The name of our Karate tradition in Bushinkai is Sakugawa Ryu. And with good reason – Kanga ‘Tode’ Sakugawa who lived in the 18th century was one of the main pioneers of the art of Toshu Jutsu (Karate).
Sakugawa was taught Okinawan Te by Takahara and Chinese Chuan Fa by Kushanku and subsequently Kara Te or To Shu (Chinese hand) was developed.
He was known for the kata form Kushanku (Kanku Dai).
He taught people like Sokon Matsumura, who in turn taught men like Itosu and Azato.
But there is also our family tradition in the martial arts since Bushinkai headteacher Simon Keegan, follows in a family tradition since his great-great-great-great-great grandfather served in a shipping vessel in Okinawa at precisely the time Sakugawa also worked on the cargo ships.
The Sakugawa Ryu
Simon’s great uncle Bill Nelson (originally Nilsson) was a Jujutsu blackbelt and he and Simon’s grandfather were taught to box by their father and grandfather (Simon’s great great grandfather August Nilsson). August was the son of Nils Johann who was believed to be the son of Johannes Nilsson of Kalmar, whose father Nils (the original “Nilsson”) lived in Okinawa for around 20 years (read more about our family tradition Sakugawa Ryu here)
On the 29th April 1784 Captain N Almroth sailed bound for Canton. In charge of cargo were Henrik König Peterson and Nils and his companion Torborg.
At some point in 1784 Nils and Torborg settled in Okinawa and on August 17th 1785 they married in Shuri.
Nils worked for a shipping firm at the same time as Karate pioneer Tode Sakugawa and later the Nilsson family fathers always taught their sons to box. Did this boxing tradition begin with Nils observing the Karate of Tode Sakugawa and subsequently this boxing being passed through the generations? If so, this quite basic and haphazard boxing tradition could be the oldest Okinawan pugilistic tradition to be passed down a hereditary line outside of Okinawa and Japan.
After Nils had returned to Sweden Tode Sakugawa taught a number of students, most notably Sokon Matsumura.
Matsumura: Grandfather of Karate
Sokon Matsumura is arguably the most influential Karate master who ever lived. He taught masters like Itosu, Azato, Kyan, Motobu, Yabu and Funakoshi, his life spanned almost the entire 19th century. He is thought to have created kata like Bassai and Naihanchi and passed on forms like Channan, Kushanku, Gojushiho, Jutte, Chinto and Rohai. He served as bodyguard to the king of Okinawa and so there was likely not a person in Okinawa who did not fear and respect his skills.
He was also a master of a Japanese sword style Jigen Ryu and of the Okinawan bo form Sakugawa no Kon Sho. Matsumura’s life was variously recorded as His life is reported variously as (c.1809-1901) or (1798–1890) or (1809–1896) or (1800–1892), therefore for the sake of simplicity a fair average to bear in mind is that he was born in about 1800 and died in about 1900.
This article examines what he actually taught and did not. he was best known for the kata Seisan and Gojushiho.
1798: Sokon Matsumura is born
1810: Sokon Matsumura studies under Sakugawa and learns Kushanku
1816: Matsumura become a bodyguard
1818: Matsumura marries Yonamine
1828: Sokon Matsumura travels to China and studies Seishan under the Chinese master Iwah
1829: Kosaku Matsumora is born in Tomari
1832: Yasutsune Itosu is born
1834: Matsumura trains in Satsuma
1840: Seisho Aragaki is born
1840: Matsumura begins teaching Azato
1846: Matsumura begins teaching Itosu
1850: Ason comes to Okinawa and teaches Naihanchi to Sakiyama, Gushi and Tomoyori
1854: Anan (also known as Chinto) arrives in Tomari. He teaches Kosaku Matsumora.
Among his students was Anko Azato and Anko Itosu.
Anko Azato was the primary teacher of the world’s most famous Karate instructor, Gichin Funakoshi. But Azato Sensei’s life is largely undocumented. In this article Simon Keegan delves into the man’s history and arranges a realistic timeline for the great Bushi.
Anko Azato 安里 安恒 was born in Azato village in 1827. His given name Anko can be pronounced Yasutsune in Japanese but it is doubtful he used this pronunciation.
Azato’s most notable of his few students was Gichin Funakoshi
The birth of Shoto Ryu
In 1922 Gichin Funakoshi, aged 53, travelled from his home in Okinawa to the Japanese mainland to give a demonstration of the little known art of karate.
