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matsumura

SOKON MATSUMURA

Matsumara Sensei was born in 1809 in Shuri-Yamakawa village, Okinawa. His Chinese name was Bu Seitatsu. it is not known who taught him the martial arts, but it is said that he became involved with the martial arts at a very young age. Matsumura Sensei was famous for his intellect and courage as a result of his hard training. He was the chief bodyguard for the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth kings of the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa).

Matsumura Sensei was twice sent to Fukien, China, and mainland Satsuma (now known as Kagoshima, Japan) as an envoy of the Ryukyuan king. In China, he was allowed to learn the secret Chinese martial arts, and in Satsuma, he was instructed in the martial arts by Ishuin Yashichiro. This fact was recorded in his family lineage, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1944. The following are the teachings of Matsumura Sensei:

"There are three types of teachings in both literary arts and the martial arts. The three teachings in the literary arts are Shinsho, Kunko and Confucian. While Shinsho and Kunko are too iiterarily artistic to be justified as true teachings, the Confucian teachings should be recognized as true teachings because of their effort to attain sincerity and peace."

"Three teachings in the martial arts are Gakushi, Meimoku and Budo. While Gakushi and Meimoku are too violent and harmful to be considered as true teachings, Budo teachings emphasize the non-violent and mental methods to overcome opponents. So, daily training has to be done with these two teachings (Confucian and Budo) in mind."

Matsumura Sokon Sensei learned his form of "Te" while in China studying under Wai Shiu Zan. Among his students were Towada, !shimine, ltotsu, and Kuwae (his last formal student). All of these outstanding martial artists came from wealthy families. Matsumura Sensei was a verywell-educated man and was married to a very beautiful woman, who was also a splendid martial artist in her own right.. It is said of Matsumura Sensei's wife that she would marry the man who could defeat her. Matsumura Sensei took up the challenge and fought her. Although she was very skilled, Matsumura Sensei kicked her in the breast area causing her to surrender the fight. Shortly after their fight, they were married. It is said that the Shuri-te form of the kata Seisan was developed by Matsumura Sensei's wife so as to allow her to fight with a baby strapped to her back.

Matsumura Sokon Sensei was the Ryukyuan King's bodyguard up until his death at age 85. A story is related concerning one night when three criminals broke into Shuri Castle. Upon being notified of this, Matsumura Sensei decided to send his wife to get rid of them or arrest them. Upon arriving at the castle, she confronted them leaving. After a short fight, the lady Matsumura left one dead and the other two severely injured (one of which died several days later from a toe-tipped kick to the leg).

Another incident involved Matsumura Sensei fighting another Okinawan Bushi, Kushiguawa Uehara. The fight was to take place in front of the king to determine who would be the chief bodyguard. Both men only threw one punch, with Matsumura Sensei winning by skillfully punching Bushi Kushiguaw's punching hand and breaking it.

The most famous story concerning Bushi Matsumura involved him fighting a large bull. The Ryukyuan king had always wanted to know whether a man could fight and win against a bull, but he also wanted to see how well Matsumura Sensei could handle himself in a life or death confrontation. When the king gave Matsumura Sensei the challenge, he could not refuse because he was the king's chief bodyguard. The other Okinawan Bushi advised him that he would be killed if he took up the challenge. They stated that it would be much wiser for him to step down rather than be needlessly killed.

Matsumura accepted the challenge and the king then ordered fifteen men to construct a special bull-fighting ring for the fight. The news spread throughout all of Okinawa that the great Matsumura would fight the king's favorite fighting bull. In turn, Matsumura Sensei asked the king for three weeks to prepare for the match. The king gave his permission and Matsumura Sensei began his preparations to ensure his win and his survival.

The next day, Matsumura Sensei took a short bamboo spear and went to the stables where the bull was corralled. He told the keeper of the stable that he needed to be alone with the bull in order to make peace with it so as the bull's spirit would not haunt him after he killed it. The keeper honored Matsumura's wish and left. Matsumura Sensei then used his cloak to give the bull his scent and then poked its privates with the bamboo spear. The bull became very angry, but could not get at Matsumura because of the strong corral. He continued to terrorize the bull every day for three weeks until the mere sight of Matsumura caused the bull to cry with fright.

On the day of the fight, Matsumura Sensei wore his oldest and dirtiest fighting clothes that had not been washed. The dirty clothes carried his scent and his hopes for survival. The bull-ring had been situated on the beach and Matsumura Sensei arrived at the appointed hour. By then, almost all of Okinawa was there to watch the Bushi meet his match in the king's favorite fighting bull. The Bushi approached the bull-ring carrying his favorite bamboo fighting fan and nothing else.

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