Uechi Ryu and Me

"The title is "Explosive Uechi-ryu" and the moderator is Arthur Rabesa. Art will be exploring the power contained in Uechi-ryu that is not appreciated by the average practitioner. Make no mistake - this forum is for the serious martial artist and I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who really wants to tap his or her explosive power potential.

Moderator: Art Rabesa

Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Art Rabesa » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:52 am

There comes a time. How many times has a story or statement begun with those four words. However, it's fact in many lives. It has come to me in my world of Uechi-Ryu. To cut back on the actual business of running a school and getting your students ready for tournaments or testing. Age and rank has slid me forward in Uechi Ryu. I've gathered up quite a lot of experience and knowledge over these 54 years. Now I feel it is time to release it. For the past few years I've been doing this forum - teaching at various dojo's - filming lots of video lessons - publishing a novel - preparing the sequel for publication - teaching my small private group of students - etc. I feel that it is my responsibility to give back. If I hear a question pertaining to the training, I'll do a video lesson on it. I have almost 70 video lessons on you tube covering the Uechi - Ryu training and karate in general. I'm planning another video lesson pertaining to prearranged kumite right now. As long as I'm physically able to do these things, I'll do them. I never know how many will view my material here, or watch my video lessons. If what I do aids someone, then I've accomplished my responsibility. I've been really tied up finishing my second novel. I have not spent much time with this forum. I continue my Uechi - Ryu activity with the hope that I'm doing some good. Keeping the Uechi-Ryu style strong and popular is my job. So to my viewers I say thank you for viewing what I post and film. I'm just going to keep going until I dry up and blow away. I'll be fighting that though; you can bet on it. -----------Happy Trails -------Art
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me - Mechanics

Postby Art Rabesa » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:03 pm

Mechanics; a word meaning many aspects. Good form - good balance - smoothness - power - perception - spirit - muscle memory - etc. You can add to this list as well as I can. Because, with good mechanics, one can become very good at this martial art. Without it, one struggles endlessly through the years. I see it constantly as I travel to Uechi Ryu sites. Individuals that have been training for a good number of years. Individuals who are still struggling with their mechanics. The reason is why? How have these individuals continued in the art with glaring mechanical flaws. They seem to get their rank every few years. Can't be too bad if they manage to acquire their next dan rank. We were pretty tough on candidates in the past, but not now. I remember candidates failing after a couple of sanchin thrusts. No one wanted to fail a candidate back then, but it did occur. The teacher was not happy, but it is what it is.
I had a student fail because of his attitude. I knew this problem and I was okay with it. He dropped out after the test which was also okay with me. Another failed the sho-dan test because he hit too hard in the sparring part of the test. I took the blame for it and worked to have his sparring smoothed out for the next test. He passed the next test easily with a smoother sparring effort.
My answer to obvious mechanical problems, is at the start. At the beginning of the training. Setting the groundwork. How to step and move from stance to stance. Proper thrusting and blocking. Lots of mirror training so they can see their movements. Spend time on the groundwork because you can not go further until this is understood. The business of operating a school is always there. I understand that aspect. The product of what is being produced is also there. At times, these two things are difficult to come together.
To have someone be at a fairly high rank, with obvious mechanical flaws, is highly questionable to me. This is just a post so it won't receive much attention I guess. My very clear observation.
Happy Trails ----------Art
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby hoshin » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:35 pm

so is your post meant to question mechanics and the introspection of the practitioner for not working on something that seems so obvious or more a lament that testing standards have not kept quality in check.
maybe rank no longer means what it used to. its not hard to look about other styles and see 11th degree super grand pubar ranks. it becomes obvious the mechanics are not there on some of these people.

i often think about your generation of Uechi practitioners. there are some very big shoes to be filled, and i dont see that ever being able to be done. its kind of like being the "The Beatles" it will never be replicated ever again. there are many good practitioners out there but when the first generation of American Uechi is gone, i see a big vacuum being left behind.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Art Rabesa » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:03 pm

Thank you for your post Hoshin. My ranting is simply because I want better attention paid to the level , or standards, of the practitioner. "That's good enough" is not enough. Many will never be able to develop the way I feel the level should be. I've come to realize this fact. I do not expect everyone to be at a world class level. However, I would like to see ones standards and ability progress past their present level. For many; it never does. FACT: many are progressing in rank when they should not be. Number of years in does have a great deal to do with it. When the ability does not match the rank, that's a large problem. All see the person perform and wonder how in the world did he, she, achieve that rank. It is what it is I guess. We move on.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby hoshin » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:27 pm

many are progressing in rank when they should not be

i can agree with that.

