Goju Ryu is a close quarter fighting style.
Goju Ryu is characterized by its equal emphasis on Go (Hard) and Ju (Soft) techniques.
The Kata Sanchin represents Go and the Kata Tensho represents Ju. Together they form the core of the style.
Goju Ryu is a style of Okinawa Karate. There are numerous styles of Karate in existence today such as Shotokan, Kyukushin and Isshinryu to name a few, each with its own distinct essence and emphasis. Even though martial arts have existed for thousands of years the systemization and creation of many modern styles occurred around the turn of the 20th Century. A primary reason for this was that during this time Japan was experiencing rapid modernization, known as the Meiji Restoration, one result of which was the legalization of the practice of martial arts in Okinawa. Prior to the Meiji Restoration Martial Arts were forbidden to those outside the ruling class, as a result Okinawan martial arts were practiced in secret.
One of the prominent martial arts experts living at the time was Higaonna Kanryo from the town of Naha. In his youth he traveled to China to learn Chinese martial arts (Kung Fu). During his visit he trained under a master named Ryuru Ko and it is believed that it was from him that he learned the Koryu kata Sanchin through to Suparinpei. These Kata come from Kung Fu styles such as Fujien White Crane, Monk Fist Boxing and Five Ancestor Fist.
Higaonna Sensei most famous student was Miyagi Chojun, the founder of the Goju Ryu style. Miyagi began training under Higaonna Sensei at the age of 15 and remained his student until Higaonna Sensei’s passing in 1917. Following his master’s death Miyagi Sensei traveled to China in search of Ryuru Ko to further his study of martial arts. He found him and visited him on a number of occasions. When comparing the various Okinawan Karate systems it is evident that Goju Ryu is the most Chinese influenced style. The Goju name came into existence in the 1930’s. At an exhibition in Tokyo a student of Sensei Miyagi was asked about his style and also what was its name. Since there was no name he returned to Sensei Miyagi and told him about the query. Using an ancient martial arts text, the Bubishi, Sensei Miyagi chose the name Goju Ryu or Hard-Soft style since the style he taught was a balance of Go (hard) techniques and Ju (soft) techniques. Prior to this time people usually referred to Goju Ryu as Naha-te (hand). Even the term Kara-te used to mean ‘Chinese Hand’ up until the early 20th century at which point the meaning of the characters was changed to ‘Empty Hand’ by the founder of Shotokan Karate Funakoshi Gichin. The reasoning behind the change had to do with the fact that even though martial arts originated primarily in China, the Okinawan practitioners shaped it into something different. As a result the term ‘Chinese Hand’ was no longer accurate.
Miyagi Sensei continued to teach up until the beginning of WWII. Following the war and the lifting of a ban on martial arts by the US Army Miyagi Sensei resumed teaching at his home garden dojo until his passing in 1953.
A major step in the development and propagation of Goju Ryu occurred when Yamaguchi Gogen took on the responsibility of spreading Goju Ryu on the Japanese mainland. Yamaguchi Sensei created the Goju Kai Association and through it spread Goju Ryu around Japan and after WWII around the world. He also invented the Karate tournament. Thus further popularizing Karate to the general public.
Today there are many branches of Karate in the world. Organizations exist in Europe, America, Africa, South America and Australia. But all came from the same seed first planted by Higaonna Sensei and then grown by Miyagi Sensei.