Kanryo Higaonna studied the Chinese martial arts under the great Master Ryu Ryu Ko. He soon became his "uchi deshi" (private student) for approximately 13 years thereafter. In addition to studying empty hand martial arts, he also became proficient in weapons techniques and Chinese herbal medicine. Such was Kanryo's skill in the martial arts that his fame became wide spread. When he returned to Okinawa, he began teaching what is known as Naha-te. He developed a teaching method which was specifically designed to develop the mind and body; to improve both physical and spiritual well-being.
There are stories that relate to the tales of Kanyro Higaonna's life and training. His virtuous character was widely known and respected, and because of his popularity the people of Naha bestowed him with the name "Kensei" (sacred fist).
Chojun Miyagi 1888-1953
He began his training under Kanryo Higaonna at the age of 14. He became the successor to Naha-te in 1915. Chojun Miyagi dedicated his whole life to karate. He was responsible for structuring Goju-Ryu into a modified system which enabled karate to be taught in universities for the benefit of the young, and to reach an enormous amount of people throughout the world. He incorporated hard and soft movements in all aspects of training, with a profound emphasis on katas; such as Tenshoa. Chojun Miyagi worked hard to spread karate throughout Okinawa and Japan and earned Goju-Ryu a highly respected name. Thus, Chojun Miyagi is the founder of Goju-Ryu.
Gogen Yamaguchi 1909-1989
Gogen "The Cat" Yamaguchi studied and trained under Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi. Yamaguchi opened the first Goju-Ryu dojo in Japan. He was the first to promote jukumite in the dojo and he implemented the Teikyoku katas into the system to better prepare students for advance katas. Yamaguchi successfully unified all karate dojos, known as the All Japan Karatedo Organization. Yamaguchi received his 10th dan from Miyagi in 1951 and became the successor to the Goju-Ryu system.
Peter Urban 1934-2004
While serving in the U.S. Navy, Urban studied under Professor Richard Kim, who later introduced him to Gogen Yamaguchi and Mas Oyama. After studying under Grandmaster Gogen Yamaguchi for numerous years, Urban returned to America and opened his first American dojo in 1959. Urban returned to Japan in the 70's to ask Yamaguchi permission to become an independent organization; and was denied. Upon his arrival back to the U.S., Urban incorporated the teachings of his teachers into one system; Urban Goju/USA Goju. To show his independence to the martial arts world, Urban instructed his students to wear black uniforms (white being the norm at the time).
Since the introduction of United of America Goju, by Peter Urban, Goju has blossomed into one of the most prestigious martial arts styles today. USA Goju deals with reality techniques, as well, as maintaining the traditional disciplines of Miyagi's times. Peter G. Urban is the Father of American Goju Karate.
Joseph Kelljchian 1943-2017
Master Joseph Kelljchian trained under and earned his shodan from Master Joseph Hess and later received his masters degree from Grandmaster Peter Urban. Master Joseph Kelljchian is the founder of United States of America Goju Federation (U.S.A.G.F). Over the years Master Kelljchian has been involved in many facets of the martial arts. He has traveled extensively; nationally and internationally teaching karate, weapons, and rape seminars. He is well known through the karate community; and his reputation of being proficient in the use of oriental weapons is well founded. USA Goju Hall #025 is a traditional Goju karate school under Master Kelljchian. Through his hombu dojo in Cooper City, Florida, he has produced numerous black belts; and in turn has numerous schools throughout Florida and the United States.