History of Goju Ryu Karate
Gogen Yamaguichi


The style of Karate taught at Amato’s is Goju Ryu.  Goju Ryu is an Okinawan style of Karate created by Chojun Miyagi and spread throughout the world by Gogen Yamaguichi.  Goju Ryu relies on a balance of “hard” and “soft” techniques and its name literally translates into "The Hard and Soft Style."  “Hard techniques” involve meeting force with equal or greater force and employ direct linear blocks and strikes to deal maximum damage to an attacker.  “Soft techniques” use minimal force and circular motions to deflect attacks and subdue opponents.  The balanced skill set provided by Goju Ryu is designed to fit any self defense situation.

In the early 20th century Chojun Miyagi  studied Naha-te  under Higaonna Kanryo.  Naha-te is a combination of Shuri-te (indigenous Okinawan martial arts) and Chinese martial arts, most notably the Fujian White Crane Style of Kung Fu. After mastering Naha-te, Miyagi traveled to China to broaden his martial arts training.  Upon returning to Okinawa he combined the training he received in China with Naha-te to create Goju Ryu.

In the 1930’s Chojun Miyagi gave his top student, Gogen Yamaguichi, the responsibility of spreading Goju Ryu to mainland Japan.  In 1935, while working as a Japanese Intelligence Officer, Yamaguichi formed the All Japan Karate-do Goju Kai Karate-do Association.  Yamaguichi’s proliferation of Goju Ryu was interrupted by World War II. 

While on military duty in Manchuria in 1942, Yamaguichi was captured by the Soviet Military and placed in a Prisoner of War camp.  When the Russian guards learned he was a Karate Master, Yamaguichi was forced to demonstrate his skills for their entertainment.  According to his autobiography, this culminated in Yamaguichi being forced to fight a live tiger.   After witnessing him defeat the tiger, the guards asked Yamaguichi if they could become his students.  Yamaguichi became the Master of the Russian guards, training them in Goju Ryu until the end of the war in 1945.

Following World War II, Yamaguichi returned to Japan where he re-opened his dojo and founded the International Karate-do Goju-Kai Association.  By 1966 Goju-Kai comprised over 200 dojos all over the world with over 60,000 practitioners.  Upon his death in 1989, Gogen Yamaguichi was one of the most well known Karate Masters in the world.

Thanks to Gogen Yamaguichi Goju Ryu is practiced in almost every corner of the world.  His legacy and the art of Goju Ryu Karate is alive and well today at Amato's Karate and Weapons Academy.