The practice of martial arts has been a facet of Okinawan culture since the
beginning of recorded history. That tradition was as strong as ever five hundred
years ago, when the island of Okinawa served as an axis of trade and cultural
exchange between China and Japan. Chinese martial traditions merged with those
of Okinawa, and “kara te” (roughly translated “chinese hand”) was born. Soon the
word “kara” was re-interpreted to mean “empty,” and the tradition of
Chinese-influenced Okinawan empty-hand combat persisted and grew through
the centuries on the island.
First arriving during the Korean War, an American marine by the name of
Frank Van Lentin visited Okinawa for more than a decade, and pursued the study
of Goju-Ryu, one of the Okinawan styles of unarmed combat. After mastering that
style, Van Lentin asked his instructors for their leave to expand his purview of
martial arts into other traditions, which they happily gave. Before his return to the
U.S. in the mid-1960s, Van Lentin had studied uichi-ryu, ishin-ryu, kempo and
shorin-ryu. Once back in Syracuse, New York, Van Lentin founded the
Goshin-Do Karate-Do-Kyokai, which was an organization that attempted to bring
all of the newly migrated Okinawan styles in America under a single authority.
A student of Van Lentin’s during this time period was a man by the name
of Al Gossett, who had studied judo and jujitsu before achieving the rank of black
belt and opening his own school in the hybrid style that Van Lentin was teaching.
Sensei Gossett’s school teaching Sensei Van Lentin’s system of Goshin-Do.
However, in the early-70s, Van Lentin was unable to dedicate as much time to his
art as before due to continuing military service. Eventually, the vast majority of his
black belts chose to sever their official ties with Van Lentin’s Goshin-Do in order
to open their own schools. Al Gossett was among them. He formed Goshin-Ryu
Karate immediately after breaking away from Goshin-Do, and his first school
was in Kearney, New Jersey. Since then, the association has been split into
two due to unreconcilable difference. The tradition is being kept alive by the
'Goshin-Ryu Karate Association of NJ'. There are currently four schools that
embody the traditionan in which has been passed down through many generations.

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