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Master Peter Urban

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Master Peter Urban
USA Goju/Urban Goju

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  • All Start At The Bottom
    Master Urban's Dojo Creed

     Master Peter Urban was a student of the following karate Masters: Gogen Yamaguchi of Goju Kai, Richard Kim of the Butokukai, and Mas Oyama of Kyokushinkai. Although his teaching was closely and primarily related to that of the late Gandmaster Yamaguchi's Japanese Goju Ryu style, Sensei Urban also injected the teachings from Master Kim, and Master Oyama to form the USA Goju and later became the Urban Goju.
      He was singularly responsible for the introduction of Goju Ryu to American, and the propagation of the American Goju Ryu in the United States. No doubt in anyone's mind that Master Urban was the father of American Goju Karate. He was the grand patriarch of all American Goju systems. It's appropriate and well said when someone coined the phrase "He is the 'George Washington' of the American Goju systems."
      At the age 18 a young man named Peter Urban enlisted in the U.S. Navy. While he stationed in Okinawa, he first became a disciple of Richard Kim in 1953. Later Kim introduced him to Gogen Yamaguchi and Mas Oyama to further his studies while he had a chance to travel to Tokyo in 1954.
      Under Goju Kai, he earned his 6° Black Belt from Master Yamaguchi. In 1959 he left Japan with his Japanese wife Meiko for America. After spending a brief period of time in his home town Union City, New Jersey, he found a dojo on 20 E 17 St in Manhattan and established his martial arts root in New York City. In 1967 he opened the famous Chinatown Dojo in a predominantly Oriental neighborhood of the city. It is believed that during this period he forged the beginning of the legendary American Goju. In the same year the American College of Dans was founded at Chinatown Dojo.
       The accounts of how it all began varies among the different factions of the American Goju styles. A few said it started in Union City, some said it started at E17 St, and many others said it started in Chinatown Dojo. Unfortunately the man who had the answer is no longer with us to settle the disputes. Perhaps, it's best to leave it unanswered as all legends are always full of mystery and controversy. However, Sensei Lau likes to point out one fact that most, if not all, of his issued documents and ceritifcates signed off as "Urban of Chinatown" long after he had moved out of Chinatown seems to support that it was during the Chinatown Dojo era when all emerged. Obviously Chinatown Dojo was something special to him. Not until late '78 he began to signed off as "Urban of the United Sons of Goju International" on his issued certificates. 
       According to Sensei Lau's account, during the period of Chinatown Dojo at 232 Canal St, Master Urban called his style USA Goju, his students in white gi with the USA Goju patch in the front and "Butokukai" patch in the back, only he himself in black gi. In 1968 he moved his dojo to 22 Wooster St, New York City, and he called the new dojo "Little Tokyo". Because of some marital issues with his wife Meiko, he went back to Japan. After his return from this re-visit trip to Japan, he changed all his students' gi to black, and proclaimed himself a 10th dan, hanshi of USA Goju. Rumors among the students on the floor said that while he was visiting in Japan, he had an argument with his own sensei, and he broke away from Goju Kai. Very much later in a casual conversion, Sensei Lau learned from Master Urban himself that Master Yamaguchi wouldn't give him the director/chairship (lack of better term) of Goju Kai organization in USA, because he wanted to give it to his eldest son "Gosei". Master Urban argued that it was he who brought Goju to USA, and he should be given a consideration for the position, but Master Yamoguchi didn't want to hear any of it.
      In 1971 upon his return to New York from a brief retreat in South Jersey, he opened his Shanghai Dojo at 1 Crosby St, New York City with the help of Sensei Vincent Flores, Sensei Tony Lau, Sensei David Lee and other Chinese black belt alumni of Chinatown Dojo. Later of the same year he changed his personal teaching branch to Urban Goju, while he allowed the existing branches of dojo continued to call themselves USA Goju. In 1977 he set sail to Italy for his first installation of his style oversea, which marked the beginning of his international voyage.
   


Young Urban
(Foreground in horse stance)


Young Master Urban with
Master Yamaguchi


Early days fighting match between masters
Urban & Nagle


Early days fighting match between masters
Urban & Nagle

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