Goju-Ryu Karate is unique in the world of martial arts. Where other schools of Karate have divided and detached into splinter groups, Goju-Ryu has remained the closest to the original teachings of its two main contributors.
Goju-Ryu Karate is very well defined in its history and lineage. From Kanryo Higa(shi)onna (1853-1915), to Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953), the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate, to O' Sensei Richard Kim (1917-2001) the founder of the International Butokukai, largely responsible for the spread of Goju-Ryu internationally. Goju-Ryu is distinctive in that it has remained largely unchanged from its original Chinese combative roots .
In 1937, Chojun Miyagi appointed Gogen Yamaguchi to head the progression of Goju-Ryu on mainland Japan. Yamaguchi, because of his Japanese birth was appointed by the ButokuKai as the head of Goju-Ryu with Miyagi as the head of its Okinawan branch. This lead to the rapid growth and popularity of Goju-Ryu throughout mainland Japan.
The naming of Goju-Ryu came more by accident than by intention. Shinzato Jin'an, who was Miyagi's senior student at the time, gave a public demonstration while in Japan. When asked what this unique style of self-defense was called, Shinzato could not answer as the Okinawan masters did not identify their arts into specific schools or styles as the Japanese had done for centuries. Upon his return to Okinawa, he discussed with Miyagi what had transpired and Miyagi decided it was necessary to have a name for his art in order to cooperate with other Japanese martial arts and to identify his unique style. He was the first of the Okinawan masters to name his art. Although he named his art Goju-Ryu, he seldom used the name nor did he raise any signs using it. Though there are much deeper meanings, Goju-Ryu can be literally be translated as "Hard (go - yang Chinese) and Soft (ju - Yin Chinese) School".
Because of Okinawa Goju-Ryu's 400 years of traceable, unbroken history, in 1998 the Dai Nippon ButokuKai, the society that governs all Japanese and Okinawan martial arts in Japan, recognized Okinawa Goju-Ryu as the ONLY form of Karate, Japanese or Okinawan, as an ancient martial art. Placing Goju-Ryu alongside other Japanese arts like jujutsu and kenjutsu which have lineages dating back 900 years is a huge accomplishment. Secondly, since Karate is Okinawan by birth makes such an honor within Japanese society that much more impressive.
Goju-Ryu's history is a culmination of the native "di" (te - Japanese) arts of Okinawa which date back over 1000 years influenced by the introduction of Chinese kempo in the 14th century as well as other arts from around Eastern Asia. Even more important was the the direct studies by Higaonna and Miyagi on mainland China in numerous armed, unarmed and healing arts over a combined period of about 20 years.