Okinawa Goshukan-Ryu Karate employs and utilizes many of the same training methods utilized in nearly every other Okinawan Karate style as well as some lesser known methods from WuZhuQuan. These methods are complimentary to each other and are necessary for well-rounded skill development.
Pre-arranged sets of offensive and defensive techniques that are practiced to develop muscle memory, timing, focus, power, and speed. Through the consistent practice of karate kata the body begins to gain the ability to move naturally, and react instinctively without relying on the thought process. This is vital in combat and in situations that require the student to act instantly, effectively and without thinking. Kata is is also a form of moving meditation, as the practicioner can literally become immersed in the practice of the kata with no regard to the surroundings and distractions around him. This concept is known as 'mushin' or- emptying the mind.
The first stage of Kata is the memorization of the movements; the second stage is the understanding of kata bunkai (breakdown) This is the understanding of the use of each technique and transition within the kata. It is necessary to understand why we do what we do in order to move to the third stage of Kata.
The third stage of Kata is the Oyo (practical applications). This is the process of putting into practice the applications that the kata teaches us. Oyo is practiced with a partner through a progressively faster and harder process until the practicioners are implementing defense and offenseive response to a full speed attack. This is the essence and goal of Kata training.
Kihon (Fundamental and Basic exercises) are the buliding blocks of Karate. These include all kicks, punches, strikes, blocks, and traps.
Consistant and vibrant practice of Kihon is necessary to build a strong foundation, develop focus, improve timing, speed, and endurance. Kihon should be practiced daily so that kicking punching, and blocking are effortless and natural.
Conditioning comes in many forms such as stretching, calisthenics, and resistance exercises. These are necessary to prevent injuries by becoming stronger and more flexible.
Additionally, bone and limb conditioning exercises are accomplished through bone on bone limb conditioning (kote-kitae, ashi-gitae), as well as makiwara practice. This is not for young children as their bones and tissues are still growing and developing.
Contact drills are necessary to help the student act and react properly to stress and re-train the mind to embrace contact and redirect the energy. Simple contact drills such as striking the heavy bags, and pads help beginners and intermediate students, while the more advanced students are challenged with close physical body contact drills without the use of padding and protective equipment to the forearms and shins. This type of 'iron body' conditioning is necessary to increase the pain tolerance and bone density, and to eliminate the fear of hard physical contact from an opponent.
Jiyuu Kumite (Free-fighting) is practiced with either light contact for beginners and young children, or hard contact for more experienced students. In either case, there are no points called, no starting and stopping. The kumite ends when time has expired or when an opponent submits.
The purpose of kumite is to build confidence, improve timing, focus, and speed, and most importantly to hone the defensive and offensive skills that are learned through kata bunkai and oyo training.