Sokan-Ryu is a little known style of kobudo founded by Busen Arakawa in mainland Japan. Arakawa sensei was a senior student of Kanki Izumikawa at the Senbukan dojo and later also learned Ryukyu kobudo from Shinken Taira. In 1960 Arakawa was awarded with a shihan license in Ryukyu kobudo from Taira. In 1966 he received 7th dan from Kanki Izumikawa. Since there is virtually nothing written on Arakawa or Sokan-Ryu in English I wanted to share some of what I have been able to learn.
Sokan Ryu has both Japanese and Ryukyu elements. In the late 40s Busen Arakawa was told about the nunchaku on Okinawa by Kanki Izumikawa. This led Arakawa to devise his own version of it based on the descriptions he was given. The Japanese version of it came to be known as sosetsukon and had several differences from the Okinawan version. The sosetsukon was longer and also had a shorter cord. Arakawa had also developed several unique techniques with it not practiced on Okinawa.
|Busen Arakawa (right) practicing kobudo in
his younger years (early 50s)
In 1951 it was shown to the public in Japan for the first time. At the request of Kanki Izumikawa, Arakawa gave a demonstration of his sosetsukon techniques. Afterwards he was approached by numerous people who wanted to learn from him. It's thought Sokan Ryu was the first school outside Okinawa to popularise the techniques of the nunchaku. In 1955 Arakawa founded his own dojo in Suginami Tokyo as a branch of Izumikawa's Senbukan. In 1965 he renamed his dojo to Rinbukan. Arakawa taught both Sokan-Ryu and Izumikawa's Goju-Ryu together.
While Arakawa sensei's kobudo started out only with nunchaku, Sokan Ryu encompasses a full kobudo curriculum including bo, sai and tonfa. Izumikawa was also a noted expert of kobudo and must have had a great influence on Arakawa. One of the kata preserved in Sokan Ryu is Izumikawa no Sai, which is presumed to have been taught by Kanki Izumikawa. In Taira's encyclopedia of Ryukyu Kobudo Izumikawa was listed as an advisor, and Busen Arakawa was listed as a member of the board of directors and Shihan.
|Kanki Izumikawa demonstrating Sai Jutsu
Over the years Arakawa earned the nicknames "first nunchaku master in Japan" as well as "god of nunchaku". He was so well known for his skills in Kobudo practitioners of other karate schools came to him for instruction. This includes some members from the Shudokan founded by Kanken Toyama and people from Gensei Ryu as well.
During his lifetime Arakawa sensei continued to research and refine the techniques of Kobudo. The only two students he authorised to open official branch dojo were Sosen Nanao (Hokushikan) and Soushun Kobayashi (Koshinkan). Today Kobayashi sensei is the head of Arakawa sensei's Rinbukai.
|Arakawa sensei demonstrating
Sokan Ryu in his Rinbukan dojo