Tode Sakugawa was encouraged by his father to start his martial training at the age of 17. His first teacher was the Buddhist monk Takahara Peichin. Takahara was extremely strong and a well respected fighter. He believed karate to be a way of life. He also believed that the way to understand and preserve karate was through kata. Through kata fighting techniques could be taught. He was the first to make a kata.
Sakugawa also learned from the Chinese envoy and military official Kusanku who had settled on the island. From him Sakugawa learned the Chinese system of Chuan-Fa (Kempo). Sakugawa went to China with Kusanku to continue his study. When he returned to the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1762 he was considered an expert in Chinese Hand. He began teaching what he learned from his two teachers. This made him the first Ryukyuan teacher of Tode (Chinese Hand) and is why he became known as Tode Sakugawa. He named this system Shuri-Te. He developed the Kusanku kata based on the techniques he learned from Kusanku. Our bo kata, Sakugawa no Kun, was named after him. You can read short stories on Tode Sakugawa on page 27 of O'Sensei's book Old Grandmaster Stories.