E-BOOK: The Lost Book of Kushanku



The Lost Book of Kushanku is the very Genesis of the Okinawan Martial Arts…

The Bubishi has long been regarded as the ‘Bible of Karate’, an anthology of Chinese martial arts and related information that was taken to Okinawan in the 1800s. But what if another document was taken to Okinawa even earlier in the 1700s? A document that became the very foundations on which Karate was built? That document is THE LOST BOOK OF KUSHANKU.

Kushanku the man is one of the most shadowy figures in the history of Karate. He was said to be a Chinese master who passed his skills onto Tode Sakugawa and Chatan Yara in the 1750s and the ultimate root of forms like Kanku Dai, Kanku Sho and the Heian forms. He was therefore the great grandfather of styles like Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Shotokai, Yoseikan, Budokan, Shukokai, Shito Ryu and even Taekwondo. But who was this mysterious man, what did he teach and how? Now finally Kushanku is revealed and what is more, the Lost Book of Kushanku is revealed!

What is more significant is that the uncovering of the Lost Book of Kushanku gives an indication to the way the Karate forms should be performed. My own system is named Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu and developed hand in hand with the research presented in this book. Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu aims to teach the original combative methods of Karate/Jujutsu referring to the postural and internal benefits of the Chinese martial arts from which they were derived.


This book began as a personal quest to understand the kata I had been taught. Like most Karateka in the Shotokan family of styles, the first forms I learnt were the Taikyoku, Heian, Tekki, Bassai, Empi and Kanku. In the days prior to the internet it was hard to decipher even the names of these forms.

Reading Hanshi Patrick McCarthy’s translation of the Bubishi in 1996 I was excited to see tangible origins of the kata. To my mind Hanshi McCarthy is one of the most significant Karate researchers of the last 100 years and the Bubishi is one of the most significant martial arts texts of all time.

The commentary accompanying the book suggested that Goju Ryu forms like Sanchin and Suparimpei and advanced Shotokan forms like Hangetsu, Jutte and Gojushiho, had their origins in the southern Chinese fighting systems which was great to know.

My edition of the Bubishi

My edition of the Bubishi

But what about the Heian, Bassai, Tekki and Kanku forms? Why did they have no origins in Fujian, China? Why was there a Fujian form called Usesihi (Gojushiho) but not one called Kushanku? I spent almost 20 years researching the true origins of these forms and now present my findings.

Many people will point out that to a degree we know the origins of these forms. We know some of the Okinawan masters that pioneered them, men like Itosu, Matsumura, Sakugawa and Yara, we also know some of the names of the Chinese men who taught them, like Iwah, Anan and Ason, but we can’t quite pinpoint their origin beyond this. These faceless Chinese masters have caused some to created hypothetical kata pioneers. I have seen it suggested that one early Karate master must have been Seishan, since the kata must have been named after somebody, but of course this is not the case.

This book will answer a number of lingering questions:

1) What are the origins of kata classification Shorin and Shorei?
2) From what source did Karate’s oldest kata Wansu (Empi) derive?
3) Who was the mysterious Chinese master Kushanku and what did he teach?
4) Who was the Chinese master Iwah and what style did he teach?
5) What katas came from the Chinese masters Anan and Ason?
6) What are the origins of the Pinan, Naihanchi, Bassai, Kushanku and Wansu forms?
7) Was there one style from which all these forms ultimately derived?
8) Where do the Japanese soft styles like Kito Ryu, Yoshin Ryu and Shingan Ryu come from?

The Southern Chinese kata like Sanchin, Seishan (Hangetsu) and Niseishi can be fairly faithfully traced to Fujian Chinese styles of crane, monk and tiger boxing, but this does not explain the origins of forms like Bassai, Empi and Kanku.


In Japan and Okinawa there is a concept called Tatemae and Honne, which loosely translated means “official truth” and “actual truth”. Another way of looking at it would be “propaganda” and “truth.”

Sometimes Tatemae is used for political or marketing purposes and other times to enhance a legend.

To use a western comparison, telling your children that Santa brings their presents is like Tatemae. It is an unspoken rule that almost everybody abides by, but obviously nobody actually really believes apart from little ones.

Each martial art has a Tatemae and a Honne.

For example the Tatemae of Shotokan Karate is something like: “Karate is an ancient Okinawan martial arts developed by peasants who were not allowed weapons. They were able to use their bare hands and farmyard implements to defend against the ruling Samurai. The three ancient schools were Shuri Te, Naha Te and Tomari Te. From Shuri Te and Tomari Te the Shorin Ryu school developed and from Naha Te the Shorei Ryu school developed. Gichin Funakoshi mastered the Shorin and Shorei schools and combined them to form Shotokan.”

Remember this is Tatemae. This is the kind of thing Funakoshi’s assistant instructors would pass on as “history”.

But if we examine it, Karate was not ancient, it was not developed by peasants, Shuri Te, Naha Te and Tomari Te were not ancient either, Funakoshi never mastered Shorin and Shorei and he never created Shotokan! And Okinawans didn’t knock Samurai off horseback using rakes.

So what is the true history of Karate?

Well firstly cast aside any ideas of Karate as a peasant art. Peasants or plebians did not practice Karate. They had some fighting based games that resembled Sumo and arm wrestling, but these did not much resemble Karate. Patrick McCarthy has conjectured that Siamese Boxing (Muay Boran) may have been a percussive art that Okinawan peasants adopted and referred to as Ti’Gwa, but for the origins of Karate as we know it we should look at two main sources:

1) Priviliged classes among Chinese communities (Yukatchu)
2) Okinawan privileged classes (Peichin)

1) Chinese Communities
The Chinese communities were largely based in Kumemura (Kume village). Imagine New York, Liverpool or London’s China Towns and how they are Anglicised communities of second and third generation Chinese. How they have some modern English customs, some old Chinese customs and some Chinese novelties to sell to tourists. There are restaurants, shops and behind closed doors, martial arts are taught. This is exactly what Kume was in Okinawa – a China Town. One of these Chinese families living in Okinawa was the Cai family, known locally as the Kojo. Within Kume, the resident families studied and taught Chinese Quan Fa which the local Okinawans called Toshu Jutsu (or Tode) – Chinese hand techniques.

The people of Kumemura, traditionally believed to all be descendants of the Chinese immigrants who first settled there in 1393, came to form an important and aristocratic class of scholar-bureaucrats called the yukatchu, who dominated the royal bureaucracy, and served as government officials at home, and as diplomats in relations with China, Japan, and others.

By the middle of the fifteenth century, the community was enclosed within a walled ‘China Town’ and consisted of over one hundred homes.

Children in Kumemura began their formal studies at the age of five, and would travel to the palace at Shuri for a formal audience at the age of fifteen. At this point they would be formally added to the register of yukatchu scholar-bureaucrats and could begin their government careers.

One of the defining features of the scholar community at Kumemura, and its relationship with China was the system by which students and scholars of Kumemura spent periods in Fuzhou (Fujian), both as students and as members of tributary missions.

Bassai: One of the most importaant kata in Shorin Ryu yet little is known of it

Bassai: One of the most important kata in Shorin Ryu yet little is known of it

Most students and scholar-bureaucrats spent at least a few years of their lives studying in Fuzhou; a few travelled to Beijing, and beginning in the 17th century, some studied in Japan, in Kagoshima.

Only a few hundred Ryukyuans were ever resident in Fuzhou at a time, and only eight at the imperial university in Beijing, where they were allowed to stay for three years, or up to eight in exceptional circumstances.

2) Okinawan privileged classes
Okinawa, the central Ryukyu kingdom is part of a chain of islands that has affinity with both China and Japan, in the way Jersey and Guernsey are half way between England and France.

The nobility in Okinawa regularly visited both on diplomatic exchanges. Two early examples of this are the Chinese envoy Wang Ji visiting Okinawa in the late 1600s and the Ryukyu native Hama Higa visiting Japan around the same time. Hama Higa was known to be a weapons expert.

Around 1801, young men from Shuri began to be sent abroad to study in Fuzhou and Beijing, breaking the monopoly on Chinese scholarship held by Kumemura for roughly four centuries. This was the start of the original “Shuri Te” (but did not get this name til much later).


When we imagine Okinawa we must imagine its cultural and geographic setting. The Ryukyu islands lie like a rope in the water between China and Japan. But Okinawa also has Taiwan to the south west, Korea to the north and Thailand to the south. And she is a product of the bullying of her larger siblings. And like a bullied child, Okinawa grew tough and bitter about her bullying neighbours and she vowed to fight back with her hands and feet.

Many trace Okinawa’s fighting traditions back to the Japanese invasion of Minamoto Tametomo, but this influence is most likely overstated. The fighting art practiced by the Minamoto at the time was called Hakugen Ryu.

Tametomo was a samurai who fought in the Hogen Rebellion of 1156. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and brother to Yukiie and Yoshitomo.

Minamoto Tametomo

Minamoto Tametomo

In the Hogen Rebellion, he fought to defend the Shirakawa-den, alongside his father, against the forces of Taira no Kiyomori and Minamoto no Yoshitomo, his brother. The palace was set aflame, and Tametomo was forced to flee and was banished to the island of Oshima in the Izu Islands. In Ryukyu, it has long been believed that he made his way down to Okinawa during his exile, and founded their kingdom by siring the first king of Chuzan, Shunten. This tale was included in Chuzan Seikan by Sho Shoken, the first history of Ryukyu.

The story of Tametomo founding a kingship in Okinawa while in exile is likely untrue. Most historians today, however, discount this entire story as a later invention, a piece of a revisionist history intended to legitimize Japanese domination over Okinawa and/or Okinawan membership in the Japanese nation.

Likewise  Okinawa’s initial contact with China can be traced back to the Tang period (618-907), it wasn’t until 1372, that Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang first sent his special representative to Chuzan, the most powerful of Okinawa’s three rival kingdoms.

Landing at port Maki, the Ming representative petitioned Chuzan to become a tributary colony.

By 1392 a ‘China Town’ was established in Okinawan Kume, this legend is now referred to as the ‘thirty-six families’. This is historically important as it is now considered the original source from which the Chinese fighting traditions were first systematically transmitted in Okinawa notably to the Kojo family which we will return to later.

The 16th Century began in Okinawa with an act that is synonymous with the very history of Karate – the legendary weapons ban.

Weapons were supposedly confiscated in 1507 during the reign of King Shoshin (1477 – 1526). But while it is documented that King Shoshin ordered his provincial lords, or aji, to live near his castle in Shuri, many historians no longer believe that he totally disarmed his ruling class.

Some historians now interpret that King Shoshin was actually building an armoury to protect his ports and prepare for any potential invasion by pirates,not that he was stripping the Okinawan samurai or the general population of their weaponry.

The weapons ban of 1507 may be compared to the end of the feudal era in Okinawa and in 1509 a new era begun, that of the Peichin class. The Peichin class was essentially the Okinawan equivalent of the Tokugawa Samurai class.

This is historically significant because it provides a plausible theory surrounding the advent and cultivation of Okinawa’s civil fighting traditions as a alternative means of domestic law enforcement. If you have no weapons, you either make them or learn to fight empty handed.

In 1509, Sho-Shin-O enacted a rank structure for the gentry which was symbolized by `kanzashi’ (hair pins) worn in the `katakashira’ (coiffure) and their manner of dress. Placing the responsibility of domestic law enforcement in the capable hands of the Pechin class officials, weapon-like objects such as batons, walking sticks and truncheons became utilised as the standard physical deterrent against violence.

Requiring distinctive skills, these weapon-like objects, which otherwise remained harmless tools, earned the Ryukyu Kingdom the reputation of being `a country without weapons.’ Responsible for guarding the king and keeping the peace along with other related matters of district security, the Pechin officials drew heavily upon their liaison with the Middle Kingdom.

Analyzing the principles of China’s civil fighting disciplines the Pechin sought to enhance their own understanding and application of the domestic self-defense phenomenon. There were two separate divisions of Pechin officials; Satunushi and Chikudoun. The Satunushi were from gentry while the Chikudoun ascended from common people. These two divisions were even further divided into ten sub-categories based upon seniority.

Administrative aspects of `law and order’ were governed by elder officials at the `Okumiza’ bureau. Called `Hirajo’, this judiciary system engaged the services of `bailiffs’ whose responsibility it was to serve writs and summon ses, make arrests, take custody of prisoners and ensure that the sentences of the court were carried out. The `Chiku-Saji’ Pechin, policed the towns while the `Shiki’ provided the military defense, guarded the castle, and protected the king.

All Ryukyu Kingdom Pechin were not confined to duties of law enforcement. Geology, astronomy, Go, calligraphy, music, history politics and education were among the many other pursuits pursued by the Pechin class.

Just as the previous century begun with 1507’s legendary weapons ban so the 17th century began with another dramatic event for Okinawa. In 1609, their Japanese neighbours the Satsuma invaded. And Okinawa was not equipped to put up a fight. The hairpin was no match for the katana.

The invasion of Ryukyu by forces of the Japanese feudal domain of Satsuma took place in 1609, and marked the beginning of the Ryukyu Kingdom’s status as a vassal state under Satsuma. The invasion itself involved few casualties, as Ryukyu had little military strength, and its people were ordered by their king to surrender and to spare themselves any bloodshed. The peasants of Okinawa’s northern Motobu peninsula put up a strong fight but it was futile. The Satsuma had arrived with 3,000 men in 100 ships.

Satsuma’s invasion of Ryukyu was the climax of a long tradition of relations between the kingdom and the Shimazu clan of Satsuma. The two regions had been engaged in trade for at least several centuries and possibly for far longer than that; in addition, Ryukyu at times had paid tribute to the Muromachi shogunate (1336-1573) of Japan as it did to China since 1372.

