The Matayoshi Kobudo system was formed by the work of two remarkable instructors, father and son, who dedicated their lives to leave us the legacy of their style. Matayoshi Shinko Sensei and his son, Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei, through their system, they influenced many other Kobudo schools, which are practiced today.
Matayoshi Shinko Sensei or “Kama nu Matehi” (Matayoshi the Kama) as he was often called, was born in the city of Naha, Okinawa in 1888.
As the third son of Matayoshi Shinchin, a wealthy businessman, Shinko was the only member of the family to
become involved in the martial arts. Although Matayoshi Shinko Sensei grew up predominantly in Okinawa, he traveled later on in his life around different areas of Japan and China. It was in Okinawa, Hokkaido, and China that Matayoshi Shinko Sensei received the majority of his exposure and training in various weapon arts. Matayoshi Shinko Sensei would later incorporate many of the weapons and styles of his instructors to form the foundation of what we know today as the Matayoshi Kobudo System.
Matayoshi Shinko Sensei had the opportunity to experience the art of weapons from many different instructors. During his teens, Matayoshi began his training in Kobujutsu, under the instruction of Agena Chokuho Sensei of Gushikawa Village. From Agena Sensei, Matayoshi learned Bo-jutsu, Sai-jutsu, Kama-jutsu, and Ueku-jutsu.
Matayoshi Shinko Sensei then became the student of Irei Sensei of Nozato, Chatan Town, from whom he learned the arts of Tonkua-jutsu and Nunchaku-jutsu.
Not long after, at the age of 22, Matayoshi Shinko Sensei left on an adventure to Manchuria where he joined a mounted nomadic tribe, from whom he gained exposure in the arts of Ba-jutsu (bow and arrow while riding a horse), Shuriken-jutsu, and Nagenawa-jutsu (rope throwing).
Shinko Sensei continued in his travels to expand his knowledge of the art of weaponry, arriving in Shanghai where he learned the arts of Nunti-jutsu, Timbe-jutsu, and Suruchin-jutsu. While in Shanghai, he began to develop interests outside of Kobudo, yet still within the realm of the martial arts. Matayoshi Shinko Sensei became involved in the study of Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine under the instruction of Kinkoroushi. He furthered his studies in China, learning Chinese boxing and Shorinji Kempo in Fuchow, China.
Because of his abilities and knowledge, windows of opportunity were opened to Matayoshi Shinko Sensei, and he was able to participate in two very notable moments in the history of the martial arts. In 1915, during the Imperial Memorial Budo Demonstration Festival at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Shinko Sensei demonstrated Tonkua-jutsu and Kama-jutsu, while Funakoshi Gichin Sensei (the founder of Shotokan) demonstrated Karate. This was the first time that Okinawan Kobudo was publicly demonstrated in mainland Japan, and remains a very important event in the history of Kobudo. Later, in 1921, during the honorable visit of Prince Hirohito (Showa) to Okinawa, Matayoshi Sensei demonstrated Kobudo, and Miyagi Chojun Sensei (the founder of Goju Ryu) demonstrated Karate for the distinguished guest. It was not until 1935 when Matayoshi Shinko Sensei returned to Okinawa, settled in the city of Naha, and shaped his experiences to the point of developing the Matayoshi style of Kobudo. Matayoshi Shinko Sensei passed away in 1947 at the age of 59.
Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei, son of Matayoshi Shinko Sensei and successor to the Matayoshi line of Kobudo, was born in Okinawa in Yomitan Village, located in the Kina District on December 27, 1921. Shinpo Sensei was introduced to the martial arts by his father at the very young age of 6. However, Matayoshi Shinko Sensei did not limit his son to the practice of Kobudo; he also exposed Shinpo Sensei to Kingai Ryu, a White Crane open hand system. In 1937, Shinpo Sensei’s father also introduced him to the open hand system of Hakaku Kempo, which he learned from Gokenki Sensei. Although Shinpo Sensei would have various instructors throughout his life, his father remained his lifelong instructor and mentor.
Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei remained in Okinawa until 1938, when he moved to Kawasaki-Shi in Kanagawa-Ken. He spent 19 years in the city of Kawasaki teaching and training. The year 1957 brought Shinpo Sensei back to Okinawa, where he taught kobudo predominantly in Goju Ryu dojos, namely that of Higa Sensei. While teaching Kobudo in various Karate dojos, Matayoshi Sensei realized that Karate was growing in popularity, where as Kobudo was not. Matayoshi Sensei wanted to increase the exposure of Kobudo among the people of Okinawa, so he decided to form his own dojo.
In 1960, Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei founded his Kobudo dojo in the city of Naha, and he called it the “Kodokan” in memory of, and as a dedication to his teacher and mentor Matayoshi Shinko Sensei. The significance of “Kodokan” is based on the kanji “Ko” (meaning “Light”), and is a tribute to the “Ko” from Shinko; for what Kodokan translates to the “Hall of the Enlightened Way”.
Once Matayoshi Sensei opened his dojo, he focused on contacting Kobudo instructors and students all over Japan. His intention was to unite Kobudo practitioners under one goal; to not only to spread the art of Kobudo, but also to try to maintain the traditions that had been passed down from Kobudo Sensei’s of earlier days. Matayoshi Sensei had a strong interest in promoting Kobudo among young students to help make them better citizens and contributors to society.
As a result of this interest, Matayoshi Sensei formed the Ryukyu Kobudo Association in 1960. This association became the foundation of the Zen Okinawa Renmei or All Okinawa Kobudo League, which formed in 1972 and still exists today.
Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei passed away in Okinawa on September 7, 1997, at the age of 76.