A school teacher by profession, Funakoshi Sensei was the favourite student of Anko Azato and also studied under Anko Itosu and to a lesser extent their teacher Sokon Matsumura.
While Yasutsune Itosu is the most famous of Matsumura’s students, Itosu was actually more of a Tomari stylist. Matsumura’s style was more closely represented by his student Yasutsune Azato, whose senior student was Funakoshi.
Funakoshi stated: “Azato followed Matsumura and Itosu followed Gusukuma.”
He reiterated: Masters Azato and Itosu were students of Matsumura and Gusukuma respectively. Masters Azato and Itosu were the teachers who instructed this writer and to whom the writer is greatly indebted.”
Funakoshi was also asked to give a demonstration at the Kodokan Judo hall, in front of Judo founder Jigoro Kano himself and his senior instructors. To assist him, he took along Shinken Gima, a twenty-five year old Okinawan living in Tokyo, who had studied karate Kentsu Yabu and Anko Itosu.
Funakoshi demonstrated Kushanku (now called Kanku Dai in Shotokan) and Gima demonstrated Naihanchi (also called Tekki Shodan) and the two demonstrated Bunkai.
Kanazawa Sensei was one of the “university generation” of Shotokan students. He was not of the first generation of students like Makoto Gima (Shoto Ryu) or Hironori Ohtsuka (Wado Ryu) he was one of the youngsters who, led by masters like Masatoshi Nakayama studied the art in the Tokyo universities. Kanazawa however was training at a time when master Funakoshi was still overseeing classes. We cannot underestimate how rare and how precious it is in 2014 for a living Shotokan master to have trained under Master Funakoshi, who let’s remember trained with Sokon Matsumura who was born in 1798 – that is a strong lineage going back a long way.
One of the styles most closely related to Shotokan’s origins is Shorin Ryu (Kobayashi Ryu) established by Itosu’s student Chosin Chibana. Kanazawa and Enoeda went to Okinawa to study the style with Yuchoku Higa but only Kanazawa was accepted to train. This training gave Kanazawa a new dimension and saw him creating new forms based on older kata like his Koryu Gankaku.
Kanazawa Hanshi began training in Tai Chi many years ago and practices the Yang style 24 form, the same form as is taught in Bushinkai. He is a strong advocate of Tai Chi in his Karate training.
As the first chairman of the Karate Union Great Britain, Kanazawa Sensei taught many of the pioneers of British Karate. After Vernon Bell teaching Yoseikan Karate for around eight years, Kanazawa Sensei introduced the more technical brand of Shotokan. Among his students were Bushinkai’s mentor Shihan Handyside who graded blackbelt under Kanazawa in the 1970s.
Shihan Philip Handyside (8th Dan) is the headteacher of Shobukan Karate and a great friend and supporter of Bushinkai.
Shihan began his studies in Judo/Jujutsu with Richard Butterworth who introduced the arts to Preston in 1954. It was not the art of Jujutsu that really captivated the young Phil Handyside – it was Karate, specifically a demonstration by Sadashige Kato who then held the extremely high grade (at the time) of 5th Dan.
Phil took his coloured belt grades in the early 1960s under the very headquarters of Shotokan Karate – the Japan Karate Association (JKA) which was represented in this country by the KUGB led by masters like Kanazawa and Enoeda. With the headquarters mostly in London and Liverpool, Phil found a teacher whose class he could travel to – named Cyril Cummins (now an 8th Dan).
In 1974, Mr Handyside established the Red Sun Karate Club which later became the Shobukan Karate Organisation.
In 1975 Mr Handyside left the KUGB/JKA and joined the SKI Under Hirokazu Kanazawa Sensei then 7th Dan, Asano Sensei then 6th Dan, Kawazowe then 5th Dan, and H Tomita then 4th Dan. He was awarded his 1st Dan by Kanazawa Hanshi.
In 1977 as a 1st Dan in Shotokan Karate and having studied the martial arts around 14 years, Handyside Sensei sought out another master, this time the Malaysian grandmaster Chew Choo Soot.
He escorted Grandmaster Chew around the North West to promote Budokan Karate from Malaysia. Now recognised by WUKO, but in those days outside the Governing Body.