In the final decades of the 16th century, the Shimazu clan, along with the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan from 1582-1598, demanded tribute from the kingdom on a number of occasions. The repeated refusals of these demands by King Sho Nei (r. 1587-1620), who also ignored outright many communications from Shimazu and Hideyoshi, spurred the Shimazu, with the permission of the newly established Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867), to invade Ryukyu in 1609.

Following Hideyoshi’s death in 1598, and Tokugawa Ieyasu’s subsequent rise to power, Sho Nei was asked by Satsuma to formally submit to the new shogunate, a request which was also ignored. The Shimazu then requested to launch a punitive mission against Ryukyu and, in 1606, were granted permission by the shogunate.

The fleet landed at Unten Harbor on the Motobu Peninsula of Okinawa Island. They encountered fierce resistance there from the local peasants, and suffered considerable losses, but were ultimately victorious and moved on south to the Ryukyuan royal capital of Shuri.


The capital desperately tried to organize a defence, but the kingdom’s military capabilities were no match for those of the invaders. Ryukyu’s hereditary aristocratic class, unlike that of the Japanese samurai, was not a warrior class, and in any case the kingdom had faced no threats greater than the occasional pirates in nearly two hundred years.

The invaders entered Shuri Castle and looted it, along with a number of nearby temples and noble residences, stealing or destroying Buddhist scriptures and a variety of other objects of religious or historical significance, along with considerable portions of the royal treasure. Sho Nei surrendered on April 5 1609, and was taken, along with roughly one hundred of his officials, to Sunpu to meet with the retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, then to Edo for a formal audience with Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, and then to Kagoshima, where he was forced to more formally surrender and to declare a number of oaths to the Shimazu clan. In 1611, two years after the invasion, the king returned to his castle at Shuri.

In the king’s absence, Kabayama Hisataka and his deputy Honda Chikamasa governed the islands on behalf of their lord Shimazu Tadatsune.

Fourteen samurai officials from Satsuma, along with 163 of their staff, examined the kingdom’s political structures and economic productivity, and conducted land surveys of all the islands. Following the king’s return to Shuri and the resumption of governance under the royal establishment, three Ryukyuan officials remained as hostages in Kagoshima until Satsuma was convinced that Sho Nei and his officials were operating in accordance with their oaths. The following year, the lords of Ozato and Katsuren returned to Okinawa, while the third, an Aji (noble) by the name of Kunjan, chose to remain in Kagoshima.

The surrender documents signed at Kagoshima in 1611 were accompanied by a series of oaths. The king and his councillors were made to swear that “the islands of Ryu Kyu have from ancient times been a feudal dependency of Satsuma.”

In 1620 the official martial art of the Satsuma, Jigen Ryu adopted makeshift weapons into its syllabus including the flute, staff, sickle, spade and axe.

These historical factors are key in the early history of Toshu Jutsu:
1) The China Town of Kume from the 1300s
2) The apparent weapons ban of 1507
3) The establishment of the Peichin class in 1509
4) The Satsuma occupation and puppet king of Okinawa from 1609
5) The Satsuma in 1620 teaching the use of makeshift weapons such as the staff

And from these stormy and seemingly contrary factors, the indigenous Okinawan art of Uchinadi (Uchina-Okinawan, Di-Hand) emerged.

But even with these five factors contributing to early Te, we have still not reached the point where forms like Empi, Kanku and Bassai come into play and make Te into Toshu Jutsu (Chinese hand fighting).

Eventually the Satsuma agreed to teach their skills of Kenjutsu to certain Okinawans. The Satsuma sword art was called Ko-Jigen Ryu.

The Chinese Pi Quan (splitting strike) is the origin of the Okinawan Shuto

The Chinese Pi Quan (splitting strike) is the fore runner of the Okinawan Shuto


Many early Karate authors split the kata into Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu, usually with some spurious explanation like “Shorin is for thin quick people, Shorei is for slower stronger people” but this definition aside, Empi, Kanku and Bassai are almost always referred to as Shorin Ryu, while the more Goju Ryu looking forms like Tekki and Hangetsu are Shorei Ryu.

When Gichin Funakoshi referred to Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu, we must understand that Shorin referred to the Northern Chinese Shaolin traditions (the older Shaolin traditions of Chang Quan), and Shorei to the Southern Chinese traditions of Fujian.

And the northern traditions are strongly associated with internal martial arts like Hsing-I Chuan which is considered one of the Wutang (Taoist) arts.

The history of Shaolin (Buddhist) and Wutang (Taoist) martial arts are forever intertwined. The Shaolin traces its skills back to Boddhidarma who showed Indian martial arts to the Shaolin monks. If Shaolin had a founder as devine as Boddhidarma, then Wutang had to go one better and have an immortal!

Therefore the founder of Wutang Kung Fu is Zhang San Feng, an Immortal who, if he had lived would have done so from about 1270. Zhang San Feng, said to be an expert in Chang Quan (Long Fist Boxing) developed what we call today vital point  combat.

He developed a series of techniques based on his (Shaolin) Long Fist Boxing skills and developed 36 vital point strikes. These were later developed by a Taoist called Feng Yiquan. His student Zhang Zhuan Yi turn developed 72 postures and eventually 108 postures were taught.

Another legendary, but probably historic Taoist who lived at around the same time as Zhang San Feng was General Yue Fei, a great war leader, archer and spearman.

Yue Fei

Yue Fei

Yue Fei, however was not just an armed strategist. He is also credited as the founder of at least three martial arts. They are:

1) Eagle Claw Kung Fu
2) Hsin-I Quan
3) Ba Duan Jin, a set of Chi Kung postures

The author's father Sifu David Keegan performing Ba Duan Jin

The author’s father Sifu David Keegan performing Ba Duan Jin

Simon in 1996 experimenting with Karate kata by utilising the Japanese longsword and movements from the Chinese Ba Duan Jin

The author in 1996 experimenting with Karate kata by utilising the Japanese longsword and movements from the Chinese Ba Duan Jin

Over times Zhang San Feng came to be regarded as the legendary founder of Taiji Quan and Yue Fei as the legendary founder of Hsing-I Quan.

But while Yue Fei is the legendary founder, one Ji Ji Ke is the historical founder. To put things in perspective, Ji, also called Ji Long Feng was born in around 1588 and began teaching in around 1610. In other words, around the time of the Satsuma invasion of Okinawa.

Ji Long Feng’s Bazi Quan

Legend has it that Ji Ji Ke learnt Hsin-I Quan (as distinct from the later Hsing-I Quan) by finding one of Yue Fei’s manuals in a cave. But as any martial artist knows, you cannot gain mastery from a book.

Ji Ji Ke must have had a teacher. And at least one researcher believes the style he studied was called Baji Quan, known at the time by its older name Bazi Quan, then one of the most effective fighting arts in China.

Many assume that Ji Ji Ke actually taught ‘Hsing I’ but this term was not coined for another two hundred years, by Ji’s descendant Li Luo Neng (who studied the art under Dai Wenxiong son of Dai Long Bang whose teacher Gao Ji Wu was a student of Ji Ji Ke).

The author performing Pao Chuan

The author looking at hsing I  style strikes

Ji Ji Ke actually referred to the art as Xin Yi Ba. If move the syllables around we get Ba Yi Xin , which sounds very like ‘Ba Ji Xin.

Grandmaster Liu Yun Qiao believed that not only was Baji Quan the forerunner of Taiji and Hsin-I it was also one of China’s original martial arts, dating back to the first mythical emperor’s discovery of the Pakua on the back of a giant turtle.

Bazi Quan originated from Bazi fist and staff that was recorded in the “Ji Xiao Xin Shu” (“New Book of Effective Techniques”), where it was written: “Among the fist families of old and new…Yang family spear methods and Bazi fist and staff, are the famous families of the day.”

Emperor Fu Hsi discovers the Pakua on the back of  a turtle

Emperor Fu Hsi discovers the Pakua on the back of a turtle

Bazi Quan was a family art passed down by the royal Ching family while ruling China. It has a long history of relationship to the Imperial house and its bodyguards.

Ba means eight. The syllable Ji can mean Direction, it can also mean Pole, which by Taoist cosmology can refer to something being ‘poles apart’ (think of the North Pole and South Pole as Yin and Yang) it can also refer to the ‘Supreme Ultimate Ridgepole’ at the centre of the universe which connects Heaven, Earth and Man. In this context Yin and Yang are refered to as Tai Ji (Supreme Ultimate Ridgepole) which is also the name of a quite a famous martial art, Tai Ji Quan (Tai Chi Chuan).

Baji or Ba Chi also has a rather less glamourous homonym which is Bazi which means ‘rake’. There is obviously a distinction between a pole that comprises a rake and the pole that the cosmos revolves around!

There is, however another translation of Bazi.

Ba/Ha/Pa can mean White
Zi/Shi/Sai/Rai can mean Lion
Bazi therefore can mean White Lion.

White Lion at the Summer Palace in Beijing

White Lion at the Summer Palace in Beijing

Baji Quan master Su Yu Chang believes Bazi Quan is actually one of the oldest of all Chinese martial arts. He writes:

One of the oldest systems of martial arts, dating back 5000 years to the Huang Di Dynasty, Pachi Chuan was first documented under the name Pa Men Shiong Chuan (The Eight Bear Gates Style). The reason for using “Bear” was simply because of the armor they wore. In those days the militant’s armor was made of dried and hardened animal skins. The higher up the rank, the tougher and heavier the animal skin armor was. The highest rank used bearskin. This practically impenetrable (for the weapons of the times) armor, was also very heavy, making limited mobility. For this reason Pachi Chuan was developed to be a very martial and efficient system, projecting explosive energy in a direct path much like a cannon.

In Pachi Chuan, the student focuses not on deflecting the opponent’s blows, but rather on penetrating his attack to overwhelm him. This system is so powerful that during the Ching dynasty it was the official system of the Emperor’s Court. Thus “Eight” referring to the number of guards who would escort the Emperor at all times.

Pachi Chuan is a very physically demanding style, utilizing the idea of 100% of available force in every technique. Differing from its sub-style, Hsing-I Chuan.

The author performing Beng Chuan

As previously stated, Bazi Quan was recorded in the book Ji Xiao Xin Shu by General Qi Ji Guang. We will return to General Qi  but by way of a short introduction, Qi Jiguang (November 12, 1528 – January 5, 1588) was a Chinese military general and national hero during the Ming Dynasty. He was best remembered for his courage and leadership in the fight against Japanese pirates along the east coast of China, as well as his reinforcement work on the Great Wall of China but in martial arts he is remembered for popularising the use of solo forms (Quan/Hsing) he was a pioneer of Kata!

The very year that Qi Ji Guang died, Ji Ji Ke was born. If Ji studied any manual, then likely the manual he studied was the Ji Xiao Xin Shu.

Ji Jike created the martial art of Xinyiquan (Heart and Intention Boxing), which is the precursor of Xingyiquan (Form and Intention Boxing). He based the fundamentals of Xinyi on the spear techniques for which he was also famous. It was Li Luo Neng, a most famous descendant of Ji Jike, who modified Xinyi and called it Xingyi.

Ji Ji Ke travelled throughout China to refine his martial art. He eventually made his way to the Shaolin temple in Henan province to study Shaolin Wushu. At the temple, the monks were all amazed at his skill with the spear as well as his unarmed fighting skills. Welcomed by the monks, he stayed at the Temple, where he spent more than 10 years. It was here where he created Xinyi. Legend has it that during his time at the Temple, Ji once observed two cocks fighting, and was inspired to complete his development of the art of Xinyi.

Later, after leaving the temple, he taught in the region to others from Henan. The most prominent of his students was Gao Ji Wu, his successor in the Hsin-I Quan lineage.


Akiyama (1600-1670)
Bazi Quan was not just studied by native Chinese, it also fell into the hands of various Japanese Bushi. One of these, Akiyama Yoshitoka (circa 1600-1670) studied Bazi Quan in China and returned to his native Nagasaki with his newfound art.

Akiyama Yoshitoki demonstrating Hakuda

Akiyama Yoshitoki demonstrating Hakuda

Akiyama studied the form Bazi-Da (the major form, the minor being Bazi Xiao) which he referred to as Bai-Da (Chojun Miyagi cites this pronunciation). It seems that somewhere along the lines Akiyama has preferred the translation:

White Lion Hand for Bazi Da rather than Eight Directions, Major.

When he returned to Japan Baida was rendered as Hakuda (white hand) or Shubaku (hand white)

Of the translation Baida, Chojun Miyagi stated: “In China, in the old days, people called Hakuda or Baida for Chinese kungfu, Kempo or Chuanfa . Like those examples, names changes according to times.” He added: “I think the name “Karate- Do” is better.”

Even the famous founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano described Akiyama’s study of Hakuda, saying: “There once lived in Nagasaki a physician named Akiyama, who went to China to study medicine. There he learned an art called Hakuda which consisted of kicking and striking, differing, we may note, from jujutsu, which is mainly seizing and throwing.”

Akiyama, known as the founder of Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu was not the first Japanese to study a percussive Quan. one Chen Gempin who lived around 1587-1671 was said to have brought Chinese fighting arts to Japan in 1638 and his students Fukuno and Terada became the founders of the Kito Ryu tradition.

Chen Gempin has never been identified as an historical person before now, but the author believes that Chen Gempin correlates perfectly with Chen Wangting, the famous patriarch of Chen Tai Chi. Did Chen come to Japan? Probably not, but he is an appropriate Chinese master to which a lineage boasting softness (Ju) could claim descent.

If we look at Yagyu Shingan Ryu Jujutsu we also see a definite Hsing-I (Shingan – Hsing) influence. The forms even start with a similar salutation.

