History Of Okinawan Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito Karate-do
Matsumura Sokon Shinshii , Orginator of System
The Matsumura legacy began with a man named Kiyo Sokon. Born in the year 1809 in Yamagawa Village of Shuri, Okinawa, Kiyo began his study of the martial arts under an old master named Satunuky "Tode" Sakugawa when he was fourteen years old. Oral tradition has it that Sakugawa was asked by Kiyo's father to train his son. Kiyo trained under Sakugawa until the old masters death. Reportedly this was for a period of approximately four years.
Later on Kiyo was recruited into the service of the Sho Dynasty and was given the title "Satunuky", then "Chikutoshinunjo" or "Chikudon". Of course he was also given the title "Bushi"(warrior or gentleman warrior). These were all titles given to Okinawan Samurai for their services to the king. Upon Kiyo's recruitment King Sho Ko wanted him to change his name(this was customary back then, especially if something notable happened to you)and suggested the name "Muramatsu"(Village Pine). Kiyo requested that he be allowed to change the name to "Matsumura"(Pine Village). The King agreed and so the Matsumura name was born.
Matsumura is said to have traveled to China and trained in the Shaolin temple. He is also said to have trained with other Chinese masters such as Iwah, Wai Shin Zan and Chinto, all of whose teachings influenced the developement of his system and did much to further the development of Shuri-te. Keeping with tradition, a close family member was to be selected to carry on the teachings of Matsumura's personal system. His grandson Nabi Matsumura was chosen to be his successor. Bushi died in the year 1901. (some sources say the Matsumura was actually born in 1797 and died in 1889. His exact birth and death dates are not known for sure. Some say Soken Sensei recalled meeting the old man a few times, which would support the theory about the later birth and death. Others say that Soken had said that he was born in the same year as Matsumura died. It's hard to tell exactly.)
Matsumura Nabe Shinshii
Not much is known about Nabi Matsumura. His exact birth and death dates are not known for sure, but it is believed that he was born somewhere around the 1850's and died around the 1930's. It is said that he was responsible for bringing the old Shorin secrets into the modern age. His name doesn't appear on most lineage charts, possibly because he was known as a very strict teacher and preferred to teach mainly family members. Nabi is the most enigmatic of all the masters of this system. It is said that he wanted it to be that way. He was content to let others have the glory while he remained in obscurity. Nabi's wife and children had died so he chose as his successor his nephew, Hohan Soken.
Hohan Soken Shinshii May 1889-Nov/Dec 1982
Hohan Soken was born in the year 1889 and died in the year 1982. He was born a Samurai and was known for many years as the oldest living karate master. For this reason he was known as "The Last Samurai". During the Meiji Restoration Period Okinawa's Samurai Class fell upon hardtimes. Despite their noble heritage Soken and his family were forced into menial labor along with the commoners. Nabi kept a close eye on young Soken, however, and seeing his potential told him that if he could demonstrate the patience and discipline befitting of his Samurai heritage, he would train him in the family art of te. Young Soken quickly accepted and Nabi began training him in the fundamentals of the Matsumura system. This was around 1902 or 1903 when Soken was around fourteen years old. This basic training went on for the next ten years until finally, Nabi was convinced that Soken was ready to begin his training in Hakutsuru. (around 1913)
Around 1919 to 1922 Soken Sensei left Okinawa and went to Negro, Argentina to "find his fortune". He remained in Argentina for nearly thirty years, during which time he gained a mastery of the Spanish language. He worked as a photographer and in the clothes cleaning business. It is known that he had several students there although it is not known who they were. But they did several demonstrations. He returned to Okinawa in 1952 to find that in the nearly thirty years that had passed karate had greatly changed. The old way that he was taught and practiced had been replaced with soft sport style karate. He refused to change his karate as he valued himself as the last of the Old Masters. He refused to join the fashionable karate organizations that had left the old ways behind. At first he didn't have any students, but eventually opened a small dojo. Originally he called his system Machimura Suidi(Matsumura Shurite) but around 1956 he officially changed the name to Shorin Ryu Matsumura Orthodox Karate-do. He retired from formal teaching in 1978. There are many styles today that have roots in the Matsumura system, but the only style that has remained the closest to the original Matsumura karate was the Matsumura Orthodox as taught by Soken Hohan Sensei.
Shihan Charles D. Garrett II
Charles D. Garrett II, practitioner of Okinawan Shorin-ryu Matsumura Seito Karate-do since Oct 1970. Very fortunate that Ted Lange Shinshii brought Master Soken to Yozadake Airstation. I was direct Seito under Hohan Soken Sensei for a two year time period. Shihan Charles opened first Soken Hohan's Self-Defense Dojo in California, Dec 1972, first seito Richard Lopez. Second Seito and Senior today Carl May Sensei since 1974. Sensei Charles knows some weapons katas taught to him directly from Soken Sensei such as (naginata kata). Everyone that had seen my super 8, turned vhs thought it was bo kata. Sorry look closer and one will find Naginata kata. I only put my name upon this page as continueing practitioner. BY NO MEANS AM I OR EVER WILL BE EQUAL TO THE ABOVE KARATE MASTERS OF MATSUMURA SHORIN-RYU KARATE.