The lineage of Shushi nu Kun
Published: December 30, 2021
Shushi nu Kun is probably the most known and most wide spread kata in kobudo. However, there are a lot of versions going around. Some schools have only one version, other schools have a Sho and Dai version or even more. Together with Pavel Dolgachev, I tried to make some sort of overview.
Shushi nu Kun - Matayoshi version
Matayoshi Kobudo has only one version of Shushi nu Kun in its curriculum. This version is very close (almost identical) to the Dai version in the Taira lineage. Matayoshi Kobudo was developed by Shinko Matayoshi (1888 - 1947). He most likely learned Shushi nu Kun from Sanda Chinen (1842 - 1925), who's grandson Masami Chinen (1898 - 1976) later formed the Yamane-Ryu school of kobudo.
So, if Shinko Matayoshi indeed learned it from Sanda Chinen the lineage here is: Sanda Chinen -> Shinko Matayoshi
The Matayoshi Kobudo version of Shushi nu Kun - By Tomohiro Omura Sensei
Shushi nu Kun - Ryu Kon Kai version
The Ryu Kon Kai school of kobudo also has only one version of Shushi nu Kun in its curriculum. It's almost identical to the Matayoshi version when it comes to the embusen and techniques. Which is not a surprise, when you know that the founder of Ryu Kon Kai, Kotaro Iha, studied with Takashi Kinjo in the 1970's. Takashi Kinjo in turn was a student of Shinpo Matayoshi (1921 - 1997) the son of Shinko Matayoshi.
So the lineage here is: Shinpo Matayoshi -> Takashi Kinjo -> Kotaro Iha
The Ryu Kon Kai version of Shushi nu Kun
Shushi nu Kun - Kokusaireingokai version
The Kokusaireingokai school of kobudo is related to the Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan school of karate, which was founded by Shuguro Nakazato (1920 - 2016). Nakazato started training in kobudo in 1935 under Seiro Tonaki, who was a student of Masami Chinen, and trained with him until the start of World War II. After the war, Nakazato trained directly under Masami Chinen. According to Shorinkan, their Shushi nu Kun comes from the Chinen lineage and is also called 'Yamane no Bo Shushi no Kon'.
So the lineage here is: Seiro Tonaki / Masamine Chinen -> Shuguro Nakazato
If you compare this version of Shushi nu Kun to that of Shogen-Ryu, you can see it has the same embusen, but the techniques are executed differently. The Shogen-Ryu version of Shushi nu Kun also stems from Yamane-Ryu.
The Kokusaireingokai version of Shushi nu Kun
Shushi nu Kun - Shogen-Ryu version (Yamane-Ryu)
Kiyomasa Maeda studied Matsubayashi-Ryu karate under Kensei Taba (1933 - 2012) and also directly under Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu. In 2000, Kensei Taba founded the Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Association (shortly: Shogen-Ryu).
Kensei Taba introduced Kiyomasa Maeda to Chogi Kishaba (1934 - 2017), an important teacher of Bojutsu, who was a direct student of Masami Chinen. Chogi Kishaba passed on the Yamane-Ryu Kobudo system to Kiyomasa Maeda.
So the lineage here is: Masamine Chinen -> Chogi Kishaba -> Kiyomasa Maeda
The Shogen-Ryu version of Shushi nu Kun (Start at 10:37)
Shushi nu Kun - Toshihiro Oshiro version (Yamane-Ryu)
Another student of Chogi Kishaba was Toshihiro Oshiro (born 1949). As you can see in the video below, his version of Shushi nu Kun is exactly the same as Kiyomasa Maeda's version.
So the lineage here is: Masamine Chinen -> Chogi Kishaba -> Toshihiro Oshiro
The Yamane-Ryu version of Shushi nu Kun by students os Toshihiro Oshiro (Start at 9:25)
Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai - Taira lineage
In the Shinken Taira lineage, there are a Sho and Dai version of Shushi nu Kun. Shinken Taira was born as Shinken Maezato in 1897 in Kumejima on Kume island, Okinawa.
As a young man he worked in the Sulphur mines at Minamijima. Taira was injured in a mining accident when a mineshaft collapsed. He suffered a badly broken leg and was left with a limp.
