That’s Not Uechi! Or is it?

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Postby NEB » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:29 am

Anonymous wrote:Actually... the real problem is Uechi.. and i've said this before, there just isn't enough ass-whoopin' goin' on...


Actually, I think this IS correct ... to a point. From the standpoint of a seasoned veteran of Uechi, teaching in his / her own school (weather its a back yard patio or a shiny, traditional dojo), you may have a certain amount of license to explore. But as a student, or intermediate / journeyman practitioner, is that wise? If I were to do Shisochin, and say its Uechi, would that make it Uechi?

Or, a little closer to home, if I take any of the kata and obliterate it so as to be absent of any of the major Sanchin principles, am I doing Uechi (or "good" Uechi)? I certainly don't think so.

Who's to say you or I have the depth of understanding to break away from what was believed and trusted to have been taught to, and eventually by Kanbun? AND still call it Uechi? Of course, there are those that DO have that level of understanding. I'm sure there are those who can play around and experiment within the compulsory boundries of what makes up Uechi / Pangainoon principles and come up with some interesting and cool stuff. But the attitude of "I'll do the kata my way because that's the way I feel" it is pretty misguided. As I have stated on other threads (and received some verbal drubbings for it), there just might be good reasons for the "traditional" methods of training being the way they are.

So, why would anyone want to miss out on what could be lurking in the depths of the old-fashioned, "correct" methods. There's what you know, what you don't know, and what you don't know you don't know.

And please, before dropping the bombs down, let me make one last point: This statement mostly applies to those who are in the learning process. For those teachers, instructors, senseis and shihans etc. out there, if you're convinced you've gleaned all that can be gleaned from the so-called traditional, Okinawa-approved, Kanbun's not turning around in his grave methods than I would say you have the understanding to play around and experiment at will. If you are of the belief that students in your academy will benefit from these methods, than its all good.

And if things are brought in to the mix that clearly are NOT Uechi, like the boxer mentioned above, and can be successfully integrated into the training, all the better.

"Well, let's get to the rat killing..."
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Postby Rick Wilson » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:40 am


Wow you were out grave digging to raise this old zombie from the long dead threads. :lol:

Took me some considering if I should respond to this or not.

Often I can offend folk when I express certain opinions and that’s where people think I am dropping bombs on them perhaps.

Not really my intent I guess I just often call it as I see it and that can be too blunt.

SO I thought about this response and I think NEB, you have made an honest heartfelt post and it deserves not to be ignored.

Ignoring your thoughts and comment would be far ruder than any comment I could post. (I hope. :wink: )

I posted this thread a long time ago but my opinions haven’t changed much.

I don’t know if you would consider your comments applying to me with the boundaries you placed on them at the end. I stopped testing years ago at Yondan when I made my big change, but it had been coming on for some time by then. I have been running my school now for fourteen years.

The big question here might be what is Uechi Ryu and are you (the general populous you not you NEB) doing it now?

Uechi Kanbun is the founder of Uechi Ryu. He changed the name from Pwangainuun (Pwangainoon, Pangainoon) in 1941 to Uechi Ryu.

Uechi Kanbun performed three Kata: Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseirui (Sandairyu).

He worked on applications to the Kata moves individually.

He worked on body and limb conditioning.

And he fought.

He did not do Junbi Undo.

He did not do Hojo Undo.

He did not do the prearranged Kumite.

He did not do the prearranged Bunkai.

He did not line people up and count them through Kata.

His dojo was only 8 tatami (1 tatami = 1 x 2 metres) so no room to line people up.

His Kata were quick.

If you look at my post on what has changed in Kata on the recent “Sanchin” thread his Kata looked absolutely nothing like the stiff robotic step, block, and then strike performance of Kata we see so often today.

Uechi Kanei was faced with the momentous task of bringing Uechi Ryu to the great big outside training world.

He and those around him had to try and transform the style and the training to fit a different world.