The original Shingan Ryu founded by Takenaga Hayato was clearly based on Bazi Quan or Hsing-I Quan. (Shin is written with the same characters as Hsing-I) was established in around 1600 – exactly the time Akiyama was studying in China.

Shingan Ryu consists of Yawara, Kogusoku Tote, Kogusoku Torite, Suhada Tote, Suhada Torite and even uses farming implements of horsemanship as a weapon.

Visually Shingan Ryu is completely unique in Japanese Jujutsu. The exponents stand with hands in front of their groins and approach side on (as if to perform Tekki) and the movements are shown solo with flamoboyant whirls of the arms. Take the opponent away in Shingan Ryu and it looks exactly like Hsing-I. Add the opponent in kata Tekki and it looks exactly like Shingan Ryu!

But like Akiyama and Hayato studying Bazi Quan in China, and the Chinese master Chen Gempin apparently coming to Japan, it was only a matter of time before the Chinese Quan reached Okinawa.

In 1683 a Qing Sapposhi Wang Ji arrived in Okinawa during the rule of King Sho Te. That same year the Okinawan Te practitioner Tei Junsoku went to China. Did Tei meet Wang Ji and go to China through his invitation?

Tei Junsoku (1663-1734) was a Confucian scholar and government official of the Ryukyu Kingdom. He has been described as being “in an unofficial sense… the ‘minister of education'”, and is particularly famous for his contributions to scholarship and education in Okinawa and Japan. Holding uekata rank in the Ryukyuan government, he served at times in his career as magistrate of both Nago and Kumemura, and as a member of the Sanshikan, the elite council of three chief advisors to the king. He is sometimes known as the “Sage of Nago.”

Tei Junsoku was born in Kumemura, the Okinawan center of classical Chinese learning, in 1663. He first journeyed to China in 1683 and stayed there for four years, studying the Confucian classics, among other subjects, just as many others raised and educated in the scholar-bureaucrat system in Kumemura did over the course of the kingdom’s history. He would return to China several times during his career, serving as interpreter and in other roles as a member of official missions from the kingdom.

Wang Ji (1621-1689)
Like Akiyama (1600-1670) he lived within a generation of Ji Ji Ke (1588-1662). He may even have been a student of Ji in the art of Bazi Quan (or Hsin-I Quan). What is significant about Wang Ji is that he seems to have introduced the first Quan (Kata) to Okinawa, and that kata was Wansu (Empi), the Flying Swallow.

Shoto Ryu version of Empi by the author:

The name of the form could be a reference to the Swallow form of Hsin-I Quan. Wang Ji was originally from Xiuning in Anhui, and was an official for the Han Lin Yuan, an important government post (Kinjo, 1999).

In order to become an official for the Han Lin Yuan, one had to be a high level scholar, and pass several national tests. If Wang Ji did teach his ‘swallow form’ during an envoy to Okinawa in 1683, he would have done so to the noble classes, not the peasants. And this seems to mark the beginning of Toshu Jutsu in Okinawa, the art of the Chinese Hand. And we finally get to meet in addition to Chinese masters like Ji Ji Ke and Wang Ji and Japanese masters like Akiyama, true practitioners of Toshu Jutsu.

It seems we have met the first two Okinawan students of Wang Ji. They are Hama Higa and Motobu Oji Chohei.

Hama Higa (1640-1700)
The difficulty when dealing with Hama Higa is that his exploits are sometimes transposed with those of the much later Matsu Higa, and even their names are interchangeable. For the purposes of clarity we will always refer to the elder as Hama Higa. Both were weapons (Emono Jutsu) masters as well as practitioners of Toshu Jutsu.

On May 24th, 1682 Hama Higa played a game of Go against the Japanese Honinbo Dosaku in the mansion of the Shimazu Daimyo and performed a Sai kata for the Shogun.

Higa was said to have performed Sai Jutsu in front of the Japanese Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (February 23, 1646-February 19, 1709).

Basic Sai kata by the author:

Motobu Oji Chohei (1655-1687)
The Motobu Udun was an aristocratic family in the Ryukyu Kingdom of Okinawa. Its progenitor was Motobu Aji Chohei (also known as Sho Koshin, 1655-1687), sixth son of the tenth monarch of the Second Sho Dynasty (1469-1879), Sho Shitsu (1629-1668).From the 17th century to the Meiji Reforms of the late 19th century, successive heads of the family held the rank of Aji – below only the king himself–and served as vassals to the Shuri monarchy.

The family excelled in both cultural and military fields, producing important politicians as well as performing and martial artists. As the term udun indicated blood relation to the monarch, families of this rank comprised the Ryukyuan counterpart to the miyake, or imperial family, of Japan. It referred to both the physical residence of the royal family and the royal personages who lived there.

Motobu Chohei was born on May 4, 1655, the sixth son of King Sho Shitsu and his wife  Honko. His wife was Urasaki Oshu (princess), daughter of Adaniya Uekata Seibo.

In 1666, at the age of 11, Chohei received the domain of Motobu Magiri (now the village of Motobu in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa) and assumed the title of Motobu Aji. From then on, successive heads of the house used the name Motobu.

The Toshu Jutsu of the Motobu family (Motobu udundi) is believed to originate with Chohei, but information about his activities and achievements was lost with the family genealogical record in the Pacific War, and the details of his personal history are not well known. Chohei was succeeded by his eldest son, Chokan, while his second son, Chotaku, was adopted into the Urazoe Aji family, becoming its heir.

Because of their statesman like occupations, both Hama Higa and Motobu Oji Chohei are ideal candidates to receive tuition from Wang Ji, the Chinese statesman.

The reader will note I refer to the art as Toshu Jutsu since this along with Toshukuken and Hakuda were the original descriptions of Chinese Boxing.

Dr Tsuyoshi Chitose of the Chito Ryu tradition referred to Karate as a ‘Thousand Year Tang tradition’ and stated: “The martial art of Toshukuken was developed in Tang Dynasty in Ancient China approximately one thousand years ago. Later, after introduction to Japan, this martial art became unique and known as Karate.”

Motokatsu Inoue, the famous Kobudo master states: “The old martial arts of the Ryukyu Islands exist of Toshu Jutsu, the way of the empty hand and Emono-jutsu, the way of the weapons. Nowadays, these martial arts are called Karate and Ryukyu Kobujutsu, respectively.”

However, before we meet any more Okinawan masters we will return to China and Japan where the fighting traditions of Bazi Quan and those of the Satsuma Samurai were still being developed.

Ma Yun Cheng (c1650-1720)
According to Chinese martial arts expert author Wong Kiew Kit, Ma Yun Cheng was the progenitor of the arts of Taiji Quan and Bagua Zhang,

His student in what would later be Taiji Quan was Wang Zong Yue and his students from which Bagua emerged were the two saints, Mi Den Xia (otherwise known as Sifu Deng) and Guo Ji Yuen.

Ma Yun Cheng, like the man who lived two generations earlier Ji Ji Ke (1588-1662) was a practitioner of the art of Bazi Quan.

Ma Yun Cheng taught the vital points techniques that were attributed to the legendary Zhang San Feng passed via his disciple Taiyi Zhen Ren.

The importance of Ma Yun Cheng to the history of Toshu Jutsu will soon become apparent. But first we will return to the Okinawans.

There is reference to Ji Ji Ke teaching the Ma family. Ji taught a Ma Xueli who may have been a forefather of Ma Yun Cheng.

Takahara Peichin (1683-1760)
Takahara was born in the year Wansu came to Okinawa and when he was a baby Hama Higa demonstrated Sai in Japan.

He was born in Akata Cho. When he was 12 in 1695 an Okinawan by the name of Haebaru Ueikata was invited to study Ko-Jigen Ryu by the Satsuma. In 1720, when Takahara was 37 Haebaru Uekata began teaching the Ko-Jigen Ryu in Okinawa.

Among his students were Haneji Aji and Morishima Uekata. Who was Takahara’s teacher? A good bet would be Hama Higa, He was the right social class, the right age and he was in the right place at the right time.

We can imagine Takahara studying Uchinadi and Emono Jutsu with Hama Higa and perhaps even studying some of the makeshift weapons of Ko-Jigen Ryu with Haebaru Uekata.

He would have been adept in the basics of Hsin-I Quan, transmitted through the Quan/Kata known as Wansu.


In Mark Bishop’s excellent Okinawan Karate, he states: “One could say that [Motobu Ryu] combines the finer points of the three most acclaimed internal Chinese boxing styles and more, having within its various guises the swift, straight lined attack of Hsing-I, the softness of Tai Chi and the everchanging circular defence of Pa Kua.”

Motobu Ryu has a now lost kata called Anji Kata no Mekata (Kata dance of the Lords) which was similar to ladies dancing. According to Bishop it was ‘slow balanced postures performed to music while in a trance like state.’

So again, the image is of a Tai Chi-like form.

Sokon Matsumura (more on him later) said of Court styles such as Motobu Ryu:  “The court instructors styles are practised in a very unusual way; movements are never the same, formless and light becoming (like women) more and more dance-like as the proponents mature.

We must bear in mind that Takahara was also a “court instructor” as well as astronomer and map-maker. So we can imagine his Hsing-I based Toshu Jutsu was similar to that of his Motobu contemporaries.

The Toshu Jutsu of Motobu Ryu was also referred to as Tuishu Jutsu or Tuiti Jutsu. The current official website of the Motobu Family describes their skills as follows:

“Meant to be applied against real attacks, tuiti was originally not learned through Japanese aikijutsu-like kata traning, or pre-arranged kumite drills, but through means of training akin to jiyu kumite, or free sparring. The Meiji Period master Itosu Anko sensei stated in his Itosu jyukkun (Ten Precepts of Karate) of 1908 that Okinawan tuiti was not contained in karate kata. By this, he meant that it was not learned through bunkai of karate kata or kumite drills developed from bunkai.

“A number of characteristics differentiate Okinawan tuiti from aiki  jujutsu. First, the waza of tuiti are generally applied from the palm side of the hand rather than the back of the hand. Second, tuiti waza employ linear movement whereas aiki  jujutsu emphasizes circular motion. There is also no za-waza – aiki-style seated defense – in tuiti.

“The te-waza in tuiti are believed to arise from applied variations on three hand positions that correspond to those used in the classical Ryukyuan court dances: oshi-te (forward push hands), ogami-te (supplication hands), and koneri¬-te (kneading hands). The names of these hand positions appear in the earliest collection of Ryukyuan poetry, Omorosaushi (1531-1623), and they seem to have been gestures used in rituals and ceremony in ancient Okinawa. These gestures are said to have been incorporated into the court dances by Tamagusuku Chokun (born 1684), who was connected to the Motobu Udun.

“The court dances were known in the past as ukanshin-udui (crown ship dances), and were performed at receptions of Chinese imperial envoys visiting the court for investitures of new kings. At these times, the principle performers were aristocratic males.This was true even for the finest of the court dances–known as “women’s dances”–despite their name. These dances were originally entertainment for only the aristocracy, so were almost never seen or learned by commoners or even lower-ranking members of the military class responsible for teaching karate. This would explain why tuiti cannot be found in Okinawan karate.”

The Motobu Ryu also included study of weapons. The Motobu family state: “Weapons used include bo (staff), jo, eku (modified oar), and paired tanbo (short bo), nichiku (nunchaku), tonfa, sai, and kama (sickle). In addition, Motobu udundi uses bladed weapons that lower-ranking members of the military class did not possess, such as the sword, spear, and naginata.

This is a significant characteristic of the royal Motobu Udun’s ti. Even after Ryukyu fell to the Satsuma forces in the invasion of 1609, members of the aristocratic udun and tunchi ranks were allowed to possess bladed weapons. In the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom, these ranks numbered about 360 households, or just under 2% of the approximate 20,000 households of the entire military class. Because of this, only certain families like the Motobu Udun were able to practice ken-jutsu as well as karate.

Another feature of Motobu udundi’s weapons system is that the same principles and similar movements are employed no matter what weapon is used. It is not the case that the complexity of the system increases with the number of weapons. Just as with bare-hand training, the heart of weapons training is  sparring rather than kata practice.

Bushinkai head Simon in 2002 studying the Japanese koryu of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu

The author, right, performing Kenjutsu

In Motobu udundi a style of ken-jutsu particular to Ryukyu called tachi no te (sword hands) is taught. The sheathed sword is not worn at the hip as in Japanese ken-jutsu, but held directly in the hand. It is drawn with the cutting edge facing downwards, like the long sword called tachi.

The Motobu family also used twin Chinese shortswords similar to the Dip Dao (Butterfly swords) of Wing Chun and other Cantonese Kung Fu forms. The Motobu state: “In Motobu udundi, ken-jutsu is also practiced using a special kind of short sword, typically in nito-ryu fashion.

According to Uehara sensei, Choyu sensei’s weapons were different than the Japanese short sword known as wakizashi. Apparently, they were a type particular to Ryukyu and the ends of the grips were decorated with tassels. Because they were similar in length and shape to the blade used in Ryukyu for cutting brush and tree branches, Uehara sensei used the term for that implement, yamanaji. However, Choyu sensei’s swords were most likely closer in form to weapons that originally came from China or their replicas made in Ryukyu. Also according to Uehara sensei, Choyu sensei would carry these swords along with other ornament on the occasion of the Bon festival, so they seem also to have had ceremonial significance.”

Choki Motobu

Choki Motobu


So far in our chronological journey we have encountered the original Hsing-I (as a branch of Bazi Quan) pioneers in Okinawa such as Wang Ji (Wansu), Hama Higa, Takahara Peichin  and the Motobu family. We have also encountered Okinawans such as Haebaru Ueikata who studied the Japanese art of Jigen Ryu.

