Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura

Sokon Matsumura

Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura, close advisor to three Ryukyuan kings, provided many of the foundations for the Karate-Do studied today. He was noted for his study of the physical as well as metaphysical disciplines, and emphasized the importance of balancing physical development with moral education. he deeply embraced Confucianism and was also known for his mastery of the fine art of calligraphy. The following text was from a scroll written to his prominent student, Ryosei Kuwae, illustrating a basic aim of karate - that "spirit and technique are one."

"Make a firm resolution to master the secrets of martial arts, otherwise go away. you must have firm determination to accomplish the resolution.

The sword and the pen are but one. Literature consists of poetry, exegetics, and Confucianism. A student of poetry works at words and produces sentences in order to seek fame, peerage and fief. A student of exegetics studies Chinese classics to instruct people. He may make a scholar but ignorant of the world. Poetry and exegetics only make people woo fame, thus they are not the true art. Confucianism, however , makes us understand the nature of things. By the teachings on knowledge, honesty, and righteousness one may not only be able to manage a household but govern a country. Thus peace will reign over the land. These are Confucian ideas, the true art.

In the case of martial arts , there are three kinds of pursuers. A scholar pictures many ways of training in his mind so that his moves become like movements of dance; superficial and of no practical use for offense and defense. A normal student of martial arts is a good promiser of victory, but a bad performer. A dispute caused by such a man will harm people as well as himself. It will even bring disgrace upon his parents, brothers and sisters. The true pursuer of martial arts, however, does not idle away his time but accomplishes his talk ingeniously. He controls his mind and watches for a chance. His calm arouses a disturbance among enemies. He then grabs this chance and defeats the enemy. Everything ripens and the mystery of nature shows its secret to the master of martial arts, who has no hesitation or disturbance in his mind even in case of emergency. The power of a tiger and the swiftness of an eagle dwell within him. He defeats enemies completely and shows his loyalty and filial piety.

There are seven virtues in martial arts: the prohibition of violence, the control of soldiers, the support for peoples need, the establishment of distinguished services, the relief of the poor, the settlement of disputes among people and the enrichments of assets. As seen in his teachings, Confucius also praised these virtues. Thus the sword and the pen are one, whereas the scholar's martial arts and the ostensible martial arts are useless. Therefore study the true literary and martial arts. Be sure to watch for a chance and then strike into the enemy. Keep the above words in mind and practice hard. I wish you understand my unreserved words."

Takenaga (Bucho) Matsumura

                                                     To Kuwae, my fellow pupil on the thirteenth day of May (c.1882)


Sokon Matsumura Memorial Site, Okinawa

sokongrave2.jpg (92835 bytes)


The inscription on the memorial reads:


The originator of Okinawan Karate and Shurite.

He was born in Yamagawa, Shuri.

His Chinese name was Seitatsu Bu.

He called himself Unyu, or Takenaga.

He was excellent in martial arts from childhood, and won a worldwide reputation of a great master. He was remarkable for both wisdom and valor, devoting himself to the spirit that both literary and martial arts are one.

He served three reigns as a personal guard of the Royal descendants of King Shoen; the seventeenth, King Shoko; the eighteenth, King Shoiku and the nineteenth King Shotai.

December in the 12th year of Heisei (2000 AD)

Descendants of the Matsumuras


Raised on an auspicious day in November in the year 2000. 


Reprinted from  North American Beikoku Shido-Kan 25th Anniversary Celebration Commemorative Journal


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