Koryu-ryu Karate-do


By Javier E. Gonzalez C.


This paper is intended to introduce this “new” system of karate, martial arts, and philosophy to the reader.  A more in depth document will follow, which will include details on how the principles of the system are applied to foundation exercises (kihon), forms (kata), and sparring (kumite).

Karate is an art encompassing physical activities at times very demanding and difficult to perform.  It is teaching the body to do something not “natural”, and in the process feeling it goes against the grain.  This is an important premise, and one this system helps by offering a solution.

After participating in different sports at the elite level, with proper technique and discipline, the body does find a “comfortable” way of doing things.  This particular way becomes a part of you.  It has become a part of me.  As a result of all these experiences, this process has transcended to karate.

Thought process becomes a very important tool that enables one to “see” an exercise from beginning to end.  This tool is born and developed relative to the focus we afford the activity, and anything for that matter.  Natural process is the next step.  It is letting the action take its place, without manipulation, from beginning to end.


Koryu can be taken as old karate or old style or way of doing karate, which in this case is very appropriate given the traditions of honor, respect, and discipline I follow, or rather that guide and carry me.

On the other hand, I try to follow the behavioral patterns of the Dragon (Tatsu in Japanese or inherited Chinese character Ryu) and the Tiger (Tora in Japanese).  Since the Dragon is a mythical creation, we can think of it as an overgrown snake with an ability to fly. The Tiger is an easier animal to follow in its behavior, since we have live examples of it.  When combined in one word, Tatsu and Tora become Koryu.  I can elaborate more in the intricacies of the name, but the nature of this paper is another.

The way or the path of the Tiger and Dragon becomes Koryu-ryu.

Ironically, I find comfort in both definitions.  The first for what it entails; the second, for what my martial arts has grown to be in how I do it, and well, for the mere fact I am succumbing to the creative spirit bringing this system to reality.


Movement with intent, commitment, and natural flow while maintaining the integrity of the body as a unit become the core of Koryu-ryu.

In speaking of natural flow, and in trying to follow two creatures’ behavioral patterns, I am compelled to look at nature for help and guidance to find a “clearer” direction.

Water becomes my friend.

We look at water, and we try to figure out how we can emulate it.  We are fortunate there are several tools we have access to and explain water’s properties and characteristics.  Mathematics, physics, and hydrology are some of the tools human beings use to explain nature so that we can understand it better. I make use of these tools when addressing the approach of a movement by elaborating and using analogies with these tools.  With this added understanding, or better yet, perspective, we can attempt to “feel” water, and in turn, begin to develop a “concept” of what it is and how it behaves, and how to apply these perspectives and concepts to our movements.

I call that “Flow like water”-in Japanese “Mizu no nagare.”

Koryu-ryu is the way of the Tiger and Dragon, and how flowing like water, Mizu no nagare, allows us to maximize the body as a resource.

Three specific elements define the approach of my system to doing karate-comfort, transition, and flow.

Comfort-we must be relaxed, comfortable, and breathing to be able to execute anything, especially something as “unnatural” as karate is.

Transition-karate is mobile, and as such, we must go from point A to point B. The body tells us, if we listen, what is more natural to it.  We listen and do what we consider the more comfortable or natural transition.

Flow-to move as one lets the natural source of the process take its course.  Movement begins on its root, earth, flows through the body parts and joints until it reaches its final destination.  It is not a matter of just moving, but allowing all of the experience to be connected in harmony while maintaining the integrity of the body as a unit.


Koryu-ryu is not a martial art to be limited by, but rather one to maximize the body as a resource.

As a student of Koryu-ryu, you must mean what you do. You must feel what you do. You should show diligence in your effort.
The name of this system gives us enough information to have a perspective of what we are attempting to do.  The principles provide us with concepts to follow.  The discipline, honor, and respect for the opportunity afforded us to practice Koryu-ryu will create, develop, and hone a knowledge deeper than a physical activity, and one which transcends to our lives altogether.

Every move, every technique we perform has a reason. We learn that reason.  We know its basic purpose.  We can understand it, and “feel” it, and ultimately, become it.

With the knowledge and skills acquired comes great responsibility.  A responsibility we must be cognizant of and respect.

As we search and strive for the integrity of the body as a unit, mean and feel what we do and how we do it, through thought process first, then allowing the natural process to take its course, we are indeed striving for the integrity of the mind, and ultimately the integrity of the individuals we are forging ourselves to be.


We know the origins of the system, where the name comes from, what it means, how they are connected conceptually to the physical activity karate demands.  We can begin to understand how it contributes to building of character relative to the quality of effort.

All of these concepts and premises will serve as tools to enjoy the training of Koryu-ryu, to ride the wave, and go with its flow as we hone our skills and abilities, both physically and mentally.

Think it, understand it, process it, let it take over, feel it, become it!