The History and Contents of Matayoshi Kobudo as of 1999

Grandfather Shinkō was born on May 18, 1888, in Kakinohana Town, Naha City as the third son of great-grandfather, Shinchin. Raised in Senbaru, Chatan Village, he learned kenpō (empty-handed martial arts) and bukijutsu (martial arts with weaponry) handed down as a Matayoshi family tradition from his grandfather, Shintoku, and his father, Shinchin. From his grandfather Shinchin’s martial comrade, Bushi Agena Chokuhō (aka Gushikawa Taira-gwa) from Gushikawa Village, he learned bōjutsu (staff methods) and kaijutsu (paddle methods), as well as kamajutsu (sickle methods) and saijutsu (tesshaku).

Chikin Akanchū nu Ēkudī is a technique that his father, Shinchin, was most skilled at, and is a representative technique of the Matayoshi family.

The bōjutsu received from Shinchin’s teachings are Kubo no Kon (from the place name of Kubo, Gushikawa City), Yonegawa no Kon (from the name of Yone River in Shuri), and Yara no Kon.

In Chatan Village, he spent his childhood and young boy period devoted to bujutsu while learning nunchakukun and tunkuwājutsu from venerable Bushi Irei (commonly known as Jitodē Mōshi) who lived in [Chatan Village] Nozato. Also, growing up listening to bujutsu stories from the Chinese mainland, in the spring of 1904, with new determination, his friend Wu Xiangui (Go Kenki, an expert of Shaolin-style Crane Boxing; his Japanese name was Yoshikawa Kenki), who had opened a tea house in Naha City, recommended him to visit Sakhalin, Manchuria, Shanghai, and Annam, from where he crossed over to Fuzhou. That was when Shinkō was seventeen years old.

In Manchuria, while being active together with mounted bandits, he learned how to use surūchin for hunting, acquired shurikenjutsu as one of the throwing bujutsu, and practiced combat-style training.

In Fuzhou, [Shinkō] started his activities mainly in Go Kenki’s parents’ house (in Nantai Shuifuguan Qian Jie, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province), where he received instruction in Fujian Shaolin Boxing from [Go Kenki’s] father, Wu Guanggui (Go Kōki), and then, through the introduction by Wu Guanggui, he first met his lifelong master, Kingai Rōshi (“old master Kingai”) (a senior disciple of Zhou Zihe).

[The term] Kingai means “kin (gold) changes according to the substance, and gai (hardness) is as hard as steel,” that is, gōjū (hardness and softness).

Kingai Rōshi’s instruction was very strict, but strangely, there was something in common with the bujutsu handed down in [Shinkō’s] family tradition since childhood and it felt like seeing the origin [of it]. It was similar to the kenpō taught by his father and grandfather, and that kenpō was centered on the images of tiger and crane and on Sanchin, as well as training in kata of Fujian Shaolin Boxing such as Thirteen Steps (Sēsan), Fifty-four Steps (Gojūshiho), and Fifty-seven Steps (Gojūnanaho), and their analysis (bunkai).

One of the innermost secrets of [Kingai] Rōshi’s teachings is the “strike-person-method” (dajinhō, exact pronunciation unclear). The “strike-person-method” is about the physiology of the human body as used in bujutsu, including vital points (kyūsho), and all of them are dangerous because they kill and injure the enemy’s human body. Daki (striking the life force/heart) is a method of striking by using the opponent’s ki according to the secret methods of the Sānzì Jīng [Three Character Classic, 13th century] and is also called the breath-striking-method (kokyū dahō), which is a method of striking in accordance to the opponent’s breathing. Daketsu refers to striking acupuncture points on a channel, and these acupuncture points are points in both acupuncture and moxibustion. Acupuncture points are like checkpoints (barriers) on fourteen channels of the human body and are also called pressure points (tenketsu) because they are attacked with the fingertip or an ipponken.

