Biography of Tode Sokugawa

Person: Tode Sakugawa

Biography of Tode Sokugawa

Tode Sokugawa became a prominent figure in Okinawan Martial Arts. In fact, he is considered to be the first true teacher of Okinawan Karate. Sakugawa's martial art was a mixture of Shuri-Te and Chinese Kenpo. In 1756, Sakugawa became a student of the Chinese military envoy Kusanku (also Kushanku). Kusanku was a highly skilled Kenpo master and famous for his fighting ability. Kusanku did many things which influenced Shuri-Te's and ultimately Shorin-Ryu's development. He taught many native Okinawans including Chatan Yara and Shionja of Shuri. He brought some of his students from China to Okinawa and they spread the Chinese style on Okinawa. In addition, it is reported that Kusanku introduced a maneuver whereby the closed fist was held in a chambered or ready position along the side of the torso (hikite)and then from this position a punch was thrown, corkscrewing it in karate fashion, toward the intended target. Kusanku is also credited with the introduction of a type of kumite or sparring to Okinawan karate. This kumite was referred to as Kumiai Jutsu or fighting technique.

After his training with Kusanku, Sakugawa became known as an expert in the Chinese style of fighting called Tode. This is the basis for his nickname Tode (Chinese hand) Sakugawa. He is credited with being the first Okinawan Karate teacher. The reasoning behind this is that Sakugawa is said to have combined the techniques of Chinese style Kenpo (Tode) with the native Okinawan techniques of Shuri-Te and thereby formed the basis of a truly Okinawan Karate. He has three students who distinguished themselves as excellent martial artists. They were Bushi Ukuda, Macabe Chokun and Bushi Matsumoto of Urazoe. However his last and most famous student was Bushi Matsumura.

Sources: Matsumura Seito