My experience with Shaolin Goju
Although I have been around this site for quite a while, Iím not an avid poster (as seen by the low post count). Iíve been doing a lot of self-analysis lately (old age or something) and have started thinking about my martial art, Shaolin Goju.
The only thing I can tell you about Shaolin Goju is what was past down to me by my instructor, Alonzo Wilson (9th degree), and of course, what I experienced while in the school. The system of Shinjimasu International was founded by Grandmaster Charles Dixon.
I started studying Shaolin Goju in 1995, while in the Marines, at Camp Pendleton, CA. My best friend and I had talked a lot about starting martial arts, and we finally decided to after visiting a few schools.
Let me start by spouting off some facts about the school:
There was only one instructor when I first started, Alonzo Wilson. He was a Navy guy with about 30 years of martial arts experience. His most experienced style was Shotokan Karate.
The class was taught 4 times per week (and later nearly every night for the advanced students). It was taught at a local community fitness center. The cost was $20/Month for kids, $30/Month for adults. No contracts and the instructor really didnít put any pressure at all on paying the fees. There were two classes. 5:30 - 6:30 was kids. 6:45 Ė 8:30 was adults. Weekends were 10:00 Ė 12:00.
On the first day my friend and I went to the school the instructor was showing us different comboís etc. By the end of the class, he had us sparring. The adults made a circle, and we fought everyone in the class for about 30 seconds. Afterwards I was completely exhausted and totally excited at the same time.
Alright, so what was taught:
The best way I could describe Shaolin Goju would be a mixture of the Chinese Combative System with the Okinawan Hard and Soft Fists. Basically we went over the traditional Okinawan karate forms, blocks, strikes, etc, and also learned the ĎChineseí ways. Basically, looking back on it now, it was just a style that basically had everything in it, but the foundation of what they taught you was Okinawan karate. Once you started getting those techniques down, they added other elements (circular blocks, more Ďsoftí techniques).
They style covered long range striking, close range striking, clinching, throwing, holds, throws, sweeps, chokes, grappling, and weapons (limited). We also had hard, soft, linear and circular. We used many different training methods, from padwork, bag work, bowling balls (donít ask), bambo sticks, sparring (point), sparring (hard), and grappling.
After looking back, we did some McDojo-esque things, but then again, we did some very hardcore training as well. We didnít have any kid black belts. The highest was a brown belt. Basically you couldnít earn a black belt until the age of 18. We did some open tournaments as well, but these were all sport/point sparring tournaments. The instructor actually recommended you go as a beginner, as you could learn timing, reading opponents, and see different styles. As you got more advanced, he tried to veer you away from the sport fighting; however, there were times when he was very tournament oriented. FYI, out of the tournaments I did go to (maybe 8), I took first place in them all.
One of the reasons I have been thinking I may have been part of a McDojo was because I received my black belt after about 1.5 years; my second degree about another 1.5 years later.
For our black belt test, we went down to the Coronado Navy Base, to a Tang Soo Do school there. The first thing we did was run about 3 miles in our uniforms on the beach. After that we did about 1 Ė 2 hours of calisthenics. Then for the next 2 hours we fought. First we fought each other (there were 6 of us); then we fought other black belts from different schools (we had MT, Tang Soo Do, Jujitsu, karate, and a few others I donít remember). Lastly, we fought the Ďmastersí that were present (about 8 of them).
There were no katas, no combos, no breaking, nothing but wear our asses down and then see how well we fight out of our element.
I moved away from my school back in 2001. I have since visited a Goju Ryu Class, a Tae Kwon Do class, a Shotokan class, and had some get-togethers with various martial artists doing sparring and submission. When in the other schools, I have always had superior skill to their black belts.
I ím starting to think my school was a mixture of sorts, a sort of Hardcore McDojo. The kidís class was definitely just for funÖ as kids got older and actually had a keen interest; we started teaching them more seriously. For adults, I think we just catered to what people wanted. One of the first questions that was asked is what do you want out of this school.
So what do you think? Anyone ever heard or seen a Shaolin Goju class, under Shinjimasu International? Do I just have natural talent (wrestling background, marine mentality), did the class actually teach me something, or maybe I have no talent whatsoever and everyone I have met just sucks?
I think you answered this in your post, but I am not clear on it. Money question: Did you spar hard, and do your grappling in an alive manner? Point style sparring does not do much to turn you into a killer (I'm guessing the marines and the wresling helped you).
Also, having superior skill in a TMA is a mtter of oppinion. Some 14 year old 2nd dan TKD BB, might think he has superior skill to a KK blue belt, but who would win in the streets?
Its a hard call. From the adds I have seen of the stlye in BB mag, its looks like a joke. But hell its who trains the art that makes it good. If your a good fighter then your a good fighter. I say try a MT school, or a BJJ school to test your skills.
We used the traditional head-gear, gloves, and foot pads. Strikes were allowed on all parts of the body, except the back and back of the head. As a beginner, limited contact to the face. The more advanced you got, the less gear and more contact you had. Intermediate to advanced level was pretty full on, non stop sparring. The black belts just beat the tar out of each other.
Originally Posted by Teryan
Kids was point sparring only, except the older, more experienced ones, and then still controlled.
We did full head-on grappling, where you stop when someone submits. It included 'some' striking, but more grabs (tiger claw their skin and twist in order to make them move where you wanted them). All sorts of joint locks were allowed as well.
Wow, I never knew it was in Black Belt magazine.
Originally Posted by Jaric
I have fought against some MT and done well; most of that however was by taking them to the ground and chokine them out.
Never met anyone who has done BJJ. I wouldn't know the difference though between jujitsu or any other grappling. I mean is there really a difference between a gullotine or triangle choke in different styles?
im not trying to change the subject but wasn't shaolin goju the style Leroy Green used in "The Last Dragon"
if they had full contact sparring then maybe the school you were at wasn't a mcdojo after all.
i think gullotines and triangle chokes are taught the same way in both judo and bjj.
edit it was Chinese goju in "The Last Dragon"
Last edited by Method2Madness; 10/28/2005 12:38pm at .
See, I think it wasn't, but then I know it was in certain cases. I guess there may be a lot of schools out there that tailor what they teach to who is being taught. If you have a student who only wants to get fit and do pretty katas, then why bother teaching them combat oriented techiques. Same goes with kids.
yeah kid's are usually hyperactive , mostof the time. there was this one kid at my old school who listened to what my teacher had to say and would frequently beat up on the other kids during sparring.
I think you're confusing between Bullshido and McDojo.
Originally Posted by Method2Madness
From the sound of it, it doesn't sound McDojo where the instructor tries to get you in contracts ranging from a year to 3-4 years, even worse, I think the guy really need to reorganize his business strategies. From how much he's charging you guys, doesn't seem he'll be able to survive the business.
From the way you guys spar, it doesn't sound like Bullshido at all. As long as you guys do it with good amount of pressure in sparring during your training, that's never bullshido in my book. Pressure testing techniques and sparring abilities is what makes a school non-bullshido, I think.
1.5 years to reach a black belt does sound too fast, but I guess every school and style has its own way of regulating belts.
If you believe that you're still growing in skill and conditioning with this style, keep doing it, but try out some new styles once in a while, to use that old cliche: "think outside the box".
Leroy Green (Taimak) was, indeed, trained in Chinese Goju, the Ron VanClief (Black Dragon) system. I am not famaliar with Shaolin Goju, but it sounds kind of eclectic.
Originally Posted by Method2Madness
Taimak was 21 years old at the time and was ranked as 5th Dan under VanClief, wow!