As described below, each class follows a traditional pattern in the same way that classes are held in Japan.
1. BOW-IN & RECITING THE VIRTUES
A normal Goju Ryu class begins on time with the senior student calling the beginning of class by ordering everyone to line up (saying "Sei-Retsu!"). The students form one straight line quickly from highest ranking student to the lowest-ranking student, and they all stand quietly at attention. At this time, one of the senior students is given the privilege of reciting the Five Goju Ryu Virtues, which everyone must repeat.
After reciting the Goju Ryu Virtues , everyone is silent, awaiting the command to kneel. Once the command is given (the class leader says, "Seiza!") everyone kneels and the next command ("Mokuso!") they all close their eyes, and at this point there is a few minutes of silent meditation to clear your mind and prepare for practice.
After the meditation, everyone opens their eyes, and when the class leader commands “Rei,” everyone bows together, by placing their hands in front of them on the floor and bringing their head to their hands.
Next is the command to stand and then the senior students will lead the class in warm up exercises (Junbi Undo).
2. WARM-UPS (JUNBI UNDO)
The instructor or a designated senior student will lead the class in warm-ups designed to loosen joints and muscles, in preparation for the workout later.
Once the warm-up exercises are completed, the senior student will instruct everyone to line up and stand silently at attention, then the senior student will end the warm-up session by having everyone bow and release the class into the hands of the instructor for the class lesson.
3. PRACTICE THE BASICS OR FUNDAMENTALS (KIHON)
“Kihon” which are “basics” or “fundamentals,” is one of the foundations for Kata, Kumite, and all techniques done in Goju Ryu Karate. Within these basics or fundamentals, we must learn to stand, to move, block, strike, kick, fall, and later to throw.In Kihon, we practice stationary techniques, utilizing the principle movements of blocking, striking, and kicking. Kihon may be practiced as “floor exercises,” where the same technique or combination is repeated multiple times as the students move back and forth across the floor. This style of practice is believed to ingrain the techniques into the “muscle memory” of the student.
Additionally, Kihon may take the form of prearranged partner drills whereby two students face either other and take turns executing a technique. This approach combines repetition with training in distancing. Targets for punching and kicking, such as bags, shields, or dummies, are generally used at more advanced stages of Kihon training to strengthen muscles, bones, and skin. Kihon techniques are considered fundamental to mastery and improvement of all movements of greater complexity.
4. LEARN TECHNIQUES / KATA PRACTICE
Next, the instructor will lead the class in practicing some techniques, such as a particular kick or strike, a self-defense move, or other techniques. The instructor may use partner drills whereby two students face either other and take turns executing the technique that is being taught.
In addition to specific techniques, the instructor may also teach the students some Kata. “Kata” (“form” or “pattern”) are several sets of formal choreographed patterns of defensive and offensive movements, where you envision that you are fighting against an imaginary opponent. The Kata are executed as a specified series of moves, generally with stepping and turning, performing a series of punches and kicks in the air, while attempting to maintain perfect form. The practitioner is generally counseled to visualize the enemy attacks, and his or her responses, as actually occurring, and the student is often told to “read” a Kata, to explain the imagined events. While practicing the “set” pattern of a particular Kata, the student is encouraged to keep the movements “filed” in memory, because after learning these Kata then the practical application of this set of learned skills can be used in actual sparring practice, particularly to find different combinations of uses of certain selected techniques.
5. APPLY THE TECHNIQUES / KUMITE
Near the end of each class, the instructor devotes some time what they learned in actual sparring with an opponent, or "Kumite". The sparring practice of Kumite can be used to develop a particular technique or a skill (for example, effectively judging and adjusting your striking distance from your opponent) or it can be done in competition.
While sparring in Karate, the students normally aim to deliver strikes with the maximum speed and power possible, but they are taught to “pull their punches” or stop them at the moment of contact (or just before contact, at lower levels of experience) so that their opponents are not injured. This forms an important basis for self-control, which is highly emphasized throughout all of our practices.
6. END OF CLASS / BOW OUT
The closing ritual and meditation are the same as at the beginning of class (described earlier), with the students lining up, facing the instructor, reciting the Five Goju Ryu Virtues, kneeling together, meditating and bowing.
At the end, the instructor may give a short lecture on the importance of the technique covered in the class, answer any questions, or perhaps will provide individual critique to each student for their further improvement.