Now we meet a new generation of Toshu Jutsu practitioner who were students of Takahara. This generation included the famous Satunuku Sakugawa and Chatan Yara.

Sakugawa and Yara studied under Takahara, learning the Swallow form (Wansu) of Hsing-I but in common with many Okinawans, they did not stop at their original teachings. They also studied under a mysterious Chinese master called Kushanku.

From Kushanku they learnt the following forms:
– Kusunkun/Kushanku/Kanku Dai
– Channan (throught to be similar or the forerunner to the Pinan/Heian forms)

The founder of Goju Ryu Karate, Chojun Miyagi recalled the arrival of Kushanku:

“In 1762, the merchant ship of the Ryukyu Kingdom was caught in a heavy storm on the way to Satsuma (Kagoshima prefecture now), and cast ashore on the coast of Oshima, Tosa (Kochi prefecture now). Shiohira Pechin, a high rank official of the ship, was an intelligent person. He was helped by Choki Tobe, an intellectual who lived in Oshima. Tobe wrote down Shiohira’s interesting stories about the Ryukyu Kingdom. His notes were called “Oshima Notes”. The 3rd volume of “Oshima Notes” says: “Koshankun, a kung fu warrior, came from China to Ryukyu (Okinawa) bringing his disciples with him.” According to the Notes, at that time people called the martial arts “Kumiaijutsu” instead of karate. These notes are the most reliable literature on karate.”

Satunuku Sakugawa, born Teruya Kanga (1733-1815)
Sakugawa was so synonymous with the history of Karate that his name was Tode Sakugawa – Tode being another way to pronounce Karate or Toshu.

He was born in Shuri in 1733 and at the age of 17, Tode Sakugawa began his martial arts training under Takahara. His father having been beaten to death by bandits, the young Sakugawa was determined to master the martial arts.. At age 23, Sakugawa was advised by Takahara to go and train under Kusanku, a Chinese master in Kung Fu.

Tode Sakugawa

Tode Sakugawa

He became a famous samurai, and was given the title of Satunuky or Satonushi by the Okinawan king.  When Sakugawa returned to Okinawa he became the chief Shuri official of the Yaeymama Island area. As a reward for his services the Shuri government gave him a small island and named it Sakugawa.

Sakugawa (Teruya Chikodun Peichin Kanga) is mainly remembered as “Tode” Sakugawa. He constructed a training system and was elevated to the rank of Satunuku. Hence we now know him as Satunuku Tode Sakugawa.

Sakugawa apparently met Kushanku by trying to push him into the water as a prank. Kushanku was able to evade the attack and show Sakugawa his skills. He then became his teacher.

Richard Kim (Weaponless Warriors) tells us that Kushanku was living in Kume-Mura and was already teaching a young man called Kitani Yara. We will assume this is Chatan Yara for reasons that will soon become clear.

According to Kim, Sakugawa trained for six years with Kushanku but at the age of 29 he received a message that Takahara had been taken ill. Two days later Takahara died and asked Sakugawa to carry on the legacy of Toshu Jutu.

Kim tells us that Chatan Yara was taken away aged 12 to become a student of Wong Chung Yoh.

He says: “Thus began Yara’s time as deshi (apprentice) of Wong Chung-Yoh, during which he received the spiritual discipline his brute force so badly required. Under Wong’s tutelage he became a martial artist.

“During his stay in China, Yara spent most of his physical energies on the art of the Bo and the twin swords.”

Again the twin swords are prominent.

The author with twin swords

The author with twin swords

Kim tells us that the main lesson Wong taught him was that of the “value of balance and the principle of harmony” and that “all things find their inception in unity.”

Kim tells us the arts that Wong passed to Yara stating “Yara initiated the concept of inner strength to Okinawan Karate… Yara studied Hsing-I and Chi Kung.”

And Kim is quite correct for Wong, better known as Wang Zong Yue was indeed documented as a great Chi Kung master but in China he was better known as the historical founder of Tai Chi.

We met Ma Yun Cheng (c1650-1720) a master of Bazi Quan and one of the early Hsin-I Quan practitioners. Wang Zong Yue was his student.

Wang however did not look to the Hsing-I teachings of the legendary Yue Fei, but rather to the legendary Taoist Zhang San Feng.

In fact Wang Zong Yue was thought to be the first person to coin the phrase “Tai Chi Chuan” by likening the balanced form of Quan he taught to the concept of Yin and Yang (Taiji).

Over the years Kushanku has remained a mystery to researchers. He has been called anything from a master of Black Tiger Kung Fu to a master of White Crane. But without identifying him this is pure speculation.

The true identity of Kushanku was none other than Wang Zong Yue!

But the evidence that Kushanku was Wang Zong Yue is not purely based on Wang having taught the man who created the kata Kushanku, this is evident in the name of Wang’s “evergreen classic” of Tai Chi, KUNG HSIN CHIEH.

Yara and Sakugawa did not study under a man called Kushanku they studied the writings called “Kushanku” of a man called Wang Zong Yue!

“Shih-san shih hsing-kung hsin-chieh” means “mental elucidation of the practice of thirteen postures” and the alternative “Shih-san shih hsing-kung ke-chieh” means “song of the practice of the thirteen postures.”

Kushanku was not a man at all – Kushanku was the teachings of Wang Xongyue.

We know Chatan Yara created “Yara Kushanku” and we know Yara was taught by Wang Zongyue.

And now we know Wang Zongyue taught something containing the words “kung hsin-chieh.”

The Lost Book of Kushanku therefore is the “Evergreen Classic” of Wang Zongyue and his other teachings….

Don’t lean in any direction; suddenly appear, suddenly disappear.
Empty the left wherever a pressure appears, and similarly the right.
If the opponent raises up, I seem taller; if he sinks down, then I seem lower; advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long; retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.
A feather cannot be placed, and a fly cannot alight on any part of the body.
The opponent does not know me; I alone know him.
To become a peerless boxer results from this.

Author Simon Keegan performing Kanku Dai:



Tai Chi comes from Wu Chi and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion, Tai Chi separates; in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.
It is not excessive or deficient; it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.
When the opponent is hard and I am soft, it is called tsou [yielding].
When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up, it is called nian [sticking].
If the opponent’s movement is quick, then quickly respond; if his movement is slow, then follow slowly.
Although there are innumerable variations, the principles that pervade them remain the same. From familiarity with the correct touch, one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength]; from the comprehension of chin, one can reach wisdom.
Without long practice, one cannot suddenly understand Tai Chi.
Effortlessly the chin reaches the head top.
Let the chi [vital life energy] sink to the tan-tien [field of elixir].
Don’t lean in any direction; suddenly appear, suddenly disappear.
Empty the left wherever a pressure appears, and similarly the right.
If the opponent raises up, I seem taller; if he sinks down, then I seem lower; advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long; retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.
A feather cannot be placed, and a fly cannot alight on any part of the body.
The opponent does not know me; I alone know him.
To become a peerless boxer results from this.
There are many boxing arts.
Although they use different forms, for the most part they don’t go beyond the strong dominating the weak, and the slow resigning to the swift.  The strong defeating the weak and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands are all the results of natural abilities and not of well-trained techniques.
From the sentence ‘A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds’, we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.
The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people, how can it be due to swiftness?
Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and move like a turning wheel.
Sinking to one side allows movement to flow; being double-weighted is sluggish.
Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize, and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.
To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.
To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.
Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.
Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.
Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin, the more you practice, the more skill.
Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind.
Gradually you can do as you like.
Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others.
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
It is said, ‘Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray.’
The practitioner must carefully study.
This is the Treatise

We have now established two things:

1) Wansu comes from Wang Ji, and then from Ji Ji Ke who taught Bazi Quan

2) Kushanku comes from Wang Zong Yue who taught Taiji Quan, which was developed from Bazi Quan.

What we think of as Karate today (Goju Ryu and Uechi Ryu excepted) dates back to around 1900 – this includes Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Yoseikan, Kobayashi Ryu – all these styles are derived from Itosu’s teachings. The same can be said for Yang Cheng Fu and Yang style Tai Chi.

If we look at Karate methods that date back before Itosu, and Taiji methods that pre-date Yang Cheng Fu we are taken back to the time of Sakugawa and Wang Zong Yue.

In Kanku Dai when we perform the initial Yoi, we are performing Taiji’s start step. When we raise the hands, we are raising Chi and creating the upper Yang (as opposed to Yin) Chi Kung posture.

The shuto contains initially ward off (peng) and then roll back (lu) as the movement completes. The kick at the start of Kanku Dai that is now a side kick and backfist was originally the Tai Chi Toe Kick and separate.

The Osae Nukite (press and spearhand) is seen in the Taiji movement “snake spits out tongue”.

The Manji Gamae posture is Karate’s answer to “white crane cools its wings”.

The movement in Kanku Dai where we drop down and execute a low shuto is the Taiji movement “snake creeps down” and “golden rooster stands on one leg”

The X-Block at the end of Kanku Dai is the Taiji movement “turn to face seven stars”

The double jumping kick is the Taiji kick (usually performed with a slap of the foot)

And the dramatic Yoi at the end is the Tai Chi movement “apparent close”.

Kanku and Taiji: Two sides of the same coin

Kanku and Taiji: Two sides of the same coin

When Gichin Funakoshi was tasked with performing Karate in Japan, he showed the kata Kushanku. He may have even learnt it from Matsumura whose teacher was Sakugawa.

When Gichin Funakoshi was tasked with performing Karate in Japan, he showed the kata Kushanku. He may have even learnt it from Matsumura whose teacher was Sakugawa.

Funakoshi performing Yondan

Funakoshi performing Yondan

Bushinkai student Jamie performing Yondan with twin swords

Bushinkai student Jamie performing Yondan with twin swords

Sakugawa and Chatan Yara passed on Wang Zong Yue’s “Kushanku” teachings the best way they knew how – with the kata masterpieces known as Kushanku and now known as Kanku Dai and Kanku Sho.

Working alongside Sakugawa shortly after he trained with Wang Zong Yue was Nils Bengtsson of the Swedish East India Tradition Company who arrived in Okinawa in 1778 and whom in this article I identify as the grandfather of Nils Johann Nilsson who was my great great great grandfather.

Nils’ son was Johannes, whose son was Nils Johann whose son was August whose son was William Henry, whose sons (Jim and Bill) were taught boxing by their father in the 1930. August served in the Swedish Royal Navy, William Henry in the British Army (WWI), Jim in the British Army (WWII), Bill in the Navy (WWII). After the war Bill became one of Britain’s early blackbelts in Jujutsu in the 1940s.

Interestingly the Karate master Matsu Kinjo (son of Nio Kinjo) was the son of a Skandinavian.

Matsu Kinjo: The half Skandinavian Karate master

Matsu Kinjo, (otherwise known as Itoman Bunkichi, Kanagushiko Magha, Machiya Buntoku, Matsu Buntoku, Kinjo Kamae) was a great Karate master who was born in 1867 and died in 1945. He trained under the Chinese master Ryuru Ko.

Matsu Kinjo was the son of a Skandinavian who would have been born in around 1830. Kinjo was an “ainoko” (mixed race), a term which usually meant an Okinawan mother and European father. This was common in the Itoman area of Okinawa.

The Uechi Ryu school records the following:

Matsu Kinjo (Matcha Buntoku) was from Itoman and he was born in Keio 3 (1867) and died in August, Showa 20 (1945) at the age of 78. He moved to China in Meiji 24, just after the birth of his first son Matsu, (same name as father). He was 24 years old at that time, and so was l0 years older than Kanbun Uechi.
He already had 5 years experience in China before Kanbun Uechi moved to China, and he stayed in China for 18 years during which time he trained at Ken Jutsu. He returned home in Meiji 42 (1909) when he was 42 years old. Kanbun Uechi also returned from China in Meiji 42, both Bujin happened to return at the same time. Matcha Buntoku is known as the last Bushi in Itoman.
He followed Kanryo Higaonna to China with Akamine. It was the second time that he went to China. At the time, Higaonna was 32 years old, so he was getting to be mature in his Bu as well as his character. Matchu Buntoku was praised by RyuRyuKo for his great courage and he was famous in Fukien-sho as a rare warrior. RyuRyuKo is the third successor of the Ryuei Ryu main family. RyuRyuKo taught Hanchi Kenko Nakaima and Kitoku Sakiyama. Hanchi Kenko Nakaima was
the grandfather of Kenri Nakaima. Both Matcha Buntoku and Kenko Nakaima were taught by RyuRyuKo in China).
There is no connection between Matchu Buntoku and Kanbun Uechi, although they were both in the same place at the same time. They do say that Kanbun Uechi heard of the reputation of Matcha Buntoku when he was in Fukien, so he paid respect to him as a great expert of Bu.
Kanbun Uechi respected him not only because he was senior in experience, but also for his courage and his character.
Kinjo displayed his Kata to the public at the Butokuden with Chojun Miyagi and Jinsei Kamiya and others. He also took Part in displays with Chojun Miyagi2 Jinsei Kamiya, Seiko Higa, and K.Nakaima of Ruyei Ryu. He also gave a demonstration at the wedding ceremony of his third son Sanjiro in Showa 9.
He was not a severe man; he was a sincere man who kept his own way of living. He never kept his form secret – he would display his technique whenever he was asked, but he would never teach in case his skills would be used for violence.

