Matsumura Chikudun Pechin "Bushi" Sokon

Matsumura Sokon, later known as "bushi", was born into a well known family in Shuri, Okinawa and named Kyo Sokon. When he was appointed chief boydgaurd to King Sho Ko he was allowed to change his name as was the custom at the time. At this point he became Matsumura Sokon. A later Okinawan king, Sho Tai, gave hum the affectionate title "Bushi".1

The exact period of Matsumura's life is difficult to pin down. We can reach some conclusions based on the writings of his students and associates. Shoshin Nagamine puts Matsumura's 88th birthday taking place in 1897 so we can conclude that he was born in 1809. Katsuya Miyahara places his death at 92 which make the year ofhis death as 1901.

"Bushi" Matsumura is the great-grandfather of the karate movement that grew up around Shuri and enjoys a reputation as Okinawa's Miyamoto Musashi. As a child he learned the principles of the indigenous Okinawan self-defense system, ti, like most local children. While working as a bodyguard for three Okinawan kings (Sho Ko, Sho Iku and Sho Tai) he had the opportunity to travel twice to Fuchou where he studied Chinese boxing styles and studied with the gongfu master Iwah. Finally, Matsumura is known to have traveled to Japan where he studied kobudo with the Satsuma clan and received his menkyo (teaching certificate) in Jigen Ryu ken jutsu, (the martial style of the Satsuma Samurai, from Ijuin Yashichiro. Matsumura synthesized the traditional Okinawan self-defense system, Chinese gongfu and boxing systems and Jigen Ryu into what, in 1927, would become known as Shuri-te.

After retiring from service to the Okinawan royal family Matsumura set up his own school in Sakiyama village, Shuri. His principal students included Itosu Anko, Yabu Kentsu, Hanashiro Chomo, Kyan Chotoku, Funakoshi Gichin and Matsumura Nabe.

Matsumura's wife enjoyed a reputation as fearsome as her husband's. She was a well known fan of sumo, arm wrestling and weight lifting contests. Prior to meeting her future husband she regularly challenged would be suitors to physical contests. An apocryphal story related to author Mark Bishop had her lifting a 130 pound bag of rice with one hand just so she could sweep under it.

1 "Bushi" in this sense is different from the traditional Japanese meaning, "warrior". In Okinawa the term implies a strong sense of honor and propriety that would be better translated "gentleman warrior".


Bishop, Mark. Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques

McCarthy, Patrick. Bubishi: The Bible of Karate.