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Kei Shin Martial Arts & Fitness

A Martial Arts, Fitness, & Personal Growth Training Facility 


Background of the Founders

The style or method of martial arts we teach is Goju. The style of Goju started developing in China when a young martial artist named Kanryo Higaonna desiring to learn the ways of the Chinese martial arts went to China. While Kanryo Higaonna was in China he met with a Chinese Master named Ryu Ryuku and began to study his methods of martial arts.

Kanryo Higaonna returned to Okinawa and started developing his system. The systems back in that time were named after the cities in which they were developed. That city was Naha which resulted in the style being known as Naha Te. One of Kanryo Higaonna's students named Chojun Miyagi then began to study with him until his passing. Chojun Miyagi then returned to China to learn more. He later returned to Okinawa continuing to teach and develop Naha Te. Naha Te was predominately a mixture of the White Crane and Chinese Kempo systems of martial arts. While many systems were either hard or soft systems. Chojun Miyagi's system had hard and soft elements to it. After some thought, he then decided to name it Goju. Go meaning "Hard" and Ju meaning "Soft". Miyagi later passed without an official successor to his style but not before he trained several great masters who all have continued teaching and developing their own systems.

One of the masters that trained directly and indirectly under Chojun Miyagi and his students was Gogen "The Cat" Yamaguchi. Gogen Yamaguchi then continued developing the system bringing it back to mainland Japan and set up his own organization called the Goju Kai now known as the International Karatedo Gojukai Association. Gojen Yamaguchi was credited with setting up some of the competition oriented aspects of the martial arts by introducing freestyle type sparring.

A sailor from New Jersey named Peter Urban was stationed in Japan during the 1950's. While Peter Urban was in Japan he began to study under three different masters. Those masters were Richard Kim, Mas Oyama, and Gogen Yamaguchi. Peter Urban eventually went back to the United States and began teaching the Japanese Goju System. Peter Urban eventually went back to Japan seeking permission to start a U.S.A Goju branch and it was shot down by Gogen Yamaguchi. Peter Urban then left the Japanese Goju System and decided to start his own system in the United States. Peter Urban had many ideas of his own for the system and eventually developed his own way. Peter Urban was one of the pioneers who helped develop modern karate. Peter Urban had many followers across the world of who are credited as the heads of their own organizations.

Stephen Phillips was directly and indirectly a student under Peter Urban. Stephen Phillips directly studied under Howard Moore, Phil Maldonato, John Austino Sr., Ric Pascetta and eventually under Peter Urban himself. Besides studying the Goju System, Stephen Phillips studied several other styles of martial arts (Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, Aikido, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and Okinawa Kobudo) to get a further understanding of the arts. Stephen Phillips obtained the rank of Seventh Degree Black Belt in Goju, First Degree Black Belt in Bill "Superfoot" Wallace's Kickboxing system, and also a Purple Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Besides those arts, he has also studied combatives in the military and also was a certified defensive tactics instructor, ground defense instructor, spontaneous knife defense instructor, and Pressure Point Control Tactics instructor for the State of South Carolina.


There are hundreds of different systems, associations, and methods of Goju that exist across the world. They generally fall into three different categories: Okinawa Goju, Japanese Goju, and U.S.A Goju.

The Okinawa style primarily use kata as their main focus. Many Okinawan styles (Miyagi based) until the more modern era didn't do freestyle sparring during their training. They would practice one step and three step sparring routines. The Okinawan styles would also do very heavy body conditioning drills as part of their training. The Okinawan styles trained specifically for self-defense purposes only which differentiated them from their Japanese counterparts (Yamaguchi based) who did completion on a regular basis. The differences included a higher stance and low kicks in the Okinawan style for the self-defense aspect versus the lower stances and higher kicks in the Japanese style which was used mainly in tournaments. The U.S.A. Goju Stys created by GrandMaster Urban to modernize the system. Grandmaster Urban changed many of the kata and came up with his own philosophies of how they should be done.

Our system of Goju has incorporated all three variations together. We still use the original 12 kata in our system as a base but we also have 2 forms that have very good bunkai (practical applications) that were created by GrandMaster Urban. Other aspects of our system rely on heavily stressing the basics of martial arts because if you are ever in a self-defense situation the basics are what you are using to defend yourself. Our style also incorporates a more technical ground defense as well as weapon defense system.


In this day and age, there is a lot changing in the martial arts systems. Some of the more modern systems are wanting to transition back to the traditional method of Goju and some are wanting to incorporate more modern training methods into their own systems. We are that bridge. We are the bridge in which we still use old school methods with modern applications. We pride ourselves in being the place where modern and tradition meet. Our organization known as The American Goju Karate Butoku Kai (American Hard/Soft Empty Martial Virtue Society) is here to help anyone who needs help doing the same. If you are looking to have assistance with your curriculum, learning new techniques, enhancing your dojo's ground & weapon defenses, and rank reviews feel free to contact us. For more information we can be reached at [email protected]. Also be on the lookout for our new YOUTUBE page (American Goju Karate Butoku Kai) for instructional videos.