Gogen Yamaguchi was born January 20, 1909 at Miyakonojou,
Shonai, Miyazaki Prefecture as the third son of Tokutaro. He was
When he was thirteen years of age, he studied Goju-Ryu Karate Kempo with his
instructor named Takeo Maruyama. He studied Law at Kansei University in 1928
and Ritsumeikan University from 1929 to 1937 and received Law Degrees. While
studying at the University, he initiated the Karate club and invented its free
sparring form. By this time, all karate schools in Okinawa and Japan practiced
kata and pre-arranged application exercise and never attempted to practice
free form of sparring.
In 1937, he received the name Gogen from Chojun Miyagi and authorized him to
promote the school of Goju-Ryu Karate in Japan.
In 1950, he founded the national organization of All Japan Karate-Do Goju-Kai
in Tokyo, Japan. Gogen received 10th Degree Black Belt from Chojun Miyagi in
He was recognized as one of the greatest Karate masters in Japan. He was the
founder of what might be called modern Karate, an advanced stage which illustrates
both a technical and social elevation of the art of Karate. From a technical
point of view, he had unified all Karate exercise by employing an extremely
well organized method.
As a result of the introduction of free-style sparring, the art of Karate had
become a more active and popular art in Japan as well as in other parts of
the world. Although he studied such martial arts as Judo, Kendo, Iaido, Jo-do,
and Kusari-gama (art of chain) in his younger days, Karate had from the beginning
captured most of his enthusiasm.
In the general development of Karate, Gogen had contributed several distinguished
services. First, he formed a group of Asian martial instructors. He then succeeded
in bringing seventy Asian instructors to Japan and traveled throughout the
country, holding exchange martial arts demonstrations. After the Pacific war,
he succeeded in unifing all Karate schools into one union. As a result, the
All Japan Karate Federation was established in 1964.
In the United States, people refer to Gogen Yamaguchi as the "Cat." As
a further recognition of merit, he was honored in 1969 by Emperor Hirohito
of Japan with Ranju-Hosho, the Blue Ribbon Medal.