Hi my name is Richard and I have been practising traditional Okinawan GoJu-Ryu Karate for 20 years. The name GoJu-Ryu translates literally as Hard (Go) Soft (Ju) Style (Ryu), and is based on the movements performed for self defence and the concept of the body’s internal, hard and softness required to create strength, speed and power. As a traditional martial art, practice is not only for self defence (and in the modern western world, fitness) but as a way of life. Therefore classes focus on conditioning the mind, body and spirit in conjunction with self defence techniques. The origins of karate and indeed most martial arts are said to stem from a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma who lived during the 5th or 6th century and is thought to have originated from India. According to Chinese legend, Bodhidharma travelled east and began the physical training of the Shaolin monks. This led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu and the Chinese martial arts. These fighting styles were in turn filtered through to the island of Okinawa, the home of traditional karate and then onto mainland Japan.
So from karate’s earliest beginnings, it is little wonder that when Vibhuti, a work colleague of mine introduced me to Bikram Yoga, I noticed huge similarities in the breathing, internal focus, posture and stances and was instantly hooked. Indeed the three concepts behind my karate practice were all contained in the class. Concentration (Mind) the physical requirements (Body) and the health benefits (Spirit).
Having taken Bikram classes over the course of a few months, Vibhuti suggested I should try some of the Urban Yoga classes. We tried Forrest Yoga first, which for me personally I only enjoyed the core work in it. We then did Power Yoga and BodyArt. I found both of these classes to be extremely similar to my karate warm up and exercise routines but without some of dynamism found in a martial arts class. With almost identical movements, stances, postures and breathing, combined with the time to fine tune each element and excellent tuition, I have been able to really understand where my body has imbalances. This has enabled me to work on specific weaker or tighter areas thus increasing my strength and flexibility and hopefully reducing my risk of injury during some of the explosive moves required in karate. After a recent national training session and warm down a lot of my peers and senior instructors commented on my post class stretching. When I explained that I had been supplementing my training with Yoga, I was surprised to hear that several of the senior grades had all recently taken to trying Yoga classes in one form or another and those that hadn’t were planning to! As dedicated Karate-Ka we were all in agreeance as the title to this suggests, that we all appreciated the Benefits Of Yoga.
Richard Dixon Karate 4th Dan E.G.K.A
Richard Dixon Yoga Novice Bikram & Urban Yoga Leicester