The dojos became large enough to line a whole bunch of folk up (there is an old clip of all kinds of people lined up as Uechi Kanei takes them through Hojo Undo).

So what changed?

Lining people up then meant finding a uniform way of warming them up so they borrowed the Okinawan Elementary School Calisthenics program and called it Junbi Undo.

I don’t find it a particularly good warm up so I don’t do it. I prefer Scott Sonnon’s Intu-Flow.

There is one “Master” telling people that if you do not do Junbi Undo you are not doing Uechi Ryu.

So to this “Master’s” the foundation of Uechi Ryu is in the little kiddie school warm up program that they borrowed.

Oh and by this “Master’s” definition, Uechi Kanbun never did Uechi Ryu. :lol: :P

Yeah pretty ludicrous but then if you define Uechi Ryu by the “drills” of the 1950/60’s then Junbi Undo is one of them. :oops:

Hojo Undo was also created as a way to give a large crowd a work out. They used Kata moves to create the drill. I don’t line a bunch of people up to strike air so I don’t do that either.

The problem with Hojo Undo as it is practiced is the same one that doing Kata in a crowd created.

Having an 8 tatami dojo meant no lines of people doing Kata.

With lines of people doing Kata you cannot just say – GO.

A large group requires a count to keep everyone in line and not shokening the guy in front of them.

It also made it easy to break the moves down into pieces to teach a whole bunch of beginners. Bill posted on that Sanchin thread that this is a common approach to teaching but eventually you have to put it all back together.

So the Kata and Hojo Undo share the same “new approach” flaw of being too broken down and no performance of moves in the transitions.

The prearranged Kumite were introduced to try and bring the sport sparring that was going on into the CQC system that was Uechi Ryu. I think they failed terribly and could easily go into more detail and depth than anyone on this forum would care to listen to yet again as to why I don’t do them. :wink:

The prearranged Bunkai came in when students testing didn't know how to apply the Kata so they handed it to them pre-packaged to present on tests. I see the Wauke use as far too basic and the lack of application in transition troubling and I prefer to teach a broader approach to understanding what you can do with the Kata so I don’t teach them either.

The five new Kata have an interesting story that is getting lost.

Many styles prefer to whitewash their history a little. I was told that Uechi Kanbun started teaching because Tomoyose Senior made up stories about having fights and Uechi Kanbun advised him on them. I mean a Uechi Senior could never have been going out and fighting? We couldn’t have that now could we?

The truth is that Tomoyose Junior said his dad was a bad egg and liked to beat up the Japanese boys, so the fights he described were real. (As a side note they were also probably not uncalled for as I read once how bands of young Japanese men liked to roam Wakayama precinct terrorizing the Okinawan residents.)

The same might be true of the story of the additional five Kata.

The big blue book says they were added to enhance and expand the practice of Uechi Ryu. A very nice good reason.

However, older Uechika have said that they were added because at the demonstrations Uechi only had three short Kata to perform so they were too quick. They added more to flesh out the demonstrations. Now this comment is being refuted by the big book comment but a practical look gives us a more unbiased answer. (Also note they were still created from Uechi Ryu regardless of the why.)

I don’t do demos so I focus on five of the Kata: Sanchin. Kanshiwa, Seisan, Seichin and Sanseirui. I will teach the others later on well after black belt if the student is interested.

The historical tape of the Wakayama precinct dojo also shows a very different Kotakitia (arm rubbing and pounding). It shows the emphasis on shearing in the rubbing and on striking (pounding) AS you deflect and control the incoming strike. Very different from the step punch block Wauke pound we have today.

So NEB what is Uechi Ryu?

Is it the fighting style of Uechi Kanbun?

Is it the drills that Uechi Kanei brought in so it could be taught to large groups?

Is it the quick Kata of Uechi Kanbun where moves are done in the transitions?

Is it the arm pounding focused on hitting AS you deflect?

Is it the step by step separated pounding of the drill today?

Is it the slow robotic Kata of today?

Is Uechi Kanbun turning in his grave?