Grandfather Shinkō also learned the vital points of the human body, the art of Shaolin Chinese (herbal) medicine, and Chinese herbal medicine, and during the Taishō period, he temporarily returned to Japan and gave treatment to people of Okinawa as a doctor of Chinese (herbal) medicine.

After returning to Japan, he instructed a small number of disciples in karate and weaponry and established a study group with the masters of karate at the time to promote bujutsu exchanges.

In 1921, when Emperor Shōwa was still crown prince and was on a tour abroad, he called at a port in Okinawa, and [grandfather Shinkō] performed bujutsu from the Ryūkyū Dynasty in the Main Hall of Shuri Castle.

In November 1928, when an imperial ceremony festival was held at Meiji Shrine, along with other Okinawan bujutsu practitioners, as a representative of Okinawa Prefecture he performed a martial arts exhibition for which he received a medal.

As his bujutsu research progressed in Okinawa, to further improve his skills, he returned to Fuzhou again to study weapons methods from Kingai Rōshi, such as nuntī, tōhai (= shield; tenbī), and ryūsei (surūchin), and was given two hanging scrolls (ten [heaven] and chi [earth]) of Guāngmíng Dà Yuán Shī, the god of war (bujin) in the Kingai-ryū.

Guāngmíng Dà Yuán Shī symbolizes the wisdom of the bodhisattva, and is a general term for all worldly desires, vice, and those who provide knowledge, and it is the light of the Buddha’s virtue, or the god who protects the Eighteen Arhats. To this day, our family still protect the two scrolls of Guāngmíng Dà Yuán Shī.

In the spring of 1934, [venerable Shinkō] returned to Okinawa and set up a residence in Naha City. While working as a trader, he tried to interact with the warriors (bujin) of the time and devoted himself to joint training and was called Chiruran Tanmei [unknown meaning], and he took the world by storm known as Kama nu Tī Matēshi (Matayoshi, expert of the sickle techniques) or Senbaru Matēshi (Matayoshi from Senbaru) and had a high social status as a warrior (bujin), and his existence was highly evaluated. However, he passed away in May 1947, regretted by many people.

He was fifty-nine years old at the time of his death.

Bujutsu since the Era of the Royal Dynasty of Ryūkyū


Bōjutsu has been used by government officials (the current police officers) since ancient times, but according to the Okinawan Language Dictionary, it is described as “a staff for carrying loads, a staff for martial arts,” and it was used by general townspeople, farmers, and fishermen. It was an essential item for daily life.

In addition, many excellent techniques that have been studied for self-defense have been handed down.

The length of the is six shaku (ca 182 cm), so it is called rokushaku-bō (6-foot-staff), but the length of the carried by the warrior class who served at the Royal Castle in Shuri was 5 shaku 8 sun (ca 175.7 cm), which is the height of the lintels of the mansions of the time, so the was shortened so as not to suffer an embarrassing defeat when used indoors.

The development of the technique lies in the historical environment of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. It is believed that about 600 years ago, when Chinese envoys from Fujian were exiled, they introduced the method of the kon (konpō) to the Okinawans, and that Okinawans migrated to southern China and Shanghai, learned the method of the kon of those areas, and brought it back.

This is because many of the techniques that have been handed down in our school are analogous to the method of the kon described in the oldest martial arts book Wubei Zhi (Record of Military Preparation) and Jixiao Xinshu (New Treatise on Military Efficiency).

In the “Shaolin Method of the Kon” (Shaolin Gunfa) as recorded in the Wubei Zhi it is described that “All martial arts are modelled on the methods of the kon, and the methods of the kon are modelled on the Shaolin.” To use a kon is like reading the Four Books [i.e., the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and Mencius], and each hook, sword, lance, and rake are learned as one single [one of the Four Books]. If this is understood, the principle of the Six Classics [i.e., Book of Songs, Book of History, Book of Rites, the lost Book of Music, Book of Changes, Spring and Autumn Annals] will also be understood, and the methods of the kon will be obtained according to the methods of each former device.” Like that, the methods of the kon are the root and foundation of various martial arts, and the use of the name kon during the Royal Dynasty of Ryūkyū is a representation of this method and indicates its denomination.

