Gogen Yamaguchi - 10th Dan GrandMaster

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(1909 - 1989)

Gogen Yamaguchi was born on January 20, 1909, Kagoshima City on Southern Kyushu. As a young boy he showed interest in the martial arts and studied kendo (Japanese fencing). Around this time Yamaguchi began his karate training under the instruction of Mr. Murata, a carpenter from Okinawa who was drawn to the young Yamaguchi's serious attitude and willingness to train hard.

During his days as a Law student, Yamaguchi opened his first dojo at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. The dojo soon became reknowned throughout the city for its hard training and fierce breathing exercises. Yamaguchi also introduced sparring matches based on free will (jissen kumite), which was unheard of in those days, as training had traditionally consisted of patterns (kata) and pre-arranged sparring (yaksoku kumite). Some of the rules that he created in order to determine the winner of a match are still in use today in jiyu kumite and competition karate.

In 1931, at the age of 22, Gogen Yamaguchi was introduced to Chojun Miyagi. Immediately, Yamaguchi became determined to develop a deeper understanding of both the hard and soft aspects of Goju-ryu. Previously,he had focused his efforts on the hard aspect of karate and hence earned the nickname, "Gogen", meaning rough, from Miyagi.

Throughout his life Yamaguchi Shihan spent long periods of time training on Mount Kurama. During these training sessions he would subject himself to the pounding waterfall, under which he practiced Sanchin kata, in order to develop his mind and body.

He is known around the world as, “The Cat”, due to his grace and speed that he developed through his practice of neko ashi dachi (cat stance).

In accordance with Miyagi Kensei’s wishes, after World War Two Yamaguchi Shihan set about popularising Goju-ryu karate-do around the world. His charismatic presence, passion and incredible skills soon attracted many students.

In 1950, he established the I.K.G.A  (International Karate-do Goju-kai Association), which has grown to incorporate over 50 member nations. In 1964, he unified all the existing karate schools in Japan into F.A.J.K.O (The Federation of All Japan Karate-do Organisation), this organization was the forerunner to the modern day J.K.F (Japan Karate Federation).

Gogen Yamaguchi Shihan passed away in 1989, at the age of 81. His son, Goshi Yamaguchi Saiko Shihan, has continued to develop Goju-ryu karate-do and is an amazing master in his own right.

Reference:

De Jong, Ingo,(1989). Goju Kai Karate-do Hard and Soft in Harmony - Volume 1. Sweden, Jakobsbergs Tryckeri AB.

Yamaguchi, Goshi, (1993). Goju-ryu Karate: A Visual Guide to Kumite Techniques. Japan.

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