In 1922 Shinken Taira left Okinawa and travelled to Tokyo in search of work. He was introduced to Gichin Funakoshi Ginchin and became a student of Funakoshi in an effort to learn Karate. In 1929, Taira Sensei began his studies of Ryukyu Kobudo under Moden Yabiku (1878 - 1941). Moden Yabiku was a renowned karate and kobudo teacher who studied with famous masters as Sanda Chinen (bo) and Sanda Kanagusuku (sai).
In 1955 Taira established the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkō Kai. Among Taira's students were Koshin Nakasone, Masahiro Nakamoto, Kazufumi Kinjo, Katsuhiko Minowa, Nagaishi Fumio, Motokatsu Inoue (1918 - 1993), Minowa Katsuhiko (1929 - 2003) and Eisuke Akamine (1925 - 1999), who succeeded Taira in 1970 as the president of the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkō Kai when Taira passed away.
Eisuke Akamine was succeeded by his son Hiroshi Akamine, after Eisuke Akamine passed away. In 2011, Hiroshi Akamine decided to follow a different path and stepped back as president of the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkō Kai, to establish his own organization, the Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan. Yukio Kuniyoshi Sensei, another senior student of Eisuke Akamine, was appointed the new president of the Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkō Kai.
Shinken Taira (1897 - 1970)
Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai - Ryukyu Kobudo Hozonkai version
Taira's student Minowa Katsuhiko (1929 - 2003) taught, amongst others, Masakazu Kinjo. Kinjo founded the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozonkai, not to be confused with the Ryūkyū Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai. Kinjo included both Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai in his curriculum. Masakazu Kinjo teaches both his sons Satoshi and Kento.
So the lineage here is: Shinken Taira -> Minowa Katsuhiko -> Masakazu Kinjo -> Satoshi and Kento Kinjo
The Ryukyu Kobudo Hozonkai version of Shushi nu Kun Sho - By Satoshi Kinjo
The Ryukyu Kobudo Hozonkai version of Shushi nu Kun Dai - By Satoshi Kinjo
Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai - Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan version
Shinken Taira's successor Eisuke Akamine taught, amongst others, Hidemi Tamayoshi, who was born in 1949. Tamayoshi founded his own school, called Tesshinkan, in 1999. As you can see in the video's below, performed by Hidemi Tamayoshi's son Tetsushi, the Tesshinkan versions of both Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai are (nearly) identical to the Hozonkai versions of Masakazu Kinjo.
So the lineage here is: Shinken Taira -> Eisuke Akamine -> Hidemi Tamayoshi -> Tetsushi Tamayoshi
The Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan version of Shushi nu Kun Sho - By Tetsushi Tamayoshi
The Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan version of Shushi nu Kun Dai - By Tetsushi Tamayoshi
Shuji nu Kun – Motokatsu Inoue’s versions
One of Shinken Taira’s other top students was Motokatsu Inoue. He was born in 1918 in Tokyo and from a young age he learned arts like Judo and Kendo. Around 1935, he became acquinted with Seiko Fujita, the 14thheadmaster of Koga-Ryu Ninjutsu.
In 1948, Motokatsu Inoue started training karate with Yasuhiro Konichi and kobudo with Shinken Taira. In 1969 he was awarded Menkyo Kaiden Hanshi by Shinken Taria.
Motokatsu Inoue put together a comprehensive system, including the usage, basic kumites and applications of each weapon. The Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai (not be confused with the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai) preserves and promotes the system created by Motokatsu Inoue. Its curriculum contains a total of forty-two katas from which twenty-two are bo kata. Besides Shuji no Kon Sho and Dai, there is also the Shuji Koshiki (Old Style) version in this curriculum.
After Motokatsu Inoue passed away in 1993, he was succeeded by his son Kisho Inoue.
So the lineage here is: Shinken Taira -> Motokatsu Inoue -> Kishi Inoue
The Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai version of Shuji nu Kun Sho - By Maarten van Bloois
The Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai version of Shuji nu Kun Dai - By Maarten van Bloois
The Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai version of Shuji Koshiki - By Maarten van Bloois
Were did it all start?
