Who was Maeda Pechin? (1)

Published: August 28, 2023

The Wansu in the Chotoku Kyan lineage is commonly accepted to come from a certain Maeda Pechin. Several schools in the Kyan lineage attribute this kata to this Sensei.
On the website of Matsubayashi-Ryu you can read: “Another great teacher of Tomari was Pechin Maeda. Kyan studied quite a while under Maeda Sensei and learned the Kata ‘Wansu’.” Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu was a student of Chotoku Kyan.
Exactly the same text is on the website of the Shorin-Ryu Seibukan Karate Do Association. Zenryo Shimabukuro, the founder of Shorin-Ryu Seibukan, was also a student of Chotoku Kyan.
And on the American website of the Okinawa Karate Do Shorinji-Ryu Shinkokai you can read: “Chotoku Kyan taught seven karate kata and one weapons kata (kun).  These kata and the masters he learned them from are listed below. [ … ] Wanshu – from Pechin Maeda
Joen Nakazato, the founder of Shorinji-Ryu, was also a student of Chotoku Kyan.

Now, besides the fact that ‘Maeda’ was a Pechin, that he taught Kyan the kata Wansu, and that he learned Wansu himself from Kosaku Matsumora, not much is known about him. But recently I red an article by Andreas Quast again. It’s about the February 2003 issue of “Gekkan Karatedō” magazine which features an article about the Gōhakukai: “The Kata of Wansū (Dai). This Kata has been handed down from Teruya Kisō (Kishin?) (1804–1864) to Matsumora Kōsaku. From Matsumora Kōsaku it was handed down to Iha Kōtatsu (1873–1928) and Maeda Ginin (1840–1921). As a representative Kata of Tomari it has finally been inherited by Nakasone Seiyū.

So, a certain Ginin Maeda, who lived from 1840 until 1921, is said to have been taught a ‘Wansu Dai’ by Kosaku Matsumora. But the kata Wansu Dai is a completely different kata than the kata that is passed in the Kyan lineage.
Nevertheless, the name of Ginin Maeda caught my attention. So I decided to dig a bit deeper. A quick search on Google resulted in two others Maeda’s: Gicho Maeda (1826-1890), who is said to have been a student of Kosaku Matsumora and Gisei Maeda (1899-1983), who is said to have been a student of Kotatsu Iha. Kotatsu Iha himself was a student of Kosaku Matsumora, as is confirmed by Shoshin Nagamine.
Now, besides Ginin Maeda, is it possible that either Gicho or Gisei would be the Maeda Pechin who taught Chotoku Kyan? Let’s take a look.

Some sources say that Kyan studied with Maeda Pechin after he studied with Sokon Matsumura, others say he studied with Maeda Pechin before he studied with Sokon Matsumura. As you can read in Andreas Quast’s article ‘Kata taught by Matsumura Sokon (2)’, Kyan studied with Sokon Matsumura presumably from 1885 or 1886 until 1887 or 1888. He moved to Tokyo in 1888 or 1889 and came back somewhere between 1895 and 1899. Gicho Maeda passed away in 1890, which means Kyan was in Tokyo at that time. So if he studied with Maeda Pechin after he returned from Tokyo, Kyan couldn’t have been taught by Gicho after he came back from Tokyo. If he studied with Maeda Pechin before he moved to Tokyo, it's possible that Gicho Maeda was Maeda Pechin.
Now, Gicho Maeda was born in 1826, while Kosaku Matsumora, who is said to have been Maeda Pechin's teacher, was born in 1829. Making Kosaku Matsumora 3 years younger than Gicho Maeda. So, in my opinion, it's not very presumable that Gicho Maeda was a student of Kosaku Matsumora.

Gisei Maeda was born in 1899, making Chotoku Kyan 29 years older. To me, it’s not presumable that Gisei Maeda taught Chotoku Kyan. So for now, both Gicho Maeda (1826 - 1890) as well as Ginin Maeda (1840 - 1921) could be Maeda Pechin. And of those two, Ginin Maeda is more logical than Gicho Maeda.
But, there is no solid evidence for that. In fact, it’s possible that Maeda Pechin was none of them three. :)

Second, as far as I know, there isn’t any solid evidence that Ginin Maeda even existed. Besides the article about the Gōhakukai, I didn’t find any other source for his name. Nevertheless, as I said my attention was caught. Maybe we will find out more in the future.


Author: Olaf Steinbrecher