Alias : Ku Shanku, Kosokun, Kung Hsiang Ch’ün, Kwang Shang Fu, Ku Shan Ku, Koshokun, Kwanku, Ko Sokun, Gong Xiang Fu

公相君) was a chinese from the Fukien-province that influenced the history of karate a lot. The name Kushanku/Koshokun consists of the letter Ko (public, official), Sho (minister) and Kun (a suffix for persons, means also "master, ruler). This shows, that it may be a title. But it is also possible, that it may be used as a normal name.

Kushanku, a master of the northern Shaolin-Quanfa, came as a member of a delegation sended by the chineses Ming-emperor in 1756 to Okinawa, where he stayed till 1762. But in the official lists of this time there can't such name be found.
Some families ("The 36 families") were elected by the chinese emperor at this time to send them to Okinawa. These families consisted of experts of different professions and arts and had the order to teach their abilities. They settled in the village Kumemura near Naha. Kushanku was probably one of them.

His name can be found firstly in the so called Oshima Hikki (Notes of Oshima). In 1762 a tribute-ship of the Satsuma crashed near Tosa (Shikoku-province) due to a storm. There it stayed about one month. The scholar TOBE RYOEN (also TOBE YOSHIHIRO) (1713-1795), who lived on Tosa, wrote down the talkes of the sailors of this ship. These notes became famous later under the name Oshima Hikki.
According to these notes a man called SHIONJA PEICHIN was on that ship, and told about a chinese martial artist named KOSHANKUN. He should have demonstrated his arts several times.

In the notes is written "A chinese called KO SHANG KUN brought name students with him. I was really impressed by the demonstrations of kempo... I saw how a little person easily defended against bigger and stronger persons. He kept on hand close to the trunk and just used kata-te und nuki-ashi and the more little man defeated the bigger enemy without using power."

Kushanku was famous for his fighting abilities. He influenced the development of the Shorin ryu a lot by introducing the Kata Kushanku, witch plays an important role in many stiles of Shorin ryu. Also it is said, that he introduced Hikite, to pull back of the fist to the body. Also he first taught Kumiai jutsu, a form of Kumite, in Okinawa.

Kushanku probably had three students on Okinawa SHIONJA (
潮平), CHATAN YARA (北谷屋良) und SAKUGAWA (佐久川).
The existence of Shionja could till today not be validated. Just the Oshima Hikki give some reference on his existence. It is also uncertain if he was a student of Kushanku.
Chatan Yara (
北谷屋良) (1740-1812) stayed many years in China before he became a student of Kushanku. If he got to know Kushanku in China is not uncertain. It is known that he had a profound knowledge of martial arts (especialy Xing Yi and Qi Gong) when he met Kushanku. That enabled him to understand the difficult martial arts system that Kushanku taught, especialy when it dealed with Qi. So he understood the Kata he learned from Kushanku in its full depth. Due to this the original content of the Kata Kushanku was kept und teached on the line Kushanku - Yara - KYAN. The original form of the Kata, the Kuniyoshi no Kushanku is teached in Matsubayashi ryu. Chatan Yara became as the inner student (Uchi deshi) successor of Kushanku and received the Menkyo Kaiden.

Another studend of Kushanku was Sakugawa Kanga (佐久川寛賀) (1733-1815), also known under the name Tode Sakugawa. Er wurde 1756 Schüler von Kushanku. The story how Kushanku and Sakugawa got to know each other is written down in the book "The Weaponless Warriors" by RICHARD KIM.

Sakugawa was not this experienced in chinese martial arts as Chatan Yara and did not know the principles of Qi. Due to this he cound not reach the depth of the marital art of Kushanku even if he learned from Kushanku for six years till his departure in 1762.
Sakugawa war nicht so erfahren in den chinesischen Kampfkünsten und kannte die Prinzipien des Qi nicht. Aus diesem Grund konnte er, obwohl er bis zur Abreise von Kushanku 1762 sechs Jahre bei ihm lernte, nicht in die Tiefe von Kushanku’s Kampfkunst vordringen.
So he modified the Kata Kushanku he had learned as Chatan Yara did and replaced many techniques he did not understand by techniques using power. By this he changed the Kata heavily and the original content was not taught on the line of Sakugawa.

Kushanku died probably in 1790 in China.

Karate History, 2000, RealSelfDefense.com
Lind, Werner : Karate Lexikon
Funakoshi, Gichin ; Karate do Kyohan
Cook, Harry : Shotokan Karate – A Precise History, 2001
Bishop, Mark - Zen Kobudo – Mysteries of Okinawan Weaponry and Te, 1996
Kim, Richard - The Weaponless Warriors
Habersetzer, Roland : Die Tradition des Karate