The first karate master

“Too Dee Sakugawa"

In the history of Ryukyuan martial arts, including karate, “Sakugawa Kanga" was the first person to be specifically mentioned by name. “Sakugawa Kanga" was born in the latter half of the 18th century to the Teruya family, a military man who lived in Shuri, the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

He learned martial arts from an early age, but there are many unknowns about what kind of martial arts the Ryukyu soldiers practiced during this period. There is a legend that “Sakugawa Kanga" when he was young was taught by a military instructor ”Kousou-kun" who came from China, but the exact story is unknown.

“Sakugawa Kanga" liked to practice martial arts and was very good academically. Therefore, he went to China to study at the king’s order. During his journey, the ship he was on was attacked by pirates, but legend has it that he bravely fought off the pirates with his stick.

“Sakugawa Kanga" studied in China’s top universities and practiced various Chinese martial arts at the same time. According to legend, his master’s name was “I-wah", but the truth is unknown. After completing his studies, he returned to the Ryukyu Kingdom and worked for the government. He combined the Chinese martial arts he learned with the ancient Ryukyu martial arts techniques to create a new martial art.

There are many ambiguous parts in these stories, and opinions are divided among researchers. There is also a study that it was impossible to study at the highest educational institution in China from the “Teruya" family where “Sakugawa Kanga" was born. Not all his legends are true. But not all lies. At the beginning of the 19th century, a man named “Sakugawa Kanga" certainly lived. And it’s true that he was a master of martial arts. He combined the unique Ryukyuan martial arts he learned from an early age with Chinese martial arts techniques and training methods. It is certain that Ryukyu martial arts evolved from this and became the prototype of current karate.

“Watashi no Karatejutsu" By Motobu Choki

Karate master “Motobu Choki" wrote in his book, “After Senei Sakugawa, there is no one on the same level. he was a man to be admired and his ability was the best."

“Watashi no Karatejutsu" By Motobu Choki
I drew the red line. The strength of master Sakugawa is written here.

Even before “Sakugawa Kanga", there was martial arts in Ryukyu. In the Edo period travelogue “SatsuYu Kiko", there is a record of samurai who came to Ryukyu and saw bare-handed martial arts. The record featured a martial arts master breaking tiles with his fist. It’s interesting that this is similar to today’s karate. However, those techniques were not yet sophisticated.

“Sakugawa Kanga" not only created a new martial art, but also trained many excellent disciples. Without him, Karate would have been different. Karate might have been lost. Many of the Karate skills that survive today were passed down by his disciples. His achievements were so great that many people call him “Too dee-Sakugawa". “Too dee” is an old name for karate. The history of Karate began after him, and he is karate itself.


Posted by Japan-budo