Uechi-Ryu.com

Discussion Area
It is currently Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:19 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 27 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:37 pm
Posts: 9
Before anyone makes plans to burn me at the stake as a heretic I accept that Kanbun Uechi became a master but my question is when and how.
When I first read of the ten years he spent studying kung fu in china I was rather young and thought that this was a long time. However now I am older I am amazed that he was able to reach the level of sifu in that time. As far as I am aware he recieved no further instruction after he returned home and did not even teach for some time.
So how did this man however exceptional he was manage to become the master and founder of the style we all revere. I have my own theory but would appreciate your input.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:42 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:29 pm
Posts: 118
Location: Murphy North Carolina
My answer should be considered rather simple from someone with limited experience and information but I do believe that the training back then was quite different than now. Students would train for many hours a day, probably every day, many times living with their teacher. If broken down to hours studied and compared to how the majority train today (2-3 times a week 1-3 hours at a time) I might proffer that this would lead to a much faster rate of improvement. The comparison could be as much as 10 years back then equalling 20-25-30 years in todays standard. I'm sure this may not be exactly the case but could contribute.

Steve


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:22 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17232
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
I think you're on to it, Steve.

FIRST
I keep going back to Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success. In it you will find a chapter which talks about the 10,000-hour rule.

Wikipedia wrote:
A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the "10,000-Hour Rule", based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles' musical talents and Gates' computer savvy as examples.[3] The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes Beatles' biographer Philip Norman as saying, "So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, 'they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'"[3] Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.[3]


SECOND
An interview of Uechi Kanbun published in Dragon Times - well before the names Uechi Ryu or even pangainoon were stable - speaks volumes. Kanbun talks about the body of knowledge he was exposed to in China, and what he was teaching in (I believe) Wakayama. In it you get the impression that Kanbun was still formulating the style that we all know and practice today. Maybe he had three "stable" forms from China along with some other training tools and such, and maybe not. Maybe like many of his China elders, he was a creative sort and made stuff up as he went along.

I've choreographed and codified both forms and partner exercises of my own. They exist. If in an alternate universe I get some kind of extraordinary recognition because I happened to be *REALLY* good (the Michael Jordan of martial arts), well maybe they'd make up legends around my exploits as well.

The point is... who cares? He studied in China. He logged an extraordinary number of hours in a very wild environment. He was a bad-assed fighter. He trained people who became very good, and some of them trained people who became very good (e.g. the 9-time All Okinawa Sparring Champion). His fighting method captures an important chapter in history, and it passes the sniff test.

In my book the label "master" means about as much as the title "doctor." I am entitled to be called both, and I don't feel that special.

Uechi Kanbun was.

- Bill


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:22 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:01 am
Posts: 2146
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Bill Glasheen wrote:
An interview of Uechi Kanbun published in Dragon Times

I do not recall seeing this one and I do not think it in my magazine article compilation (see Uechi Ryu Magazine Articles), do you recall which issue it was in Bill? Thanks!

_________________
Glenn


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:37 pm
Posts: 9
Every generation of martial artists are reputed to have trained harder than the ones that come after them and the teachers that have passed away become legendary. However in reality there is a limit. I have tried training every day of the week sometimes twice a day and by the end of the third week you reach the point of diminishing returns.
Master Uechi was a stranger in a strange land and the chinese martial arts schools charged fees. I do not think that there would have been a queue of teachers waiting to teach him for free and give him free board and lodging as well. He would have had to work to pay for food, clothing and lodging. I gather his first teacher wasn't even that impressed by him. When he was eventually taken under the wing of a noted teacher he still had to spend time earning money. I am sorry but i do not think that legendary golden temples where everything is free and all you do is train ever existed.
I do not mean to belittle Master Uechi's achievements in China but I think that his training to become a teacher was just a step on the road to mastery.
The article mentioned sounds very interesting as I have never heard of it before. It sounds very much like the when I am looking for if not the how.
When I refer to a Master I am of course not referring to a grade as I do not believe Master Uechi ever had one. To me a master is someone who is able to go far beyond what he has been taught and inspire others to do the same.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:19 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:29 pm
Posts: 118
Location: Murphy North Carolina
Alan might I ask what historical books on Uechi Ryu you have studied in order to come to your conclusions? And I'm pretty sure that the levels of training in the orient were much more intense than the training levels here in the US. At least that's what those who have trained in the past over there tell me (I've never had the priviledge to go yet). I wish I was an encyclopedia of specifics but I'm not. I have read at least three of the books regarding Uechi Ryu (George Mattson's original yellow book Uechi Ryu Karate, his The Way of Karate and Alan Dollars Secrets of Uechi Ryu.) There are many references to how brutal and hard the training was by many of the still living leaders of the style and they are still going strong.