The headteacher of Goju Ryu, Chojun Miyagi also met Kinjo:

Hearing about Machaa Buntoku, Miyagi Sensei, the founder of Gojuryu, visited him together with Sensei’s disciples, Jin-an Shinzato and Seiko Higa. Miyagi Sensei asked him to show them his best Kata that he mastered in China. Then Machaa Buntoku put on Hachimaki (=headband) and performed a strange dance in front of them. He danced and danced. Seeing his strange dance, Seiko Higa thought this old man must be crazy or mad because of his old age. Jin-an Shinzato who was yet young at that time lost his temper to see his dance and told him “OK. Dance is enough! Show me your fighting technique! I will be your opponent.” Shinzato delivered a karate blow at him, but Shinzato was thrown down by the dancing old man and hurt his back. He lost face. Everyone there felt awkward about it, so they bowed to the old man and went home. On the way home no one spoke.” –  by Kiyohiko Higa.

Kinjo’s father was a Skandinavian, born in around 1830. My great-great-great-grandfather Nils Johann Nilsson was born in Kalmar in around 1830. If we go back one generation further we find a Johannes Nilsson who was born in 1805. What is interesting is that his older brother Johann Nilsson was born in Okinawa in 1788. Their father Nils, the patriarch of the Nilsson family went to Okinawa in around 1779 and returned to Kalmar, Sweden in about 1795.

Could Johann Nilsson have been the grandfather of Matsu Kinjo?

Compare the two lineages:

Nilsson family

1) Nils born 1762, arrived in Okinawa 1779
2) Johannes Nilsson born 1805 (elder brother Johann born 1788, Okinawa)
3) Nils Johann Nilsson born 1830 Kalmar
4) August Nilsson, born 1866, Kalmar (my great great grandfather)

Kinjo family

1) A Skandinavian born in around 1760 [could this be Nils?]
2) A Skandinavian born in around 1790 [could this be Johann?]
3) Nio Kinjo born in around 1830 married Nae Miyazato
4) Matsu Kinjo (Itoman Bunkichi) born 1867, Okinawa

Nils worked for the Swedish East India Trading Company and was a contemporary of Tode Sakugawa who also worked for a shipping company. Nils’ first children including Johann were born in Okinawa (contemporary with Matsumura Sokon).

Could Johann have been the father of the original Nio Kinjo? Could “Nio Kinjo” have been the closest Okinawan name to “Nils Johann”? 

Perhaps Johann’s Okinawan wife pronounced Nils “Nio” and knowing no such word as Johann they settled on “Kinjo”.

It is certainly possible and this would make the senior Matsu Kinjo and Nils Johann Nilsson first cousins since they would both be grandsons of Nils.

Matsu Kinjo, the Okinawan Karate master with a Swedish father

Matsu Kinjo, the Okinawan Karate master with a Swedish father

Regardless of his ancestry Matsu Kinjo was remember for his slow, soft movements of his form, and having mastery of kata that even the Goju Ryu founder envied.


There is another kata that was brought back from Wang Zong Yue by Sakugawa and Yara. And that form was Channan.

Some consider Channan to be another name for Pinan, others have theorised that the two oldest Pinan forms may have been Channan and others that the five Pinan forms may have been divided (2,1,3 and 4,5) to make the two Channans. Whichever theory you prefer, the Channan and Pinan are linked. And since Kushanku so strongly resembles a long Pinan kata we can see the link.

To discover the Channan form let’s look at the evidence:
1) Wang Zong Yue created Taiji Quan based on his studied of Hsing-I and Chi Kung
2) Hsing-I was considered a sub-style of Bazi Quan
3) The theory of Taiji Quan was based on the teachings of the legendary Zhang San Feng.

The series of five basic kata called Pinan (Heian in Japan) were developed by Anko (or Yasutsune) Itosu (1832-1915) in around 1907 for inclusion in the karate curriculum of the Okinawan school system. However one theory is that Itosu was re-working a longer Chinese form called Channan.

Choki Motobu a descendant of the previously mentioned Motobu Ryu masters and a student of both Matsumura and Itosu, referred to the Channan forms in 1934, saying:

“I visited [Itosu]  one day at his home near the school, where we sat talking about the martial arts and current affairs. While I was there, two or three students also dropped by and sat talking with us. Itosu Sensei turned to the students and said ‘show us a kata.’ The kata that they performed was very similar to the Channan kata that I knew, but there were some differences also. Upon asking the student what the kata was, he replied ‘It is Pinan no Kata.’ The students left shortly after that, upon which I turned to Itosu Sensei and said ‘I learned a kata called Channan, but the kata that those students just performed now was different. What is going on?’ Itosu Sensei replied ‘Yes, the kata is slightly different, but the kata that you just saw is the kata that I have decided upon. The students all told me that the name Pinan is better, so I went along with the opinions of the young people.’ These kata, which were developed by Itosu Sensei, underwent change even during his own lifetime.”

Shito Ryu founder Kenwa Mabuni also mentioned the Channan forms in 1938 and successor Sakagami Ryusho (1915-1933) wrote that Itosu developed the five Heian katas by extracting the principle techniques of Kushanku and adding his own interpretations. He continues: “In the beginning these kata were known under the old name Channan. Subsequently the tenor changed somewhat and they were called Pinan.

Sakagami also indicates that the original version of the Channan kata can be found in the old Chinese book Chi Hsiao Hsin Shu (or Ji Xiao Xin Shu known in Japan as Kiko Shinsho) written by General Ch’i Chi Kuang.

General Ch’i was known for his military might, but he also documented Chinese boxing. There was even a temple built for him in Fuzhou (Fukien Province) in 1567.

As we noted, Bazi Quan was the art most notably refered in the Ji Xiao Xin Shu, stating: “Among the fist families of old and new…Yang family spear methods and Bazi fist and staff, are the famous families of the day.”

In his writings he included a sword kata called Ch’i-chia Chien (sword of the Ch’i family).

Extracts of his writings were including in the 1617 publication Wu Pei Chi (not to be confused with the later Okinawan ‘Bubishi’).

Ch’i divided the Chinese boxing into three themes – boxing, wrestling and grappling. He also included the 32 positions of Chang Quan of T’ai Tzu, a longfist boxing style thought to have been studied by mythical Taiji Quan founder Zhan San Feng. It is possible that the name Channan is derived from this style – Chang Chuan (Chan nan).

As noted by researcher Henning Witttwer, some of the postures shown by General Ch’i resemble Channan/Pinan techniques. These include:
– The flag and drum position (similar to Morote Uke)
– The winding arm position (similar to Nukite)
– Carrying a Cannon at the head (similar to start of Yondan)
– The Riding a Tiger position (similar to Manji Gamae)


Flag and drum position from General Chii


Choki Motobu who knew the Channan forms

Ch’i’s 32 self defence positions are similar to some of the 48 postures shown in the Okinawan Bubishi.

Douglas Wyle, who compiled the excellent “Lost Tai Chi Classics from the Late Ching Dynasty” wrote: “If traced as a distinctive form with specific postures and names, then Tai Chi’s history may be said to begin with Ming General Ch’i Chi Kuang’s Chuan Ching (Classic of Pugilism), twenty nine of whose postures are borrowed for the Chen village age of Henan, possibly as early as Chen Wang Ting in the seventeenth century…”

Therefore Tai Chi originated with Chang Chuan, and in turn gave birth to Kushanku which in turn gave birth to Channan. So the Heian/Pinan/Channan forms are the living evolution of Chang Chuan from hard Kung Fu to Tai Chi and back to hard Karate.

This is an important point to be made. Many historians have written about the development of styles like Karate, Tai Chi and Hsing-I but the question has always been asked: When your country is at war and the musket is replacing the sword as the weapon of choice, why waste time learning ancient boxing routines?

The answer is twofold. Firstly by tracing a lineage back to Chinese nationalist heroes like Yue Fei and Zhang San Feng they are showing nationalist pride against the Japanese or Mongolians. Secondly, they are following the example of “healthy body, healthy mind” set out by General Ch’i, patriarch of both Chen and Channan.

We now have three credible lineages for the early development of Toshu Jutsu. We will break them down into the transmission of the Wansu kata and of the Kushanku and Channan forms and of the Motobu Ryu.

Wansu Quan
Ji Ji Ke (studied Bazi Quan, founded Hsin-I Quan – learnt from General Qi)
Wang Ji (introduduced Wansu Quan to Okinawa)
Hama Higa
Takahara Peichin
Tode Sakugawa

Kushanku Quan
Zhang San Feng

Taiji Zhen Ren

Wang Zong Yue (founder of Taiji Quan, known for his “Kushanku” writing)
Tode Sakugawa and Chatan Yara

Students of Sakugawa

Sakugawa and Yara passed on their Wansu, Channan, Kushanku forms and the other skills such as Emono Jutsu weapons to their students in Shuri and Tomari. Among the most notable were:

– Chokun “Birdman” Makabe, the quick Wansu specialist whose skill including his jumping
– Bushi “Ironhand” Okuda, the “one punch knockout” artist.
– Bushi Matsumoto, the “all rounder” who had truly mastered the basics but had no speciality. Matsumoto was awarded the Menkyo Kaiden, certificate of full proficiency by Sakugawa.

Makabe, Okuda and Matsumoto may have been great, but the greatest of all Sakugawa’s students was Sokon Matsumura who was born in 1797 when Sakugawa was 64.

Matsumura would master the original Toshu Jutsu (Wansu, Kushanku, Channan) but he would also revolutionise Toshu Jutsu by his own studies in China and Japan and this included Bassai.

Bunkai for Bassai

Bunkai for Bassai


Sokon Matsumura was born in 1797, the same year that Takahara Peichin’s maps were recorded as being used for a defensive campaign.

In around 1810 the young Matsumura began study of Toshu Jutsu under master Sakugawa and his senior students such as Makabe .

Sakukawa was an old man at the time and reluctant to teach the young Matsumura, who was regarded as something of a troublemaker. However, Sakukawa had promised Matsumura Sofuku, Matsumura Sokon’s father, that he would teach the boy, and thus he did. Matsumura spent five years studying under Sakukawa. Matsumura was also a good scholar and a noted calligrapher.

The forms he would have been taught were:
– Channan
– Kushanku
– Wansu
– Bo and Chinese sword forms

In 1816, Sakugawa died and Matumura, aged 18 became a soldier at Shuri Castle part of the Peichin class. He received the title Shikudon, a gentry rank. He began his career by serving the 17th King of Ryukyu’s second Sho dynasty, King Sho Ko.

One of his older friends was Bushi Nmari of Kume, born in 1780, the son of Kojo Uekata.

In 1818 Matumura and his friend Nmari both married, Matsumura to a formidable woman called Yonamine and both had sons. Nmari’s son is called Sho Sai.

Matsumura was a master of the fighting art, earning himself the title of Bushi. Matsumura eventually became the chief martial arts instructor and bodyguard for the Okinawan King Sho Ko. He subsequently served in this capacity for the last two Okinawan kings, Sho Iku and Sho Tai.

In 1828 Bushi Matsumura and his friends Bushi Maesato and Bushi Nmari (and possibly Nmari’s son Kojo Sho Sai) travelled to China to study the secrets of Toshu Jutsu.

We must remember that the Wansu (Wang Ji) and Motobu lines were transmitted through a sub-style of Bazi Quan called Hsin-I Quan, and the Kushanku and Channan lines had been transmitted through a further sub-style that eventually gave birth to Taiji Quan.

Bushi Matsumura, Maesato and Nmari therefore went in search of Bazi Quan. And they found it.

They studied under a master of Bazi Quan and Matsumura reflected this by creating a kata called Bazi – or Bassai. By this time Bazi Quan was popularly known as Baji Quan and included the forms Baji Da and Baji Xiao. Matsumura reflected this with Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho.

Remember Bazi (Bassai) may be read “white lion” (Sai is Okinawan for lion) and this reading was used in Nagasaki in Haku Da or Shu Ba Ku (Haku or Ba are white).

Bushi Matsumura

Bushi Matsumura

Who would Matsumura, the bodyguard of an Okinawan King no-less, go to for martial arts lessons? Well how about somebody who worked for the Chinese royal family? How about somebody who was the same age as Matsumura. How about somebody who studied and mastered Bazi Quan and created from it his own style…

How about Dong Hai Chuan, founder of Pakua Zhang.

Consider the evidence. Matsumura was born in 1797 and served the Okinawan Royal Family. Dong Hai Chuan was born in 1797 (October 13 to be precise) and served the Chinese Royal Family.

Dong Hai Chuan

Dong Hai Chuan

Dong studied Bazi Quan under the ‘two saints’ Mi Deng Xia and Guo Ji Yuan who, Wong Kiew Kit tells us, were taught by Ma Yun Cheng (teacher of ‘Kushanku’).

Dong was not only a master of Bazi/Bagua he was also a master of various Shaolin arts including Louhan Quan (Monk Fist Boxing) and Erlangquan, a style of Chang Quan (Long Fist Boxing).

Notably Monk Fist Boxing was a popular art in Fujian.

So if Matsumura studied under Dong Hai Chuan, why then is this not recorded? Well it was, but the Okinawan dialect as it often did changed the Chinese name (for example Chou Tzu Ho became Shushiwa). Dong Hai became Iwah.

Gichin Funakoshi tells us: “Matsumura of Shuri, and Maesato and Kogusuku [studied] with the military attaché Iwah.”

Matsumura not only created the mighty forms Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho he also learnt some Monk Fist Boxing forms from “Iwah”.

The particular flavour of Monk Fist Boxing favoured by Iwah became known as Bazi Quan or Bai Sai Quan meaning White Lion Boxing. The Taoists preferred the name Baji Quan (Eight Direction Boxing) but to the Boxers of Fujian, the name Lion Boxing stuck just fine. It was sometimes referred to as just Lion Boxing and sometimes as Jishi Quan (Golden Lion Boxing) and was related to the other local form of Black Tiger Boxing.

