Shorinryu Matsumura Seito--A Traditional Style of Okinawan KarateEarly Okinawan karate or Tode (Tuidi) as it was called owes its origin to a mixture of indigenous Okinawan fighting arts and various "foot-fighting" systems and empty hand systems of Southeastern Asia and China. The Okinawans, being a seafaring people, were in almost constant contact with mainland Asia. It is quite likely that Okinawan seaman visiting foreign ports of call may have been impressed with local fighting techniques and incorporated these into their own fighting methods. Interest in unarmed fighting arts greatly increased during the 14th century when King Sho Hashi of Chuzan established his rule over Okinawan and banned all weapons. More rapid development of Tode followed in 1609 when the Satsuma Clan of Kyushu, Japan occupied Okinawa and again banned the possession of weapons. Thus, Tode or Okinawan-te, as the Satsuma Clan soon called it, became the only means of protection left to the Okinawan. Thus it was this atmosphere that honed the early karate-like arts of Okinawa into such a weapon that they enabled the island people to carry on a guerrilla-type war with the Japanese Samurai that lasted unto the late 1800's. So, Tode or Okinawan-te developed secretly to keep the Japanese from killing the practitioners and the teachers of the deadly art. Tode remained underground until early 1900 when it was brought into the Okinawan school systems to be incorporated into physical education methods. Chatan Yara was one of the early Okinawan Masters of who some information exists. Some authorities place his birth in about 1670 in the village of Chatan, Okinawa; others place his birth at a much later date. In any case, he contributed much to Okinawan karate. He is said to have studied in China for 20 years. His techniques with the Bo and Sai greatly influenced Okinawan Kobudo. His kata, "Chatan Yara no Sai", "Yara Sho no Tonfa", and "Chatan Yara no Kon" are widely practiced today. Most modern styles of karate can be traced back to the famous Satunuku Sakugawa (1733-1815) called "Tuidi Sakugawa". Sakugawa first studied under Peichin Takahara of Shun. Later Sakugawa went to China to train under the famous KuSanku. KuSanku has been a military attaché in Okinawa. Upon Master KuSanku's return to China, Sakugawa followed him and remained in China for 6 years. In 1762 he returned to Okinawa and introduced his Kempo; this resulted in the karate we know today. Sakugawa became a famous Samurai; he was given the title of Satunuku or Satonushi; these were titles given to Samurai for service to the King. Sakugawa has many famous students; among them were: Chikatosinunjo Sokon Matsumura Satunuku Makabe (nickname: Mabai Changwa) Satunuku Ukuda (Bushi Ukuda) Chikuntonoshinunjo Matsumoto (Bushi Matsumoto) Kojo of Kumemura (Kugushiku of Kuninda) Yamaguchi of the East (Bushi Sakumoto) Usume (aged man) of Andaya (Iimundum) Sakugawa contributed greatly to Okinawan karate; we honor him today by continuing many of the concepts he introduced. Sakugawa' s greatest contribution was in teaching the great Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura. The development of Matsumura Orthodox Karate Bushi Matsumura (1797-1889) studied under Sakugawa for 4 years, He rapidly developed into a Samurai, He was recruited into the service of the Sho family and was given the title Satunuku, later rising to Chikutoshi, At some time during his career Bushi Matsumura was sent to China to train in the famous Shorinji (Shaolin Temple), He is alleged to have remained in China for many years, Upon his return to Okinawa, Matsumura established the Shuite or Suidi that later became known as Shorinryu. Shorinryu is the Okinawan-Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese writing characters called Sholin in China, In both languages Shorin or Shaolin means "pine forest", Ryu simply means "methods handed down" or methods of learning such as those of a school. Bushi Matsumura lived a long and colorful life, He fought many lethal contests; he was never defeated, He was the last Okinawan warrior to be given the title "Bushi", He contributed greatly to Okinawan Karate, He brought the "White Crane" (Hakutsuru) concept to Okinawa from the Shorinji in China, He passed on his menkyokaiden (certificate of full proficiency) to his grandson, Nabe Matsumura. Nabe Matsumura brought the old Shorinryu secrets into the Modern Age, His name does not appear in many karate lineage charts, He was alleged to be very strict and preferred to teach mainly family members, Not much information on him is available; his date of birth and death are unknown, He must have been born in the 1850's and died in the 1930's, He was called "Old Man Nabe" and is said to have been one of the top karate practitioners of this time, He passed on his menkyokaiden to his nephew Hohan Soken Hohan Soken was born in 1889; this was a time of great social changes in both Okinawa and Japan, The feudal system was giving way to modernization, This aristocracy was forced to work beside the peasants, Hohan Soken was born into a Samurai family; at an early age he chose to study his ancestors' art of Shorinryu under his uncle, Nabe Matsumura, At the age of 13 young Soken began his training, For 10 years Hohan Soken practiced the basics, At the age of 23, Soken began learning the secrets of Hakutsuru, So proficient did Hohan Soken become in the art that his uncle, Nabe, passed on the style of Shorinryu Matsumura Seito Karate-do to him. In the 1920's to 1945 Hohan Soken lived in Argentina, Upon his return to Okinawa the Matsumura Seito Karate-do style returned also, Soken saw that karate had greatly changed; sport karate had all but replaced the ancient methods, Soken did not change; he valued himself as the last of the old masters, He refused to join some of the more fashionable karate associations, He stayed with the old ways and did much to cause a rebirth of interest in Kobudo and the old Shorin ways, Master Soken retired from karate in 1978. For many years he was the oldest living and active karate master. Before his death in 1983, Master Soken bestowed the menkyo kaiden on one of his top students, Fusei Kise.
Shorinryu Matsumura Lineage
|Satonushi Sakugawa (1733-1815)||Studied in China under KuSanku, early founder of Shuri-te (Suide)|
|Satunuku Makabe||Student of Sakugawa, teacher of Bushi Matsumura|
|Sokon Matsumura (1797-1889)||Known as "Bushi" Samurai karate and kobudo expert, founder of Shorinryu karate.|
|Nabe Matsumura (Circa 1850 - Circa 1930)||Known as "Old Man Nabe", grandson of Sokon Matsumura.|
|Hohan Soken (May 25, 1889 to December 1983)||Great grandson of Bushi Matsumura, nephew of Nabe Matsumura, last of the old karate Masters.|
|Fusei Kise (Born May 4, 1935)||Founder of Shorinryu Kenshin Kan Karate-do, top student of Grandmaster Hohan Soken.|