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|The Okinawan background to Shinseido|
|By Roger Sheldon. 1988. Revised 1 August 2000|
|The core understanding of our art is descended from an ancient classical art called Machimura Suidi, an unarmed self-defensive martial art that was developed principally by Machimura Sokon Bucho (Matsumura Sokon Bushi in Japanese) a famous bodyguard to the 19th Century kings of the little Kingdom of Ryukyu. The name Machimura Suidi is archaic and can be rendered ‘Matsumura Shuri-te' in modern terms. The term means 'the boxing methods of Shuri, of the Ryukyu Islands'. Shuri (Sui in archaic terms) was the old royal head village of the Ryukyu (Luchu) Islands. Ryukyu means 'precious jewel'.|
|In the nineteenth century, the English knew the principal island of Luchu as ‘The Great Loo Choo Island’. The Japanese called it ‘Okinawa’ (alluding to the island looking like a piece of discarded rope tossed into the ocean). The island is still known by this name to this day. The Luchuans called it ‘Uchina’ meaning Inner Island because it is situated right in the middle of the Ryukyu archipelago.|
|Matsumura Shurite is today commonly called ‘Okinawan Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito Karate Kobudo’. Sho Rin is the Japanese rendering of the Chinese ‘Shao Lin’ meaning ‘small forest’ an allusion to the place where the famed temple of that name is situated in the foothills of the Songshan Mountains in Honan province, China. It is said that Machimura Bucho coined the name ‘Shorin Ryu’ for his system during the latter part of his life, but this is by no means certain, and other authorities place the advent of this name somewhat later.|
|Classical Suidi embodies a considerable number of striking and grappling techniques, and comprises a number of old forms that embody the principles and concepts of the system (often regarded as the secrets of the system).|
|From a Matsumura Shurite point of view, the principal forms among these are:|
|1. Pinan Shodan:||Calm peacefulness, first step|
|2. Pinan Nidan:||Calm peacefulness, second step|
|3. Naihanchi Shodan:||Inner Parts Conflict, first step|
|4. Naihanchi Nidan:||Inner Parts Conflict, second step|
|5. Seisan:||Born of Three|
|6. Paisai Sho:||To Break Down a Fortress (or To Break Out of an Enclosure) Lesser|
|7. Paisai Dai:||To Break Down a Fortress (or To Break Out of an Enclosure) Greater|
|8. Chinto:||Named after a shipwrecked Chinese sailor|
|9. Useishi (Gojushiho):||Fifty Four Steps|
|10. Kusanku:||Named after a Chinese Military Attaché|
|11. Rohai:||Vision of a White Crane|
|12. Hakutsuru:||White Crane|
|A short history of Machimura Suidi|
|(expanded from an essay by Ronald Lindsey Shihan)|
Shurite practitioners enjoy the physical aspects of their science,
they also have an intense interest in its origins, background, and history so
that they can practice in as authentic manner as is possible. In part,
this is because the various aspects of Shurite have been
important historically and have influenced many contemporary systems.
Okinawa (formerly known as the Great Loo Choo Island) is the principal island of the Ryukyu archipelago, the chain of some 146 islands that stretch from the southernmost tip of Japan, in an arc towards Taiwan off the Chinese mainland. In early times, the islands were known to the Chinese as the Land of the Happy Immortals and to the Japanese as the Southern Islands.
