Goju-Ryu is a system of Karate (空手) originating in the Okinawa (沖縄) prefecture of Japan, nearly two hundred years ago.
Characterized by it's primary usage of hand techniques performed from the upright Sanchin (三戦) stance, the system's training methods, applications, and kata demonstrate a focus on short to medium range fighting, with an emphasis on standing grappling and fighting "in the clinch".
As the name "Karate" (empty-hand) implies, Goju-Ryu is strictly an empty hand system. At the Burinkan, like many Okinawan dojo, Okinawan Kobudo (古武道) (a multi-weapon art) is also taught to complete the student's learning.
Goju-Ryu's formation can be traced back to Higashionna Kanryo (東恩納寛量)(b.1853-d.1915), an Okinawan who traveled to southern China as a young man. While in China, Higashionna Kanryo studied an undisclosed martial art style (or styles) in the city of Fuzhou (福州市). Upon his return to Okinawa, he combined the Southern Chinese martial arts he learned, with the indigenous "Te" (martial arts, lit. "hand"), which had yet to be developed into formal styles. Higashionna Kanryo taught a number of students this hybrid style, which became known as "Naha-Te" (那覇手, "the martial art of Naha city"), to differentiate the art from the styles developing in the Shuri and Tomari areas of Okinawa.
Miyagi Chojun (宮城長順)(b.1888-d.1953) became one of Higashionna's most dedicated students, learning the entire art of Naha-te. Upon his teacher's death, Miyagi traveled to Fuzhou several times in order to further research the arts of his teacher. Miyagi continued to refine and expand the system of his teacher, eventually labeling his expression of the art "Goju-Ryu".
Miyagi had many students, including Higa Seiko (比嘉世幸), Yagi Meitoku (八木明徳), Miyazato Ei'ichi (宮里栄一), and Toguchi Seikichi (渡口政吉). Training under Miyagi was said to be extremely severe, with the majority of the training focused on the development of the body, as well as focused practice on Sanchin kata. Few kata were taught in those days, with each student learning Sanchin, and only one or two additional kata.
A successor was not named by Miyagi, and upon his death the senior students disbanded, creating their own schools.