top of page


Gogen Yamaguchi 

The Cat 

Gogen Yamaguchi, our founder and legend was born on 20th January 1909 in Kagushima, Japan. He was a descendant of the Samurai and one of the most complex figures to ever grace the World Karate stage.

As the chosen successor by Master Miyagi in 1953, Gogen Yamaguchi set about uniting Goju as one organisation, Gojukai., The martial arts fraternity in Japan bestowed upon him the honour of Grand Master, 10th Dan Hanshi and is therefore referred to as Kaiso, ‘Our Founder’.

His first Karate Dojo was established in Western Japan in 1930. Under his powerful leadership the Gojukai Karate system began to spread rapidly across the island nation. Gogen Yamaguchi was to radically alter the course of Karate. He wanted to allow greater freedom of movement and the idea that was born, was Kumite which is the Japanese term for ‘freestyle sparring’. This was developed into what we recognise as tournament Karate. In 1930, Gogen Yamaguchi succeeded in his efforts to have Karate admitted into Budokan, the official Government headquarters for Japanese Martial Arts.

After the Second World War, where he earned the title of ‘The Cat’, Gogen Yamaguchi returned to Japan after being held as a prisoner of war.

“I shall be happy if you understand that the essence of the Martial Arts is not the strength, not the art, but that which is hidden deep within yourself.”

He found his school had become badly disorganised in his absence, but with strength, honour and dignity he began to rebuild it according to the ancient ways. By doing this Gogen Yamaguchi re-affirmed his faith in the country’s basic traditions inherited from the Samurai. As a deeply spiritual man, Gogen Yamaguchi realised that Martial Arts required much sacrifice, effort and discipline and he would go into the mountains once a month to toughen himself spiritually and physically, using the powerful technique of Ibuki breathing. He stood for several hours under icy waterfalls to make his mind and spirit impenetrable to adverse physical conditions. Every year during the coldest part of winter Gogen Yamaguchi set off for two weeks of gruelling training in the snow-clad mountains. Every day he performed Kata Sanchin and Tensho under the thunderous waterfall of Mount Kuruma. At the end of his daily waterfall training session he ran barefoot up the hill to the Ontake Shrine to meditate.

Until his death in 1989, Kaiso Gogen Yamaguchi lived as a true warrior and IKGA Africa is fortunate to still experience his ancient techniques and traditions through his son,our president, Saiko Shihan Goshi Yamaguchi.

IKGA is the only organization with a direct bloodline to Gogen Yamaguchi.

The truth of our Goju Kai Founder

bottom of page