|The beginnings of Okinawan Suidi lie buried in the mists of time and behind a façade of secrecy that has existed for generations. Even today, this secrecy is still in evidence. It took me over two decades of intensive research to unravel the secrets of our system. Circumstance and later, tradition, demanded that the art was handed down from master to student orally and practically rather than by the written word. Thus, a void of information on the early years of Suidi confronts every researcher. What information we have, has come to us through scattered bits and pieces, the odd document here, the odd statement there, which somehow have come into the possession of modern historians. Any attempt to write on Suidi history will leave many stones unturned. The following outline is no exception and is intended as an introduction only. Subsequent papers expand on this theme and develop discussion of the historical background.|
|Before the fourteenth century, the Great Luchu Island comprised three separate kingdoms (Nanzan in the south, Chuzan in the middle, and Hokuzan in the north, called Shimajiri, Nakagami and Kunigama from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries). These kingdoms were not unaccustomed to conflict, but we can only speculate as to what form any early combative skills took.|
|The year 1372 became one of the most important in Luchu history, for it marked the beginning of a formal relationship between the court of China and the Kingdom of Chuzan (one of the three kingdoms of the Great Luchu Island that was to be maintained for five centuries. Consequently, in 1393, a community of Chinese artisans and clerics was established on Luchu. With these immigrants came the ancient Chinese fighting arts called Ch'uan-fa ('Fist Law'). These arts were different in some respects from the old indigenous arts of Luchu and came to be known as Tuti (Tu meaning ‘T’ang’, and Ti meaning ‘hands’).|
|In 1429, Lord Sho Hashi of the middle kingdom of Chuzan established his rule over the remaining two kingdoms (Nanzan and Hokuzan) thus uniting for the first time the kingdoms of Liu Ch'iu. Sho Hashi did much for Liu Ch'iu and greatly increased active trade relations with other countries. This increased Luchuan wealth and led to what has been described as the 'Great Days of Chuzan'. The Luchuans had always been a seafaring people, but now they made more contacts than ever before. They traded with the Japans, Korea, China, Formosa, and the South East Asian countries and throughout the East Indies. These contacts brought knowledge of other 'hand and foot fighting' systems that unquestionably influenced the fighting arts of Luchu.|
|The longest and most prosperous reign in the history of Luchu was inaugurated with the ascension of King Sho Shin in 1477. He reigned for fifty years and during that time achieved a number of new goals that have become known as the Eleven Distinctions of the Age. Two of these were that private ownership, and use of arms was abolished and law and order were established throughout the country. This seems to have had the result of increasing interest in the unarmed arts and in the development of skills in using farming implements as weapons of self-defence. Apart from the Ch'uan-fa introduced by the Chinese, the Luchuans had for long practised an old indigenous fighting system which came to be known simply as Ti (hand). This system was practised within the royal household at Shui and among the nobles. These masters consolidated the indigenous stylistic elements with those from China and possibly a number of other external influences also. A more rapid development of Luchuan Ti and Chinese Ch'uan-fa followed in 1609 when the Shimazu samurai from Satsuma province on the island of Kyushu, Japan invaded and occupied Luchu and reinforced the old edict banning the carrying and possession of weapons. Thus Okinawa Te, as the Satsuma samurai (warriors) soon called the island's combative hand arts, became the only means of protection left to the Luchuan. Thus it was in this atmosphere that the early unarmed self-defence arts of Luchu were honed into an effective science that enabled the nobles of the island to protect themselves against villains and footpads and the like. Ti and Ch'uan-fa developed secretly to keep outsiders (including the Japanese) from learning the essence of the art. From the time of its introduction, Ch'uan-fa must have been learned by some Luchuans, hand in hand with their own art of Ti. Some masters must also have amalgamated these teachings to a greater or lesser degree. The Luchuans gradually came to know such amalgamated arts as Tuti and this is the essence of the classical aspect of Shurite.|
Tuti means 'T’ang hands' after the celebrated T'ang dynasty of China that flourished between A.D. 618-906. The T’ang dynasty was regarded so highly and had such influence that the term T'ang', centuries later, was still used to describe things Chinese. Taken in this sense Tuti means 'Chinese boxing' or 'Chinese pugilism'. Tuti then, was acknowledged by the Luchuans to have originated in China or to have been strongly influenced by the Chinese. Indeed, all of the classical forms of Tuti have their roots in the martial arts of China, particularly Fukien (Fu-chien or Fujian) Province in Southern China.
