The origin of Karate-Do can be traced back to the Buddhists monks traveling from India where it spread throughout China and through the merchant traders to Okinawa. The martial arts of Okinawa had developed into three main regional styles, namely Shuri-te, Tomari-te and Naha-te. The latter was the basis of the Goju system. Master Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915), the highest authority in Naha-Te, went abroad to the Chinese city of Fuchou, where he studied Chinese boxing for approximately 15-20 years.
Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953), founder of Goju-Ryu, had started studying Karate at eleven years of age. When Miyagi was fourteen, Master Higaonna accepted him as a student. Miyagi Sensei studied under Higaonna until his master's death in 1915. Miyagi traveled on two occasions after Higaonna's death to China retracing his master's previous visits.Goju-Ryu Karate-Do derived from two contrasting terms – GO (hard) and JU (soft) was the first organization to be considered a style. It is said to have come from the third precept below that "The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness".
Gogen Yamaguchi (1909-1989) was born on January 20, 1909, in Kagoshima city southern Kyushu. During his early school days, he began training under Murata, a Goju exponent from Okinawa. Later as a law student, Yamaguchi established his first Karate club at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. It was during this period that Yamaguchi created the first stages towards what is known as Jiyu Kumite (free sparring) and established rules to decide the winner of a match.
In 1931, at the age of 22, Gogen Yamaguchi was introduced to the founder of the Goju style, Master Chojun Miyagi. The meeting proved to have a profound affect upon Yamaguchi's outlook on Karate. Previously, he had only considered the hard aspect of Goju but after his meeting with Master Miyagi, he was determined to train himself both spiritually and physically. Master Miyagi thought highly of Yamaguchi who seemed to have mastered the hard aspect of Goju so well and gave him the nickname of Gogen meaning Rough. He then appointed Gogen Yamaguchi as his successor of the Goju school in Japan.
Master Yamaguchi's contributions to Goju-Kai Karate-Do and to Karate in general have been enormous. Under his leadership, the International Karate-Do Goju-Kai Association (I.K.G.A.) has emerged. The organization has increased in popularity both in Japan and other Asian and Western countries around the world.Master Gogen Yamaguchi, 10th Dan Black Belt, a man of intense dedication and determination can truly be considered the last of the Karate legends. A master of Yoga and Shinto priest, a man that has truly united both aspects of GO and JU into a concerted union. Master Gogen Yamaguchi past away in 1989 at the age of 81 years of age. The legacy of Goju-Kai Karate-Do has now been handed to his son Master Goshi Yamaguchi.
Goshi (Hirofumi) Yamaguchi was born in Shinjing, Manchuria on September 28, 1942 as the third son of Kaiso (the Founder of Goju-Kai) Gogen Yamaguchi. In 1951, at the age of eight, he began practicing Karate-Do at Senzoku Dojo in Asakusa. He was promoted to Shodan (1st Dan Black Belt) in 1957 and to Nidan (2nd Dan Black Belt) in 1959. In 1962, he became a Sandan (3rd Dan Black Belt) and an instructor. He entered Nihon University in 1963, majoring in cinema studies in the Department of Arts. While he was a student,the had an opportunity to teach Karate-Do at an American branch dojo for a year with his brother Gosen. This Dojo was taken over by another of his older brothers, Norimi Gosei,in 1967.
After he came back to Japan, he taught in various Goju-Ryu dojo. He graduated from University in 1969, when he became a full time Shihan (Master) in the head dojo with a view to promote and develop Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. He has visited and taught in more than 60 countries in the world as an authorized instructor of Goju Kai and the IKGA, as well as the All Japan Karate-Do Federation, the Tokyo Karate Federation, and an international referee. In 1990 he was appointed as the president of All Japan Karate -Do Goju-Kai Association (J.K.G.A.), International Karate-Do Goju-Kai Association (I.K.G.A.), and designated as Saiko Shihan (Grand Master) for the two associations.
Goshi Yamaguchi is one of the most dynamic of all Karate masters in the world today. Now age 65 years (2007) Saiko Shihan's fine technique and outstanding teaching ability marks him as a Master of unique abilities both mental and physical. In a modern karate world marred by self promotion, egotism, and monetary profits at all cost, Goshi Yamaguchi stands apart from those who seek to use the teaching of Budo for self glorification. His punishing schedule of annual visits to his Branch Dojo of IKGA members throughout the world is a tribute to his tenacity in continuing the work that his father started in the 1930's. That is to promote the spread of Goju Ryu to all nations, and to promote peace and goodwill wherever possible.