"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!

"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour


"Providing a first step on a path to self-reflection." - C. E. James

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

"What is true today may be reevaluated as false not long after. Judgements are frequently based upon a set of "temporary" circumstances surrounding them. Conflicting ideologies can exist simultaneously. Antagonistic dualities are complementary aspects of a unified whole: are seen as mutually dependent mirror images of each other." - Nahum Stiskin

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.


Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

Kenpo Gokui

The lines of the ken-po goku-i are set from an atomistic aspect simply because it is the manner in which the brain learns. Its nature is completely holistic and like the I Ching must be in a form that promotes learning and understanding so a person can see, hear and grasp the nature of a holistic system. The gokui is a method to teach us how to be holistic. Its terseness is the best that can be done to convey its holistic meaning.


A person's heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while the blood circulating is similar to the Sun and Moon yet the manner of drinking and spitting is either soft or hard while a person's unbalance is the same as a weight and the body should be able to change direction at any time as the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself and both the eyes must see all sides as the ears must listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction.

A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while circulatory system is similar to the cycles of the moon and sun yet the breathing methods are either hard or soft while one’s posture should allow one to advance, retreat, engage, and disengage as the body should be able to act in accordance with time and change so that one must enter a state of emptiness (mushin/zanshin) allowing the eyes must see all sides and the ears should listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction. - My rendition per translation from Andy Sloane Sensei.


Master Zeng said, "Am I preaching what I have not practiced myself?"

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The Gokui without Adequate Explanation

I like the gokui. I like it that Tatsuo-san provided it to the first group of Western Military personnel on Okinawa. I am especially grateful that those first students decided to continue passing on the system to their students who passed it down to their students for if that had not occurred I would not be practicing Isshinryu today and making the effort to understand it as I believe Tatsuo-san intended. 

One of my efforts over the past couple of decades has been an attempt to provide adequate, sensible and coherent explanations for the ken-po goku-i as provided by Tatsuo-san, the creator of the Okinawan Isshinryu system. I have discovered that the ancient Chinese classics to include a Bubishi are instrumental and necessary to fully and completely understand a martial system.

My efforts to decipher and provide explanations on the gokui (shortened from ken-po goku-i for brevity, etc.) is because over the last forty years I have not heard one explanation that made sense to me other than bare bones direct and obvious explanations, i.e. the eye must see all sides as “the eyes must take in all sides in a fight so as to see and hear your adversaries, etc.” as if attacked by a group of antagonists. 

Maybe this is all there is to the gokui but it that is so they why bother to give a copy to students? Why bother to ask students to try and understand the Okinawan culture and belief systems? Without the gokui, as well as the fundamental principles of martial systems with specificity to the first one titles “theory” and the last one titles “philosophy,” then the martial arts are just fighting with hands and feet and wooden weapons, etc. 

My personal journey using the study of the gokui makes senses and when explained as I have done in my eBook (soon to be published - shameless promotion here) it makes sense. It does not mean that it is right or wrong, just my interpretation as it connects to all martial systems and not “just Isshinryu.” 

Let me provide an example as to what I am trying to convey in interpretation of the gokui. A direct student of Tatsuo-san stated, “One of Isshinryu gokui is raise the big toe.” I have seen this stated in a few slightly different renderings but other than making that statement there has been, to date, no reasonable explanation as to how that relates to the eight terse tomes of the gokui as provided to Isshinryu students by Tatsuo-san. Read the following and then tell me which ones and how forming a foot while raising the big toe interconnects with the gokui?

1. A person's heart if the same as heaven and earth. Dragon (heaven) overhead and tiger (earth) in the headress.
2. The blood circulating is similar to the sun and moon. The dragon which leaves the water and flies overhead to return to the sea. The never-ending cycle.
3. The manner drinking (inhaling) and spitting (exhaling is either hard or soft. Open hand and fist of the Megami.
4. A person's unbalance is the same as a weight. There is a balance of the yin and yang in the symbol.
5. The body should be able to change directions at any time. The dragon flying overhead is Tatsuo who looked at change in a positive light.
6. The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself. This again is represented by the opened and closed fist, to strike only as a last resort.
7. The eyes must see all sides. Represented by the stars or teachers who light or guide the way.
8. The ears must listen in all directions. Megami is alert and listens. Listening is knowledge.

Note: the explanations that follow each line of this gokui are simply showing a relation or connection to the symbology of the Isshinryu-no-megami.

Even if someone stated that the raised toe is about maintaining balance as per line four and then explained how that worked in action then it would connect to the gokui in a way that explained why, how and when we would form that foot in applying karate in a fight or self-defense. No one says that and no one to date has provided such an explanation. My explanation is more in like with theory and philosophy as principles that connect the mind, body and spirit training derived from the practice, training and application of Isshinryu in life. 

The other quote that I have read is about a special way of forming a spear hand, nukite, that is supposed to be Isshinryu no gokui. 

Of course, if they are talking about a gokui that has nothing to do with the above ken-po goku-i as written and presented to the early students of Isshinryu then that is another matter totally. 

I have heard how there are a variety of gokui within Isshinryu, i.e. there is a kata gokui, etc. that is not connected or related to the written ken-po goku-i than that is also another matter but I was impressed with the belief that they all connected and are passed on and taught to students using the ken-po goku-i as a “key” to open our hearts, minds and bodies to the intricacies of the Isshinryu system much like the study of the fundamental principles of martial systems for all martial systems. 

There is a book written by a leading proponent of Isshinryu that says it is his gokui as he believes it was meant to come from Tatsuo-san but I have read that book and it is more in line with a self promoting ego stroking effort with the ken-po goku-i simply adhered to the front of the book for a title. No where in the book do I sense any connectivity to what is written to the actual goku-i as shown above. 

This begs the question as to why, “Why don’t folks who use the gokui as sound bites in teaching and training provide full, complete and coherent explanations as to how it applies, connects and inter-connects. 

I find the goku-i as I interpret it for my studies and practices to be a key that unlocks the door to the full wholehearted study of the Okinawan martial system of “Ti or Te.” It is like the hub of a wheel on a wagon that uses the spokes, i.e. the gokui and principles as they apply, that form the circle or wheel that rolls us over the path or way of life through the discipline of martial arts. 


So, I ask the question or make the request that anyone, I mean anyone, provide the connection from the gokui to the physical manifestation of a raised toe or formation of nukite, etc.? Anyone? 

Addendum dtd Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 9:19hrs:

Gokui [極意]

The characters/ideograms mean, “Essential point; main point.” The first character means, “poles; settlement; conclusion; end; highest rank; electric poles; extremely; most; highly,” the second character means, “idea; mind; heart; taste; thought; desire; care; liking.”

Ahhhh, enlightenment. I made a mistake by connecting the comment using just the term gokui to the terse tome of the ken-po gokui [拳法極意]. When you take the term gokui and the characters by themselves external from the term ken-po goku-i you find that the definition is essential point or main point. So, the nukite and the raising of the big toe are an essential point or main point within the physical that is Isshinryu. 

This makes a lot more sense. It is using a term that just happens to be connected with the more philosophical meaning attributed to the ken-po goku-i. In other words I mixed up one subject with another. 

This is another whole subject other than the ken-po goku-i. Cool. Just sometimes I need an extra glimmer of light to see things more clearly. I still have the questions I pose above and that doesn’t change but this explains why I wasn’t connecting one with the other properly. Cool. 

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