Goshi Yamaguchi

We don’t need to separate sport and the traditional elements. Many young people like to have a chance to participate in sport Karate competition, and it is very good for them. In the process, they make friends and grow up. But people cannot neglect the mental aspect of training.

Goshi Yamaguchi

Goshi Yamaguchi comes from a family steeped in martial culture. His father was the legendary Goju-ryu master, Gogen Yamaguchi. His brothers Gosei and Gosen were formidable masters in their own right. He has built on the legacy of his father and helped extend the style of Goju-ryu Karate.

Goshi (Hirofumi) Yamaguchi was born on 28 September 1942 in Shinjing, Manchuria. He was the youngest son of Gogen (Jitsumi) and Midori Yamaguchi.

With Gogen Yamaguchi serving as an intelligence officer for the Japanese government, he and his family had moved to Manchuria in 1939. However, when the Russians captured Manchuria from the Japanese, he was sent to Siberia as a prisoner of war in 1942. Midori Yamaguchi was pregnant at the time.

Taking her sons Gosei (Norimi) and Gosen (Kishio), the pregnant Midori Yamaguchi walked for miles, until she eventually gave birth to Goshi (Hirofumi) in a small village. She and her sons eventually made it back to Tokyo.

Gogen Yamaguchi was eventually released and returned to Japan from Russia in 1947. By 1948 he resumed his teaching of Goju-ryu Karate. The young Goshi would go to the training sessions with him. He would sit and watch his older brothers, Gosei and Gosen train with the other students of the dojo.

In 1951 Goshi Yamaguchi began training, aged around 8 years old, at Gogen Yamaguchi’s Senzoku Dojo, located in Asakusa, which at the time was a rough area of Tokyo.

Before the war, Gogen Yamaguchi had mainly taught Goju-ryu in the city of Kyoto. His first dojo in Tokyo had been a small room. At the time Goju-ryu Karate was new to Tokyo.

In the beginning Goshi Yamaguchi did not like Karate. Being the son of one of the most famous Karate Masters in Japan, he had no choice but to train. There were no children’s classes at the time, so he trained with his brothers in the main adult class.

Classes in the dojo started late in the evening. Goshi and his brothers trained every night. If he didn’t train he wouldn’t get his supper. His relation to his father became more like a student than that of a son. It did help that his older brothers had gone through the same thing.

Under the guidance of his father, Goshi Yamaguchi’s Karate developed. In 1957 he was awarded his 1st Dan. Two years later he was awarded his 2nd Dan. By 1962 he had been awarded his 3rd Dan and had become an instructor at the dojo.

In 1963 Goshi Yamaguchi enrolled at Nihon University to study Cinema Studies. However, the following year he took a break from your studies to travel to the United States. His brother, Gosen, had established a Karate club at San Francisco State University. Goshi helped him by teaching at the club.

In June 1964, Gogen Yamaguchi sent his oldest son Gosei, to the United States to replace his younger brother Gosen as Chief Instructor at the San Francisco Karate club. Gosen returned to Japan to take up a new job. Goshi remained in the US to help him.

In 1966 the first competitive match between teams from the United States and Japan took place. Taking place at the Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, the match was between the All-Japan Collegiate champions, and a team of fighters from the Los Angeles area, representing Hidetaka Nishiyama‘s AAKF and the United States. The team included Ray Dalke and Frank Smith. The Japanese team won a closely contested competition.

Top Japanese masters attended the momentous event. In attendance were Masatoshi Nakayama representing Shotokan; Kenei Mabuni representing Shito-ryu; Hironori Ohtsuka representing Wado-ryu; and Gosei and Goshi Yamaguchi representing their father, Gogen and Goju-ryu.

Goshi Yamaguchi returned to Japan in 1966 to resume his studies. He also taught at various Goju-ryu dojos around the country.

In 1969, Goshi Yamaguchi graduated from Nihon University. He became a full-time instructor at the Hombu dojo.

Through the 1970s and 80s, Goshi Yamaguchi taught at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. Because he had good English he taught many of the international students that visited the dojo. In time he became the Chief Instructor of the dojo.

On 20 May 1989, Karate legend, Gogen (Jitsumi) Yamaguchi died in Tokyo, Japan. He was 80 years old. With Gosei Yamaguchi heading his own association in the United States, Gosen Yamaguchi became the head of the International Karatedo Gojukai Association (IKGA) and the All Japan Karate-Do Gojukai Association.

However, in 1990 Gosen Yamaguch suddenly died following a short illness, aged only 49 years old. With his death, Goshi Yamaguchi assumed the leadership of both associations.

For the next couple of years, Goshi Yamaguchi travelled the world giving demonstrations and seminars and promoting Goju-ryu Karate. Known for a very dynamic approach to his style of Karate, his demonstrations of Goju-ryu have proved to be very popular. His ultimate aim is to unite all Gojukai around the world.

Like his brothers, Gosei and Gosen, Goshi Yamaguchi has worked tirelessly to continue the legacy of their father, Gogen. Like his father, he has passed on his love for Karate to his own children. His son Gohei has decided to carry on the Yamaguchi legacy by following in the footsteps of his father.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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