Matayoshi Shinpo

History of Matayoshi Kobudo.

Matayoshi Shinpo …

Matayoshi Shinpo was born in 1921 in a village called Yomitan, Okinawa, located in the Kina District on December 27th. Shinpo started his training in martial arts at the very young age of 6. His father taught him his system of Kobudo and the empty hand style – tode. However, Shinpo was also exposed to a system called Kingai Ryu, a White Crane open-hand system.

In 1937, Shinko also introduced his son, Shinpo, to a Chinese tea importer, named Gokenki Sensei, who had taken up residence in Naha. Gokenki taught Shinpo an open hand system called Hakaku Kempo. Although Shinpo Sensei had various instructors throughout his life, his father remained his lifelong instructor and mentor.

In 1938, Matayoshi Shinpo moved to Kawasaki-Shi and there spent 19 years teaching and training. However, in 1957 he went back to Okinawa to teach his “Ryukyuan Kobudo” predominately in Goju Ryu dojo, namely those of Higa Sensei. While teaching Kobudo he began to realise that karate was growing in popularity and Kobudo was not. So Shinpo decided to form his own dojo.
It was in 1960, Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei founded his Kobudo dojo in Naha, and he called it the “Kodokan” in memory of, and as a dedication to his teacher and mentor, his father Matayoshi Shinko Sensei. The meaning of Kodokan is based upon 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”. The weapons studied were the staff (included several lengths), Sai, Nunchaku, Kuwa, Suruchin, Timbei and Nunti etc.

Once he opened his dojo, he contacted other Kobudo instructors and students in order to unite Kobudo practitioners. As a result of this interest, Matayoshi Sensei formed the Ryukyu Kobudo Association in 1960, which became the foundation of the Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei, which was formed in 1972 and still exists today.

Sadly Matayoshi Shinpo Sensei passed away in Okinawa on 7th September 1997, at the age of 76.

His style of Kobudo is now known all over the world, typically as Matayoshi Kobudo, and was in fact adopted by the founders of Pwan gai-noon Ryu (Uechi Ryu).

( Information and photos courtesy of )