Insights of a Warrior: Bushi Matsumura


Insights of a Warrior . . .

Bushi Matsumura’s Teaching on the Martial Arts


Sokon or “Bushi” Matsumura was one of the original Karate masters of Okinawa.   He is intimately connected to the practice of Karate as a model of right-living, and the constant becoming of the spiritual warrior. 

Reflect on his words:


You can only understand the true nature of the martial arts through long and continuous training.  It is quite interesting to note that the martial arts and methods of scholarly study parallel each other at a fundamental level. 

There is a parallel between martial arts study and any other scholarly study as related to method:

The first method is study of powerful words, skills need in communication and the pursuit of high-paying positions.

The second method is the study of comparing the wisdom of traditional literature, and instilling a sense of duty by way of example.

Despite the fact that these two methods are both unique, they fall short of comprehending the true essence of the way. They encompass only a superficial comprehension of scholarly studies, so they should be regarded as incomplete.

The third method of literacy study is a complete method.  By understanding this third method is how we can understand the true way.  Some of the things that it teaches us how to do are the following:

1)     To gain a more profound understanding of life

2)    To gain strength from our weakness

3)    To become more sincere

4)   To become more righteous

5)    To better control of our emotions

6)    To have more peace in our home

Such a doctrine can be applied not only to a country, but also to the world, and is therefore complete.

As we investigate the martial arts, we will see three distinct divisions or methods:

The first is a sort of psychological and tactical game.  It has no practical application in fighting, but teaches attitude and posture.  It can be quite superficial.

The second method is nothing more than physical exercises.  Its goal is to win.  There is no virtue in winning.  The practitioners of this method are contentious—they many times bring injury to others and themselves; often they cause dishonor to come upon members of their family.

The third method, in contrast is always performed with conviction.  The practitioners of this third method gain a solemn enlightenment, free of strife and depravity.  It promotes loyalty among family, friends and country.  It also promotes a natural demeanor, which develops a gallant character.

If you have an unconquerable calmness, you can overcome the enemy without force, and with the ferocity of a tiger and the swiftness of a bird.

Some traits of this third method:

1)     It prohibits intentional violence

2)    It rules the actions of the warrior

3)    It edifies

4)   It promotes virtue

5)    It promotes peace among the people

6)    It produces harmony in society

7)    It brings about prosperity

These are called the “Seven Virtues of the Martial Arts.”  They were taught by wise men and are contained in a book called Godan-sho.

Thus, the true way of the martial arts has more than one element it. A wise man does not need the first or second method.   All he needs is the third method.  In this method, you will find the true way.

This unconquerable strength will deeply influence the judgment in recognizing opportunities and taking appropriate actions.  The circumstance will always determine what the correct approach is that you should take.

It might seem like I have no respect for the other two fighting methods, but my convictions is rooted immovably n the doctrine that the third method.  I have revealed my words to you.  There is nothing left secret or hidden in my mind, nothing held back.  If you accept and heed my words, you will find the true way.


Bushi Matsumura, May 13, 1882


My wise and young brother Kuwae Ryosei