History of Goju

 To understand the history of Goju properly it is necessary to understand the earlier school of Naha te founded by Kanryo Higashiona. Goju is part of the older Naha te tradition.

In Naha Okinawa on March 10th 1853 Kanryo Higashiona was born. When he was 16 he started to learn Chinese martial Arts from someone who had studied in China and he rapidly learned everything that his teacher knew. In 1874 a meeting with a politician allowed him to get transport to China on a ship to Foochow where he was able to move into a settlement of Okinawans. He studied there with a Chinese master of southern chuan fa called Ryu Ryuko.

After fifteen years Higashiona returned to Okinawa where he eventually established himself teaching a karate style which came to be called Naha te. He taught in the public schools and even accepted an appointment to teach the Royal Family.

Chojun Miyagi was born in Naha on April 25, 1888 and when he was eleven he began to study Karate with Aragaki Ryuko who eventually introduced him to Kanryo Higashiona. Miyagi trained with Higashiona for fifteen years until Higashiona died in 1915 after which Miyagi visited Foochow himself.

After returning to Okinawa Miyagi began to teach and named his style Goju Ryu meaning hard/soft and continued to work toward organizing karate in Okinawa as a cultural heritage and promoted karate in Japan. Goju Ryu was officially registered as a martial art in Japan in 1933. Okinawan Goju Ryu style is still taught in Okinawa and throughout the world.

In 1950 Cogen (The Cat) Yamaguchi officially founded Goju-Kai Karate Do in Japan. Yamaguchi is credited with having carefully organized karate training exercises through a more scientific approach designed around the purpose of teaching and it is he who introduced the practice of free sparring to the karate world as a general training practice. With these two developments to his credit he has often been cited as a creator of the modern approach to teaching karate. In 1964 his son began to teach Goju-Kai in the Americas.

In 1959 after having studied Goju-Kai while stationed in Japan and having taught in Japan Peter Urban opened his first dojo in the USA following that with a second the next year and his famous China Town dojo in 1967. He published his first book on Karate in 1967.  After some difficulties with Goju-Kai leadership in Japan that were caused by racist remarks Peter Urban established the Goju USA style possibly as early as 1964.

Frank Ruiz, Harry Rosentein and Ron Taganashi, who were all students of Peter Urban, founded the Nisei Goju Ryu system in 1969.

Ron Van Clief founded the Chinese Goju system on January 25, 1971. Mr. Van Clief is a student of Peter Urban and Frank Ruiz.

 At some time before the mid 1970s Charles A. Dixon founded the system of Shaolin Goju with the guidance of his father who was one of the early pioneers of karate instruction in the US having returned from Japan and starting to teach in  Houston Tx. in the 1950s. Shaolin Goju incorporates kata and forms from a great many systems and has a large volume of kata.

In 1990 Grandmaster James Perkins founded the system of Shorinji Goju Ryu which maintained some Goju kata while incorporating kata from the Shorin Karate system and from the Si Lum methods of China. Master Perkins also developed some new kata for his system.

In 2000 Robert L. Barton was teaching the Shaolin Goju style and began to call his own school Shorinji* Goju. In 2009 after more than 20 years teaching Shaolin Goju Mr. Barton Established Shorin Goju as a subsystem of the Goju, Naha-te, Southern Shaolin tradition. This was done with the approval and guidance of Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association executive director and under the authority of that international organization.

 *Grandmaster James Perkins had already started to use the name Shorinji Goju for his own new system of martial arts. For this reason Rob Barton and his students adopted the name Shorin Goju.

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