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ADMAS is affiliated with the National College of Martial Arts. This organization is presided over by Hanshi Lou Angel in the U.S.A. All test results are officially certified by this body

Origin and History of U.S. Urban Goju Karate

Compiled and composed by Shodan (Junior Grade) Harley Nicholls as part of his Black Belt Original Paper (June 2015)

It was Kanryo Higaonna a native of Naha, Okinawa, born in 1853, who through his intensive studies in Fuzhou (Fujian, China) in the period 1867-1881, laid the foundation of what later would become known as Goju-Ryu karate-do.

   As a child he began studying Shuri-te, a style of karate which he was first exposed to in 1867 when he began training in Luohan under Aragaki Seishō, a fluent Chinese speaker and translator for the court of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In 1870, Aragaki went to Beijing to translate for Ryukyuan officials. It was here that he recommended Higaonna to Kojo Taitei, under whom Higaonna began training. With the help of Kojo Taitei and a family friend, Higaonna eventually managed to move to China and become a martial arts instructor. There he taught his Okinawan influenced karate.

   In 1869 he left for Fuzhou in Fujian, China where he began to study under Ryū Ryū Ko. There is no evidence about his exact identity nor about the exact martial art style which he taught. It is widely believed that the family of Ryu Ryu Ko had originally been of the aristocratic class, as at this time only the aristocratic classes studied the martial arts. Ryu Ryu Ko studied at the southern Shaolin Temple in the mountains of the Fujian Province. However due to the political problems happening at that time, the family had to conceal there identity in order to survive because they had come from Chinese aristocracy. For this reason Ryu Ryu Ko worked as a bricklayer and a builder and in later life he lived by making a variety of everyday goods such as baskets, furniture and other items from cane. By doing this he was able to blend in as a normal Chinese citizen.

   After living in Fujian, China, and studying with Ryū Ryū Ko, the most important foundation that Higaonna learned was the White Crane which became strongly influenced by Monk Fist and Tiger Boxing. This original Crane style was later split into five main separate parts known as: Singing Crane, Sleeping Crane, Flying Crane, Eating Crane and Shouting Crane.

   In 1882, Higaonna returned to Okinawa and continued in the family business of selling firewood. Here he began teaching at a new school of martial arts. He integrated the styles from the Okinawan and the Chinese influences and his style was distinguished as both gō-no (hard) and jū-no (soft) kenpō into one system. Higaonna's new style was known as Naha-te.

   In 1888 Chojun Miyagi was born, he was the founder of today's Goju-Ryu karate-do as he was responsible for taking Higaonna's Naha-te and turning it into a well developed system. Miyagi was the son of a wealthy shop owner in Naha and he began training martial arts under Aragaki at the age of 11. It was through Aragaki that Miyagi was introduced to Higaonna and at the age of 14 in 1902 when Miyagi began training with him.

   In 1905, Higaonna began teaching Karate at Naha High school. It was noted by Higaonna Morio that Kanyro Higaonna taught martial arts in two different ways, according to the type of student: at home, he taught Naha-te as a martial art whose ultimate goal was to be able to kill the opponent, however, at Naha Commercial High School, he taught karate as a form of physical, intellectual and moral education.

   Sadly in 1915, Kanyro Higaonna died. After this Chojun Miyagi and a friend Aisho Nakamoto planned a trip to Fuzhou to visit the birthplace of Kanryo Higaonna's Naha-te and to pay their respects to Ryu Ryu Ko's (one of Higaonna's teachers) grave. For two months Miyagi and Nakamoto trained there while also visiting the Julianshan Fujian Shaolin Temple. When they returned many of Higaonna's students continued to train with Miyagi. This was when he introduced a new kata called Tensho which he had adapted from Rokkishu of Fujian White Crane which he had been taught by Higaonna.

