The man who created the foundation of modern karate01

Birth of the Greatest Master

Karate is practiced by many people all over the world. When you searched for the sources of the various styles of karate, you can found a certain Karate master. The master’s name was “Matsumura Soukon". He was the greatest martial artist of the last days of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and at the same time the greatest master of karate history.

Shureimon Gate of Shurijo Castle.

“Matsumura Soukon" was born in 1809 to a samurai family living in Shuri, the Kingdom of Ryukyu. Ever since he was a child, he loved learning martial arts. Legend has it that he learned the Ryukyu martial art ”Tee” from the great master “Sakugawa Kanga". However, this theory has not been confirmed due to lack of documentation.

When he came of age, he became an official of the Ryukyu Kingdom and was sent to Satsuma in Kyushu. Satsuma was a very powerful clan and a martial arts superpower. And it was also the power that ruled the Ryukyu Kingdom. In this era, it was a very dangerous mission for Ryukyu people to go to Satsuma. But with the martial arts skills he learned as a child and his mental strength, he did a fine job.

During this time, he learned Satsuma’s secret swordsmanship, the “Satsuma Jigen-ryu". The teaching of “Satsuma Jigen-ryu", “Kill the opponent with the first slash. No second attack." had a great influence on his thinking about martial arts.

The skills of “Satsuma Jigen-ryu" was very advanced and strong. These were secret techniques passed down only among the samurai of Satsuma, and they were not allowed to be taught to outsiders. Matsumura, who was an official of the Ryukyu Kingdom, was taught this technique by a samurai of Satsuma, probably because he was a very talented and sincere person.

View from Shuri Castle.

After returning to the Ryukyu Kingdom, he was dispatched to Qing (China) as an official. Not only was he a martial artist, but he was also a very good diplomat. There is a legend that at this time he went to China with his master “Sakugawa Kanga" to practice Chinese martial arts, but there are many unknown points about this theory. However, at the time it is certain that he learned Chinese martial arts in Qing Dynasty.

Many researchers wonder which style of Chinese martial arts he learned. It was probably one of the martial arts practiced around Fujian, China. It is said that his master’s name was “I-wa", but this has not been confirmed either.

He was dispatched twice to China and twice to Satsuma on diplomatic assignments. During that time, he learned a lot of martial arts, and was doing trial and error to reinvent the traditional Ryukyu martial arts"Tee".