These forms Iwah taught Matsumura included:

– Seishan (Hangetsu), a White Lion Boxing form

– Useishi (Gojushiho), a Black Tiger Boxing form

– He probably also learned Jutte, a Monk Fist Boxing form.

Matsumura or at least his friends from Kume may have also learnt the Sanchin and Suparimpei forms, but these seemed not to be viewed too fondly by Matsumura.

In the Bubishi Patrick McCarthy discusses extant forms of Crane, Lion, Tiger, Monk and Dog boxing and which Quan/Kata they use. He reports:

“There are four other styles of Crane Boxing each of which use their own Sanchin Kata, and one also uses Sanseiryu and Niseishi. Dragon Boxing uses Seishan, Suparimpei, Sanchin….Tiger Boxing also uses Sanchin, Sanseiryu and Suparimpei…. Monk Fist uses Sanchin, Seishan, Jutte, Seipai, Useishi and Suparimpei….Lion Boxing uses Sanchin and Seishan among others…”

We now have a large repertoire of forms. Consider the following breakdown.

Forms taught by Matsumura  in Shuri and Tomari between 1828-1834

– Channan (learnt from Sakugawa or Chatan Yara)
– Kushanku (learnt from Sakugawa or Chatan Yara)
– Wansu (learnt from Sakugawa)

– Bassai (devised)

– Seishan (learnt from Iwah)
– Jutte (learnt from Iwah)
– Useishi (learnt from Iwah)

Forms taught by the Kojo family in Kume between 1828-1834
– Sanchin
– Seishan

Essentially the year 1828 when Bushi Matsumura and his two friends went to Fujian, marked a new era in Toshu Jutsu. No longer would students only practice the old Okinawan forms of their grandparents like Wansu, Channan and Kushanku, now they had access to an exciting range of forms direct from the masters of Lion Boxing, Tiger Boxing, Monk Fist and White Crane.

And this year has certainly been recorded for prosperity. Goju Ryu founder Chojun Miyagi even humbly referred to 1828 as the year Goju Ryu was formed.

Miyagi wrote:
“Most styles of Chinese kung fu were created by mimicking fights of animals or birds. You can see it from the styles’ names such as Tiger Style, Lion Style, Monkey Style, Dog Style, Crane Style and so on. In the age a little later, Chinese kung fu split into Southern school and Northern school. Moreover, each school split into Neijia and Waijia.

“According to popular opinion, we can categorize karate into two styles: Shorin-Ryu and Shorei-Ryu. They (traditional view) insist that the former is fit for a stout person, while the latter for a slim person. However, such an opinion proved to be false by many studies. In the mean time, there is only one opinion we can trust.

“It is as follows: In 1828 (Qing or Ching dynasty in China), our ancestors inherited a kung fu style of Fujian province in China. They continued their studies and formed Goju-Ryu karate. Even today, there still exists an orthodox group which inherited genuine and authentic Goju-Ryu karate.”

So 1828 was remembered as the year “our ancestors inherited a Kung Fu style of Fujian province in China.”

That Kung Fu style was Bazi Quan, the art of the White Lion Fist. It is the same art that Akiyama called Hakuda (white hand), the same art that Ji Ji Ke studied and formed Hsing-I Quan and the same art that Ma Yun Cheng passed to his students Wang Zong Yue (Kushanku) and the Two Saints.

It is the art that is recalled in the name Bassai and the art that was referenced by General Ch’i who created what later became the Channan forms. It is the art that led to the creation of Baji Quan and Bagua Zhang.

Not content to rest on his laurels, having mastered both Okinawan and Chinese martial arts, Matsumura set off on a new quest. To master Japanese martial arts.

In 1834 Matsumura was accepted into the ancestral style of Ko-Jigen Ryu by Ijuin Yashichiro of the Satsuma clan. Matsumura trained in the art for an initial two years and eventually came to be proficient in the sword-based style, receiving the grade of 4th Dan, the highest grade possible.

As we have stated Jigen Ryu was unique in its use of “household” items (such as walking sticks and rakes) as weapons.

The art was also known for a type of training called Tameshiwara whereby a wooden bokken was used to develop powerful strikes on a standing post.

Another interesting coincidence is that one of the forms in Jigen Ryu is called “Empi” which later became the name for the kata Wansu. We should also note that there is a version of Matsumura’s kata Jutte called Jion which was the name of a famous Japanese swordsman. We can also note that some of the Kanji used to write Pinan kata is the same (minus one character) as one of the Sandan Jigen Ryu kata.

Did Matsumura study Jigen Ryu and draw similarities between the names Wansu and Empi, Jutte and Jion and Channan and Pinan? Did he also bring back the practice of Tameshiwara (striking the makiwara).

When Matsumura returned from Japan, it seems he had finally unified the arts of Emono Jutsu (weapons), Hakuda and Toshu Jutsu. Matsumura in around 1836-1840 was the real pioneer of Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu.

But the floodgates of Quanfa were now open. Pure White Lion Boxing based forms would soon give way to a new martial arts “craze” in Okinawa. That of southern Shaolin schools such as White Crane Boxing (Shorei Ryu).

Bunkai for Naihanchi

Bunkai for Naihanchi


Before 1840, Kata were beginning to be more commonly taught in the three towns of Shuri, Naha and Tomari.

Shaolin forms such as Useishi were sometimes referred to as such (Shorin Ryu) whereas in Naha, they tended to use the pronunciation Shorei Ryu when referring to forms such as Seishan.

In this period, before 1840 we are seeing a distinct pattern emerging. In Shuri we see the forms which nowadays comprise the Shotokan syllabus from white to black belt (Channan or Pinan for the first coloured belts, Kushanku/Kanku for brown and Bassai for black), the forms of Tomari are now additional Shotokan forms, and Sanchin and Seishan are now what’s known as core forms in the art of Goju Ryu.

In 1840 a new form arrived. This form was one of contradictions. It arrived in Naha, but took off in Shuri. It was considered fundamental but is seldom taught first, it is said to come from a crane style, but looks nothing like crane styles, it is the root kata of Shuri, but is classified as a Shorei Kata. It is known by almost every Shotokan Karateka but is almost never shown in competitions. It is said to be a very old Quan but nobody can find it in Chinese Quan.

This form is Naihanchi, otherwise known as Tekki.

In 1828, Matsumura opened the door. In 1840 Master Ason went through it. In 1840, Ason introduced Naihanchi
to Okinawa and the Karate of Shuri was never the same.

But before we discover more about Naihanchi and Ason, we’ll go back and meet some more of the Shuri, Tomari and Naha warriors, beginning the year before the Shaolin doors opened, the year 1827.

In 1840 when Ason arrived in Okinawa,  Azato and Itosu were only children. They will be significant to our story in due course.

Ason introduced a form called Naifanchi or Naihanchi which later came to be called Tekki. It is not immediately clear from what style Naihanchi derives but Akio Kinjo suggested a style called  ‘Dan Qiu Ban Bai He Quan’ (Half Hillock, Half White Crane Boxing). The style includes a form called Neixi (inside knee) in Mandarin.

Bunkai also applicable to the Taiji technique High Pat on Horse

Bunkai also applicable to the Taiji technique High Pat on Horse

This form includes the same sweeping action found in the nami-gaeshi (returning wave) technique of Naihanchi. Neixi is pronounced Nohanchi in Fuzhou dialect, which could indicate Neixi is the forerunner to Naihanchi.

Ason taught  his Naihanchi form to: Bushi Matsumura, Kitoku Sakayama, Gushi and Tomoyori.

Naihanchi came to be in Shuri what Sanchin was becoming in Naha. A good strong, fundamental form that exercised excellent basics. It has been suggested that Matsumura enjoyed the form because as the King’s Bodyguard he could practice this kata with his back against Shuri Castle wall. It was also the perfect “bodyguard kata”, using lateral movement to keep your enemy in front and your boss behind.

Simon with Hanshi Nobetsu, master of Feeding Crane

The author with Hanshi Tadanori Nobetsu, master of Nisseikai Goju Ryu who also studied Feeding Crane with the Taiwanese branch who were guardians of the Bubishi


Matsumura was beginning to teach what became known as Shuri Te while teachers like Ki Teruya and Karyu Ure were teaching Tomari Te.

Throughout the 1840s and 1850s there were further “Naha Te” advances concerning the Kojo family and we will return to them in due course.

But first we have a development in Tomari that will once again change the shape of Karate Jutsu.

In 1854 another Chinese master arrived in Okinawa, this time in Tomari. His name was Anan (also recorded as Chinto).

Anan did not teach a powerful bombastic style like Bassai, or a steady, short range, rooted style like Naihanchi. Neither did he teach an internal power form such as Kushanku or Wansu.

Anan of Taiwan taught a dynamic form called White Heron boxing. He stood on the rocks in Tomari like a Heron and Okinawa was captivated by him. And ever since, Karate has been synonymous with White Crane Boxing.

Anan was the creator of the form known as Chinto (called Gankaku in Shotokan). According to legend, it is named after a Chinese sailor, sometimes referred to as Annan, whose ship crashed on the Okinawan coast. To survive, Chint? stole from the crops of the local people. Matsumura Sokon, a Karate master and chief bodyguard to the Okinawan king, was sent to defeat Chint?. In the ensuing fight, however, Matsumura found himself equally matched by the stranger, and consequently sought to learn his techniques. Some suggest that it was not Sokon MATSUMURA that me with Anan, but Kosaku MATSUMORA.

Anan seemingly taught not only Chino but also Chinte and Rohai.

Rohai, known in Japan as “Meikyo” (mirror) is often translated as “vision of a heron” but Rohai could easily be a corruption of Lohan. So perhaps Anan taught Eighteen Monk Fist Boxing (Lohan Quan).


Research: The author’s aunt (ai yee) Mei Kwan in Gyokusendo Cave, Okinawa

The most famous Tomari-te masters were both the chikundun peikin Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898), Kokan Oyadomari (1827-1905) and Gikei Yamazato (1835-1905). They were also disciples of the Chinese Annan (also Ahnan or Anan) and of Ason, a Chinese sergeant. According Tomari-te tradition, Annan was a castaway from a shipwreck in the Okinawa coast.

Being a pirate, he that took refuge in the cemetery of the Tomari’s mountains, starting to live in a cave (a tradition says that this was the master that taught the kata Chinto to Sokon Matsumura). Matsumora and Oyadomari were also disciples from two local masters, Kishin Teruya (1804-1864) and Giko Uku (1800-1850).

Heian Yondan uses an opening posture that comes from the Hsing I posture San Ti in its Zhuan Zhuang form

From Teruya they would learn Passai, Rohai, and Wanshu, and with Uku the kata Naifanchi. According Shoshin Nagamine (in “Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters”, Tuttle Pub, Boston, 2000), Teruya was considered by Matsumora as his true master. Matsumora was also an expert in Jo-jutsu (fight method with a short staff) from Jigen-ryu.

A history repeated in several Okinawan sources teaches that the successor of Anan was Kosaku Matsumora. A little before coming back to China, Anan gave to Matsumora a parchment with a drawing of a woman in a fighting posture holding a WILLOW branch in one of the hands.

The interesting thing here is that in Japan, the school of Hakuda that became known as Yoshin Ryu was also symbolised by the willow.


Yasutsune Itosu was born in 1831 and died in 1915.

Itosu was small in stature, shy, and introverted as a child. He was raised in a strict home of the keimochi (a family of position), and was educated in the Chinese classics and calligraphy. Itosu began his tode (karate) study under Nagahama Chikudun Pechin. His study of the art led him to Sokon Matsumura. Part of Itosu’s training was makiwara practice. He once tied a leather sandal to a stone wall in an effort to build a better makiwara. After several strikes, the stone fell from the wall. After relocating the sandal several times, Itosu had destroyed the wall.

Itosu served as a secretary to the last king of the Ryukyu Islands until Japan abolished the Okinawa-based native monarchy in 1879. In 1901, he was instrumental in getting karate introduced into Okinawa’s schools.

opening move of Heian nidan...

Opening move of Heian Nidan… One of the most distinctive movements in Karate and reminiscent of postures seen in Hsing-I and in the Japanese school of Shingan Ryu

In 1905, Itosu was a part-time teacher of To-te at Okinawa’s First Junior Prefectural High School. It was here that he developed the systematic method of teaching karate techniques that are still in practice today.

He created and introduced the Pinan forms (Heian in Japanese) as learning steps for students, because he felt the older forms (kata in Japanese) were too difficult for schoolchildren to learn. The five Pinan forms were created by drawing from two older forms: Kushanku andChannan.

Itosu is also credited with taking the large Naihanchi form (Tekki in Japan) and breaking it into the three well-known modern forms Naihanchi Shodan, Naihanchi Nidan, and Naihanchi Sandan. In 1908, Itosu wrote the influential “Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) of Karate,” reaching beyond Okinawa to Japan.

Yasutsune Azato  (1827-1906)
Master of Okinawan Karate, son of a Tonichi, one of the two highest classes of the Okinawan society, the was born in the town of Azato.

He was furthermore advisor to the Okinawan King in military subjects and was actually direct advisor to the king. He was furthermore one of the greatest experts of karate on the island. He was furthermore an expert in horseriding, kendo and archery. Furthermore he was very well versed.

His older sons teaching in the Martial Arts was left in the capable hands of Yasutsune Itosu.

He was very strict in his teaching method, he would have students repeating once and again the same kata, from him the rule of three year per kata arose.

Azato maintained a very complete registry of all the martial artists of the island, in these he would detail their abilities and defects. He used to say “Know yourself and your enemy: this is the secret key of strategy”.


Uchi Ude Uke

During his lifetime he was defied by Yorin Kanna, the most famous sword trainee of Okinawa, and even though Azato was an expert in Jigen Ryu kenjutsu, he confronted his adversary unarmed. Kanna was known not only for his education but also due to his enormous strength.