I also believe that Kanbum Uechi also became quite learned in chinese medicine and sold that in order to survive as well.

It is common knowledge that there was not a lot of written documentation early on in Kanbum's martial arts journey.

Not sure what your point actually is in the question?

And if the last line of your last post is your definition of what a master is, I would be hard pressed to say that Kanbum and Kanei Uechi don't fit that mold.

You also say that you have your own theory. We're sharing ours, why don't you share yours?

Again, all this from one who is far less studied than many others on this site.

Steve


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:29 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:01 am
Posts: 2146
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
In the few biographies available about the 'masters of old', it seems becoming proficient enough to teach was generally reached in around eight to ten years (keep in mind only the successful ones are remembered by history so they may have had inate abilities and drive that helped them achieve this level in that time frame). That is to say that is when their teacher would grant them permission to teach, and then they would have to prove their abilities to the public to be able to get students and open a school. Supposedly Kanbun Uechi reached this level after seven or eight years with Shushiwa and then opened his own school in China which he ran for five or six years before returning to Okinawa, and during those five or six years he is said to have visited Shushiwa once a year for further instruction so commonly he is said to have trained with Shushiwa for around 13 years total. Something to keep in mind however is that reportedly Kanbun Uechi had trained in karate and kobudo under four different teachers on Okinawa for a few years before going to China, if true then he would not have been a complete novice when he got off the boat in Fuzhou at the age of 19. You also have to consider that training was an apprenticeship where the student focused almost exclusively on the training and little else, not like how we view training today. The time it took Kanbun Uechi to complete his apprenticeship is not much different from apprenticeships in other fields common at that time.

Teaching and mastery are separate concepts; in any endeavour one can become a teacher without ever being considered as obtaining mastery, and likewise one does not have to teach to obtain mastery of something (think musicians for example; not all who have been considered 'masters' taught music, and not all who did teach were necessarily good teachers...same goes for sports players and coaches as well as other endeavours). Martial arts history tends to remember those who were both exceptional martial artists and exceptional teachers who possessed the ability to pass their skills on to others and bring the best out of their students (in reality these were masters of two skillsets, the martial arts and teaching). I have read some works on Medieval and Renaissance European martial arts (including first-hand accounts and training manuals) and interestingly many of the skilled swordsmen of the time were referred to as masters and some of these also ran successful schools, all of this reading in a manner very similar to the Asian martial arts.

Regarding your original question about when Kanbun Uechi became a master, I am not sure you could pick a specific time. The stories indicate that his martial arts skills were respected after his return to Okinawa, but he seems to have really come into his own during his time in Wakiyama, that is the time period generally focused on in relation to his skill as both a martial artist and a teacher (although admittedly that may only be because we have more info on this period thanks to his students). During that time he produced several accomplished students, some of whom also went on to become accomplished teachers, and what Kanbun taught was renamed to Uechi Ryu in his honor by his students. So Kanbun Uechi's mastered specific skills, but our consideration of his mastery is really in the legacy he created.

_________________
Glenn


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:07 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:37 pm
Posts: 9
Thank you Steve and Glenn for your replies.
Steve
I am sorry but I have not found any new historical reference books. I wish I had. I can only read the same books available to yourself and trawl the internet for old stories.(some of the histories on club web sites are quite interesting). So I am no expert, I am just trying to grasp a concept that has bugged me for some time.
I am in no way trying to belittle Master Uechi's achievements in China and fully accept that he would have trained very hard. However I am sure that there were others who trained just as hard at the same time that didn't become teachers and did not go on to become masters.
I was aware that master Uechi learned chinese medicine and I think this may have influenced his later development of the style.
Finally yes Kanbun and several of his students fit any description of master I can think of.