|Tuti was practised by the shizoku (noble) families of Sui (Shuri in modern Japanese). Sui had been the head village of Luchu for hundreds of years and was the seat of the royal Sho family of Luchu. Tuti was also practised in other villages around the island, but predominantly in Tumai (Tomari), the gate-town of Sui, and Napha (Naha), the Luchu international seaport. As time passed the Tuti practised in these centres assumed the name of those places - Suidi (Shuri-te), Tumaiti (Tomari-te) and Naphati (Naha-te). In reality, there were no specific differences stylistically between these forms of Ti. However, each master worked and taught his own different forms. Okinawan masters are all agreed that back in the early days (late 19th century and through into the 20th century), there were no differences between schools, everyone practised Tuti and the differences in forms were accepted as a matter of course and personal choice. Shizoku families often practised their own internal styles of Tuti that, for the most part, remained the secrets of the family and eventually became extinct. In Sui during the latter part of the nineteenth Century, there were some eighteen family styles of Tuti or Suidi. Among those important noble families was the Machimura clan. Today, the Machimura's have the distinction of being the only identifiable family from which an old recognisable form of Suidi has emanated. The Suidi of the other families has been lost to history. Machimura Bucho (c.1797 - c.1889) was a bodyguard to the last kings of Luchu. He became the progenitor of the system that has come down to us and is now named Machimura Suidi (the head village pugilism of Machimura). Bucho was the Luchu term for warrior, one greatly skilled in the warrior arts.|
|The various hand fighting arts remained underground until the need for secrecy was lost when the Japanese formally made Luchu a part of their empire in 1879. The Japanese deposed the man who was destined to be the very last king of the Luchus, King Sho Tai (1841-1901) and took him back to Tokyo where he remained in forced seclusion until his death. On Luchu the Japanese began a systematic programme of Japanizing the islanders and suppressing old non Japanese culture and history. The Old Kingdom was formally renamed Okinawa meaning 'Rope in the open sea because of the island's shape resembling a piece of twisted rope tossed into the sea. One effect of this Japanization running hand in hand with the Meiji restoration was that the old class system immediately crumbled. The noble shizoku no longer had a useful function and many faced the remainder of their lives working in the fields. The old defence arts gradually came out from behind the curtain of secrecy and were practised in public for the first time. Subsequently, just after the turn of the century, Tuti was modified to be taught in Luchuan public schools as a part of the physical education programme by one of Matsumura's former students, the famous Shishu (ltosu Yasutsune or Ankoh). Subsequently, the Japanese invited an Okinawan schoolteacher, Funokoshi Gichen (1868-1957) to go to the mainland and demonstrate Tuti. Funakoshi had been taught his art by ltosu. As a result of his trip to Japan, during the 1920's, Funakoshi became one of the first Okinawans to teach the art to the Japanese. Within a few years, the art was taken up seriously and incorporated into the martial arts training programme of Japan. The Japanese, true to their way, radically changed the old art and changed the Chinese oriented name to ‘karate’ (empty hand). It was not long before different 'styles' of karate were being developed. Among these were Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu, and others all heavily influenced by the earlier Suidi system. Subsequently the art in its new guise was disseminated around the world. In some respects, the transmission of the art to Japan may have been a good thing, for it was the Japanese who popularised the art, albeit in a radically changed form. Some might argue that the art would have become popular (some thirty years later) anyway, because of the American occupation of Okinawa from 1945. In other respects, the Japanese have not helped the cause of the old Luchu arts at all. The changes they made eradicated any Luchu flavour that might have remained and turned a functional and utilitarian art into a callisthenic and gymnastic pastime. Nevertheless, the determined and tenacious researcher can still find the old art. Members of Shurite are lucky in that many years’ research has already been done for them, but even so, there is much room for members to further research and consolidate an understanding of this fascinating and important art.|
|Development of styles and systems of Tuti|
|There were many masters of the fighting arts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One famous early master came from Chatan village. His name was Yara and so he was known as Chatan Yara (Yara of Chatan). It is said that Yara initiated the concept of inner strength to Tuti. He also (allegedly) created a famous staff (kun) fighting form and one for the hand trident (sai). These have come down to us and are still practised to this day.|
|Another master, Sakugawa (1733-1815) is regarded as important in the history of Tuti in that he refined, developed, and systemised the old art to a state much as it is known today. Sakugawa first studied under the famous mapmaker, astronomer and Ti master, Takahara Peichin of Sui (Shui). Later he went to China to train in Ch'uan-fa under the famous Kusanku who had been a military attaché in Luchu. Upon master Kusanku's return to China, Sakugawa followed him and remained in China for 6 years. In 1762 he returned to Luchu and introduced his form of Tuti. Sakugawa became a famous samuree (Luchu warrior), and expert in both Ti and Ch'uan-fa. He was given the title Satanushi-Peichin (a title given to samuree for service to the Luchu king). He became so famous for his ability in Tuti that he became known as Sakugawa Tuti.|
|Sakugawa Tudi sensei|
|Sakugawa had many famous students; among them were:-|
|1. Chikatosinunlo Machimura Bucho|
|2. Makobe Satunuku (nickname - Mabal Changwa)|
|3. Satunuku Ukuda Satunuku (Ukuda Bucho)|
|4. Chikuntonoshinunjo Matsumoto (Motsumoto Bucho)|
|5. Kojo of Kumemura (Kugushiku of Kuninda)|
|6. Yamaguchi of the East (Sokumoto Bucho)|
|7. Usame (aged man) of Andaya (limundun)|
|Sakugawa contributed greatly to Tuti and we honour him today by continuing many of the concepts he introduced. Sakugawa's greatest contribution was in teaching the great Machimura Bucho, today, Shurite students benefit directly from this unique transmission.|
|Machimum Bucho. First Grandmaster.|
said that Machimura Bucho (c.1797-c.1889) whos original name was Kiyo
Sokon, studied under Sakugawa
for four years. He rapidly developed into a samuree and was
recruited into the service of the Sho family and was given the title Satunuku,
later rising to Chikutoshi.