I throw all of this out there because if you are going to say someone can’t call something Uechi then let’s define what it is?

You see while there is absolutely no way to know how Uechi Kanbun did his Uechi we have enough hints to know it is not the drills of the 1950/60s.

It was following those hints and that lead me away from what is done today.

If I see a Kata that is not quick, instead it is robotic and slow, should I say that is not Uechi Ryu?

When I see people doing drills that Uechi Kanbun never did should I say that isn’t Uechi?

So before we declare that if you don’t do the kiddie school drill of Junbi Undo you are not doing Uechi can we even define Uechi Ryu?

Some completely ignore it is a Chinese style saying it is now strictly Okinawan and that may just be very very true now.

I look to the Kata, body and limb conditioning and what is effective and efficient in application for MY Uechi.

I believe that as long as it is based out of the three main Uechi Kata I am still doing Uechi Ryu.

Perhaps some day I will change so much I may say I am no longer doing Uechi Ryu but until then: Are you all out there doing Uechi Ryu?

Sometimes it is best not to raise the dead. :lol:

I truly have no intent to insult anyone here or drop bombs but the question of what Uechi was, what Uechi is and what Uechi should be is very important to me.

Good training NEB and merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :D
Rick Wilson

Postby Laird2 » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:43 am

Hahahahaha! Rick you are a glutton for punishment!

Have we not just had this conversation? :lol:

WILL THE TRUE UECHI PLEASE STAND UP! :multi: :multi: :multi:





What are their 50 organizations each one teaching the real traditional unchanged Uechi.

These folks all claim to do traditional Uechi and then they do a bunch of stuff that was added in the sixties. I guess Kanbun never did Uechi either because he didn't do these drills or new kata.

It's like friggin religion. If you don't do the holy drills you are not doing Uechi the priests proclaim!

Okay I don't do Uechi...I do some new age dance called Fuk em up Ryu! It works pretty good even though it has only 4 kata and none of the hojo undo, jubi undo, pre arranged drills, formal bunkai that are performed in Uechi.

Now some of the priests around this site suggest the methods of Fuk em up Ryu may be flawed as we don't train the holy drills must be lacking as a result of our heresy.

Well Rick as you know the only thing my students are lacking is the desire to train these sacred drills. But as you know they are not lacking in their ability to go martial as result of this heresy.

For the past four years my students have attended the multi denominational Uechi tournament in Edmonton. And every year a white belt or a green belt from Banff has made it to the final match. Not a bad result given the obvious flaws in our training. :lol:

Now what I don’t understand is why the traditionally trained guys who are dan ranked don’t end up winning. Every year we see folks armed with the sacred drills walking out of the ring beaten. Why do students who have never done this training end up winning with significantly less time in training? When do all these sacred training drills show up in the ring? So when do these flaws start showing up in my new students?

Could it be there are more effective training methods?

Could it be that training to make drills and kata pretty only succeeds in making pretty drills and kata, pretty has nothing to do with martial skill?

There is an old saying: "Only a fool does the same thing over and over and expects a different result."

I don't expect to be using the same drills or teaching methods next year as I presently utilize. I should get better teaching as I continue to teach, but this will only happen if I evaluate my methods and allow my methods to evolve.

If I am improving then my ability to develop students should improve. How is this possible if I keep doing the same old schit?

Postby Stryke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:51 am

Nice Verbal self defence Rick :D

this always crops up , wether it is or isnt Uechi

I think folks should spend more time wondering wether what they do is or isnt crap .

3 kata or 64 kata , no kiddy drills , or bucket loads .

does it not come down to how one performs and from where that quality performance comes ?

Kanbun had a sylabus , three kata , conditioning , and fighting .

that was enough for many of the seniors .

Heck I think a three year Sanchin is a great idea , but I know not for everyone .

Uechi ryu , enough said .

