A Snippet on Matsumura Sokon and the Jigen-ryu Menkyo Kaiden

Source: Sakuda Shigeru: Karate Meijin Retsuden (Biographies of Great Karate Masters), Naha 1987. pp. 8-9, 100.

09in early 1953 Sakuda Shigeru worked as a journalist for the Okinawa Asahi Shinbun newspaper company. The company president at the time was the later governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Mr. Junji Nishime (1921-2001). Since February 1, 1953, Sakuda had the opportunity to spent 3 months the whole day on the publication of a newspaper article series titled Kinsei Ryūkyū Kitan: Karate Sandai (Unusual Stories from Early Modern Ryūkyū: Three Generations of Karate).

Already in January he had started to collect informations from about ten leaders of Karate-dō who had joyfully consented to provide information. The editor in chief, Yogi Seizō, was quiet enthusiastic about the publication and believed that the information should be compiled as a novel and published. Sakuda also received a recommendation by Matsukawa Kunio, an 8. dan in kendō and office manager at the time.

Among all the senpai that Sakuda met during that time one karate master particularly made a strong impression on him: Miyagi Chōjun, student of Higaonna Kanryō. Coincidentally. Miyagi’s third son Ken was of the same age as Sakuda (i.e. born in 1926) and they were friends. So he also visited Miyagi Ken at his home in Naha’s Himeyuri-doori. The fact that Sakuda was a friend of Miyagi Chōjun’s son brought about goodwill, which made the subsequent data collection quiet comfortable, as Sakuda recalled.

In this way he was able to regularly visit Chōjun himself in his apartment, noting that that he addressed him by the polite term “Chōjun san.” Upon Sakuda’s question, “As for the vital points of human beings, I suspect that if you thrust in the stomach or the testicles, even a master cannot bear this?” he responded “I think so!”

The author Sakuda Shigeru

The author Sakuda Shigeru

While the other Senpai he visited are unknown, there is no question that Sakuda interviewed the leading experts of Okinawa karate at the time. This said, he provided an interesting piece of information as regards Matsumura Sōkon’s famous menkyo kaiden in Jigen-ryū. A menkyo kaiden is a certificate authenticating the full initiation into the full secrets of the art.

Here’s the tidbit:

 “In the meantime [Matsumura] received initiation into the Jigen-ryū by Ijūin Yashichirō, who granted him a Menkyo Kaiden after only half a year. This extreme speed amazed the people of Satsuma. Matsumura was probably already born as a martial genius.”


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