African/South American Goju

Danny Gwira with Ron Van Clief  and Milagros Van Clief  New York 1976

A brief history of Goju

The brief history of Goju began early in the 20th century when an Okinawan master called Chojun Miyagi started teaching at the Kyoto Imperial University.  Ju means fifty in the Okinawan language.  Go (hard) ju (soft) can also mean hard and soft; and since he originally developed 50 different hard and soft hand and foot techniques, he named his style Gojuryu.  In 1930, a Japanese professor called Gogen Yamaguchi gathered all the goju stylists together under one Japanese umbrella calling it Gojukai.  In 1955, an American Master called Peter Urban, after training and learning from experts Gogen Yamaguchi, Masatutsi Oyama and Richard Kim, brought the Goju style to the United States and organised the first American gathering of Goju stylists; calling it U.S.A. Goju.  In 1965; two of his very good students Frank Ruiz and Harry Rosenstein broke away to start the Nisei Goju system.  In 1973, Ron Van Clief founded and taught Chinese Goju in America.  By 1982, Chinese Goju had evolved into the Ron Van Clief System of Martial Arts Education.  The metamorphosis of the Goju style changed abruptly when in 1985 Danny Gwira, who had taken lessons from Ron Van Clief, added what he knew from the other styles he had studied like Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Shotokan, Taekwondo, Wadoryu and Kyokushinkai and invented African Goju; which has long deviated from Chinese Goju in the name of progress, taking it a step further by adding African common sense reality, easily adaptable to suit the individual in any country! He added South American Goju in 1986 because he realised the mentality of every nation and individual has to be taken into account when choosing which techniques to teach.  Self- defence has to be a way of life as well as a sport and therefore learning how to avoid a fight is ultimately more important than knowing how to fight; because of the injury, death, incarceration, hospitalisation, legal and financial implications of fighting anywhere outside the legalised sporting umbrella.  (Culled from African/South American Goju: The Last Word in self-defence by Danny Gwira)

Goju has now come a long way from the original style Gojuryu


What is African Goju?

African Goju was formed in 1985 in Accra, Ghana, by Danny Gwira, a student of Professor Ron Van Clief the Founder of Chinese Goju.  Danny Gwira realised that some of the techniques found even in Chinese Goju, were either too dangerous or not applicable to Africa because they never taught the student when to apply or not to apply a technique.  In the absence of equal rights and justice, one never knows what a harmless slap inflicted on an opponent would lead to.  The barbaric nature of the African made certain techniques in karate like kicking the groin or poking the eye (which would lead to permanent disability) obsolete because of the consequences like police brutality and lynching by the crowd.  It is therefore imperative that one knows when to use such techniques because the law of self-defence is not applicable in Africa.  It does not matter who started the fight, it's winning that counts; and the African Police is extremely sympathetic to the one who is most hurt.  The extended family system also makes it extremely risky and dangerous to inflict any kind of damage on a person because you don't know who is related to whom in Africa.  The reality of this is that if you beat up someone who is a friend to the second cousin of a colonel in the army who happen to be in power, then you are in serious trouble.  The law will not help you.  You win the fight but lose the war.  Africa, being made up of very small countries, it's obvious that everybody knows somebody important.  Therefore, you have to know when to fight or not to fight, when to apologise or to run away.  At other times depending on your connections, you can inflict severe damage on a person and still get away with it.  You therefore fight only if you can win and always fight only in your own environment where even the police would be on your side.  With that, African Goju teaches you to be tough in order to be able to withstand punishment and fit enough in case you have to run away!  There are times you will be slapped or beaten by someone and there is nothing you can do about it.  Most importantly; African Goju teaches you how to avoid a fight because it does not matter how strong, tough or skilful you are…you can still be beaten by a determined opponent or by a single knife stab or bullet from the tiniest weakest person.  Someone who is out to get you by any means fair or foul will succeed eventually.  Living your life looking over your shoulder is not a healthy way to live. African Goju is a mixture of Eastern ideology and Western ingenuity with African reality and common sense.  In many ways, it is the last word in self-defence; because everything else has been done before.  African Goju reverses the process of all martial arts in that the emphasis is not what you can give but how much you can take.  Hitting someone is easy…but dealing with the consequences is perhaps the hardest part of self-defence because everybody is dangerous.  Those who cannot fight will use any other means at their disposal in the name of fighting!  Even if a footballer kicks your shins or a tennis player slaps you with his or her tennis arm he or she could inflict severe damage on you and neither of them need know how to fight. So the emphasis on African Goju is on conditioning, strength, power and an iron will.  If you can take punches, kicks or any pain on your body, you will not be afraid of anybody.  Imagine being able to take a slap and then laugh at the person who slapped you!  Imagine also somebody picking up a beer bottle and smashing it on your head and you just laugh at him! Wouldn't he be scared of you and run away?  This ability to take punishment and still smile, when coupled with the most effective techniques, which are a mixture of Chinese Goju, Judo, Karate, Boxing, Wrestling and Street fighting makes African Goju the most realistic and dangerous system in the world.  If you are not tough mentally and you are not prepared to experience pain you cannot do African Goju. African Goju is not for cowards, or for those who are weak minded.  It is for the toughest of the tough.  It is not a sport.  It is a way of life and being that way, you have to keep what you are taught a secret because everything one learns is geared to his or her personal self-defence and no one else’s.  African Goju is about using your brain - common sense - you fight to win because self-defence concerns not only your physical being but your property, family dignity, integrity, self-esteem, reputation, your country and anything else that you love and care about which were you to lose would affect your life and in some cases make life not worth living. African Goju is a way of teaching you how to stay alive and win any battle you fight and should you be in a position where you will be beaten, at least to be able to take any punishment and survive, so that you can live long to plot your revenge!  Africa! — It’s survival of the fittest!


What is South American Goju?

South American Goju was founded in 1986 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  It is a continuation of African Goju but with its own philosophies and techniques, based on the way of life in South America.  It is made up of a mixture of Kyokushinkai, Kempo, Judo, Aikido and Chinese Goju.  Again, the emphasis is on conditioning, power and an iron will.  Basically, it stresses the need to be polite and not to offend anybody because the South American, being macho can be a very violent and volatile person; unlike the African, who prefers more secretive tactics.  A South American will stab you with a knife just for looking at his girl and woe betide the consequences!  He does not mind going to jail just to avenge the slur incurred against him.  An African will smile at you but will plot a dangerous way to achieve his revenge. Therefore SOUTH AMERICAN GOJU stresses force, because that is what the South American understands.  The block and punch techniques are not enough.  What he respects is a show of superiority by his opponent and that only comes by throwing him up in the air so that he lands on his head and then stamping on him so that he goes to hospital for several months.  In short, you have to defeat him mentally and physically, unlike the African where a threat is usually enough to discourage most attackers.  "If you make a move, l will beat you and lock you up!" will win you many a fight in Africa.  In South America, you had better be able to carry out the threat because if you don't...he will!  If you want to stay alive in South America then stay away from a person’s family, money or property.  Hurt any of those and no fighting skill in the world will save you from a severe beating or possible death.

African Goju

'African Goju: The most realistic and dangerous system in the world'

South American Goju

'Goju Sud-Americano:  El mejor sistema'