Sokon Matsumura (c.1809-1896), was born in Yamagawa Village, in Shuri, Okinawa. Matsumura began the study of karate under the guidance of Tode Sakukawa (1762-1843). Sakugawa was an old man at the time and reluctant to teach the young Matsumura, who was regarded as something of a troublemaker. Matsumura spent five years studying under Sakugawa.


Matsumura was recruited into the service of the Royal Okinawan Sho family in 1816. He began his career by serving the 17th King of the Ryukyu Sho dynasty, King Sho Ko. Matsumura eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King Sho Ko.

Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura

Matsumura traveled on behalf of the Royal Ryukyu government to Fuchou and Satsuma (twice each). He studied Chuan Fa in China as well as other martial arts and brought what he learned back to Okinawa.


Matsumura is credited with passing on the kata or formal exercises of Shorin-ryu Kempo-karate known as Naihanchi I & II, Passai Dai (To Break a Fortress), Seisan (13 Pauses), Chinto, Gojushiho (fifty-four steps of the Black Tiger), Kusanku (the embodiment of Kusanku's teaching as passed on to Tode Sakugawa) and Hakutsuru. The Hakutsuru kata contains the elements of the Fujian White Crane system taught within the Shaolin system of Chinese Kempo. Another set of kata, known as Chanan in Matsumura's time, is said to have been devised by Matsumura himself and was the basis for Pinan I and II. Matsumura's Ryu has endured to the present day and the above mentioned kata are the core of Shorin-ryu Karate today.

Matsumura was given the title "Bushi" meaning "warrior" by the Okinawan King in recognition of his abilities and accomplishments in the martial arts. Matsumura was never defeated in a duel, though he fought many. Tall, thin, and possessing a pair of unsettling eyes, Matsumura was described by his student Anko Itosu as blindingly fast and deceptively strong. Ultimately, all modern styles of karate that evolved from the Shuri-te lineage can be traced back to the teachings of Bushi Matsumura.