Peter Urban (karate)

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Peter Urban
Born(1934-08-14)August 14, 1934
Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
DiedApril 7, 2004(2004-04-07) (aged 69)
Massachusetts, United States
StyleGōjū-ryū Karate
Teacher(s)Richard Kim, Gogen Yamaguchi, Masutatsu Oyama
Rank6th Dan Japanese Gōjū-ryū Karate; 10th Dan Founder of American Gōjū-ryū Karate

Peter George Urban (August 14, 1934 – April 7, 2004) was an American Martial Art Science Philosopher, Poet-Warrior and Innovative Leader. He was called "The George Washington of American Karate" by Kick Illustrated Magazine, October and November 1981 and founder of the karate style named American GōJū Ryū Karate Do. Urban was one of only a small number of "white" students under Gōgen Yamaguchi, an early GōJū Ryū Sensei, Practitioner, Instructor and head of the style organization, The GoJu Kai. Controversially, Urban created an American style of Gōjū-ryū without the permission of Yamaguchi who did not allow Sensei Urban to represent Japanese Karate in America as his head representative.

Early life[edit]

Urban was born in Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, on August 14, 1934. He lived a short while in Altoona, Pennsylvania, then was raised and educated in Union City, New Jersey, where as a boy he shined shoes and delivered the local newspaper, The Hudson Dispatch. At this point in his life he had shown an acute interest in the Martial Art Science of Jujutsu and American Boxing. He graduated from Emerson High School in Union City, NJ in 1952 and thereafter joined the United States Military.[1]

US Navy duty in Japan[edit]

After joining the United States Navy in 1952 he was trained as an intelligence officer and sent to and stationed in Yokohama, Japan. That year he became a Karate student of Richard Kim, in 1953. One year later, Urban was transferred to Tokyo which was too far from Yokohama to continue his training with Kim, so Kim introduced Urban to teachers Masutatsu Oyama and Gogen Yamaguchi. In 1954, Yamaguchi accepted Urban as his student. Urban trained with Oyama, in 1955.[2][3] In 1957, Urban opened a small Dojo in Tokyo, Japan, he then became the first westerner to compete in the All Japan College Karate Championships. In 1958, Urban met and married Mieko Ito.[1][3]

Return to the US[edit]

In 1959, Urban moved to America and opened his first Urban GōJu Ryū DoJo on 13th Street and Summit Avenue in Union City, N.J. The following year he shared a school in Manhattan with the JuDo Twins on 17th Street. Urban was responsible for establishing structured tournaments with the use of a point system in America. The first of these was the 1st North American Karate Championships held at Madison Square Garden in 1962.[4]

1964 visit to Japan[edit]

In 1963-64, Urban traveled back to Japan to ask Yamaguchi for permission to create an official GoJu Ryu club in America. Yamaguchi told him "no" stating that "according to Bushido that no white man can achieve nirvana". This response angered Urban who also quoted Bushido relaying "that according to Bushido Japan can never lose a war". This statement offended Yamaguchi, and the relationship between the men fell apart.[1] Urban returned to America and incorporated American GoJu Ryu without permission. The next year Sensei Urban would self-publish his now famous, "The Karate DoJo," and by the beginning of the following year he would incorporate as, "Peter Urban Karate Inc." and would establish "USA GoJu Karate," as his DBA.

Back in the US[edit]

Urban continued to work under Richard Kim[5] and the BuTokuKai but later went on to form his own U.S.A. GoJu Association (U.S.A.G.A) which is still in operation today.

Several students have been given permission by Urban to teach and continue to propagate the Urban System. However, the USA GoJu Organization has been fragmented into many factions and divisions due to infighting.

As per Sensei Urban's wishes expressed in his last will and testament, in 2006 Edward J Verycken was "elected" President by a Senate of Tenth Dans and a House composed of the remaining Ninth Dans available. The new Presiding Minister of the then fledgling USA GoJu Karate Organization had difficulties in banding together the several segments of the present leadership. Several years later with growing concerns for his health and a great discord among the membership, Sensei Edward J Verycken would retire and appoint Claudio Gonzalez as President of the Organization, handing him all the documents, essential paperwork and membership information which had been given to him by Sensei Urban. President Gonzalez would then appoint Sensei F Montalban as the newly commissioned Vice President of the Organization. A few months later Sensei Claudio Gonzalez would resign, leaving Sensei Montalban as interim President. The following year Raymond Hermann was appointed Ninth Dan and Executive Custodian of Information and Protocol by Senior Shihan Edward J. Verycken and was given full reign and control of USAGA/AAGIKA along with its Board Members in order to deny President Montalban control of the organization,, where it remains today divided and in dispute.


Urban died of natural causes on April 7, 2004, at the age of 69. At the time of his death he was working on opening a new karate DoJo in Massachusetts.


  1. ^ a b c History of GoJu
  2. ^ Senior Students of Kim Archived 2013-02-01 at
  3. ^ a b Urban-Kimmerley, Julia L. "Grandmaster, Peter George Urban, Ph. D." (PDF). Nisei Goju-Jitsu. Retrieved 2015-02-21. External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ GoJu Ryu History
  5. ^ Peter Urban Biography Archived 2013-02-01 at

External links[edit]