Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi was a legend in karate. Few karate practitioners have had the kind of influence that he had. He was born Jitsumi Yamaguchi on January 21st, 1909 in Kagoshima prefecture in Japan. He began training in several martial arts in his younger years and then started learning karate in 1923.
In 1929, Gogen Yamaguchi entered Ritsumeikan University majoring in law studies. He started up a karate club at the university. Gogen Yamaguchi met Chojun Miyagi Sensei for the first time in 1931. He continued to train with Miyagi Chojun Sensei and was awarded a teaching license by Miyagi Sensei in 1937. In fact, the name “Gogen” was also given to Yamaguchi Sensei by Miyagi Sensei at this time.
After returning from a prisoner of war camp in 1947, Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei found Japan in ruins. He decided to use karate to help rebuild Japan and to promote goodwill among people around the world. He opened the Asakusa dojo in 1949 and the All Japan Karate Gojukai was formed the following year. He attracted large numbers of students. He also attracted non-Japanese students and the spread of Goju began.
In 1961, Gosen Yamaguchi (the second son) went to San Francisco to enter university. He opened a dojo in San Francisco. In 1964 the first son, Gosei Yamaguchi, and then in the following year the third son, Goshi Yamaguchi, went to the US. In 1965, the International Karatedo Gojukai Association (IKGA) was formed.
Gogen Yamaguchi traveled to several countries to help promote Gojukai. He was also involved in the formation of the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF). As well, he established the Karate College in 1971. He brought together many top teachers from the various arts.
Gogen Yamaguchi Kaiso was very active in many areas in the 1970s and 1980s. He received various prestigious awards throughout his lifetime. He passed away on May 20th, 1989.
This is a brief outline of Gogen Yamaguchi’s biography. For a more complete picture, please watch the DVD titled: Karatedo Legend “The Cat” Gogen Yamaguchi.