Glenn
I hadn't thought of the Young Kanbun as having previous training, but as an Okinawan with an interest in martial arts I suppose it would be surprising if he didn't.
I like your idea of his training up to becoming a teacher being an apprenticeship and would like to expand further on the idea. When apprentice reached the point at which he was considered capable of independent work he was given the rank of Journeyman. During this time he worked without supervision or regular instruction but was expected to perfect his skills. I would like to suggest that his time teaching in china and possibly his early teaching in Okinawa was his journeyman phase.

I have been asked what my own answer to the question is so here I go. If you think I am right, wrong, misguided or barking mad please be kind in your responses.
Firstly I believe that Master Uechi either had or developed the ability to see past the accepted use of technique similar to when a student sees a forward punch and the teacher sees also the elbow strike and the release from a rear grab. He saw scope for improvement in what he had been taught and a student of Kung Fu would have been encouraged to find his own path.
During his early time as a teacher he may well have begun to develop his own techniques and may even have taught slightly different to his teacher.
When he returned from china he would have been free from outside influence and would have taught what he felt was right. As his students developed he would have used them to refine his ideas. With no one to pull him back to the mainstream he could have struggled but he had that spark of genius that helped him to flourish. It is as he developed what became the basis of our style that I believe he became a true master.

As I have said this is my own theory of how and when which could be totally wrong.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:44 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17232
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Glenn wrote:
Bill Glasheen wrote:
An interview of Uechi Kanbun published in Dragon Times

I do not recall seeing this one and I do not think it in my magazine article compilation (see Uechi Ryu Magazine Articles), do you recall which issue it was in Bill? Thanks!

Glenn

When I posted my remark, I in fact looked for the article online to serve as a reference. Unfortunately I can't find it any more. But I'm 90% certain it was a Dragon Times article which republished an interview of Uechi Kanbun back when he was teaching at Wakayama. A paragraph or two dealt with Kanbun discussing his style, what he called it, and his musings over whether the name should be changed to reflect what he was doing.

Dragon Times of course has the right to remove online links to articles that are copyrighted by them. But maybe someone else can help me with the reference here.

- Bill


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:14 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:29 pm
Posts: 118
Location: Murphy North Carolina
Think I might try contacting Dragon Times and asking them if they might have that old article laying around. It has to be interesting.

Alan thanks for posting your thoughts. It's all good for the discussion


Ok: I wrote this email to Dragon Times and I'll let you all know when and if there's a reply.

"Hello, my name is Steve Hatfield. I am a student of Uechi Ryu Karate. A discussion has come up on a Uechi Ryu web site recently about Kanbum Uechi. Here is the discussion link viewtopic.php?f=11&t=21772&p=207466#p207466

We believe Dragon Times published an article which had a reprint of an old interview with Master Kanbum Uechi in which he talked about his early training. Are you able to tell us if this is so and how we may be able to get that article? We believe you had a link to in online at one time but can no longer find it.

If I have written to the wrong department could you forward this email to the proper department.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Steve Hatfield"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:08 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:01 am
Posts: 2146
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
As I dwelled on this I began to recall an interview that came out of another famous martial artist, Shito Ryu founder Kenwa Mabuni, visiting Kanbun's dojo in Wakayama. It was originally published by Mabuni in 1934, however Mario McKenna wrote an article entitled "Uechi Ryu Karate Do" that was published in Dragon Times in 2002 (Issue 22, pages 27-29) and includes a transcript of at least part of the interview as well as other information.

Here is the text of a post on Rick Wilson's website that includes some of the info from McKenna's article:
Rick Wilson wrote:
Record of the Mabuni Kenwa meeting with Uechi Kanbun

My student Dave Austin gave me a copy of Dragon Times Volume 22. In it there is an article on Uechi Ryu by Mario McKenna.

