By Sensei Carl van der Merwe, Chief Instructor of Namibia

The Goju-ryu Karate Association of Namibia (IOGKF Namibia) recently celebrated 30 years of our style being practice in their country – a milestone in any history! The celebrations took place in the form of a commemorative tournament, which hosted competitors from IOGKF Namibia and South Africa. Below is an account of the event as well as speeches and messages from Higaonna Sensei, Sensei Bakkies Laubscher and Namibia Chief Instructor, Sensei Carl van der Merwe…

Goju Ryu Karate Namibia celebrated the 30th Anniversary of this martial art in Namibia on 8 August 2009 with an international tournament that took place in the International Hall, Windhoek Show Grounds.

The organizers attracted 246 contestants, of whom 116 were from South Africa.  The contestants ranged from 6 year olds to 59 year olds. The level of skills ranged from White to Black Belts, and a total of 65 officials officiated during the tournament.

When one looks at the values which are the basis of the Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate martial art, our sponsors can indentify with them. The sport is built on Respect, Loyalty, Honesty, Integrity and a host of other values.

It is our goal to improve the quality of life for all of our International Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Federation (IOGKF) members to help make a positive impact on the world. The IOGKF has a membership of 53 countries. Since its establishment in 1979, the IOGKF has attracted culturally diverse martial arts practitioners from around the world. The IOGKF members strive to improve their mind, body and spirit.





I am very happy that IOGKF Namibia is hosting their 30th Anniversary Tournament of Goju Ryu in Namibia.

Goju-Ryu founder, the great Master Chojun Miyagi Sensei, spent his entire life promoting Goju-Ryu Karate-do and improving Karate by developing scientific methods of exercise. Miyagi Sensei was respected throughout the world as one of Karate's greatest authorities.

I wish all competitors for the tournament to do your best, and compete with true Budo spirit and show respect to your opponents and all officials.

Gambatte! (Do your best!)




Thirty years of an organized presence in a country is certainly a major milestone, I therefore wish to sincerely congratulate IOGKF Namibia personally and on behalf of IOGKF Chairman, Higaonna Sensei, on this unique commemoration.

On a personal level Namibia carries some special memories and impressions, as I was the first senior Goju Ryu instructor to conduct a Gasshuku in Namibia in Okinawan Goju Ryu, back in the mid 1970's on initiative of two former karate students of mine, from Stellenbosch University.

Even though no formal organization existed in Namibia at the time, the main driving force behind the establishment of the style in Namibia should be credited to the efforts and passion of Wolfgang Schlabitz, who also later inspired Sensei Hennie de Vries to move to Windhoek permanently in 1979 to establish Goju Ryu.   Since then, I have taught in Namibia on a regular basis up to the present and am personally pleased with the development over the past 30 years. 

Although the commemoration takes the format of a tournament, we must remember that tournaments are not an integral part of the Goju Ryu system and merely a simulated environment to allow our students an opportunity to participate competitively.  Keep in mind that performance in a tournament is not necessarily a reflection of real ability in a real life threatening situation.

The style of Karate practiced by our organization is classical, traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu.  We emphasize and strive towards the traditional approach, which implies the same, original objectives as those who researched and developed this unique system of self-defence. 

For this, we need to preserve the original fundamental components of the system, such as physical conditioning, practical, applicable self defence techniques, developing mental tenacity and endurance whilst practiced under a code of strict self-discipline.  

It is essential that the traditional fundamentals of Okinawan Goju Ryu are preserved unchanged, because failure to do so will ultimately result in a watered down version of a formidable, unarmed fighting art.  

An even more formidable threat is the improvising and mutating of our Kata to make it more 'user-friendly' (nice looking) for success in All Style tournaments.  Every movement in our Kata has specific self-defence applications and changing the movements, their execution, emphasis and timing will surely result in these applications being lost permanently over a period of time. It is already happening world wide to the extent that in China one cannot find true, pure traditional styles of once formidable fighting forms anymore.  Many of these secrets have died with their Masters, who refused to share them with a fast changing modern materialistic superficial world, where the real value of loyalty and respect is disappearing rapidly.

As preservers of the traditional, we need to focus on the long term and guard at all times against temptation to improvise lethal fighting techniques into ‘point scoring’ techniques, merely for the sake of winning a medal and remember at all times that people have actually died in the process of developing this unique art through the past centuries.

It is imperative that our system of tournament has to be in line with our mission and objectives. The IOGKF therefore uses its own unique form of competition, the nature of which will develop and enhance objectives of our system, preparing our students for a real threat against their person. Because Kata has all the 'hidden' self-defence skills, it is an intangible part of fighting, and a student therefore must master both Kata and fighting.

Any form of simulated fighting, such as tournament fighting, will have shortcomings. We accept this and our prime objective in the IOGKF  tournament system is to utilize it as an opportunity to better ourselves and to give students a chance to perform in a situation outside their own 'comfort zones', as would be the case in a real threat.

In the spirit of endeavor and true sportsmanship, I wish everyone a pleasant tournament, display your real character values and abilities and enjoy the opportunity and take something of true value back home with you.

The Chairman of the IOGKF, Higaonna Morio Sensei, has three values that he emphasizes and lives by:  LOYALTY, HONESTY and RESPECT.  I would sincerely like to see these values displayed here today by participants and officials to show our difference from the non traditional organizations of Karate.