To mark the occasion when Kiyo was appointed the chief bodyguard to King Sho Ko (and later to Sho Iku and then Sho Tai), he was allowed to change his name. This was a custom back then, especially if something important or notable happened to you; he changed his name to Machimura -- (Matsumura) Soken.
At some time during his career
Machimura Bucho was sent to China and while there learned some of the White
Crane (Haku Tsuru) system of Ch'uan-fa. Machimura is
said to have remained in China for several years. Upon his return to Luchu,
Machimura established the Tuti that later became known as
Machimura Suidi. Machimura Bucho lived a long and
colourful life. He fought many lethal contests and was never defeated.
King Sho Tai officially gave Matsumura the ultimate title of "Bucho" ("Bushi,") by royal decree and to this day he is, with affection, referred to as Bushi Matsumura.
In Luchu, the term "bucho" is different in meaning from the Japanese "bushi". In Japan a "bushi," in simplistic terms, is a warrior. In Okinawa, the term "bucho" (hogan) or "bushi" (Japanese) refers to the individual being not only one who had mastered all the aspects of his warrior arts but also someone who was a true gentleman - hence, the rendering, "gentleman warrior."
Machimura contributed greatly to the art of Tuti and left us with a unique system. He passed on the secrets of his system to his grandson, Machimura Nabe.
|Machimura Nabe. Second Grandmaster.|
When Bushi Matsumura died
he left the "hands" of his teachings to his grandson, Matsumura Nabe (Nabe
Tanmei). Tanmei means "respected senior or respected old man." This
was and still is a title of much respect in Okinawa.
Nabe Tanmei brought the old Suidi secrets into the modern age. His name does not appear in many Tuti lineage charts. He was allegedly very strict and preferred to teach mainly family members in the old way. Not much information on him is available; his dates of birth and death are unknown. He must have been born in the 1850's and died in the 1930's. Nabe is said to have been one of the top Uchinan Sui-di men of this time. He passed on the secrets of the Machimura system to his nephew Soken Hohan.
|Nabe Tanmei sensei|
|Soken Hohan. Third Grandmaster.|
|Soken Hohan was born on May 25th 1889 (22nd year of Meiji) in Gaja village, Nishihara city, Okinawa Prefecture; this was a time of great social change both in Okinawa and Japan. The old feudal system was giving way to modernisation. The aristocracy was forced to work beside the peasants. Soken Hohan was born into a samuree family: at an early age, he chose to study his ancestor's art of Suidi under his uncle, Machimura Nabe. Soken Hohan's mother was Nabe-tanmei's sister. At the age of thirteen (1902-3) young Soken began his training. For ten years, Soken Hohan practised the basics. At the age of twenty-three, Soken began learning the secrets of Hakutsuru. So proficient did Soken Hohan become in the art that his uncle, Nabe, passed on the style of Suidi to him. Soken studied traditional weaponry under Komesu|
|Hohan Soken sensei|
|Ushi-no-tanmei and later under Tsuken Mantaka. In 1924 Soken moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to find his fortune. He apprenticed himself as a photographer and later worked in the clothes cleaning business.|
|He learned Spanish there and taught karate after the locals found out who he was. Most of his students in Argentina came from the Okinawan community - some Japanese. All in all, in Argentina, Soken only had a small handful of students but they gave numerous demonstrations throughout the country. There were many, many Okinawans and Japanese living in Argentina. Soken returned to Okinawa in 1952.|
|Upon his return to Luchu, (by then, always referred to as Okinawa) the Suidi style returned also. Soken saw that Suidi had changed, and that the new sport karate had all but replaced the ancient methods. Soken did not teach karate at first. Then he began to teach a few family members which then opened up to a small dojo. He initially called it by the 'hogan' name - Machimura Sui-de or in Japanese, Matsumura Shuri-te. Soken did not change: he valued himself as the last of the old masters.|
|Hohan Soken sensei|
|He refused to join some of the more fashionable associations. He stayed with the old Suidi ways and did much to cause a rebirth of interest in the old weapons arts and authentic Suidi.|
|Around 1956 Mr. Soken changed the name of his teachings to Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-ryu karate-do. He still trained in the old ways and did not understand the new methods that were being taught. They appeared to be softer and more commercial. Because of this, Soken did not join the new organizations that were being formed at the time. His old way of practising karate was not readily accepted by everyone. They thought it too old and too crude. It was later, when the Americans came to learn, that Soken changed his ways.|
