GRAND MASTER HOHAN SOKEN was born on May the 25th, 1889. He began his training in 1902 at the age of thirteen. He was the only student of his uncle Nabe Matsumura, (grandson of the famous Bushi Matsumura). His training was to last 76 years.
The Kusanku kata that Bushi Matsumura inherited from Sakugawa played an important role in Soken’s karate training. After Soken had practiced basics for ten years, his uncle told him that he was now ready to begin learning real karate. In 1912, Soken began learning Hakutsura or “white crane”. To increase balance, Soken was instructed to practice his white crane kata and kumite while balancing on a floating slab of wood.
Soken also sought out other instructors to study under, among them was Master Ushi no Tanme, of Nishihara Village, who practiced and taught kobudo that he had learned from an old samurai named Chikin Kraka. Master Chikin Kraka was also known by his Japanese name, Tsuken Mantaka. He is best known for teaching the “Chikin no Bo” kata to Hohan Soken, who continued training with both Sensei Nabe and Sensei Ushi.
In 1920 Master Soken moved to Argentina where he remained for 25 years. Upon his return to Okinawa in 1945 he found that karate had greatly changed, sport karate had all but replaced the ancient methods. Soken did not change, he valued himself as the last of the Old Masters. He refused to join some of the more fashionable karate associations, preferring to stay with the old ways.
He did much to cause the rebirth of interest in Kobudo. Master Soken was proficient with many kobudo weapons, however he taught mainly the Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Kama, Nunchaku, Kamagusari and surichin. During his time Master Soken was one of the top kobudo masters in Okinawa, and was president of the All Okinawan Kobujutsu Association.
Master Soken promoted his most senior student of many years, Kise Fusei to 9th Dan in 1976 and passed on full knowledge of his system to Master Kise by the time that he retired in 1978. He dies on 1st December 1982.