Now wether or not its being butchered or not is up to the individual to decide , but dont rely on it being tradtional to mean its effective and practical and good karate .

every generation does it there way , every teacher does it there way , all the masters were inovators passing on the lessons , and improving and expanding where they could .

Dead fish styles ... no thanks

learn it , test it , change to requirement , test again , take it back to the root , start again , rinse repeat , become a real martial artist , not a robot ryu mimic .

those that follow never lead , if you never get to a point where you can teach/refine yourself ...... well what have you learnt ?

proof of the puddings in the tasting .

ok ok rant off .... sorry about the bombs , not directed at anyones individual practice , just a general observation of much in the martial arts .

when did intelligent folks decide it wasnt ok to think for themselves ......

becuase it`s tradition ? , apply that to any other living tradition , youll see it doesnt fit .

Postby MikeK » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:07 pm

Laird2 wrote:UECHI HULA




Uechi-Black Cherry French Vanilla
Caffeine Free Diet Uechi

Sorry, couldn't resist.
I was dreaming of the past...
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Postby Stryke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:30 pm

Theres been something like 27 different varietys of Coca Cola .

the only thing they know for sure is you can no longer get it with the active ingredient .....

Postby Stryke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:50 pm

Obstaces in the way of Knowledge

In the long history of Martial art, the instinct to follow and imitate seems to be inherent in most martial artists , instructor and student alike . This can be due partly to being human , and partly because of the patterns of styles (consequently finding a refreshing , original Master teacher is a rarity nowadays). Ever since the establishment of institutes , acadamies , schools , kwoons and there stylised instructors , the need for a "pointer of the way" is echoed .

Each man belongs to a style that claims to posess truth to the exclusion of all other styles , and these styles become institutes with there explanations of the way , dissecting and isolating the harmony of firmness and gentleness , establishing rythmic forms as the encyclopedia of there particular techniques .

All goals , apart from the means are therefore an illusion , and becoming is a denial of being . By an error epeated through-out the ages , truth , becming a law or a faith , places obstacles in the way of knowledge . Method , which is the very substance ignornace , enclose "truth" within a vicous circle . We should break such circles not by seeking knowledge , but by discovering the cause of ignorance .

Bruce Lee

Postby NEB » Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:34 am

I checked back a couple days ago and there was still no reply to my post, then I check back now and boom.


All good points, and I understand what you're getting at there. For me, there's nothing wrong with bringing in training methods, etc. from where ever they might come. If they are effective, why not? We (my teacher and myself, under his direction) do a number of things that aren't Uechi. For example, we practice Sanchin from Goju Ryu, to augment what we get from the Uechi form. We've done kihon from Goju as well, and have structured a nice set of Kihon with Uechi techniques patterned after the Goju methods he did with Yamaguchi. So what if its not Uechi.

What I was mainly referring to previously was the danger of wandering off course in the attempt to discover something or learn something perceived to be missing. Or, as we see in the Wakayama video, what happens when you are not in touch with the right seniors and get correction and guidance from them. I believe Tomoyose himself commented on that visit in that way, believing that they had wandered off a bit. Seems like more than a bit to me.

Is that wrong to say that?

I wouldn't go so far as to say they weren't doing Uechi Ryu, but I would and do say, however non-P.C. it may be, that they had drifted off course.

I realize people's intentions are in the right place, and they train earnestly and diligently and get a lot out of it. Weather or not you do this or that exercise, drill, kumite, etc. isn't what I mean about leaving the realm of "good" Uechi. What I DO mean is -

Losing sight of the principles and taking freedoms with the kata (or whatever), and

Assuming that any interpretation of the katas is great, because its all up to the individual's creative expression.

I am not even judging weather something is or is not true Uechi, just pointing out (as I did in the Hakutsuru thread, and probably alluded to in the Sanchin thread) that there are benefits to training in the traditional manner, and that by moving beyond that prematurely will result in missing out on those benefits. Within that loose boundary are quite a few interesting approaches. As I pointed out in the Sanchin thread, (something you pointed out as well) Kanei's movements in Sanchin and other kata tend to flow more, and are less stochastic and robotic that many others. But, at least to me, there is a visible appearance of "substance" conveyed on the screen as I watch him. Perhaps he trained those forms far more slowly and strongly as a younger man to attain a certain degree of development.