It is an article on the history of Uechi Ryu that includes a number of interesting items such as when the name changed. I had mainly heard it had been renamed to honour Uechi Kanbun Sensei after his death (1948) but this is incorrect. Uechi Kanbun renamed the style Uechi Ryu himself in 1940.

In this interview he hear that he was considering the change.

This article quotes “The Story of Chinese Chu’an-fa” by Kenwa Mabuni (originally published in Karate Kenkyu, 1934 pg. 92-93.):

Kenwa Mabuni (with translation(?) and footnotes by Mario McKenna) wrote:
My student and I were traveling on business. On the last day, we visited Higashi Kawagan-machi in Wakayama city. On the way there the first thing I noticed was a signboard on the left. It read, Pangainuun-ryu Toudi Master; Uechi Kanbun, Instructor.

At the age of 20, Uechi had traveled to China and trained in pure Chinese style chu’an-fa for more than 13 years and returned an expert. I was impressed by the sign board which was in the Chinese style. Before our business was concluded, we quickly paid a call to Uechi’s dojo to discuss chu’an-fa. We talked about many different things, but fortunately near the end of the conversation we were able to discuss Chinese chu’an-fa. The outline of that discussion is written below.

Mabuni: Sensei, in China is chu’an-fa still active as it was?

Uechi: It was extremely active when I went there, and might still be now.

Mabuni: Do Chinese immediately teach people chu’an-fa once they are asked to do so?

Uechi: Yes they do teach, however the student and teacher swear an oath and only after 23 days does teaching begin.

Mabuni: Why is this done?

Uechi: Those who wish to practice chu’an-fa first go to the chu’an-fa master’s house and ask tuition. If the teacher consents, the group then confers, builds a dojo for the teacher and brings him there. In the dojo various rituals are carried out to the dojo god. Then, the students and teacher take an oath. In the beginning there is no spiritual training and kata is taught. During this time one states one, two, three, four or five years of commitment to practice under a teacher. To become an excellent teacher takes 15 years or more, but to become a poor one takes 1 year or perhaps 6 months.

When opening a dojo, the most worrying things is dojo yaburi (footnote: people who issue a challenge to the dojo). Usually it consists of two or three thugs who come to the dojo and challenge the teacher to a fight. If the teacher loses the match, the challengers take that months fees. So, if you are not confident in your abilities you had better not open a dojo.

Mabuni: They seem like barbarians, don’t they?

Uechi: There is no reasoning with them. Also, another interesting thing is when you become an expert you can demonstrate kata on the road or in front of a crowd. If there is a more proficient expert among the people passing by, he will stop and give you some instruction.

Mabuni: This is different from how Japanese train.

Uechi: That’s right.

Mabuni: Which is stronger with Chinese, the fist or the tips of the fingers?

Uechi: Japanese have stronger fists, but Chinese have strong finger tips.

Mabuni: What methods do they use to make their finger tips stronger?

Uechi: First sand is placed in a box and you practice thrusting the finger tips into it. When you get used to that, you then replace the sand with larger objects such as beans and practice thrusting with your finger tips, then you will start to get stronger. In China, if kata is performed with the fists it is called Taiso (footnote: Uechi is referring to Great Ancestor Fist Boxing), but if kata is performed with the finger tips it is called Rakkan (footnote: Uechi is referring to Arahat Boxing also know as Monk Fist Boxing.)

Mabuni: Sensei, your style is called Pangainuun in Chinese, what does this mean?

Uechi: It means that the chu’an-fa kata are extremely quick. Lately instead of calling the style Pangainuun, I have been thinking a little that it might be better writing it Uechi-ryu.

Mabuni: Thank you for talking to with me. Good bye.


The article also quotes Patrick McCarthy on information about Zhou Zhihe (1874-1926 Shu Shiwa in Japanese).

His teachers were Li Zhaobei and Ke Xidi. He studied a variety of arts: Duck, Ox, Dog, Monkey, Tiger, Singing Crane. Other students were Jin [Censored]ian, Wang Didi, and Zhou Zhengqun.

