In 1953 Peter Urban was a young sailor when he was introduced to karate in Yokohama, Japan. After training for one year with Sensei Richard Kim, Peter Urban traveled to Tokyo and was introduced to Gogen Yamaguchi. He was accepted as a student of Gogen Yamaguchi. In 1957, Peter Urban opened a small Dojo in Tokyo, Japan, and he competed in the all-Japan College Championships that same year. In 1959, Sensei Urban moved to America, and opened his first American Dojo in Union City, New Jersey. The following year, he opened another school on 17th Street in Manhattan.
Sensei Urban was reportedly one of the men responsible for establishing structured tournaments in America, with one of the first being the North American Karate Championships in 1962 held at Madison Square Garden. In 1967 Sensei Urban published his first book; The Karate Dojo, this made him the first karate-ka to author a nationally recognized book on martial arts with the first paperback edition in 1991. His second book, The Karate Sensei was published in 1984. These books are still available today. Sensei Urban opened his famous Chinatown Dojo in 1967, the Little Tokyo Dojo on Wooster Street in New York City. This made the Japanese art of karate open to the American public.
In the early 1970s, Sensei Urban returned to Japan to ask Gogen Yamaguchi for permission to establish a karate system in America separate from Japan’s. Yamaguchi refused, saying the rules of Bushido stated that no white man could achieve Nirvana. Peter Urban, dissatisfied with the decision, retorted that these same rules stated that Japan could never lose a war. This statement offended Sensei Yamaguchi. Realizing this and not meaning any disrespect, Sensei Urban prepared to follow samurai custom and cut off his pinky finger in apology to his sensei. Yamaguchi’s oldest son stopped him from doing this; however, the damage was done. Seeing this as a turning point, Urban returned to America and incorporated himself as the founder of American Goju.
April 7, 2004 (aged 69) Massachusetts, United States
About USA GoJu
USA GoJu is eclectic synthesis of the education, training, and experience of Sensei Peter Urban, the traditions of Yamaguchi GoJu, the fighting spirit of Oyama and the philosophy of Sensei Richard Kim, combined with the personality of it’s founder Peter Urban. There are three primary influences of the USA GoJu style.
- Chogun Miyagi, the Founder of Goju-Ryu Karate. He was born in Okinawa in 1888 and started training at the age of nine. In 1937 he received the first doctorate degree ever awarded in Karate.
- Gogen Yamaguchi – the Founder of the first GoJu Karate School in Japan. He was one of Sensei Miyagi’s senior students in Japan. In 1951 he was promoted to Grand Master and the rank of 10th Dan.
- Peter Urban – founder of the USA GoJu Karate System. He is a student of the following martial arts Masters Gogen Yamaguchi, Richard Kim, and Mas Oyama. Although his style of USA GoJu/Urban GoJu is closely related to that of Yamaguchi’s Japanese GoJu Ryu, Sensei Urban infused several styles of Karate together to form USA GoJu Karate. He is presently the 10th Dan Grand Patriarch of all USA GoJu systems. He is the father of the American GoJu Karate in America. He is also responsible for the development of several Martial Arts systems throughout the world.