Return to Martial Arts Philosophy

The Masters

Although I haven’t spoken much regarding the classic masters of the Martial Arts, I know that I will talk about them later; so this is just a pre-emptive strike.  This will be a “work-in-progress” page and will eventually have a short description for each, followed by a page with more detail and links to references, etc.

The focus right now is on Karate masters, but will eventually include founders and other significant persons of many styles.


Miyamoto Musashi – 17th Century CE Japanese swordsman (born in 1584, died 1645), author of Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings) and developer of Niten Ichi Ryu (The school of the strategy of two heavens as one) school of swordsmanship where practitioners use two swords simultaneously.  One of the most influential swordsmen in Japanese history, believed to have fought over 60 battles from an early age (around 13 years old) until his death, but ironically was not highly sought after in his later life.  He was a contemporary of Yagyu Munenori, who was a sword instructor to the Shogun, a position that Musashi had applied for and was denied.

Yagyu Munenori – 17th Century CE Japanese swordsman (1571 – 1646) was the sword instructor to three of the Tokugawa Shoguns in the Edo period.  His book, The Life-Giving Sword, is one of the foundational written works for modern martial arts practices that have made their way into the modern world.  He is referred to as Musashi’s contemporary rival, but the two of them never met.

“Tode/Toudi” Sakugawa – The late 18th to mid-19th century CE Okinawan martial arts master, instructor to Bushi Matsumura, and was the creator of the kata Kusanku (Kanku dai).  His teacher, Kwang Shang Fu (or Kusanku), taught him the ways of Chinese Wushu, and thus Sakugawa earned the nickname Tode (To and De, meaning “Chinese Hand”) bringing them back to Okinawa.

“Bushi” Matsumura Sokon – The late 18th century CE Okinawan martial arts master, student of Tode Sakugawa, who would instruct some of the foundational fathers of modern Karate.  He would teach Itosu Anko, and Anko’s student Gichin Funikoshi – the commonly understood father of modern karate, and founder of the Shotokan style of Karate.

Itosu Anko

Funakoshi Gichin


Kusanku (Kwang Shang Fu)


Morehei Ueshiba – Also known as “O Sensei”, and is the founder of Aikido.  Born in the late 19th, early 20th century CE Japan, he spent many years studying martial arts, and challenged the convention that martial arts was about violence.


Influential Figures

Takuan Soho


Miyamoto Musashi

Generally, whenever someone hears the name “Miyamoto Musashi”, or conjures up an image of a samurai without their armour, this is the kind of image they think of. This is an idealized image of Musashi Miyamoto, one the greatest swordsmen to ever live – and this is a title that holds true even today. (Marc …

Yagyu Munenori

“There may be a hundred sword stance positions, but you win only with one.” – Yagyu Munenori, from the Heiho Kadensho (The book of Family Traditions on the Art of War). With Miyamoto Musashi known as the most famous swordsman in history, it is only fair and appropriate to bring up Master Munenori, founder of the Edo …

Tode Sakugawa

Satunuku Sakugawa Kanga, aka Tode/Toudi or Karate Sakugawa (1733 – 1857 CE), was an Okinawan Karate Master in the 18th and 19th centuries who is best known as Bushi Sokon Matsumura’s teacher, and creator of the Kusanku kata that is practiced in many of the styles that sprout from this lineage.  He is also known as the …

“Bushi” Matsumura Sokon

The man known as Matsumura Sokon, later known as “Bushi Matsumura”, was born sometime in the late 18th century CE, although the exact date/year is unknown.  What is known is that he would become a martial arts master, and teach some of the foundational forebears of modern karate: Itosu, Asato, Motobu, Kyan, and Kentsu (to keep …

Gichin Funakoshi

Master GIchin Funakoshi was born in the mid-to-late 19th Century (10 November 1868, interestingly this is the year of the Meiji Restoration) in Shuri, Okinawa.  He, as so many of the classic masters were reported to be, is reported to have been a weak and sickly young man that his parents would send for Karate training …

Morehei Ueshiba

“There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.” – Morehei Ueshiba. Ueshiba Morihei was born 14 December, 1883, to a rich landowner family (father: Ueshiba Yoroku, mother: Ueshiba Yuki), in …

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