Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura (1809 - 1899) Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura was born in 1809 to an upper-class (shizoku) family in the Yamagawa Village, Shuri. He began training with Tode "Karate" Sakagawa at a very young age. Matsumura was also a good scholar and a noted calligrapher.
Matsumura served as a close advisor and bodyguard to three Ryukyuan kings - Sho-Ko, Sho Iku and Sho Tai. This position enabled him to travel widely to Fuchou, Satsuma and the Fukien Shaolin Temple where he studied several forms of Chinese boxing and Jigen-ryu sword fighting.
There a several stories as to how Matsumura obtained the name "Bushi" (which means warrior). One credits Karate Sakagawa affectionately bestowing the name on him as because Matsumura, as a child, was very mischievious and liked to fight everyone. Another tale, as related in Richard Kim's "The Weaponless Warrior," claims the name was bestowed by royal decree by King Sho Ko, in recognition of his unusual ability in martial arts, after Matsumura defeated a bull.
Matsumura's wife was also a noted martial artist who (before she met Matsumura) had often challenged (and bested) would-be suitors. One witness recalled seeing her lift a 132 lb. bag of rice with one hand while she swept under it.
Matsumura trained a diverse group of karate masters, including: Anko Itosu. For more information on Sokon Matsumura click here.
Anko Itosu (1831 - 1915) Anko Itosu was born in the Yamagawa Village, Shuri, and became a student of Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura at a very early age. As an educated man well-versed in Chinese classics, Japanese classics and calligraphy, he held the position of Secretary for the Administrative Office of the Ryukyu kingdom under the last Ryukyuan king, Sho Tai, until the monarchy was dissolved in 1879.
In April 1901, Itosu introduced karate to the physical training curriculum at the Shuri Jingo Elementary School. Four years later he became the karate teacher at the Prefectural Dai Ichi College and the Prefectural Teacher's Training College. In 1908 he wrote a letter (now referred to as the "Ten Articles of Karate") to the Prefectural Education Department which led to the introduction of karate to all Okinawan schools.
Anko Itosu trained many well-known martial artists who went on to found their own schools, including: