Kata Taught by Matsumura Sōkon (2)

“Karate no omoide” (My Memories of Karate) by Kyan Chōtoku was published on 1942-05-07 in the Okinawa Shinpō Newspaper.

“Karate no omoide” (Memories of Karate) [excerpt], by Kyan Chōtoku. Okinawa Shinpō, 1942-05-07.

“Karate no omoide” (Memories of Karate) [excerpt], by Kyan Chōtoku. Okinawa Shinpō, 1942-05-07.

“I never forgot when I went to Shikina-en together with my father in the spring of my 16th year. My father took me to Matsumura Sōkon Sensei, the restorer of Okinawa Karate of whom I had heard tales of. (In his way) I was able for the first time to meet with and to receive instruction from Matsumura Sōkon Sensei through my father. I remember Sensei was 80 years old at that time. The Kata of Karate that I was taught was Gojūshiho  and I still have not forgotten it.”

The year depends on the method of age calculation that Kyan used. In the traditional method called kazoe a person is counted as one year old at birth, and at the turn of the year he gets one year older. Therefore, if Kyan used the traditional kazoe method, his 16th year would have been 1885. Otherwise it would have been 1886.

Morever, Kyan states that:

“I received instruction from Matsumura Sōkon Sensei for two years.”

Or in other words, he received instruction from Matsumura Sōkon until 1887 or 1888.

There is another short info in the text:

“In the fifth year after I had come to Tōkyō, Matsumura Sōkon Sensei died at the advanced old age of 88 years.”

According to this, Matsumura Sōkon passed away 1893 or 1894. Furthermore, this would mean that Kyan went to Tōkyō in 1888 or 1889.

Next, it is said that:

“Thanks to that, my previously weak body became strong and I did not catch a cold for even one day during the 9 years that I lived in Tōkyō, and was able to spend a pleasant adolescence.”

Therefore, he must have stayed in Tōkyō until 1897 or 1898. However, it is also said in the article that

“Due to the circumstances of my family affairs, I returned home (to Okinawa) at the age of 26.”

So this would have been either 1895 or 1896, again, depending on the method of age counting. So there’s a little internal discreprancy within the provided dates. Anyway, this is not a big deal. When he wrote the text, or when he interviewed for the article, he was 72 years old, or 73 according to traditional kazoe. However that may have actually been: just as in the testimony of Yoshimura Chōgi, Kyan Chōtoku also testifies that he has learned Gojūshiho directly from Matsumura Sōkon.

© 2018, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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