Goju-ryu as an internal art?

That goju-ryu karate has some of its roots in the Chinese martial arts is a certainty. Most people focus on white crane, ngo cho kun and similar "external" Fujian-based martial systems when it comes to examining its origins. However even earlier ancestors probably included xingyi or perhaps bagua/taiji like internal arts.

However those arts are still significantly different in their dynamics. It is possible to perform goju using these dynamics (even the kata) and if you do so you end up with an interesting beast.

Here is an example of Goju movements applied with xingyi footwork:

Goju techniques performed with xingyiquan footwork

The footwork in issue is a kind of suri ashi (ie. footwork that includes sliding where the stance changes or legs pass). The significance of this is that the front foot moves first, immediately putting the whole bodyweight into the movement. You'll note that unlike goju, in the internal arts your strike lands with the leading foot, not the rear foot. The rear foot then slides up (or in xingyi, stamps up) creating an extra percussive "moment"). Suri ashi is better shown below:

Suri ashi

Contextual, hip use (cf. external "pre-loading" of the hips), and no unnecessary antagonist muscular action (ie. a relaxed, flowing movement) are also features of the internal arts. Here is hiki/kake uke applied as a taiji type push hands, illustrating both features:

"Sliding" push hands - hiki uke applied as a taiji-type push hands drill

Copyright © 2008 Dejan Djurdjevic