It is a great privilege to welcome you all today to our 30th Anniversary Commemoration Tournament. I trust that the event will serve its purpose in that we will spend time together, start new friendships and renew old friendships.

We thank our sponsors for the raffle tickets and for the tournament itself, for without their valuable contributions we would not have been able to present this event.

A special thank you also to the officials and organisers of the event. Your hard work is highly appreciated.  And to Rosel, the person that made everything possible, thank you for your fantastic effort.

When I look back over the last 25 years that I have been a member of the Goju Ryu Karate Association of Namibia (GKAN) I have to thank my instructors that have given me the guidance and opportunity to develop in my Karate career.

I want to thank Sensei Hennie de Vries for taking the big step in 1979 to start the current association in Namibia. He was my first instructor and I thank him for teaching me the importance of Kata and Bunkai and the curiosity to keep on searching for the deeper meaning and applications of our Kata. I also want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to become the Chief Instructor of Namibia as of 1999, as that allowed me to develop in many ways and to lead the Goju Ryu Karate Association of Namibia to where it is today.

I want to thank Sensei Bakkies Laubscher, who is my direct instructor and mentor, for teaching me the importance of physical ability and tenacity. His example and the high standards that he set makes it possible for us to grow in Karate. His technical expertise is unmatched and he is always willing to share his vast knowledge. His contribution to GKAN since inception is highly valued.

It is also Sensei Bakkies that gave us the opportunity to become members of the IOGKF again in 2003. Being part of the largest Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate organization in the world creates tremendous opportunities for our members as they are able to attend International events all over the world and thereby gain unmatched experience.

I also want to thank Morio Higaonna Sensei, our ultimate Chief Instructor, for the example he sets by being such a humble person, while being acknowledged Internationally as one of the greatest Karate teachers that ever lived. We are very blessed to have such a leader.

Then I want to thank our instructors that teach classes for their contributions to the organization. It is sometimes a very unthankful job, but be assured that you do make a difference on the lives of our students inside and outside the dojo.

The final and biggest THANK YOU goes to my wife Rosel, for the sacrifices she has to make to allow me to pursue my passion for Karate. Over the past more than 10 years she was the one that had to give up personal goals to be able to ensure GKAN is run as a professional organization. I personally think she is the biggest contributor to the success of GKAN.




It is my great pleasure to be writing this message to Carl Sensei and to all the students of Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate in Namibia. Karate is not like joining a gym where you come and go as you like but a commitment to a group, which is like a family headed by parents, except in this case it is a Sensei.

The dojo is a place where you foster lifelong friendships.  As in any family there are at times with difficult situations, in Karate this is overcome through verbal and non-verbal communication on the Dojo floor where in actual fact everyone is equal. It is on the floor where we purge our bodies, minds and emotions.

Under the guidance of Carl Sensei, I know that Okinawa Goju Ryu will flourish to even further heights in Namibia.  It takes many years to produce a good Teacher of Karate-do and when you have one such as Carl Sensei, look after him and appreciate his dedication to Okinawa Goju Ryu in Namibia.

I wish you all a wonderful 30th anniversary!



Medal Winners:

Riona Pillay, Uzava Loibenböck, Reino Hansen, Axel Zirzow, Ricardo Richter, Berrie Snyman, Daniela Walder, Michellé Lewis, Shirleen de Wee, Kai Brockmann, Chad Hansen, Jonathan Solomons, Michael Haythornthwaite, Tuundja Martin, Jaco Vermeulen, Jürgen Keil en Christian Zimmermann.

Birte Kessler, Sylvia Maritz, Aidan Adams, Ajay Bezuidenhoudt, Miguel Monteiro, Naapopye Amunyela, Nhika Vassallo, Maike Hoffmann, Georg Kiessling, Veneruru Martin, Kelao Uiras, Arista Geldenhuys, Tjitumuzva Tjiuoro, Robert Steinbrück, Stephen Haythornthwaite, Ryno Pretorius, Wendy Openshaw, Johann van Rooyen, Roche Louw, Lutz Steinbrück, Nico Maritz, Fritz Venzke, Jürgen van Wyk, Maximillian Meyer en Angelo Walder .

Amoré Swartbooi, Ndapewa Nendongo, Fabienne Rauter, Eddy Mwandingi, Jaydee Hambira, Jacques Gryffenberg, Prins Nuyoma, Ryan Kritzinger, Udo Steinbach, René Reichstein, Zephania Kameeta, Sandra van Schalkwyk, Shaun Halgreen, Luziano Jacobs, Sascha Becker, Elrie Prinsloo, Willie Viljoen, Sam Ekandjo, Rowan Carstens, Stefan van der Merwe, Alistar Dietrich en Joshua Britz.

4th Places:   Ritjiua Kavekotora, Ashley Fourie, Lance Hauuanga, Tuamona Uaandja, Micha Schaum, Sergio Uiseb, Philipp Brimble, Kaushitwa Kafidi, Eddy Camm, Jürgen Sack, Johanna Akweenda, Silvia Schenk, Izaan Prinsloo, Dimo Eloff, Ono Akweenda, Philipp Uhrich, Jakes Maritz , Roland Walder, Numbembe Nangolo.



Goju Ryu Karate Namibia would like to thank all sponsors for their contribution: Air Cool, Bank Windhoek, Mini Movers, The Namibian, Namibia Breweries, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Zimmermann Garage.

Photo: Sensei Carl van der Merwe, Chief Instructor of Namibia, doing a demonstration with his son Stefan.