Goshin-Jutsu

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Grandmaster Gerald Durant (1922-1991), founder of Goshin-Jutsu Karatedō.

Goshin-Jutsu (literally: “art of self-defense”) is an American-founded karate style, modeling the Okinawan tradition, with strong Chinese and aikijutsu influences. By definition, Goshin-Justu prioritizes self-defense applications over winning competitions and sport-fighting. Goshin-Jutsu places a major emphasis on power generation via “snapping” hip rotation to deliver decisive, targeted strikes in a manner which exploits the opponent’s reaction to the previous strike. Goshin-Jutsu forms and waza have vary in speed, and make a greater use of joint manipulations and takedowns than most other karate styles.

Goshin-Jutsu Karatedō was founded by Gerald Durant (1922-1991) of Utica, NY, who by all accounts, “was a crotchety old man who liked to fight people.” His motives and methods for creating Goshin-Jutsu are mostly lost to history or shrouded in self-made myths, because he had a habit of telling people whatever they wanted to hear, just to make them go away. Frequently, these tall tales described visiting Ōsaka as a Merchant Marine, and jumping ship to study with some "samurai prince," because people kept pestering him for exotic stories until he provided them with one.

What is known was that Durant developed a habit of dōjō storming; i.e., walking into schools and directly challenging instructors, to see who was good and who was not. If Durant won, he moved on. If Durant lost, he signed up for lessons, and trained until he could win. This went on for several years. Durant learned jūdō in Canada, and was enamored by aikidō to such a degree that he copied Ō-sensei’s trademark goatee later in life. Durant attempted to storm, and subsequently trained with Willem Reeders, the Grandmaster of Liu Seong Kung-fu. However, this provides more questions than answers; Reeders also shrouded himself in self-created myth, and only gave his students pieces of his puzzle, without revealing his whole story to anyone. Durant likely copied this idea.

Grandmaster Stephen Capela, Jr.

In the mid-1960s, Durant opened a dōjō, the Goshin-Jutsu Kyojujo, where he drew upon his experiences, and taught his personal fighting method, which he later condensed into the five core Goshin-Jutsu kata. Durant later established or appropriated other kata to build his curriculum. Durant trained many students, who then went on to open schools of their own. In 1983, the Goshin-Jutsu system fell into chaos and split into two groups, one in based in Pennsylvania and one in Texas, where Durant eventually moved in order to closer to his family. No one reason has ever been identified for this schism, though “Grandmaster Durant had kind of a strained relationship with…everyone,” and he tended to attract similar people. The author of this website is from the faction that acknowledges Hanshi Stephen Capela, Jr., as the rightful inheritor and leader of the Goshin-Jutsu system. No one has advanced the state of our art more than Mr. Capela, through his methodical, individual effort to systematize every facet of it.

A life-long smoker, Grandmaster Durant died of lung cancer in Pasadena, TX, on July 14, 1991; he was 68. Goshin-Jutsu persists, but has noticeably lost steam since the late-2000s, as many of Durant’s original students have become infirm or deceased. Since a martial art's popularity largely depends upon its ability to generate high-quality publications which remove barriers-to-entry, this website was created to preserve this art form for future generations. Keeping with Goshin-Jutsu's ethos, no one was asked for permission before building this site.

Goshin-Jutsu is a purely American invention, without any ties to any mainstream karate organization -- and in a lot of ways, that makes it better. By definition, the cutting edge is on the fringe. While Goshin-Justu was the personal invention of a rogue individual, the lore of karate is populated with numerous lone-wolves, misfits, and misanthropes who were hell-bent on doing things their own way. An American inventing a karate style makes about as much sense as a Brazilian family establishing a jūjustu ryūha. While Goshin-Jutsu doesn’t have a “legitimate” paper trail, neither does most mainstream karate styles. Gichin Funakoshi never granted any ranks above godan. Pre-1920s karate had no standards of any kind, and existed as a constant cross-pollination of personal fighting styles. Chōjun Miyagi never gave black belts to anyone; he was convinced that only one’s character mattered, and that ranks would lead to division. While critics claim that that Goshin-Jutsu is “illegitimate” because it’s “made-up,” I’ve never seen an art that wasn’t made-up, nor do I know how one could logically exist.

If you were hoping to indulge in the VHS action movie fantasy of learning a secret ancient fighting art, then you shall find only disappointment here -- and everywhere else you turn.

If you want to learn how to fight and improve yourself, then keep reading.