Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book coming out...cross one more thing off the bucket list

This has gone through a lot of revisions, but it's finally at the printers. No more changes. Wait...no, just one more thing. Too late. I suppose that's the trouble with publishing anything; it locks it in, carved in stone. I know there are things I would revise even now, but it's taken almost two years already from when I began this book. 

Of course, I've been writing about this stuff--Goju ryu kata and bunkai--since 2002, when I published an article on the techniques of Seipai kata in the erstwhile Journal of Asian Martial Arts. And the blog posts have been fairly regular for the past few years. But this book is an attempt to put it all in one place, to discuss some of the key points of kata analysis in a more systematic way in each of the classical Goju ryu kata, from Saifa to Suparinpei, and with some reminiscences of training with some great teachers as well, teachers like Matayoshi Shinpo, Kimo Wall, and Gibo Seiki senseis.

There are a lot of books out there that illustrate a couple of kata and then throw in a few examples of applications. Then they pad out the book with oft-repeated historical information or illustrations of generic karate techniques. I've done very little of that here--after all, history, in this case, seems to be half guess-work and rehashing generic applications seems a waste of time. This book, like each of my magazine articles and blog posts, is an attempt to get at the original intent of the techniques found in the Goju ryu kata, to point out themes and explain the structures of the various kata, to show how we might better analyze kata, and how we can come to see it as a system, to see it all fit together.

What we so often see on the Internet, while wonderfully creative, can, in most cases, hardly be called realistic. And when it does seem viable, it does not follow the movements of kata and more often than not seems to ignore sound martial principles. Most of this is simply a repetition of conventional "wisdom," such as it is, and only seems to remind one of Miyagi Chojun's observation, reported by his student Genkai Nakaima in his "Memories of My Sensei": "Studying karate nowadays is like walking in the dark without a lantern." So my attempt is to offer students of karate something else. If I were merely repeating what others have done already, I wouldn't have bothered to write at all.

I've hinted at a lot of these things in blog posts over the years, but I've generally been fairly guarded about giving away "secrets." This, however, is an attempt to be far more clear and specific, with pictures to illustrate key points and descriptions of the bunkai to be found in each of the Goju-ryu classical kata. 

I'm hoping that others will read it, study it, understand the methods and principles, and that finally sharing this will help us all--me included--improve our practice and understanding of karate. North Atlantic Publishing and Blue Snake Books did a great job editing and laying out the book. It's fairly simple and straight forward, and in general pretty clear.

Anyway, it comes out the beginning of February, though you can order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Or you can get it here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562446/the-kata-and-bunkai-of-goju-ryu-karate-by-giles-hopkins/9781623171995/


  1. Congratulations Giles Sensei! I've pre-ordered my copy and look forward to getting it!

  2. Congratulations! This was a huge undertaking and I’m very excited to see the result. To be honest, I expect a book will be a more favorable medium for your ideas & arguments than the blog. More space for explanations and linking together ideas.
    One thought here -
    Are you familiar with “Four Shades of Black” by Gavin Mulholland? Beautiful looking book that explains some ideas behind Goju-ryu and how the curriculum works together to build a “complete fighter”. At one point it was going for several hundred dollars on Amazon, but it seems to have cooled off now. Anyway, I think people are hungry for ideas that unify their training and that make connections between kata. I think your book can really fill this need for a lot of karate-ka.

  3. Thank you, Ryan. I will be curious what you think of it. Due to space and picture considerations, I could not illustrate things quite as completely as I would have liked, focusing instead on sticking points, though the descriptions are complete enough for people who know Goju. I am not familiar with Gavin Mulholland’s book. I will look for it. Thanks.