|Master Soken retired in 1978. For many years, he was the world's oldest living and active master.|
|Soken Hohan passed away quietly on December 2nd, 1982. He left behind a number of students including Nishihira Kosei his nephew and member of the Matsumura clan; Inoue Harumi; Rick Rose; Inoue Mitsuo; Kohoma Shigenobu; Nakazato Hideo; Kinjo Seizan; Mr. Kojo; Mr. Fujimoto; Mr. Enoue; Mr. Kohatsu; David Mauk; Yabiku Takaya; Shingake Nobutake (Arakaki Seiki); Kise Fusei; Kuda Yuichi; Akamine Yoshimatsu; Mr. Kikomuro; Mr. Makabe; Mr. Kina; Mr. Higa and many others.|
Hohan Soken sensei
|Nishihira Kosei (1942-2007) studied exclusively with Mr. Soken for many years. Master Nishihira trained quietly in Nishihara, Okinawa where he ran a take away food business. He trained with friends in his little dojo attached to his business. He also headed a small association in Australia and its students visited him for short periods for training. Other interested martial artists found their way to his door and were invited to train with him. One day, he said, when his sons finished University and he retired, he might perhaps set up a bigger dojo and teach the old art openly. Sadly that never happened. He remained interested in teaching dedicated and courteous black belt practitioners only until he died of cancer.|
|Kosei Nishihira sensei|
|Nishihira sensei perpetuated what is known as the Matsumura Seito system of Shorin Ryu. That is, the Matsumura orthodox system that has come down through the lineage masters. Many people claim to be perpetuating the Matsumura Seito system - some are charlatans. Some are simply mistaken or have been misled by charlatans. What we have within Shinseido Shorin Ryu is very authentic and backed up by an incredible amount of dedicated research.|
|Perpetuation of the old art|
|The old art of Suidi is now preserved by less than a handful of Mr. Soken’s and Mr. Nishihira's students (and their students in turn), who have a burning desire to perpetuate what they regard to be a precious jewel among martial arts.|
|I have had extensive contact with several of Mr. Soken’s students and have trained with some of them. I initially made contact with the Matsumura Seito fraternity in 1984. In 1985 I joined Kise Fusei's Kenshin Kan organisation under the directorship of the late Mike Hancock of Florida. By my invitation, in March 1985 Gayle Lazarus of Dover, New Hampshire ran the first Matsumura training course in the UK. in my Riverhead dojo.|
subsequently switched affiliations and joined the association of Ronald
Lindsey of Bastrop, Texas. I and other members of the UK branch
visited Texas to train with Mr. Lindsey and by invitation he came to England
on several occasions to run courses for the group. It was primarily
through Lindsey sensei's tuition and support that the UK association was
able to become established.
The classical forms taught within Shinseido Shorin Ryu represent a personal and at the same time very authentic approach to this classical tradition which is unique in its deep understanding within contemporary systems.
Ronald Lindsey sensei
|I have been keeping in close contact with with Soken sensei's student Ted Lange of Australia and with Giuseppe Meloni in Milan. Both these authorities worked with Nishihira sensei and have an excellent grasp of his system. I regard what they have to teach to be important and useful to my understanding of the Matsumura Seito system.|
|Ted Lange sensei|
|Because of my deep interest in relating what I do in classical terms with contemporary needs and my own convictions, I do not slavishly copy what has gone before. I believe that I am doing what most practitioners have done since the beginning of time, in making the art my own and using it in a way that is in accord with the time and society in which I live.|
Nevertheless, I do believe that I am obligated to retain the forms as they came
to me, and within the Matsumura forms are
preserved exactly as Grandmaster Soken taught them for any member who
wishes to learn them in that way. All Shinseido Shorin Ryu teachers
know the forms as they came to me and my own interpretations too.
Shinseido Shorin Ryu students are very lucky to be a part of this rich and ancient tradition. Those who become teachers in their own right carry the flame forwards and form part of a convoluted line of transmission that goes back to the dawn of mankind.
|Roger Sheldon sensei|
|All the answers to the historical and geographical evaluation questions are contained within this paper, which is the first in a series of historical articles that I have compiled or edited. If you are interested in knowing more of the background to our art please ask.|
Roger Sheldon (Shinsei)
Historical and Geographical multiple choice questionnaire.