The IOGKF was founded by Hanshi Morio Higaonna (Okinawan Gojuryu 10th Dan) in 1979 in Poole, UK, with the purpose of preserving true Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate for future generations of karate practitioners. The move to form the IOGKF was backed by some of the most senior students of the late Chojun Miyagi Sensei.

In the decades since its founding, the IOGKF had become one of the most influential karate organisations in the world while remaining true to its creed. This was achieve under the leadership of Morio Higaonna Sensei and countless other members of the organisation whose enthusiam for and dedication to karate continues to inspire others to excel.

Today the IOGKF has more than 90,000 registered members spanning the globe, with schools located in most regions of the world (Refer to for countries with IOGKF schools). The IOGKF is a professional organization that has taught students with different backgrounds and needs, ranging from school children to working adults, karate national team members, as well as the armed forces (e.g., the UK, the former Soviet Union, Russian Federation, Moldova and Israeli armed forces, to name a few).

Since 1997 Hanshi Higaonna Morio and the IOGKF have been members of the prestigious and exclusive Nihon Kobudo Kyokai (Japanese Traditional Marital Arts Association).   Hanshi Higaonna Morio is the sole representative of the Okinawan Goju-Ryu style within the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai.

In 2012 Morio Higaonna Sensei handed over the postion of Chief Instructor of the IOGKF to Tetsuji Nakamura Sensei.