Shūshi 周氏 means “Mr. Shū”, and kon 棍 refers to techniques of fencing with the long staff. Accordingly, the designation Shūshi nu Kun means “the techniques of staff fencing of Mr. Shū”.
Shū is not a Japanese or Okinawan name, but a Chinese name, which is actually pronounced Zhōu. Shū is simply the Japanese reading of the character.
According to Tetsuhiro Hokama, Mr. Shū lived in Naha around 1831: “Around the year 1831 the Bōjutsu-master Shū from Shanghai lived at the rear of the Sōgenji in Naha Asato. Shūji no Kon was passed down by him in Okinawa.”
(Source: "Shūshi no Kun (Bojutsu Kata Series) - History" by Andreas Quast: https://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=6341)
According to Patrick McCarthy, in Sanda Chinen's time, the youth was schooled in Uchinadi by his uncle, Chinen Sanjin Andaya Pechin (1797-1881), also known as Aburaiya Yamagusuku.
(Source: "Yamane Ryu" by Patrick McCarthy" https://www.koryu-uchinadi.com/yamane-ryu/)
Now, as far as I know, there is no written evidence for this, but the living years of Chinen Sanjin Andaya Pechin made me think;
In 1831, he was 34 years old. It's quite possible that Mr. Shū taught Chinen Sanjin Andaya Pechin and from there it was passed on in the Chinen family and from the Chinen family to others.
Again; There is nor written evidence for this, it's just my thought.
If you look at the Yamane-Ryu version, it's the shortest of all versions. Even shorter than the Sho version in the Taira lineage. As you can read in Mark Bishop's book 'Okinawan Karate (Kobudo & Te - Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques', Seitoku Higa (1921 - 2006), one of Masami Chinen's students, believed that the Shushi nu Kun taught in other styles is a lengthened version of Chinen's Shushi nu Kun.
In my opinion, this is quite plausible. As I wrote above; if you look at the version that is practiced in Kokusaireingokai, you can see it has the same embusen as the Shogen-Ryu version and Toshihiro Oshiro's version, which both stem from Yamane-Ryu, but the techniques are executed differently. And the Kokusaireingokai version does not stem from the Taira lineage, but directly from Masami Chinen.
That could mean that either Moden Yabiku, a student of Sanda Chinen, or Yabiku's student Shinken Taira, developed both Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai, based on the original Yamane-Ryu version.
However, the Shushi nu Kun as practiced in Matayoshi-Ryu is very close (almost identical) to the Dai version in the Taira lineage. That could mean that Shinko Matayoshi learned Shushi nu Kun from someone else, or the Dai version was already developed by Sanda Chinen, and he passed it on to Shinko Matayoshi ánd Moden Yabiku.
Well, on May 14, 1967, an unpublished interview with Masami Chinen took place. The interviewer was Shoshin Nagamine from Matsubayashi-Ryu. He wrote down the results of the interview in a study book. It is a short text that names the kata as well as the kihon techniques taught by Masami Chinen.
These kata were:
1. Sakugawa nu Kun (Dai, Chu, Sho)
2. Shushi nu Kun (Dai, Sho)
3. Yonegawa nu Kun
4. Tsuken Bo (alias Sunakaki Bo) (Dai, Shō)
5. Shirotaro nu Kun
(Source: "The techniques of Chinen Masami’s Yamani-ryū" by Andreas Quast: https://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=7223)
Now, this means that at least in 1967, there were a Sho and Dai version of Shushi nu Kun in Yamane-Ryu. When these versions came into the curriculum is, as far as I know, not know.
To make it more complicated: There are various indications that the original version of Shushi nu Kun was expanded by techniques from Choun nu Kun to create the modern Shushi nu Kon Sho and Dai. It should be noted that in Japan as well as in Okinawa it is thought that Choun nu Kun, Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai, and Soeishi nu Kun all originated in the Soeishi-ryu. However, this attribution is solely based on comparison of techniques. It didn’t take into account the possibility that the original Shushi nu Kun had been expanded by techniques of Choun nu Kun to become Shushi nu Kun Sho and Dai.
(Source: "Choun no Kon – (Bojutsu Kata Series)" by Andreas Quast: https://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=4017)
Author: Olaf Steinbrecher