Look at the older videos of Senaga. He performs each and every movement of the kata with full and total effort from his entire body. He's not nearly as "flowing" as Kanei, but I don't see him as robotic, the way he gets such a powerful and large expression of that energy wave. I think one could get a great deal out of training the way he does.

Anyway, I hope that clears up where I'm coming from. Its not out of some sort of religiosity or blind deference to the Okinawans (or the Chinese for that matter).

Have a great holiday, I look forward to some more good discussions.


"Well, let's get to the rat killing..."
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Postby Rick Wilson » Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:33 pm


Good post and when expressing our own opinions it is never wrong – at least to us. :D

“Look at the older videos of Senaga. He performs each and every movement of the kata with full and total effort from his entire body. He's not nearly as "flowing" as Kanei, but I don't see him as robotic, the way he gets such a powerful and large expression of that energy wave. I think one could get a great deal out of training the way he does.”

I happen to love the body mechanics Senaga uses and learned a great deal about the Dragon of Uechi just by watching his Kata. Wonderful body wave and projection of power.
Rick Wilson

Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:16 pm



I want to thank Rick for starting this thread - THREE YEARS AGO. After a particularly frustrating thread on Sanchin on my Forum (which in my opinion blossomed in myriad ways), Rick's original thread here seems eerily prescient. Good on you, Rick!

Can you imagine taking pieces of your thread, Rick, and posting in the Sanchin Thread on my forum? It would have been World War III on the Forums, with multiple parties claiming that the other was something less than an ideal karate citizen of the world (euphemistically speaking... ;)). But you know what? The truth sometimes hurts - AS IT SHOULD. If the Uechi shoe fits, wear it. If you are being emotionally hijacked by God's truth, that ain't my problem; that is YOUR problem - right along with YOUR Uechi. :lol: ;)


I want to thank you, Rick, for a heartfelt and highly revealing series of posts by you. So much of what you posted is true. I'd also like to thank you for giving credits where credit was due.

That being stated...


You have alluded to this in your thread all along, Rick. You have moments of clarity in understanding criticism of YOUR Uechi. Bravo! Spot on! Encore!

And yet...

You also (duly note I might add) have days where you similarly look disapprovingly at the way others are doing THEIR Uechi. Good for you for bringing it up.

With that in mind...

I guess it makes me come to some Jeffersonian principles. Mr. Jefferson here was responsible for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It was one of three accomplishments he wanted engraved on his tombstone. (Believe it or not, being 3rd president of the US didn't make the list!!!) It was in a way the very first "I'm OK, You're OK" document ever written.

What am I trying to say here? How can *I* speak God's Truth without now causing World War IV between Virginia and Edmonton? :lol:


I think first that we all need constantly to have our bottle of chill pills when posting on these forums. Having read Goleman's Emotional Intelligence - where I first read about the concept of Emotional Hijacking - wouldn't hurt either.

Then when we have something we are passionate about and it involves another party, I think it's worthwhile playing the role reversal game. Perhaps rather appropriately the exercise can be found being employed in the 1971-1973 movie Billy Jack. Basically it would be fun for Rick to play the role of a traditional martial artist who loves the "K-drills" and perceives great value in the additional material that Kanei Uechi added to Kanbun's style. Then we get the "traditional Uechi artist" playing the role of Rick, Laird, or Marcus. Have the two of them duke it out on the forums, saying why what they do is relevant and why "those other guys" have lost their ways on the martial journey.

Because the thing is... there are days when we quote each other, only to have days when we passionately disagree with the people we love to quote. There are days when we perceive others to have thin skin, only to be the first emotionally hijacked poster in a thread.

There is so much good material in this thread, Rick. It's there for the taking and learning - IF we can operate in the optimal range of Goleman's inverted "U" curve.