He lacked neither courage nor fighting spirit. He attacked Azato once and again and each time Azato would throw him almost without effort. Azato took the sword out of its trajectory and immobilized Kanna.

In a 1934 article, Funakoshi noted that Azato and Itosu had studied karate together under Sokon Matsumura. He also related how Azato and Itosu once overcame a group of 20-30 attackers,and how Azato set a trap for troublemakers in his home village.

In his 1956 autobiography, Funakoshi recounted several stories about Azato, including: Azato’s political astuteness in following the government order to cut off the traditional men’s topknot.

Simon Keegan 5th Dan and Kicki Holm 2nd Dan

The author teaching Bojutsu


In 1867, Aragaki led a public demonstration of Karate and Kobudo. This was the first public demo of Karate in the world, in which Kata, Kumite and Kobudo were demonstrated as an artform and a way of life.

The running order of the event was:

  • Tinbei and Rochin (shield and straight sword) by Maesato Peichin
  • Tesshaku (iron ruler or Sai) and Bo by Maesato and Aragaki
  • Seisan by Aragaki
  • Bojutsu and Toshu Jutsu by Maesato and Aragaki (unarmed vs staff)
  • Chishaukiun (Shisochin? or perhaps Preying Mantis) kata by Aragaki
  • Tinbei and Bojutsu (shield vs staff) by Tomimura Pechin and Aragaki
  • Tesshaku (Sai) by Maesato
  • Kou Shu (Kou as in Ku in Kumite, Shu as in Toshu) Maesato and Aragaki in two man sets
  • Shabo (wheel staff) by Shusai Ikemi Yagusuku (maybe Nunchaku?)
  • Suparinmpei by Tomimura
  • Kogusuku Peichin reading poetry and playing the Biwa lute

    Empi has movements in common with the Chinese sword...

    Empi has movements in common with the Chinese sword…

After this event, Karate came to be seen not as something private, not any more as just a way to protect oneself, but as a way of improving oneself.

Bushi Matsumura himself wrote: “Maturity promotes harmony and that a master of the martial arts should stay away from violence, deal well with people, be self-confident, keep peace with people and become financially stable.”


It is perhaps at this point that the phrases “Shorin Ryu” (usually referring to the Shuri/Tomari forms) began to be used along with Shorei Ryu for the Naha Te forms. The cataloguing of various kata as Shorin or Shorei is worthy of an article in itself, and is something the masters could never agree on. From here on I will refer to the Shuri/Tomari schools of Matsumura and Itosu as Shorin Ryu to encapsulate them as one tradition.

Shorin Ryu Karateka to have trained with Itosu include: Kentsu Yabu, Chomo Hanashiro, Jiro Shiroma, Chojo Oshiro, Shigeru Nakamura, Anbun Tokuda, Moden Yabiku, Kenwa Mabuni, Gichin Funakoshi, Chosin Chibana, Moden Yabiku, and Choki Motobu – each of these men left a lasting legacy on Karate.

Over in Naha, the list is less extensive and other than Higaonna and Norisato usually only consists of one man – Chojun Miyagi.

And here we come once again to Tatemae and Honne. The Goju Ryu tatemae is that Miyagi was taught by Higaonna and he by Ryuryuko, but actually Aragaki was a main influence on Higaonna, and a man named Gokenki was a major influence on Miyagi.

Wu Xiangi or Wu Hsien Kuei, best known as Gokenki was a Chinese tea merchant and White Crane  practitioner. Gokenki worked for the Eiko Chako Tea Company and taught White Crane in Okinawa between 1912 and his death in 1940.

Gokenki was an enormous influence on many Karateka, and like the Bubishi he was a tangible link to the art of White Crane Quan Fa. Among his students were Chojun Miyagi (later founder of Goju Ryu), Kenwa Mabuni (later founder of Shito Ryu) and Hohan Soken (student of Nabe Matsumura).

A colleague of Gokenki who also taught in Okinawa was Tang Daiji.

Tang Daiji or To Daiki (1887-1937) was from Fuzhou. In 1915 he came to Naha and opened a tea shop (Showacha-ten) with his cousin To Daisho (Japanese reading of his name).

The Tang family whose name was also spelled To included various Tiger style boxers across Fujian and Guangzhou.

Simon training with John Dang who brings Muay Thai, Taekwondo and southern Chinese Tiger Boxing (Tang family) to Bushinkai

The author training with John Dang whose family were originally the Tang (To) clan of Guangzhou. The two have compared many forms including the Tang family Chi exercise which strongly resembles Tiger boxing forms like Hung Gar

In a future work I will demonstrate my research on the Seishan’s kata’s origins in Guangzhou.

Toshu Jutsu, also called Karate Jutsu, also called Ryukyu Kempo, also called Tode Jutsu, also called Goshin Tode Jutsu, also called Uchinadi, was now coming together in a community of mutual support and learning.

Then Karate took a leap that would change it forever. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited a small, quiet school teacher to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. That teacher was a student of Itosu, Azato and Matsumura.

Research: Bushinkai student Kevin at the Shaolin Temple

Research: Bushinkai student Kevin at the Shaolin Temple

Gichin Funakoshi

Funakoshi Gichin was an educated man and a modernist. He embraced the modern age, did not cling to the old Samurai days but did embrace the idea of Okinawans becoming Japanese.

He admired Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo for the way Kano had taken a bunch of haphardly taught Jujutsu schools and distilled them into a modern, standardised, international Budo form.

Funakoshi wanted to do the same for Karate. He wanted to take “Rentan Goshin Tode Jutsu” or “Toshu Jutsu” and make it into “Karatedo” a single, entity like Judo, with rules, a uniform and a Japanese sense of etiquette.

But Funakoshi couldn’t do it alone. And the first person who helped him was a fellow student of Itosu named Makoto Gima who also knew his way around Tokyo.

Makoto Gima was born on September 28, 1896 in Okinawa. After graduating from Okinawa Shihan Gakko (Higher Normal Scool), Mr. Gima studied in Tokyo at Shoka Daigaku (presently Hitotsubashi University). In 1912, under the guidance of both Masters Itosu and Kentsu Yabe he began to pursue Karate.

Jigoro Kano requested a karate demonstration at the Kodokan (Judo headquarters). As Master Funakoski’s assistant, Gima demonstrated the kata Tekki Shodan, while Master Funakoshi demonstrated Kanku Dai.

for the purpose of karate expansion in Japan, Mr. Gima participated as a partner with Master Funakoshi. In March 1923, Master Funakoshi promoted Makoto Gima to the rank of first degree black belt. Funakoshi himself had received a “Renshi” grade from the Dai Nippon Butokukai which implied he was at least 4th-6th Dan.

The circle turns: Simon pictured as a 5th Dan 13 years later performing the same technique

The author performing kata at a Japanese festival

The second man we should mention is Hironori Ohtsuka.

In 1921, Ohtsuka had received the menkyo kaiden (certificate of mastery and license to teach) in Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu and in 1922, began training in Shotokan karate under Funakoshi.

By 1928, Ohtsuka was an assistant instructor in Funakoshi’s school. He also trained under Choki Motobu – a decision which didn’t go down well with Funakoshi.

Upon hearing that Funakoshi had received a Renshi grade, Motobu remarked, “what does that make me then? a 10th Dan?”

Funakoshi considered Motobu and uneducated pleb and Motobu considered Funakoshi a weak Karateka. Motobu would often challenge Funakoshi to “friendly” bouts of pushing hands and wrestling drills in order to humiliate him.

In 1930, Funakoshi established an association named Dai-Nihon Karate-do Kenkyukai to promote communication and information exchange among people who study karate-do.

The Kenkyukai eventually became Shotokai, and in 1939, Funakoshi built the first Shotokan dojo (training hall) in Tokyo. Makoto Gima also began to refer to his art as Shoto Ryu. But we should note that Funakoshi himself never referred to his art as Shotokai, Shotokan or Shoto Ryu. He called himself Shoto as a nickname but only ever wanted his art to be called “Karatedo” in the way that Jigoro Kano only referred to Judo not “Kano Ryu Judo.”

Another early student of Funakoshi’s was Minoru Mochizuki, later founder of Yoseikan, and the only Budoka considered to have mastered Judo, Aikido, Karate, Kendo, Iaido and Kenjutsu. It is possible Mochizuki received a Karate lesson as early as 1924 since his Judo teach Toku Sanpo was Okinawan. We might suggest that an Okinawan martial artist would have been very likely to have known at least a little Karate.

In the 1920s another Okinawan began teaching in Japan, he was Kenwa Mabuni. Like Funakoshi and Motobu he was also a student of Itosu. If we can say anything about Mabuni it was that he was a walking directory of kata. Studying almost every style on Okinawa, under Itosu, Higaonna, Aragaki and Gokenki he may have known upwards of 70 kata. Even Funakoshi sent his own sons to train with Mabuni to learn new kata (the Aragaki ones) since Funakoshi only knew in the region of about 12.

Funakoshi’s art was beginning to be known as Shoto Ryu (much to his dismay), Chojun Miyagi’s Naha Te based art was now called Goju Ryu (via his Japanese representative Gogen Yamaguchi), Hironori Ohtsuka’s mixture of Jujutsu and Karate was now called Wado Ryu and Kenwa Mabuni’s mixture of Itosu and Higaonna styles was now called Shito Ryu. Minoru Mochizuki would later follow with Yoseikan Ryu, Kanbun Uechi with Uechi Ryu and so on.

Simon, Sam and Ben's demo

The author demonstrating the legendary Kushanku manoever of the crab scissors

However this was mostly happening in Japan. Karate was very much still thriving in Okinawa. Men like Hanashiro Chomo (Shorin Ryu), Chojun Miyagi (Goju Ryu) and Choki Motobu (Motobu Ryu) saw what was happening in Japan and it would seem their views were mixed.

On one side, they didn’t seem to appreciate Funakoshi and Mabuni standardising Karate and making it popular. On the other side…. they wanted in.

In 1936, a local newspaper in Okinawa held a meeting of the island’s leading Karate masters.

They included:

  • Chomo Hanashiro (Shorin Ryu senior student of Itosu)
  • Kyan Chotoku (Tomari Te student of Matsumora and Itosu)
  • Choki Motobu (Tomari Te student of Matsumora, Itosu and Matsumura)
  • Chojun Miyagi (Goju Ryu. Student of Higaonna)
  • Juhatsu Kyoda (To-on Ryu. Student of Higaonna)
  • Choshin Chibana (Shorin Ryu student of Itosu)
  • Shimpan Gusukuma (Shorin Ryu student of Itosu. Not to be confused with earlier Gusukuma)
  • Genwa Nakasone (representing Kanken Toyama)
  • Chotei Oroku

Nakasone remarked that the instructors in Tokyo (ie Funakoshi) were calling Toshu Jutsu (also pronounced Tode Jutsu or Karate Jutsu) “Karate” (empty hand rather than Chinese Hand) and he thought that was a good idea.

Hanashiro Chomo, concured saying lots of people just called it Te anyway.

Chojun Miyagi stated he called it Chinese Hand but saw no problem changing, considering Jujutsu and Hakuda had changed to Judo.

Kyoda however felt most Okinawans would oppose calling it by a new name and felt more research was needed. But Chomo said he himself had used “empty hand” as early as 1905.

Gizaburo Furukawa, Supervisor of Physical Education of Okinawa Prefecture, stated that he thought Okinawan Karate should be unified, saying: “There are a lot of Ryu or styles in karate now. I think we have to unify them at any cost. I hear there are small differences between Shuri style karate and Naha style karate. I think both styles should be unified and we should make Kata of Japanese Karate-do. In the old days, we had about 200 styles of Kendo (swordsmanship), but now they have been unified and we have the standard Kata of Japanese Kendo. I think karate would become popular all over the country if we had the unified Kata. For example, we can newly establish ten Kata as Japanese Karate. The name of each Kata should be changed into Japanese, such as Junan-No-Kata (soft and stretch kata), Kogeki-No-Kata (offensive kata) and so on.”

The author performing bunkai for Naihanchi

The author performing bunkai for Manji Gamae in Kushanku

Obviously this idea did not exactly catch on…

Miyagi said he agreed with some things, such as a standardised uniform, but didn’t just want to invent new kata, saying: “As to karate clothes, we also would like to make karate uniform soon as we often have problems. As for terminology of karate, I think we will have to control it in the future. I am also advocating it, and I have been making new technical words and promoting them. Regarding Kata, I think traditional Kata should be preserved as old or classic Kata.”

Shortly after this meeting new styles of Karate emerged in Okinawa along with the already strong ones like Goju Ryu and To-on Ryu.

Chosin Chibana called his style Shorin Ryu, basing it entirely on Itosu’s teachings. The characters Shorin can also be read Kobayashi.

Shoshin Nagamine, a student of Choki Motobu and Chotoku Kyan also called his art Shorin Ryu, but used the syllable Sho (Matsu) rather than Sho (Ko) in order to pay homage to Matsumura and Matsumora. Therefore this school is also called Matsubayashi Ryu.

