The thumbs are important in Gyokko ryu. It is mostly shown in the three official stances Ichimonji no kamae, Hicho no kamae, and Jumonji no kamae, where the thumbs always are directed upwards. The reason is that the energy always should flow freely, and there should be no lockups in the movement. In Gyokko ryu it is important to protect the heart. Therefore a starting position with the right leg forward is preferred, so that the left side is turned away from the opponent. Shoshin no kamae, Doko no kamae, "Angry tiger", and Hanin no kamae are also said to belong to Gyokko ryu.
Much of the philosophy and strategy in Gyokko ryu are taught by Kuden, mouth to mouth teachings. There are also secrets in the ryu, called Hiden. This is not always written down, but passed from grandmaster to grandmaster as Kuden.