Happy Holidays! :x-mas:

- Bill
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Postby Laird2 » Thu Dec 25, 2008 11:57 pm

First off ...Rick ,Laird and Marcus are traditional martial artists!

Hold on to your seat , people can disagree and express strong opinions and suport different points of view without being emotionally hijacked.

I grow tired of even hearing this phrase. This horse is dead! No one is in the slightess bit miffed here. We constantly read moderators claiming a hijack when no one is.

For the record...if people are in any doubt if this poster is pissed off....If I ask your your home address I'm probably pissed. If not things are probably cool. :wink:

Bill if you claim my training partners or I are not TMA's again, I may ask for your address. :lol:

For the record, Fuke em up Ryu remains unchanged, we presently train it the way we did last Tuesday. Can't guarantee what will happen on Saturday...things might evolve. :wink:

So all joking aside:

What is Uechi?

Postby Stryke » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:01 am

First off ...Rick ,Laird and Marcus are traditional martial artists!

Enuff Said

Bill is smart enough to know the tradition is change , that arguably okinawa was the original MMA hotbed

Bills smart enough to know our IUPA sylabus reflects the traditional sylabus of Kanbun

Bills smart enough to know theres always been martially focused people in the martial arts .

Bills smart enough to know the dogma , the new drills , the modern sport tradition are all relatively new and a symptom of rapid growth .

nothing different from my approach , and the approach of many of the original masters , the only difference being I have more diverse information and education , Bill`s smart enough to understand that .

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise men of old. Seek what they sought.” - Matsuo Munefusa (”Basho”)

To search for the old is to understand the new. The old, the new. This is a matter of time. Funakoshi

Hey Bill all in good spirit , tell me if you dont agree ?

sometimes I feel like I`m beating a dead horse ... one of my favourite songs ....

Because the thing is... there are days when we quote each other, only to have days when we passionately disagree with the people we love to quote. There are days when we perceive others to have thin skin, only to be the first emotionally hijacked poster in a thread.

There is so much good material in this thread, Rick. It's there for the taking and learning - IF we can operate in the optimal range of Goleman's inverted "U" curve.

sometimes its politics , sometimes it`s misunderstanding , but it`s all Uechi , and we all love it . let it thrive !!! , My votes for more meat and potatoes in the New Year , lets share how we do it .

Postby Stryke » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:15 am

Whats Uechi ?

Just tuned into this thread...

Whatever Uechi is, it can be taught as sport, or as self defense and still be Uechi.

"To me" it means the teaching has several core components:
1: Sanchin as the main foundational, first-learned Kata.
2: The Kata path Sanchin - Seisan -- SanSeiRyu.
3: Techniques based upon application of Sanchin principles.
4: The Wa-uke.
5: Sanchin stance.

That's pretty well it.
The other intermediate Kata were introduced later, the various drills and kumites as well, and they flesh out most of the in-common training one MIGHT find if visiting another Dojo, but not necessarily.
Some teachers have other drills for training the techniques which are improvements on the original drills or emphasise a different application of them.
I don't think it's really any drills or exercise that define the style, I see it as the core components I listed above.
I'd be happy in any school that focused on that, and condsider it "Uechi."

As a matter of fact there's so much variation in form just in my town, from school to school, that the differences in training are obvious.

Neil nailed it

Postby Stryke » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:57 am

Motobu was a traditionalist , In that he sought to preserve not the structured teaching formats , wearing of uniforms , or the kyu dan ranking systems , but instead , karate`s essence as a fighting art , Without which he feared karate would become an empty practice , Suitable only for esthetic purposes . Ironically , although many people tried to discredit his theories while he was alive , history has proven Choki Mutobu corrent . It is not the external trappings which make karate a fighting art , but the dedicated practitioner who constantly perfects their skills .

was Choki Motobu a traditionalist ?

Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:40 am

All good stuff, gang!

- Bill
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