In 1929 delegates from around Japan were meeting in Kyoto for the All Japan Martial Arts Demonstration. Miyagi was unable to attend and so he asked his top student Jin’an Shinsato to go instead of him. While Shinsato was there, one of the other demonstrators asked him the name of the martial art he practiced. At this time, Miyagi had not yet named his style and therefore Shinsato was not sure what to say. Not wanting to be embarrassed, Shinsato improvised the name "hanko-ryu" meaning the half-hard style. On his return to Okinawa, he reported this to Chōjun Miyagi, who decided on the name "Gōjū-ryū" which meant hard soft style. Chojun Miyagi took the name from a line of the poem 'Hakku Kenpo', which roughly means: "The eight laws of the fist," and describes the eight precepts of the martial arts. This poem was part of the Bubishi which is a collection of essays that deal with philosophical ideals tied to the martial arts, metaphysics, medicine, training methods and techniques, as well as a bit of history. It reads, "Ho wa Gōjū wa Donto su", which means the way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness or everything in the universe inhales soft and exhales hard.

   In 1929, Gogen Yamaguchi began training with Chojun Miyagi, he was important as he helped with the development of Goju ryu karate by creating the Gōjū-kai Karate-dō Association. The organisation was important as it increased in popularity both in Japan and other Asian and Western countries throughout the world.

   In 1933 Gōjū-ryū was officially recognised as a budō in Japan by the 'Dai Nippon Butoku Kai', this meant that it was recognised as a modern martial art. It was important that Gōjū-ryū was accepted as a modern form of martial arts because it meant that more people wanted to study the art form and this led to the karate becoming more popular.

   It was further recognised in 1998, when the Dai Nippon Butokukai recognised Gōjū-ryū Karate-do as an ancient form of martial art (koryū) and as a bujutsu. This recognition as a koryū bujutsu shows a change in how Japanese society saw the relationships between Japan, Okinawa and China. Until 1998, only martial arts practiced in mainland Japan by samurai had been accepted as koryu bujutsu and this was the beginning of martial arts being accepted from outside of mainland Japan and for joining different types of martial arts together. Therefore, Gōjū-ryū karate was formed by Kanryo Higaonna leading on to Chojun Miyagi who perfected the style. Both of the two men used Okinawan and Chinese influences which made the style its own.

   Although this was the formation of Goju-Ryu karate not US Urban Goju karate which was founded by Peter Urban. Peter Urban was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on August 14, 1934. For a short period of time he lived in Altoona, Pennsylvania and after then he was raised and educated in Union City, New Jersey where he graduated from Emerson High School in 1952.

   In 1952, Peter Urban joined the United States Navy and was stationed in Yokohama, Japan. While stationed there he became a Karate student under Richard Kim, in 1953. One year later, Urban was transferred to Tokyo while in the Navy and it was therefore too far for him to travel to go to Yokohama to continue his training with Kim. So Kim introduced Urban to the teachers Masutatsu Oyama and Gogen Yamaguchi. In 1954, Yamaguchi accepted Urban as his student and after in 1955, Urban trained with Oyama. In 1957, Peter Urban opened a small dojo in Tokyo, Japan where he began teaching. In the same year, he then became the first occidental to compete in the All Japan College Karate Championships. In 1958, Urban met and married Mieko Ito.

   In 1959, Urban moved to America and opened his first Gōjū-ryū dojo in Union City, N.J., where he taught the material taught by Yamaguchi and Oyama. The following year he opened a school in Manhattan too. Urban then became responsible for establishing structured karate tournaments with the use of a point system in America. The first of these was the 1st North American Karate Championships held at Madison Square Garden in 1962.

   In 1966, Urban traveled back to Japan to ask Yamaguchi for permission to create an official Goju club in America. Yamaguchi told him "no" because Yamaguchi trusted the Bushi-Do and in it it said "according to Bushi-Do that no white man can achieve nirvana". The response angered Urban and therefore to get back at him, he also quoted from the Bushi-do saying "that according to Bushi-do Japan can never lose a war". This statement offended Yamaguchi and Urban realised this, not meaning any disrespect. Urban prepared to follow the samurai custom and cut off his pinky finger in apology to his sensei but Yamaguchi's oldest son stopped him from doing this. However sadly the damage was already done. Urban then returned to America and incorporated himself as the founder of American Goju.

   Urban continued to work under Richard Kim his first teacher and the ButokuKai but later went on to form the U.S.A. Goju Association (U.S.A.G.A) which is still in operation today. Several students have been given permission by Peter Urban to teach. However, the USA GoJu Organisation has been made into many sections because of arguments regarding the system. Therefore, US Urban Goju Karate was set up By Peter Urban after studying Goju-Ryu Karate. US Urban Goju Karate is classed as a sister style to the more traditional Okinawian Goju-Ryu Karate.