This website is a guide for people training with me in Mt. Vernon and is also a resource for those interested in learning traditional Okinawan Karate-Do.
The Mt. Vernon Karate Dojo is the private training space of Jonathon Hallberg, who teaches Ryusyokai Okinawan Goju-Ryu. Jonathon also practices Ti, the predecessor of modern karate, as learned via the Shinjinbukan Okinawan Shorin-Ryu system. This is a home dojo and is not a commercial venture. Through this structure, the emphasis is shifted away from making money for overhead needs or profit.
In Salem, IL, I had a 600 square foot dojo equipped with a variety of training tools as well as open space for practice of exercises, kata (forms) and with partners. Currently, I instruct at public venues and by invitation at neighboring dojos. I have a few private students. Classes are primarily for adults, but children ages 14 and older may attend. The Mt. Vernon Karate Dojo is an official branch dojo of both the Sekai Goju-Ryu Ryusyokai Association and the International Shinjinbukan Karate-Do Association. As such, there is no emphasis placed upon participation in sports competitions. To learn more about the Dojo, click here.
Goju-Ryu is a style of Karate formalized by Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953) on the island of Okinawa, Japan. It literally translates from Japanese as “hard-soft style,” and is a blend of Southern Chinese White Crane and Monk Fist boxing, as well as the indigenous Okinawan Ti (lit. “hands”) practiced on the island for centuries. As Miyagi sensei died relatively young (for an Okinawan) and unexpectedly, he did not name an inheritor of the style. Many of his students claimed this title. And, because Miyagi sensei taught each one of them differently, there is no small amount of variety in what one might encounter at different branch dojo (training halls). Goju Ryu, as I was taught it, begins with an emphasis on strength training and conditioning. One of my Goju-Ryu teachers, Paul Babladelis sensei, jokingly classified what he taught as a sort of “caveman karate.” He went on to explain that, as you advance, you are taught techniques that are more yielding in order to redirect strong attacks from opponents. Goju Ryu makes use of a lot of in-close fighting principles. It is widely known for more linear movements, and does have some throwing and grappling techniques. If you are a beginning student, the core curriculum you will be taught is Goju-Ryu. You can learn more about this on the “Training Program” page.
Explaining “Ti” is a more challenging task. Ti can be likened to “chie,” or “wisdom” in English. This is a direct explanation by the founder of the Shinjinbukan, Onaga Yoshimitsu kancho. At its heart, every “style” began as a particular instructor’s approach and preference for certain fighting techniques and strategies. Most people associate specific kata (forms) with a particular style of karate. Once a teacher’s approach becomes systematized (i.e. turns into a “style”) and is passed on from generation to generation, people often become engrossed with preserving the “correct” version of a kata or technique because of what they were taught, rather than how it is used or how it helps develop an applied fighting tactic. Aesthetics are no basis for a combat system. Hence, Ti emphasizes the “how” and “why” of striking, kicking and moving based upon bio-mechanics and human nature. Onaga sensei has said on countless occasions, “I am weak; you are strong, but I will not lose – this is Ti.” While Onaga sensei studied and teaches Kobayashi Shorin Ryu, the Ti that he chose to share with me fits seamlessly with the Goju Ryu that I have learned, and has dramatically broadened my understanding of it. Ti can be applied to most striking-based fighting systems to some degree. For obvious reasons, it is ideally suited for advanced Shorin Ryu practitioners and, because of my specific training, for Goju Ryu practitioners as well. Those interested in learning the Ti that I practice should have some previous martial arts background. For more information on Ti, please visit the “Chasing Two Rabbits” page.
Because this site is devoted more to information about the dojo and how it functions, I will leave further exploration of the history of both Goju-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu to you. You may find some beneficial sites on the Links page.