Our style of bōjutsu is a combination of the Chinese methods of the kon and ancient Okinawan bōjutsu and has developed in accordance with the physical shape of the people of Okinawa, its topography, and the environmental changes of the times.

[Bōjutsu] is divided into rokushaku-bō (6-foot-staff; 182 cm), sanshaku-bō (3-foot-staff; 90 cm; also called tanjaku [short shaku] and shaku-jō [shaku cane]), hasshaku-bō (8-foot-staff; 242 cm) (naga-bō [long ]), and as a variant, jūnishaku-bō (12-foot-staff; 364 cm) (also known as bajō-bō, or horseback ).

The kata of bōjutsu that are handed down in our school are Shūuji no Kon, Sakugawa no Kon, Chōun no Kon, Tsuken no Kon, and Soeishi no Kon.

As regards Shūuji no Kon, a person from Shanghai, Mr. Shū [Zhou in Chinese] came to Ryūkyū about 100 years ago and built a residence near Sōgenji Temple in Asato, Naha City, where he was active as a trader. It was there that venerable Shinkō exchanged with him and was taught bōjutsu, and Mr. Shū was also quite a master of karate.

As regards Sakugawa no Kon, about 140 years ago, Chinen Yamane, who learned Shuri-te from Matsumura Sōkon, studied village (mura-bō), and his technique was approved by the king of Ryūkyū, and Chinen bought himself a warrior rank, and the name of the method was called Sakugawa no Kon. Chinen Yamane was a senior to Kyan Chōtoku.

The successor to this trend was Ōshiro Chōjo [the original misspells to Chōdo], commonly known as Ōshiro Sakugawa no Kon, who researched the of Chinen Yamane and compiled this technique.

Ōshiro Chōjo [the original misspells to Chōdo] was born in Shuri Ōnaka in 1887. He received instruction in Tomari-te from Oyadomari Kōkan, and after that he studied the of Yamane and was nicknamed Ufugushiku Sakugawa. He died on September 3, 1935, aged 47.

As regards Chōun no Kon, its meaning is “to cut [through] the morning mist.” This kata was handed down about 250 years ago by Chōun Uēkata, a warrior from Tomari. It is popularly performed in the areas of Tomari and Jiri. The kata imagines [fighting] against enemies on three sides and is technically excellent.

As regards Tsuken no Kon, Tsuken Uēkata Seisoku taught a hunter on Tsuken Island in Katsuren Village and devised this bōjutsu. The technique is configured assuming an enemy with a spear. According to the “1,000 Years of Okinawa History,” bōjutsu has existed since the Warring States period, when the three realms (sanzan) were divided and defended their local authority, showing that bōjutsu was used by the feudal leaders called aji of the time. In addition, there was a lance-staff (sōbō) during the Keichō era (1596–1615), and it is mentioned that Tsuken-bō was handed down by Tsuken Uēkata Seisoku.

As regards Soeishi no Kon, it was devised about 300 years ago by Soeishi Uēkata (the military arts instructor of the king of Ryūkyū), who was a great expert from Shuri. Soeishi was a master of karate, nicknamed Shuri-te Soeishi.

[rest ommitted]

Source: Ko Matayoshi Shinpō Tsuitō. Matayoshi Kobudō Karate-dō. Kokusai Enbu Taikai. Date and Time: 8. August 1999, Start of presentations: 2 pm. Venue: Theater building of the Okinawa Convention Center. Under the auspices of: Zen Okinawa Kobudō Renmei, Kingai-ryu Karate Matayoshi Kobudō Sōke Sō-honbu Kōdōkan. With friendly support by Dai Nihon Butokukai Honbu, Nihon Kobudō Kyōkai, Okinawa-ken Karate-dō Renmei, Naha-shi Karate-dō Renmei, Shureidō.

© 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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