I would like to see ones standards and ability progress past their present level.


this is just my humble opinion, but i feel that martial art ability is a little like IQ. you got what God gave you and while you might be able to bring it up a little bit more, your still kinda stuck with what you got.
i have seen many practitioners who through out many years of training look exactly the same as when they got their shodan. sometimes i think the connection between the brain and the body have just maxed out.
then there is the question of knowledge. when it gets down to the nuts and bolts of HOW to do something maybe someone can have a really good understanding but lack the personal ability.
so then we go back to the same old question. what does rank mean? and if there is a wall that people hit and cannot go further is it ok to stop them at the rank they have and not progress. my feeling is yeah sure, but and its a big but...then all teachers and testing board members would have to be on the same page. thats not an easy thing to do.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Art Rabesa » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:34 pm

When I am asked to attend a promotional, I do so. I will not have a say in passing or failing candidates. I see those that are clearly not ready for the rank they are testing for. I see these people receive their rank by those testing them. I have become use to this. I realize that the diplomas and belts have been there before hand. There was never a question as to anyone failing their test. The old warriors had to endure much more. Had to meet difficult requirements to even be allowed to be tested. Life is like that I guess. That next level of accomplishment is something my students hear me talk about often. I have those of high rank and they are far from getting better. They know that fact very well. There's a level you are and another that you can be. Reaching that next level is not easy. It's more comfortable just staying where you are. I'll be 76 in a few weeks and there are things I am working on to sharpen up. I work these along with my students. I'll never stop trying to get better. The difference might be this fact. I often say to my students: "If you are that rank you better perform at that level." Many will not like these observations, but it is fact. I've become very quiet about this for the most part. This post will either not be read or fall on deaf ears. We move on.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Maurice Soque » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:49 pm

This response is directed to Hoshin, here is my view on rank. Rank is something "Earned" and "Deserved". The candidate has to show/demonstrate improvement and proficiency in Knowledge, Power and Application. If they don't show this, then they should not even be going up to be tested...if they are, then I blame the Instructor. Our fore fathers in Okinawa set the standards for rank and it is up to us to up hold it when representing Uechi Ryu in our native land. Can a candidate grow into a rank?....absolutely, on a case by case basis...but that only flies with the rank of Shodan in my opinion. I have been very lucky in my journey having been a decent high school athlete I walked into the dojo at age 17 yrs old. I was working out with guys 5-10-20 years older and more advanced. My dad used to drop me off an hour before class on his way to night school, and I would start practicing. I listened, practiced and kept showing up 3-4 days a week. For my Dan promotions 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th I was able to pass and I also received the Outstanding Candidate Award at all of my 5 promotions. I never asked to be promoted or asked for the award or am I bragging (I earned it)....my instructor would tell me when I was ready for rank and I would go, it is really that simple. If you put in the time and hard work, and have good instruction....anyone can achieve rank through promotions. Keep it simple. Yours in Uechi Ryu - Strength and Honor - Maurice Soque Sr 7th Dan
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby hoshin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:36 pm

I walked into the dojo at age 17 yrs old. I was working out with guys 5-10-20 years older and more advanced. My dad used to drop me off an hour before class on his way to night school, and I would start practicing. I listened, practiced and kept showing up 3-4 days a week.


Hi Maurice,
our stories seem similar. i actually started karate training in 1978 as a kid, not for very long but i got the itch in me that wouldnt go away. so at 14 i rode my bicycle to the local dojo and signed myself up. ( i am 50 now) always trained in the adult class and took every class available. sometimes twice a day. so i know the feeling of being a 100 pound kid working with adults. :D
The candidate has to show/demonstrate improvement and proficiency in Knowledge, Power and Application

while i do not disagree, i would add that age is a factor so power and speed may be on the waning side. my only argument on this is that as we age there has to be more to grading then just physical ability. this balance of attributes often leads us down a road of individual evaluation which by default erodes standards.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Maurice Soque » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:10 pm

Agreed, with age things do diminish. I started in 1979 and I am 5 yrs your senior, I hope we get to train some day. OK we know that for 5th Dan and above you are only required to perform 3 katas. If that is all you need to do, you have to WOW me. Basically it has to look good, plain and simple. i.e. Crisp and fast strikes & blocks (hard), perfect form, no wasted movements...no matter how old you are if you fulfill that criteria it will look good and still maintain a lot of power. I have seen it...lets call a spade a spade. I think Sensei Rabesa is saying, at least give us that ...3 katas, wow us, look good and strong, that's all. Does that make sense? Yours in Uechi Ryu - Strength and Honor - Maurice Soque Sr 7th Dan
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby hoshin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:35 pm

i fully agree. however to quote something you said,,
there has to be improvement

this can be a quibbling point by teachers about their students John Doe has come so far we dont all start at the same point. if our goal is to climb MT Everest, some people will start at the base of the mountain while others had to get on a plane and fly half way across the world just to get to that starting point. so what we end up with are teachers who want to grade based on an end point (competence) and others that want to base the grade on how far that person has improved.
for me personally i would rather be judged on competence.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Maurice Soque » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:26 pm