Therefore among the original Karate styles and their founders were, in no particular order:

  • Goju Ryu (Chojun Miyagi. Largely based on Naha Te and White Crane)
  • To-On Ryu (Kyoda. Largely based on Naha Te)
  • Ryuei Ryu (Norisato. Largely based on Naha Te)
  • Shoto Ryu (Funakoshi and Gima. Largely based on Shuri Te and Tomari Te)
  • Kobayashi Ryu (Chosin Chibana. Largely based on Shuri Te and Tomari Te)
  • Matsubayashi Ryu (Shoshin Nagamine. Largely based on Motobu Ryu and Tomari Te)
  • Wado Ryu (Hironori Ohtsuka. Largely based on Shoto Ryu and Jujutsu)
  • Yoseikan Ryu (Minoru Mochizuki. Largely based on Shoto Ryu, Aikido and Judo)
  • Uechi Ryu (Kanbun Uechi. Largely based on Naha Te and Pangainoon)
  • Shudokan (Kanken Toyama. Largely based on Itosu, Higaonna and other arts)

There were also notable derivative styles, such as Kyokushin (largely a mix of Shotokan and Goju Ryu) and Shukokai (originally Chojiro Tani’s branch of Shito Ryu) as well as Malaysian Budokan which was developed by Chew Choo Soot, a student of Takamizawa whose main teacher was Kanken Toyama.

Ironically two styles that came later were founded by descendants of Sokon Matsumura. They were Chito Ryu, founded by Tsuyoshi Chitose and Matsumura Orthodox Shorin Ryu, founded by Hohan Soken.

There were other martial arts of course arriving later in Okinawa and Japan which resembled Karate, including Shorinji Kempo, Taikiken and Akio Kinjo’s Jukendo, but the above are the main arts from which other styles developed.


The author performing Chi Na applications

We began our journey with Karate (or Toshu Jutsu) as a network of knowledge in Okinawa circa 1700-1870. In those halcyon days of Karate men like Hama Higa, Tode Sakugawa, Chatan Yara, Sokon Matsumura and Seisho Aragaki had a thirst for knowledge.

They didn’t know where they would find their Holy Grail. The Okinawans looked to the Northern Shaolin Temple, to Beijing, to the Southern Shorei schools of Fujian, to the Jigen Ryu of Japan, to the fighters of Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan. Karate was in a state of perpetual change. The more the Okinawans learnt about China and Japan, the more Okinawan Karate became.

Then in the early 20th century men like Itosu and Funakoshi set about standardising Karate, cleaning it up and making it palatable for mass consumption. Karate became a success, a sport, a way of building health, of making friends, of bonding.

The author performing Chinese Taii sword (Jian) at Euro Wushu championships

The author performing Chinese Taii sword (Jian) at Euro Wushu championships

But like every cycle, eventually Toshu Jutsu has come back to its root. Today in 2014, as half the Karate community dreams about their sport one day making it into the Olympics, those of us who would seek to emulate the original Okinawan way of approaching Karate are making slow and steady progress.

Not for nothing did I call my own system Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu. My not using the term Karate is intentional. It is Karate but it isn’t Karatedo.

The journey of discovering Karate’s past is how we can secure its future.


  1. Kushanku was not a man, Kushanku was the teachings of Wang Zongyue, a Bazi Quan master who pioneered Tai Chi. Therefore the grandfather of Karate and the grandfather of Tai chi are the same man
  2. Kito Ryu Jujutsu’s founder’s teacher was a Chen family Tai Chi master, which came from Wang Zong Yue’s Bazi Quan
  3. Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu’s founder’s teacher was a Bazi Quan master (preserved in the name Hakuda or Baida)
  4. Yagyu Shingan Ryu Jujutsu was also derived from Hsing-I and therefore Bazi.
  5. Sokon Matsumura’s teacher Iwah is to be identified with Bazi Chuan master and Bagua Zhang founder Dong hai Chuan, from which comes Bassai (Bazi)
  6. Kata Empi (Wansu) comes from Wang Ji and Ji Ji Ke who was a Bazi Quan master
  7. Therefore the three oldest Okinawan Karate kata (Wansu, Kusanku and Bassai) all come from Bazi Quan
  8. The two primary soft Jujutsu styles of Japan also come from Bazi Quan
  9. Bazi Quan should be translated as White lion Boxing
  10. Therefore true Karate (Toshu Jutsu) is White Lion boxing
  11. True Jujutsu (Hakuda Kempo) is White Lion Boxing
  12. Heian/Pinan/Channan comes from Chang Chuan (original northern Shaolin)
  13. Later forms (Shorei) were introduced to Okinawa after 1828

Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is taught with a view to recreating the original premise of these arts. It includes the combat effectiveness of Matsumura’s Karate, with the postural benefits and softness of Taiji Quan, the direct simplicity of Hsing-I Chuan, the turns and manipulations of Bagua – in essence it is a complete method of true White Lion Boxing.

By examining the Yang style of Taiiji Quan we can see the original movements of forms like Kushanku:





Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is not merely for show however, the applications for the forms must be workable. See bunkai.

Kushanku bunkai

Kushanku bunkai

Osae uke, Nukite rethought

Osae uke, Nukite  known as snake spits tongue in Taiji

Opening move of kushanku with added "Danish kiss"

Opening move of kushanku bunkai

By contrasting movements we see things that have been lost from modern Karate, such as Zhan Zhuang benefits:

Always think about breaking the opponent's balance

The principles of Tai Chi live in Karate

Using Shuto as katame

Shuto or cloud hands?

when you hold your hands together in Bassai and draw inwards...

Bassai Dai: Karate’s descendant of Bazi Quan

Hsing-I and Toshu Jutsu are closely related

Hsing-I and Toshu Jutsu are closely related

It is my aim to teach Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu within the White Lion Academy in a way that pays tribute to the original methods of Tode Sakugawa, combining the combat effectiveness with the softness of Chinese internal martial arts – a complete system both armed and unarmed.

Thank you for reading.

Simon Keegan Renshi, headteacher of Sakugawa Ryu and pioneer of Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu.


Copywrite notice

Please note: The following phrases/slogans/names are the property of Simon Keegan:

  • Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu
  • Lost Book of Kushanku
  • Bushinkai Academy of Martial Arts
  • White Lion Boxing

Thanks to:

  • Sifu David Keegan 5th Dan
  • Shihan Phil Handyside 8th Dan
  • Sifu Steve Rowe 8th Dan
  • Kyoshi Reiner Parsons 7th Dan
  • Kyoshi Bob Carruthers 7th Dan
  • Renshi Colin Hutchinson 6th Dan
  • Master Alfie Lewis 9th Dan
  • Hanshi Jim Mather 10th Dan
  • Hanshi Patrick McCarthy 9th Dan
  • Laoshi John Dang and Sifu Ken Dang for the Dojo
  • Jamie Tozer 1st Dan for the photographs
  • Dan Sanchez 2nd Dan for his expertise in helping me run the club
  • Kicki Holm 2nd Dan for her expertise in helping me run the club
  • Shihan Steve Bullough 8th Dan

Please contact me on simonkeegan@runbox.com

Please note:

Tuition in Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu is Thursday evenings (8pm) at Van Dang Martial Arts, Newton Street, Manchester (next to the Roadhouse).

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller; if he sinks down, then I seem lower; advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long; retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.
A feather cannot be placed, and a fly cannot alight on any part of the body.
The opponent does not know me; I alone know him.
To become a peerless boxer results from this.” – The Lost Book of Kushanku

When Gichin Funakoshi was tasked with performing Karate in Japan, he showed the kata Kushanku. He may have even learnt it from Matsumura whose teacher was Sakugawa.


The Bible of Karate/Bubishi – McCarthy
Koryu Uchinadi – McCarthy
Okinawan Karate – Bishop
Karate-Do My Way of Life – Funakoshi
Karate-Do Nyumon – Funakoshi
Karate-Do Kyohan – Funakoshi
Okinawan Kempo – Motobu
Kata Tensho – Rowan
Barefoot Zen – Johnson
Weaponless Warriors – Kim
Five Years one Kata – Burgar
Karate by Pictures – Plee
Dynamic Karate – Nakayama
Shotokan Dawn – Layton
Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate – McCarthy
Advanced Karate-Do – Wilton
Shotokan Karate Book of Facts – Layton, Randall, Nursey
Bo – Demura
Sai – Demura
Secrets of Karate – Parker
Okinawa’s Complete Karate System – Rosenbaum
Shotokan’s Secret – Clayton
Okinawan Karate, the Secret Art of Tuite – Martinez
The Way of Sanchin Kata – Wilder

Kung Fu/Chinese Martial Arts

Way of the Warrior – Reid & Croucher
Lost Tai Chi Classics from the Late Chi-ing Dynasty – Suny
Xing Yi Quan Xue – Sun Lu Tang
Tai Chi – Crompton
Taijiquan – Li De Yin
Pakua – Smith/Pittman
Primordial Pugilism – Tseng Ju Pai
Simply Wing Chun – Rawcliffe
Way of the Warrior – Crudelli
Tai Chi Chuan – Kit

Japanese martial arts/Jujutsu

Classical Fighting Arts of Japan A complete guide to Koryu Jujutsu – Serge Mol
Nihon Jujutsu – Shizuya Sato
Complete Kata – Kanazawa
Samurai Fighting Arts – Tanaka
Dynamic Aikido – Shioda
Kodokan Judo- Kano
Classical Bujutsu – Draeger
Classical Budo – Draeger
Bokken – Lowry
Samurai Sourcebook – Turnbull



4 thoughts on “E-BOOK: The Lost Book of Kushanku

  1. This is very interesting! My Sensei, Grandmaster Trias always said that Hsing Ye was the origin of all Okinawan Karate. Could you give us more information on your sources? Loved this article!

    • Hi Joseph. Yes I’d be happy to. Why don’t you drop me an email on kaicho@runbox.com and tell me what you’d like sources and citations for and I’ll send them to you if I have them. Some are from personal observation (for example in my opinion it is evident that Yagyu Shingan Ryu is related to Hsing-i by looking at the movements. A quick youtube search of Yagyu Shingan ryu and you can see the stylised way the solo drills are performed is much more akin to Chinese soft forms than to Japanese grappling in armour and the fact that Shingan and Hsing may have the same translation supports this). But if I have them I will be happy to send them to you.

  2. Out of 1000s of Chinese kungfu styles, Okinawan karate was created from Hsing-I, Baji, Taiji and Pakua – the styles contemporary westerner is most familiar with? And NORTHERN interna; kungfu styles, all of them? What coincidence!

    On top of that, Okinawan karate has absolutely nothing from the mechanics of Baji (stomps, driving elbows, close hands); nor Taiji (slow form, 13 postures, push hands, peng jin); nor Bagua; nor Hsing-I.

    Wang Zongyue and Yue Fei are legendary, or semi-legendary personages. Seriously, I was waiting for the Martians to appear to teach Bushi Matsumura. Chinese MA teachers like to lie a lot about their lineage….

    I do not want to be hard on you, because you certainly did your research (for example, I personally would like to know what happened in that ‘mythical year 1828’ of CH.Miyagi when ‘authentic goju ryu’ was supposed to be brought to Okinawan). It just shows that most of ‘sources’ on history of MA are crap and fables.

    • “Out of 1000s of Chinese kungfu styles, Okinawan karate was created from Hsing-I, Baji, Taiji and Pakua”

      No, not all Okinawan Karate. I don’t state for example that forms such as Chinte, Chinto, Suparimpei, Seiyunchin, Gojushiho, Nijushiho, Unsu, Rohai, Jutte, Sanchin, Tensho, Sochin have anything to do with these arts – essentially I only cite 3 kata (and their derivatives) out of hundreds of Okinawan forms – the three being Wansu, Bassai and Kushanku.

      “the styles contemporary westerner is most familiar with?”

      – I’d probably argue Baji Quan isn’t that common. I certainly don’t know anybody that teaches it.

      “And NORTHERN interna; kungfu styles, all of them? What coincidence!”

      Well not really a coincidence, since I set out to focus this book only on the 3 kata out of hundreds that I believe related to the Chinese internal martial arts. If I’d have written about Suparimpei and Nijushiho then Chinese internal martial arts wouldn’t have featured.

      “On top of that, Okinawan karate has absolutely nothing from the mechanics of Baji (stomps, driving elbows, close hands)”

      would could argue that Bassai Dai includes precisely this. The opening movement is something of a stomp and the movement after the first kiai is very “driving”. i’m not sure what you mean by “close hands” but Karate is very close quarters.

      “nor Taiji (slow form”
      performing the speed of modern Tai Chi to modern karate is neither here nor there. The kata I cite as related to Tai Chi (Kushanku ie Kanku Dai) has plenty of slow movements most notably the very first move. It also includes movements comparable to “snake spits tongue” and “snake creeps down” etc.

      “13 postures”

      – Seisan (Hangetsu) means 13. Google seisan 13 postures and tai Chi and you’ll find plenty of people comparing the two.

      “push hands”

      there was plenty of two man drills, grappling and sensitivity drills in Okinawan Karate. Funakoshi cites examples of his teachers Itosu and Azato doing a type of “mid air arm wrestling” (might be in Karatedo by Way of life but could be in Nyumon)

      “peng jin”

      Plenty of martial arts techniques use the principle of peng jin. The outward manifestation of the Tai chi form is just one way those energies can be expressed.

      “nor Bagua”

      Heian Sandan for example uses twists and turns very reminiscent of Bagua.

      “nor Hsing-I”

      The fists are very similar to Karate techniques – splitting with shuto, others with Jodan Age uke and Gyaku Tzuki, another with morote uke, another with the uppercut type punch used in Naihanchi

      “Wang Zongyue and Yue Fei are legendary, or semi-legendary personages”

      And semi legendary would mean historical with some legendary folklore attached to them. I think you’ll find Yue Fei is regarded as historical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yue_Fei

      “Seriously, I was waiting for the Martians to appear to teach Bushi Matsumura.”

      I can’t help you there

      “I do not want to be hard on you, because you certainly did your research (for example, I personally would like to know what happened in that ‘mythical year 1828’ of CH.Miyagi when ‘authentic goju ryu’ was supposed to be brought to Okinawan”

      – Simply that the original “style” that was brought back in 1828 was Seisan.

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