Go no kata ? (Form of hardness)

Has anyone ever heard of this kata? I'm to believe that it is a very old judo kata showing very aggressive striking, but it was dropped from "standard" judo curriculum.

any info greatly appreciated.


Go no Kata
Forms of Hardness/Strength

According to Professor Toshiro Daigo1, 9th dan, the Go no Kata was developed in 1887. The Kodokan preserved the techniques of this kata from early jujutsu training methods. Originally this kata was called the GoJu no Kata (the form of strength and flexibility), however the research into the kata was inadequate and the developers were not pleased with the 10 techniques devised. So the kata was left as it was in order to think it over.

This kata is now considered a "lost"2 kata of Judo because it is not a part of the official Kodokan syllabus and it is seldom taught or practiced today. The techniques of this kata demonstrate the appropriate use of strength, power, and hardness (go) as a counterbalance to the principle of yielding (ju).

Jigoro Kano believed that there are times when it's appropriate to yield, and there are times when it's not appropriate to yield. The theory of Judo is to apply the correct amount of force necessary to accomplish the objective. The most efficient use of strength and power is the core principle of Judo as created by Jigoro Kano. Using power efficiently includes standing firm, resisting, and opposing force with force in certain conditions. This kata is designed to clearly show that yielding is not the only tool available to a judoka.

M. Feldenkrais4, in his "Judo - The Art of Defence and Attack" published in 1944, says that the Go no Kata is used for developing strength, and at the time his book was written it was listed as one of the 7 most common katas.

Antony Cundy5 in an article published in Hoplite (the newsletter of the International Hoplology Society) says the traditional Go no Kata is one of the oldest Kodokan kata and "represents an important historical link between the classical practices of jujutsu and the all-round educational emphasis of Jigoro Kano's Kodokan Judo." This article describes a demonstration of the Go no Kata in 1998 at the Kodokan, the first time it had been performed at the Kodokan in 50 years.

Seven techniques are included in the kata, three of which are repeated with different entering (irimi) patterns. The techniques are all executed from jigotai (defensive posture) without gripping the clothing.

According to Kodokan Professor Toshiro Daigo, the Yuko no Katsudo6 published by the Kodokan in November 1921, and Antony Cundy's article, the techniques performed in the Go no Kata are:
1. Seioinage
2. Ushirogoshi
3. Sukuinage
4. Hidari Seionage
5. Ukigoshi
6. Hadakajime koshikudaki
7. Tobigoshi ukigoshi
8. Osoto otoshi
9. Ushirogoshi
10. Kataguruma

Mr. Cundy's article continues:

The Go no Kata in practice is a complex of prearranged movement patterns, executed by two practitioners who engage in short bursts of strength matching exercises, which are then concluded by the application of a throwing or choking technique. For example, in the first technique, the exponents take a grappler's embrace, and then attempt to push each other backwards; they then reverse their efforts and attempt to pull each other forward. The pushing procedure is then resumed until the predetermined winner breaks from the pushing action, and utilizes his partner's momentum to execute a shoulder throw. For exhibition purposes, the timing for the push-pull changes is roughly decided beforehand, however when done in normal training, the timing is not predetermined. This kind of semi-cooperative resistance training is not only an excellent conditioning exercise, but forces the practitioners to act decisively under intensive physical and mental pressure. This type of training differs from the standard Ju no Kata (Forms of Suppleness/Flexibility/Gentleness), which more typify Kodokan training. The Ju no Kata are a fully cooperative kata.

The Go no Kata was reckoned by the late 9th dan Kuhara Yoshiyuki to be the oldest original kata in the Kodokan. This is because the Go no Kata developed from a class drill or form of practice used by Jigoro Kano at the Kodokan in its earliest days. It was loosely defined and was not easily adapted to an organized kata. However, by the time the Go no Kata was formalized there already existed other Kodokan katas, such as the Nage no Kata and Katame no Kata.

Other Judo principles and kata developed over the first three decades of the 20th century, and the older Go no Kata, which was based more on jujutsu principles and training methods, gradually fell into disfavor and was seldom practiced or taught. Since this kata was not standardized as a part of the Kodokan curriculum, it also changed over the years. There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the original Go no Kata, and the fact that there are different versions makes it difficult to accurately describe this kata with any sense of authority.

Today the Go no Kata is often viewed as a demonstration of how striking techniques are incorporated into Kodokan Judo. Although Toshiro Daigo and Mr. Cundy do not mention striking as a part of the Kodokan Go no Kata, according to several sources atemi (striking) was a central part of the Go no Kata. "The Complete 7 Katas of Judo" by M. Kawaishi7 describes the Go no Kata as the "Kata of Force or of blows, more characteristic of Karate-Do (the technique of the Atemis)." In addition, Steven Cunningham8 says, "there are a lot of atemi, as well as throws and other things in Go no Kata".

In fact, completely different versions of the Go no Kata have been created with the same name to demonstrate the concept of hardness and strength as used in Judo. According to Mr. Cunningham again, "A sidenote is that Kyuzo Mifune, tenth dan, constructed a different Go no Kata during the WWII years. He intended it, I think, to replace the older one. Variants of Mifune's Go no Kata, probably reflecting different stages in the development of his form, appear periodically, adding to the confusion regarding Go no Kata." Apparently, the later versions of the Go no Kata preserve the atemiwaza (striking techniques) of Judo, and blend the hardness of karate with the more yielding grappling principles of Judo. Practicing this kata provides the judoka with a lesson in hard techniques, and a familiarity with a more distant range of fighting than the close contact found in most Judo techniques.

In his book, The Complete Book of Judo9, Geof Gleeson, described a new Go no Kata he devised to demonstrate the principle of go as it applies to competitive skills. "If fighters want to use power to beat their opponent that is fine -- as long as they know when and how to use it!" The author uses 15 techniques to study basic principles of force such as, "How a localised (limb) force can be overcome by a total (body weight) force," and, "How a body weight force can be overcome by a dynamic body movement."

In yet another version according to George Parulski10, the Go no Kata is composed of two sections: the omote or frontal fundamentals (11 techniques), and the tachi-ai, or standing techniques (9 techniques). Attacks are defended with blocks, various kicks, punches and strikes, throws, and wrist and arm locks.

With the general lack of information available about the original Kodokan Go no Kata, Judo experts have been free to create variations that focus on their interpretation of the principle of go. Although every source seems to agree that the efficient use of power is an essential element of Judo practice which should be preserved in a kata, the use of power in Judo means different things to different people. The central principles of go may in the end be as complex as those of ju.

As in the closing of a circle, this brings us back to the requirement in Judo for strength and power to be used in a flexible and judicious way, the way most suited to the situation. "It is not the factor of strength that Dr. Kano opposed, but its misuse."11

As Jigoro Kano concludes, "Is there, then, any principle which never fails of application? Yes, there is! And that is the principle of Maximum Efficiency in Use of Mind and Body."12

I look at it this way:

You use go to set up ju, and vice versa.

Ben Reinhardt