Goju-ryu, meaning 'hard-soft school', was founded by the Okinawan, Chojun Miyagi, one of the few students of the great Kannryo Higoanna, a naha-te karate instructor.
Miyagi studied with him until Higoanna's death in 1915, the travelled to China to continue his studies of various forms of wushu, a Chinese martial art.
Upon his return to Okinawa, he merged his wushu teachings (soft) with his naha-te teachings (hard). He took the name'Goju' from a passage in the Bubishi (a handwritten book passed down from one generation of martial artists to the next). Like other Okinawans who were extremely competent, Miyagi was asked to teach his Goju style in Japan. He gtravelled from the island of Okinawa to Kyoto and other cities in the southern half of Japan, but found himself extremely homesick.
Gogen Yamaguchi was one of his last Japanese disciples and, before he returned to Okinawa, Miyagi passed Yamaguchi the mantle, letting him become his senior disciple in Japan. Yamaguchi created a different style of Goju. Gthe fundamentals were still there, but he gave it more of a Japanese influence and we now have two forms of Goju-ryu karate:Goju-ryu and Goju-kai. Yamaguchi placed a great deal of emphasis on internal strength. Both forms of Goju are well represented world wide.
Reproduced with kind permission from Chris Thompson.