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Sokon Matsumura (?? ??, Matsumura Sokon?) was one of the original Karate masters of Okinawa. His life is reported variously as (c.1809-1901) or (1798-1890) or (1809-1896) or (1800-1892)
Sokon Matsumura was born in Yamagawa Village, Shuri, Okinawa. Matsumura began the study of karate under the guidance of Kanga Sakukawa (1762-1843) or (1733-1815) or (1782-1837). Sakukawa was an old man at the time and reluctant to teach the young Matsumura, who was regarded as something of a troublemaker. However, Sakukawa had promised Sofuku Matsumura, Sokon Matsumura’s father, that he would teach the boy, and thus he did. Matsumura spent five years studying under Sakukawa. As a young man, Matsumura had already garnered a reputation as an expert in the martial arts.
Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Royal Okinawan Sho family in 1816 and received the title Shikudon, a gentry rank. He began his career by serving the 17th King of the Ryukyu Sho dynasty, King Sho Ko. In 1818 he married Yonamine Chiru, who was a martial arts expert as well. Matsumura eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King Sho Ko. He subsequently served in this capacity for the last two Okinawan Kings, Sho Iku and Sho Tai. Matsumura not only became the chief martial arts instructor but an official of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Matsumura traveled on behalf of the Royal Ryukyu government to Fuchou and Satsuma ( twice each). He studied Chuan Fa in China as well as other martial arts and brought what he learned back to Okinawa.
He was the first to introduce the principles of Satsuma's swordsmanship Jigen-ryu into Ryukyu kobujutsu and he is credited with creating the foundation for the bojutsu of Tsuken. He passed on Jigen-ryu to some of his students, including Anko Asato and Itarashiki Chochu. The Tsuken Bo tradition was perfected by Tsuken Seisoku Uekata of Shuri.
Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin-ryu Kempo-karate known as Naihanchi I & II, Passai Dai (To Break a Fortress), Seisan (13 Pauses), Chinto, Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger), Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru. The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the Fujian White Crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kempo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time, is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin-ryu Karate today.
Teachings of Bushi Matsumura
Matsumura was given the title "Bushi" meaning "warrior" by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. Described by Gichin Funakoshi as a sensei with a terrifying presence, Matsumura was never defeated in a duel, though he fought many. Tall, thin, and possessing a pair of unsettling eyes, Matsumura was described by his student Anko Itosu as blindingly fast and deceptively strong. His martial arts endeavors have been the progenitor of many contemporary karate styles: Shorin-ryu, Shotokan, and Shito-ryu, for example. Ultimately, all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura.