Shinkō Matayoshi 


Matayoshi Shinkō was born in Kakinohana district, Naha, on 18th May 1888. The third son of Shinchin, he grew up in Shinbaru, near Chatan village. He studied bōjutsu and ēku-jutsu with his grandfather Shintoku. From Chokuhō Agena he learned sai and kama and widened his knowledge of ēku and . In Yomitan village he studied nunchaku, tunkuwa, kurumanbō and kuwa with master Irei Okina Shin’ushi. 

A Chinese merchant, Wu Xian Gui, called Go Kenki in Japanese, shared his knowledge of the White Crane style with Shinkō. 

In 1905 he left Okinawa for Hokkaido to enter China through Manchuria. In Manchuria he joined a group of nomads. It is said that they taught him how to ride a horse, how to use a lasso, a sort of suruchin, and how to use other thrown weapons (shuriken). After some years with them Shinkō moved to Shanghai, where he practiced a form of Chinese Kenpo; then he arrived to Fuzhou city, where he was introduced to master Jin Ying (Kingai). Together with his martial studies, from Kingai he also learned acupuncture, medicinal Chinese moxa practices and herbal medicine. 

Shinkō returned to Okinawa between 1910 and 1918. In 1915 he was invited to demonstrate Kobudō in Tōkyō, it probably was the first demonstration of Okinawan Kobudō on the Japanese mainland. Around 1920, he settled once again in Okinawa.  

During this time he trained with Yamani Chinen, Ryōkō Shiishi and Chojo Oshiro, learning some new techniques. In 1921, he participated in a demonstration of Ryūkyūs martial arts at the Shuri castle in honor of Prince Hirohito. In 1928 Shinkō participated in a demonstration in memory of Emperor Meiji in Tōkyō as an Okinawan prefectural representative; he showed kama and tonfa techniques.  

Shinkō also got married during this period; his daughter Kimiko was born in 1919 and his son Shinpō in 1921. Around 1930 he came back to Fuzhou to resume and widen his studies with master Kingai, especially on weapons techniques: tinbē, nunti, sansetsukon and suruchin. Shinkō returned to Naha in 1934 and continued working as traditional Chinese medicine doctor. He managed three dōjōs: in Naha, in Chatan, and in Kadena.  

He was deeply respected in the Okinawan martial arts community, earning nicknames such as Shinbaru Mateshi (Matayoshi of Shinbaru) and Kama nu ti Mateshi (Matayoshi of Kama). He died in May 1947. 

Shinpō Matayoshi 


Shinpō was born on 27th December 1921 in Kina, Yomitan. He began training with his father Shinkō at the age of four. His father also introduced him to his friends and Budō colleagues. Thus, Shinpō began to study with Chotoku Kyan in 1928 , then with his father’s friend, Chōjun Miyagi, for a short period and then with Seiko Higa, with whom he built a strong relationship. 

In 1935, he began training with his father’s old friend Go Kenki and continued to do so until the end of World War II. 

In 1960 he moved to a small house behind Seiko Higa’s dōjō, being one of his most advanced students; he taught Kobudō in Higa’s dōjō and in many other places on the island. 

In 1970 he founded the Ryūkyū Kobudō Renmei  (Ryūkyūs Kobudō Federation), with the aim of practicing and preserving the Okinawan weapons arts. In 1972 the organization changed its name to Shadan Hojin Zen Okinawan Kobudō Renmei or the Okinawan Kobudō Federation Co. Ltd (ZOKR) and received official acknowledgment in Okinawa from the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Shinpo became the first ZOKR President and he remained in charge for 25 years, until his death.  

In 1976 he bought a field in the district of Sobe in Naha where he built a new house for his family; on the ground floor was the dōjō, which he called Kōdōkan (光道館) or “place of the Bright Way.” The kanji ” (), which means light or brightness, was taken from his father’s name, Shinkō, to honor his memory.  

Shinpō sensei was the representative of the Dai Nippon Butokukai for the Okinawan prefecture. On 10th October 1987 he was officially recognized for his ability and his efforts to promote and preserve Okinawan martial arts, receiving the 10th Dan and the title of Hanshi from His Imperial Highness Higashi Fushimi Jigo, president of the Dai Nippon Butokukai. 

In 1995 he held a seminar in Italy assisted by his student Andrea Guarelli sensei, teaching techniques of saitunkuwanunchakukamaēku and sansetsukon. They also trained together the style of the White Crane.  

Matayoshi Shinpō  sensei died on September 7th 1997 in Naha. 

He will be remembered as one of the most prominent figures in the development of Okinawan martial arts after World War II. He left behind some expert students who transmitted his teachings, among these the only one who has received the rank of 10th Dan is Shusei Maeshiro sensei. 

Andrea Guarelli 


Andrea Guarelli was born in Verona, Italy, in 1961. He began practicing Karate at the age of twelve and then added the practice of Okinawan Kobudō.  

After several successful competitions at national and international level, he decided to dedicate himself exclusively to the study and teaching of Budō. 

In the 80’s he went to Taiwan and then to Okinawa, where he trained with the Kobudō headmaster Shinpō Matayoshi and the headmaster of Gōju-ryū Karate Eiichi Miyazato, both 10th Dan, travelling since then to Okinawa at least once a year.  

In 1990 he was designated as responsible for Italy by the Zen Okinawan Kobudō Renmei.  

In 1997 Master Shinpō Matayoshi gave him the rank of 6th Dan and the title of Kobudō Renshi.  

In 1999 he participated in the demonstration in commemoration of Master Matayoshi’s death anniversary in Okinawa. In the same year he went to China (Fuzhou) where he trained in the White Crane style with master Jin Jingfu. 

In 2003 the Okinawa Gōju-ryū Karatedo Kyokai (Master Koshin Iha) gave him the title of Karate Kyoshi.  

In 2008 on the occasion of a seminar in Cape Town, South African TV dedicated a report to him in the National program of martial arts “The Warrior.” He went to Okinawa and China (Yongchun) where the local TV filmed him at Confucius’ temple. He trained with M° Su Yinghan of the White Crane style.  

In 2009 he was nominated member of the directive council of the important association Yongchun Yiyun Society of Yongchun (Fujian – China). He was also designated as responsible for the White Crane style in Italy.  

In 2011 he was invited to demonstrate a White Crane form in the temple dedicated to this style in Yong Chun, China. The demonstration and his interview were recorded and transmitted by Taiwanese TV. His name is engraved in the White Crane temple wall where the genealogy of this style’s masters is illustrated, from the founder, Fang Qiniang, to the 12th generation which includes him. 

In 2012 the Okinawan Association Kenshikai (Master Tetsuhiro Hokama) gave him the rank of 8th Dan in Karate.  

He is a member of the National Association of Olympic Athletes and Italian National Team Members and he’s the founder and president of the International Matayoshi Kobudō Association (I.M.K.A.). 

He has taught seminars of Karate and Matayoshi Kobudō in many countries from different continents. He has also written and published 4 books about Martial Arts: “Il Bō – Il bastone di Okinawa” (Mediterranee, Roma, 1998), published also in German (Weinmann, Berlin, 2002); “Karatedō Nagewaza” (2010); “Sai Jutsu – L’arte del tridente di Okinawa” (2013); and “Okinawa Kobudō – storia e techniche” (2014), published also in English (Skyhorse, New York, 2016) and Spanish (Shinden, Barcelona, 2020). 

In July 2022 I.M.K.A. organized a major event in Verona (Italy) in memory of the centenary of the birth of Shinpō Matayoshi sensei. 

On November 30th, 2022 he received the rank of 9th Dan and the title of Hanshi from Shusei Maeshiro sensei.

Other prominent Matayoshi Kobudo Master

Shusei Maeshiro

Born on December 26, 1933 in Aja, Naha city. He started practicing Karate with Chōshin Chibana (Shōrin-ryū) and later with Seiki Itokazu (Uechi-ryū). He than started practicing Kobudō with Yoshio Kakazu and Shinpō Matayoshi. Maeshiro sensei is the only student to whom Master Shinpō Matayoshi awarded the degree of 10th dan Hanshi, on December 1, 1994. In 1998 he was promoted 10th dan Hanshi of Uechi-ryū Karatedō by Seiki Itokazu sensei (1915-2006). He still teaches Karate and Kobudō in his dōjō in Naha. 

Yoshiaki Gakiya

Born on February 8, 1950 in Oki, Yomitan city. He began practicing Karate with Seiko Fukuchi (Gōju-ryū) and later Kobudō with Shinpō Matayoshi. For years he has been Matayoshi sensei’s right hand man and one of his best students. Following the death of Master Matayoshi, he was appointed director of the master’s dojo (Kōdōkan) as his successor. He retired from teaching in 2011 due to health reasons.