Originally posted March 10 2017
Today I am writing with regards to sparing. It is the most common question people ask when they call, “do you spar?” My response for years has been no. I usually talk about the drills we do and how they develop skills and reactions. I find it seems like it usually falls on deaf ears. That is OK, this is why we interview each other. If that is what you want this is not your school. If you want to learn an authentic Okinawan Martial Art (or two) the way they have been done traditionally this is the school for you.
As a student in the past we did jiu kumete or free sparing. We would spend about 1/4 of our class time on this exercise. When I was going to classes 4 and 5 times a week this amounted to several hours each week. I learned several things including that I could block and take an incredible amount of punishment. I often hated it, I hated that we were not learning martial arts in my opinion. We were not gaining an understanding of the concepts in the gifts we had been given of the katas thoughtfully crafted and carefully handed down. It is this experience that brought me back to Okinawan style Goju Ryu and informed the response above. Goju Ryu is a practical art developed by people whose lives depended on fighting or at least being prepared. Kata are packages to transmit information, our job is to unpack the concepts they transmitted and develop them for use.
Here is an article Mr. Hagen shared on the subject.