Sokon Matsumura/en

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Seiken Shukumine, Head Master of Taido Kyokai in Tokyo, at the age of 15, became a student of Soko Kishimoto (1862-1945), and thus a junior disciple of Seitoku Higa (President Association of All Okinawa Karate Kobudo, Bugeikan founder). At this time, Kishimoto had long, white hair, ate herbs and lived with his wife in a tiny thatch-roofed hut surrounded by fields at Agarie, near Nago (in Okinawa Island). Shukumine remembered that when the first approached Kishimoto for tuition he introduced himself to the master who just sat staring at him for some time from across the tiny room. Then without warning, Kishimoto picked up the poker from a charcoal brazier and lobbed it at the young Shukumine's stomach. Shukumine adroitly dodged the flying implement that lodged itself in the slatted bamboo wall behind him. Thereon Kishimoto agreed to teach the lad providing he keep the instruction secret. Soko Kishimoto was born at Yabu on the Motobu Peninsula in 1862 and grew up in the nearby village of Awa. He was slight of build, extremely agile and when young was often refered to as a very human-like monkey. He is said to have been able to do all kinds of tricks with his legs and feet, one of which was to hang upside down from a tree by clasping a branch between his prehensile big and second toes. Shukumine said that Kishimoto had no martial arts teachers and actually (though dubiously) gained his fighting ability from avoiding wild boars when out collecting firewood in the Motobu hills and from challenging village youths. He is also said to have picked on visiting karate exponents in order to steal their techniques. Kishimoto described his style as an old form of Shuri-te and could have probably spread the no teacher rumour to conceal his true teacher's (Takemura). Kishimoto was recognized for his skill with the staff as well as the Sai and often walked around with a pair of Sai held concealed up his kimono sleeves. The picture painted by Seitoku Higa was quite different. "Soko Kishimoto came from a well-known martial arts family ; he was nicknamed 'Nogo no Agari' and bore the honorary title of Uezu Anji". A Buddhist by religion, Kishimoto spent much of his time in meditation and as a result gained highly developed extra-sensory powers. One moonless night, whilst he was walking in a grove of fukugi trees, Kishimoto instinctively avoided a surprise attack from the rear. Seitoku Higa was so impressed by this act that he asked his teacher how it was done. Kishimoto replied simply : "I can see the shadows". Kishimoto had been referring to psychic phenomena and meant the shadows or disturbances caused by the attacker's mind.

Takemura[edit]

Kishimoto most assuredly did have a teacher who was even more legendary than himself. Going by the name of Takemura (or Bushi Tachemura) he had been a tax collector prior to 1879 and, although remembered as being honest, strict and to have never indulged in extortion, he was, for reasons known only to the peasants, very unpopular. At the age of 55, whilst on a tax collecting trip to a small island, Takemura was attacked at the local wharf by about 20 of the village males. Eyewitnesses stated that he somehow managed to avoid all of the offenders' attacks with circular movements and that now and again his right foot would be seen to sweep up and scuff the head of an attacker who would run clutching his head in an attempt to replace a flat of skin and hair that had been removed by Takemura's extraordinary "scalping kick". Takemura feeling that his job was becoming a little too dangerous, resigned and migrated from Shuri to become a farmer in the north of the island where he taught Ti (or Te, a martial art, which was practiced and preserved by the Okinawan noble and aristocratic social class) to Kishimoto and eventually died at the ripe old age of 85.

Takemura and Sokon Matsumura[edit]

Takemura and the elder master Sokon Matsumura (1796-1893) had been good friends. Once whilst they were drinking together in the garden of his house, Takemura teased Matsumura by saying that he was too old to do anything. A friendly match thus being provoked. Takemura started to rise from his cross-legged sitting position and had just raised one knee when Matsumura attempted to scoop his leg, but instead of being thrown, Takemura floated gracefully through the air, did a perfect back somersault and landed gently on a small stone bridge. Matsumura was so taken aback at seeing this exhibition of levitation that he ran into his house and failed to reappear for the rest of the evening.