Bad karateka are getting rank that should not. Candidates used to fail in the past all the time, this sent a message to train harder or some karateka just stayed at that rank forever...what's wrong with that? If for example you are a 3rd Dan, there is an expectation of what a 3rd Dan should exemplify...if you don't, you fail...its OK, the reason being - you don't want a crappy 3rd Dan walking around representing the style. It is all moot in today's world, promotional boards promote EVERYBODY. The result is that the rank is watered down. Maurice
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Art Rabesa » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:53 pm

I've come back to this topic after a lengthy lay off. Simply because it's a sore issue to most. I even find myself simply going with the status quo. The BUSINESS of operating a school can weigh on many. To promote students is usually good business. We know that world wide. Even I understand this. We've all attended promotions in our time and are aware of what is taking place. Those sitting on the testing board tend to be just for show. I've seen many just shake their heads and remain silent. I've seen people being tested that seem to be forced upon the promotion process.
Time in plays a role here as well. If someone has the allotted time in training, then that's good enough. That is an important element, but not the key factor. What is? Show the test board your understanding of what you have been taught. Your understanding of Uechi Ryu. Ranks should have a look about them. This is what a rank should look like. Not everyone will look the same for sure. However, there are certain mechanics that are really the telling point. When I see a person testing for a high rank, I expect to witness these mechanics. When I do not see this I turn off.
I'm okay with giving someone the shodan rank,with the assumption that certain elements will be highlighted in their training. Sort of growing into the rank. So that their next test will show the improvement. When no improvement is seen that should dictate more training is needed. We did this back in the day. The early grading was overseen by us with a "okay show me what you've got" attitude. Many would be told that more work is needed. See you at the next testing date. They didn't actually fail, but simply were not ready yet. There's a difference there. This way has gone the way of phone booth's. A main stay at one time. Gone now.
I probably will not address this issue again. However, never say never!
Happy Trails ----------Art
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby paulg » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:25 pm

In the earlier days, up through the seventies, people went for their dan tests, performed before the board of examiners and then went home. They found out later whether
they had passed. Their sensei spoke with them in private usually a few days later. This arrangement allowed for the test board to conduct a real evaluation and discussion of the candidate's readiness. This evolved in the seventies to more of a celebration than a true test. Candidates rarely were failed. Why? Because it is difficult psychologically to fail someone openly in front of their peers. Even their family (a new innovation in the seventies was allowing family to witness and film the test).. Very hard as a test board member to render a truly objective decision when you know someone is going to be standing there in front of the group of peers and their parents, etc. so what happened was a pro forma 'pass' to many marginal candidates. In the earlier years the dan tests were closed events. No spectators. No family. No results that day. Besides an air of mystery and importance, those dan tests seemed to do better at moving up the deserving and holding back those not yet ready. Also, and this has been commented on before, things have evolved toward an attitude of entitlement to advancement. Students just assume they will move up a rank when their time in grade is satisfied. Hard to counter that attitude, especially if the dojo leader himself feels that way about his/her own rank.
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Re: Uechi Ryu and Me

Postby Art Rabesa » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:12 pm

paulg = Thank you for your input on this matter. You've hit it right on the head. I was on those test boards way back when. A closed test. Candidates and test board; that's it. No one knew the results at that time. Those needing more time were notified by their instructor later. Those not meeting standards simply went back to class to work. The only instructors present were those sitting on the test panel.
I had three students in all the years that did not pass. One because of attitude - one because of nerves - one because of hitting to hard during sparring. I still remember these after all this time. I take the blame for all of them. I should have looked closer before putting them up.
Promoting has become almost a joke. I can only speak for myself here. I do not want any part of it. When, or if, I sit in on a test, I will not pass or fail anyone. I tell everyone --"I'll just sit here and try to look important". I know what the results will be so why add my opinion. However, those that deserve to be promoted should absolutely do so. These candidates make things a lot easier for board members.
So we continue here. A topic that we can kick around for quite a while. I don't know who feels as I do, but I'm sure none of this has gone unnoticed. Standards are there in each teachers mind. Now it's a matter of sticking to them. However, there are teachers that have been given their rank just by showing up. We can not expect their students to be any different.
Uechi Ryu is a tough, strong, beautiful style. I will continue to teach it that way. I hope I can serve Uechi Ryu in a bright light. Carry on.
Happy Trails -----Art
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