'Taught me' series
Posted By Matthew

Review: Mumei Dojo, Carla Pronio Molinaro

Every now and then I add a review on the blog to inform readers of interesting books, movies, and products that I have found useful. Today is a little different.

The word "review" may not be correct for this article; "thank" is a bit more appropriate. Over the past decade or so I've gotten to know Carla Molinaro, owner and operator of a traditional Goju Ryu dojo in Eastern Pennslyvania. She studies kobudo under my primary instructor Bruce Heilman, and as such we often get a chance to cross train. Carla comes from a very strong line of Goju practitioners, training primarily under Ron Martin and receiving additional training under Chuck Merriman and Morio Higaonna.

I never really understood the potency of Goju Ryu until I began interacting with Carla and her students. Goju is a dynamic style of karate that boasts strong roots in Fujian, China. Much of the original Chinese aspects have been left intact, including an emphasis on circular movements and stability derived from the hara.

My appreciation and understanding of hojo undo (rudimentary Okinawan body and strength development) has been greatly enhanced by my exposure to Goju. I have also come to appreciate the value of kakie, a close in drill that incorporates tighter skills utilized in karate including tuite, muchimi, and tegumi.

Carla herself is an admirable role model in the traditional martial arts community. She always places a high currency on character development, even in a modern era where quick rewards are expected and honor is often misunderstood or forgotten entirely. Carla has also cleverly augmented her dojo space with other personal businesses so as to keep her dojo rates exceptionally low, allowing the focus to stay on quality instead of profit. Her Mumei Dojo website can be found here.

I'd like to thank traditional Goju practitioners all over for keeping Miyagi Sensei's dream alive, and to Carla specifically for sharing some of it with me over the years!