near Great Yarmouth. 14 July 2008, IKGA European Gasshaku
GY: Yes, his idea was martial arts should not just be for fighting. So he became more interested in mental development, and he studied Yoga and Shinto, very traditional Shinto. So this was his main 'way' as he got old. I remember that in the years before he died he taught many students, but he didn't like to show karate, he taught meditation and more mental training.
GN: There are photos of your father in India. Did he actually study Yoga in India?
GY: Yes, he studied from some yogi, Yoga instructor. I haven't studied Yoga - very difficult.
GN: Do you think the Yoga influenced your father's karate, or is it a different thing?
GY: Well, this was his special idea: he wanted to mix martial arts, Yoga and Shinto. But that idea, I'm sorry, I don't understand it. So I'm now separating them: Yoga is Yoga, Shinto must be a religion, karate is training. So I don't do Yoga, and Shinto not too much.
GN: So that was his personal way.
GY: Yes, of course, I still respect my father's study of Yoga very much, because maybe he was doing breathing from karate and he also wanted to study breathing from Yoga, I think.
GN: And he taught Yoga?
GY: Yes, he taught yoga to some of the members, but he didn't say "You must study Yoga" to the karate members. So you could choose.
GN: In the 1970's your father set up the Japan Karate do College.
GY: Right, that was his dream.
GN: And he wanted to bring all the styles together in the College?
GY: Right. At that time we had good relationships with Ohtsuka sensei or Wado-ryu and Nakayama sensei of Shotokan, and other styles, and his idea was that karate should be all together. So then he started the Senmon-Gakku (the College). But it was very difficult to organise, you know?
GN: It was difficult to bring the groups together?
GY: Yes it was, very difficult. But many members who came from outside (Japan), they had a chance to study different styles. It is easy to talk about, but very difficult doing every style, because Goju-ryu, Shotokan, there is always something different, even in the basics. Now we have good relationships (between styles) at competitions and at seminars, but at that time my father's idea was to study everything at the Senmon-Gakku ... but I couldn't!
GN: You saw the masters of other styles like Ohtsuka sensei (Wado-ryu) and Nakayama sensei (JKA)?
GY: Yes, I knew them very well. I respected them very much.
GN: What did you think of Ohtsuka's technique? He had a soft technique also.
GY: Well of course Ohtsuka sensei studied ju-jutsu so his technique was not pure karate, I think. He had good ideas for movement, and took some techniques from ju-jutsu.
GN: So you think that was like karate and ju-jutsu mixed together?
GY: Right, yes.
GN: And what did you think of Shotokan? Strong basics?
GY: Right. But Nakayama sensei told me once that Shotokan and Goju are both karate, but they have different ideas. So he said that their competitions should be separate, not put together. Because, if you take examples like a tree, Shotokan is a palm tree, and Goju is like bamboo. So bamboo and palm tree can't mix.
GN: So he thought the styles should be kept separate?
GY: Yes, he told me that.
GN: Did you see Mabuni sensei or Iwata sensei of Shito-ryu?
GY: Yes, I know Shito-ryu.
GN: They do many of the same kata as Goju-ryu.
GY: Yes, very similar, because Mabuni sensei studied Higaonna sensei Goju, and also Itosu sensei karate, so his ideas (inaudible). So now the Shito-ryu kata...not so easy, but I can understand. But Shotokan kata are very difficult for me!
GN: The feeling of the technique is different?
GY: That's right, I guess so. But when they made the All Japan Karate Federation my father had good relationships with sensei Nakayama, Mabuni sensei, Ohtsuka sensei, so at that time all the top masters talked together and so now all karate is going one way.
GN: People practice a lot of bunkai of kata today.
GY: Yes, of course, bunkai is (inaudible) they can make good connexion with the partner, and it's good for harmony. So bunkai is I think very important for understanding kata, and also we can use some techniques from kata, so we don't only have point training punch and kick.
GN: Did your father teach you bunkai or has most of the bunkai now been developed by you?
GY: Now the bunkai we do in Goju-kai is my way, because my father's style of bunkai was more like traditional Okinawan, not soft, very hard, hitting. Then he said we can do training more soft from kata, and then we developed bunkai from Gekisai to Suparimpei.
GN: You said earlier that it was important to keep the traditional side of Goju, even though tournaments are popular now.
GY: Yes, we must teach both. Of course, the young generation can do the training for point fighting and competition, but senior members can do the traditional training. So we must keep that.
GN: And karate is for your whole life?
GY: Yes, this is my life.
GN: Do you have to travel much teaching Goju?
GY: Yes, I have the JKGA in Japan and the IKGA internationally. After here I must go to North America, South America, Africa... so that everywhere does Goju-kai the same way.
GN: Sensei, thank you for your time.
GY: OK. Thank you very much.