He gained 2nd Dan with the KBI, and after organising the KBI World Open Championships in 1979 at the Preston Guild Hall.
The combination of Shotokan and Budokan (and of course Jujutsu, Kobudo and other arts) led to a unique and dynamic method of Karate called Shobukan.
A Wigan club was established in the late 1970s headed by Bob Carruthers who split from Shobukan as a 2nd Dan and joined UKASKO and later KYR in 2000.
Simon Keegan (5th Dan Renshi) is the Chief Instructor to Bushinkai and headteacher of Sakugawa Ryu. He has trained with some of the world’s senior martial arts masters and is an internationally published researcher in the traditional martial arts.
His primary teacher for over 10 years has been Kyoshi Bob Carruthers who was taught decades ago by Shihan Handyside.
Simon was born into a family martial arts tradition and started his training at a young age. His father Sifu David Keegan is a Tai Chi teacher; his uncle John a Karate blackbelt; and his great uncle Bill Nelson a Jujutsu blackbelt. Bill’s own grandad was a Swedish navy man called August Nilsson of Kalmar whose great grandfather Nils Bengtsson spent 15 years in Okinawa 1778-1793 and worked for a shipping line at the same time as the famous Karate master Tode Sakugawa.
Having first been taught basic Karate and Jujutsu by his father over 25 years ago, Simon joined his first club aged 10. Simon’s father David Keegan originally studied Jujutsu in 1959 and so taught Simon his first basic throws, strikes and weapons. From the age of 16 (while training for eight years with Sensei Steve Bullough in the Bushido Academy) Simon competed in Karate, kickboxing, weapons and kata, winning several gold medals at national level. At the age of 20 he was awarded blackbelt 1st Dan.
That same year he had commenced training in Tai Chi (in a club where he trained 9 years and got to attend seminars with Chinese National Living Treasure professor Li De Yin). Simon established the Bushinkai Academy in 2000. He was awarded 2nd Dan in Shotokan Karate by Sensei Bob Carruthers and 2nd Dan Jujutsu by Sensei Jaimie Lee-Barron and was also introduced to the Okinawan methods of Ryukyu Kempo, Koryu Uchinadi and Karate Jutsu, in which he was awarded 2nd Dan recognised by the English Karate Governing Body and world governing body the World Karate Federation.
At this time in 2003, Simon also had chance to attend a seminar with Sensei Bob Carruthers’ own teacher Sensei Phil Handyside and built a respectful friendship that they have to this day.
Then, while on a seminar with Aikijujutsu master Kondo, Simon was honoured by being accepted into Japan’s oldest martial arts fraternity the Kokusai Budoin (IMAF). His grades were ratified by Nihon Jujutsu master Shizuya Sato and in the division headed by Karate legend Hirokazu Kanazawa and Simon’s license was approved by the hereditary shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yasuhisa.
At this time Simon was also studying Nisseikai (a system of Goju Ryu Karate and White Crane Kung Fu) with Reiner Parsons and also trained with Nisseikai headteacher Tadanori Nobetsu. Simon was made a regional director of the Japanese organisation and personally assisted the UK secretary.
Simon took his 3rd Dan grading under Reiner Parsons who was himself graded by Shoto Ryu headteacher Ikuo Higuchi (student of founder Makoto Gima).
In 2007 as a 4th Dan, Simon pioneered a system of Karate called Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu, designed to preserve the original principles of Karate.
Simon’s studies have taken him on seminars with masters from around the world, from Zhang Xiu Mu to Terry Wingrove to Patrick McCarthy to Fumio Demura.
Simon was awarded 5th Dan by Shihan Handyside in 2012.
Bushinkai Karate classes:
Van Dang Martial Arts (Hakutora Dojo)
Newton Street Manchester
Lineage pedigree of Bushinkai’s four main Karate lines from Shotokan, Budokan, Goju Ryu and our headteacher’s family boxing tradition. Every teacher in the lineage had several other teachers, but this is designed to be a simplified pedigree of how the tradition was passed:
SHURI TE Mainline lineage of our Karate (Shotokan line)
TOMARI TE Secondary lineage of our Karate (Budokan line)
NAHA TE Tertiary lineage of our Karate (Goju Ryu line)
Family boxing tradition
Bushinkai Karate classes:
Van Dang Martial Arts (Hakutora Dojo)
Newton Street Manchester