fu)
Higaonna Kanryo 1853 1916 Brings Okinawan Te to China then merged his knowledge with Chinese Kung fu to become Okinawan Karate
Funakoshi Gichin 1868 1957 Brings Okinawan Te to Japan then develops it into Shotokan Karate
Miyagi Chojun 1888 1953 Develops Okinawan Karate into Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate
  • the correct spelling of this Karate style is Gōjū-ryū (means hard/soft school of the Ryu Islands)
  • Japanese: Go means 5, Ju means 10, and Goju means 50. Tradition tells us that Goju Karate is 50% hard and 50% soft
  • Japanese Karate is 100% hard; Chinese Kung Fu and Wushu are 100% soft; and Japanese Goju is 50% hard so what do these terms mean?
    • hard style: the arm is kept in "high chamber" before a strike and there is a kiai (loud shout) on every punch
    • soft style: the arm is kept in a low chamber (on or below the belt) and there is no noise. Kung Fu might look like a dance but it can still kill
    • caveat: Shorin Ryu employs a medium chamber halfway between high and low
  • remember Mr. Miyagi from the 1984 move The Karate Kid ? This name was not a coincidence.
  • the 2010 movie of the same name should have be called The Kung Fu Kid
Gogen Yamaguchi 1909 1989 continues to develop Japanese Goju-ryu Karate
Richard Kim 1917 2001 Born in the Territory of Hawaii before it became a US state, Kim learned judo and some Karate as a child. After World War 2 he lived for seven years in Japan teaching Okinawan Kobudo and Shōrinji-ryū. He introduced one of his students, Peter Urban, to Masutatsu Oyama and Gogen Yamaguchi
Peter Urban 1934 2004 Served with the American occupation forces in Japan during the decade following World War 2
Brings Goju-ryu from Japan to America then develops American Goju which morphs into GoJu USA

Canadian GoJu

caveat: Eastern Asian names are almost always presented "surname first"

Karate Do (Empty Handed Way : Way of the Empty Hand)



The fist of Chojun Miyagi
Karate Do
Goju Ryu
Notable People in Karate

Related Articles

Miscellaneous Information

Dojo Kun: a gift from Chogun Miyagi (B-T-P-B-T-L-D-C)

Hitotsu (each item has equal importance)

Six paths to better Kata (B-E-F-K-P-T)

Karate Belt Colors

Art Imitates Life

Learn more ways to preserve rather than destroy;
Avoid rather than check;
Check rather than hurt;
Hurt rather than maim;
Maim rather then kill;
All life is precious nor can it be replaced.
         -- Master Khan to Grasshopper

Grasshopper: Master, I am troubled; We learn to make powerful our bodies yet we are taught to reverence all against whom we may use such force.
Master Khan: When your life is threatened, or the innocent life of another, you will be prepared to defend them.
Grasshopper: Being thus prepared better than others, should I not always stand and fight?
Master Khan: Ignore the insulting tongue; duck the provoking blow; run from the assault of the straw.
Grasshopper: Are these not the actions of a coward?
Master Khan: The wild boar runs from the tiger knowing that each being well armed by nature with deadly strength, may kill the other. Running, he saves his own life and that of the tiger. This is not cowardice, this is the love of life.

My Karate Training (Integrated with Weight Training)


  1. do not work the same muscles every day; they need at least one day off (perhaps this is the day you go to the Karate Dojo)
  2. pick up enough weight to lift three sets of ten repetitions to the point of exhaustion (of that body part)
    • do first set of 10 repetitions
    • pause 30-60 seconds to allow your muscles to recover
    • do second set of 10 repetitions
    • pause 30-60 seconds
    • do third set of 10 repetitions
    • move on to a different body part
  3. future progress: Always try to increase your repetitions.
    • eventually you will be able to do three sets of eleven but keep going
    • once you are comfortable doing three sets of twelve, slightly increase the weight then return to three sets of ten repeating the whole cycle
    • don't worry if you are unable to increase your reps. You are trying to get healthy so don't hurt yourself.

Junior Belts


Senior Belts



My Black Belt (shodan) Karate-Kobudo Grading

Neil Rieck holding a wooden swordOkay so every Karate club is different but here is what happened at my shodan Black Belt Karate-Kobudo grading ("shodan" is Japanese for "first")



Lessons Learned (my advice to you)

Going ForwardKlingon Rite of Ascension

The Icarus Factor is the title of a Star Trek TNG episode which ends with Warf enduring the Klingon Second Rite of Ascension Ceremony (video) which involves torture by one's peers. I think about my Shodan Grading every time I watch that episode. Why? I did not think I was ready to do this grading but my Sensei thought otherwise. I had five months to prepare and yet at least once every week I thought about walking away from Karate. But, like Warf, I suspected I might be a better person for passing though this trial by fire. I'm glad I did.


Plug for "My Karate Dojo" in Kitchener - Waterloo

Animated Dragon; The dragon is our mascot because it never admits defeatRobitaille's Academy of Martial Arts (RAMA) 
329 King St. E.,
Kitchener, Ontario N2G-2L2
Telephone: 519-743-4800

web1: (now offline - this dojo did not survive COVID-19)

The fist of Chojun Miyagi
Karate Do
Goju Ryu
Styles taught: 
  • Goju-Ryu Karate (accredited through the Independent Canadian GoJu Federation)
  • Ju-jitsu (accredited through the World Ju-Jitsu Federation)
  • Traditional Yang-style Tai Chi
  • Traditional Kobudo (weaponry)
    • includes: Nunchaku, Sai, Tonfa, Bō (bow), Jō, Kama, Kubotan, Katana (samurai sword) training with a wooden Bokken

Life after COVID-19 ???

COVID-19 permanently ended life at the RAMA dojo ( dōjō ) in Kitchener but I was able to reserve one-hour work outs at the LA Fitness gym. The province of Ontario reduced the total number of gym patrons to 20 per hour in December-2021. This was reduced to 10 per hour for the first two weeks of January until a Province-wide lock-down closed the gym.

The gym reopened on February-16 and I was the only person there in the 10 AM slot (are people suffering COVID-19 fatigue or just a bad snow day?). Anyway, there are a lot of large oval signs on the wall of the gym and one of them says:

Respect Yourself

...which is pretty hard to do when all those pro-politics anti-science idiots are claiming that COVID-19 deaths are not real, etc. So you have to put all that aside and "Respect Yourself" by making an effort to exercise, eat properly, and get a decent amount of sleep. The "Respect Yourself" sign also got me thinking about dojo kun (click the link to see what that is all about

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.