Gogen Yamaguchi was born January 20, 1909 at Miyakonojou, Shonai,
Miyazaki Prefecture as the third son of Tokutaro. He was named Jitsumi,
When he was thirteen years of age, he studied Goju-Ryu Karate Kempo with
his instructor named Takeo Maruyama 丸田武雄. 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
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 1951.
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 unifying 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.
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