Goju-ryu karatedo shares its roots with other styles of karate developed over the centuries from the unarmed fighting arts of China. These arts came to Okinawa, where they underwent development and fusion with Okinawan unarmed fighting styles.
Several different approaches to self-defence came to the fore at this time, with one centred in the city of Naha. Naha city in Okinawa was thriving with martial arts activity in the 1850's. Along with practitioners from the towns of Tomari and Shuri, the Naha martial artists were laying the groundwork for the development of modern karate-do and kobudo (weaponry).
The history of Goju-ryu can be traced back to a man named Master Kanryo Higashionna, (ca. 1840 - 1910), known as the "Fist of Naha". Although Higashionna began his training there, the true seeds of Goju-ryu were not planted in Okinawa but in China. Higashionna went to China and studied under a man named Master Woo (Ru in Japanese) who was a practitioner of Chinese boxing.
Higashionna trained under Master Woo for approximately 15 to 20 years. On his return to Okinawa he combined his native fighting system with the Chinese system and became the father of Naha-Te. It did not take long before his fame spread throughout the island and students started to come to him for training. Among them was a student named Chojun Miyagi.
CHOJUN MIYAGI KENSEI
Chojun Miyagi Kensei (Sacred Fist) then coined the term Goju-ryu. Later, due in large part to his tireless efforts and those of his followers, the popularity of Goju-ryu spread throughout the world and eventually became recognized as a traditional school of Karate.
GOGEN YAMAGUCHI KAISO
Gogen Yamaguchi Kaiso (Founder) was entrusted by Master Chojun Miyagi with the task of popularizing and developing Goju-ryu Karate-do on the Japanese mainland. Master Gogen dedicated himself to the spreading of Karate-do in Japan and abroad by organizing the All Japan Karate-do Goju-Kai Association (J.K.G.A.) and the International Karate-do Goju-Kai Association (I.K.G.A.).
GOSHI YAMAGUCHI SAIKO SHIHAN
Goshi Yamaguchi Saiko Shihan, (Highest Master), Master Gogen's third son, inherited his father's legacy after Master Gogen's death on May 20, 1989, and is currently President of the J.K.G.A. and of the I.K.G.A.