But, as always, the history is very cloudy. One report had Uechi Kanbun entering the Fuzhou central Buddist temple where Shu Shiwa was the 36th generation head of the temple. Only one small problem: “according to research conducted by the Uechi-Ryu Karate –Do Association several years ago, there was no such temple.”

I will quote a final footnote from the article:

Mario McKenna wrote:
“It should be noted that in all likelihood Pangainuun does not refer to a specific style of chu’an-fa (Chinese Boxing). Instead, it more than likely refers to the mixture of training methods from Fujian that Uechi Kanbun combined to make his system of karate. In fact, Pangainuun refers to principles common to all martial arts. These include: koho (Jap. Hard method), juho (Jap. Flexible method) and hankoho (Jap. Half hard method). Examples of koho include: Tiger boxing, and Lion boxing. Examples of juho includes: Dog boxing, and Monkey boxing, and examples of hankoho include: White Crane boxing. Please see Mabuni Kenwa’s “Kobo Goshin-justu, Karate Kenpo (app34) pg. 19-20 for a complete description.


Just some interesting notes to ponder and it should be noted that the footnotes are just the author of the articles speculations.

Mabuni is said to have been inspired by his discussion with Uechi Kanbun in his creation of Shimpa Kata.

Is this the one you were thinking of Bill?

I just reread the entire McKenna article, it is pretty well done and provides some interesting info on the early history of Uechi Ryu, and in typical Dragon Times fashion has several pictures. I wish I had the memory to recall reading this stuff, and not have to rediscover it every ten years! I guess I need to go back through my article collection and see what other gems I have forgotten.

Regarding Mabuni creating the kata Shimpa after meeting Uechi, that was discussed a bit on here ten years ago: Mabuni Kenwa Sensei and Uechi Kanbun Sensei

_________________
Glenn


Last edited by Glenn on Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:16 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17232
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Glenn wrote:
Is this the one you were thinking of Bill?

Damn I'm good! :lol:

Yes, that's the one. It is as I remembered, no? No Alzheimer's yet...

It would be nice if we could find another online link to this article.

- Bill


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:03 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:01 am
Posts: 2146
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
I have been trying to find a copy of the full article online but also have had no luck. I did find a bit of a discussion about it on here started by Rick Wilson ten years ago in case anyone wants to see what was said then.

_________________
Glenn


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:35 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:01 am
Posts: 2146
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
This is getting off of Alan's original focus for this thread, but I find Kanbun Uechi's definition of Pangainuun interesting:
Quote:
Mabuni: Sensei, your style is called Pangainuun in Chinese, what does this mean?

Uechi: It means that the chu’an-fa kata are extremely quick.

Not "half hard soft" as it is usually translated today, but "extremely quick". Yet I would not characterize the standard performance of Uechi Ryu kata today as extremely quick. Anyone have any thoughts or insights on this?

_________________
Glenn


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Kanbun Uechi master?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:05 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17232
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Glenn wrote:
Not "half hard soft" as it is usually translated today, but "extremely quick". Yet I would not characterize the standard performance of Uechi Ryu kata today as extremely quick. Anyone have any thoughts or insights on this?

First... who knows? Maybe Kanbun misunderstood the question. In any case, the Kanji leave no doubt as to what it means. I interpret it as metaphor. But there's nothing in the meaning of the characters that describe the system as being "extremely quick."

As for how Uechi Ryu kata today are performed, well... The system has been Okinawa-ized. When you break it down to karate by numbers so everyone can do their kata by a count as a group, well flow goes out the window. And with no flow, you have no speed.

I've spent a LOT of time in the past half dozen years or so teaching flow. Once you get it, then the speed comes back. But nobody from Okinawa taught me this stuff. It just sort of came to me as I was trying to reconcile the Fuzhou Suparinpei. If you don't do that form with flow, well then the length of it doesn't make sense. And once you get it there, you work your way backwards.

Oral history indicates that Uechi Kanbun was VERY fast. And everything I've heard about a very young Tomoyose Ryuko indicates that he was almost as fast. Tommy san learned Kanbun's style before they got reductionist with it.

- Bill


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 27 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group