The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi magazine articles

Moderator: Bill Bauknecht

Post Reply
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

“If your temper rises, lower your hands – If you raise your hands, lower your temper.”
– Chojun Miyagi, Founder of Goju Ryu

“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
– The Art of War; Sun Tzu 544-496 B.C.

Return to Okinawa:
The Wakayama Years – Pangai Noon to Uechi Ryu

By Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei
10th Dan Hanshi, Uechi Ryu
Professor Emeritus
Kokusai & Meio Universities

Translated by
Tsukasa (Scott) Higa P.E.
7th Dan Uechi Ryu

Originally published from Classical Fighting Arts magazine.
Vol. 2 No. 26 (Issue # 49)
https://www.classicalfightingarts.org/

Kanbun Uechi, as the assistant of Master Shu Shi Wa, relentlessly polished his fighting skills while absorbing all he could of Chinese culture, especially the use of herbal medicines. As he approached physical and mental maturity, he was recognized by all as a martial artist without equal, one who had fully absorbed the theoretical, the physical, and spiritual aspects of karate training.

With the enthusiastic support and encouragement of Shu Shi Wa, in 1906, at the age of thirty, he opened a dojo in Nansei no Cho(48) (formerly Nan Soe(49)) and called it Pangai Noon Martial Arts. That same year there was a smallpox epidemic in Okinawa, Miyako Island was hit by seven separate typhoons, and shortages of food was widespread in the region. In Japan, Shimazaki Toson wrote the landmark novel Hakai (The Broken Commandment(50)). In the West, Albert Einstein’s book Special Relativity, published a year earlier, was radically changing the science of physics, and in China Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s(51) followers staged a coup in Jiangxi province, which spread to Hunan and would lay the foundations for revolution in China.

Thoughtful, kind, and compassionate by nature, Kanbun Uechi was admired and respected by his students despite the fact that he was a hard task master, and so from 1906-1909 the dojo prospered. However, if we liken the life of a human being to a long sea voyage, for Kanbun’s Uechi, the weather would soon take a turn for the worse!

In 1908 Kukien Province in China suffered a severe drought that lasted from the hot months of summer well into the autumn. The populace became more and more uneasy as crops withered in the fields, and the prospect of food shortages changed from a matter of concern, to reality. Water for irrigation became a precious commodity, and like all things of great value, the cause of bitter disputes, one involving a student of Uechi Sensei.

At the end of November, with no sign of relief from the drought, a dispute over the irrigation of a rice paddy led to heated words, followed by violent blows. As the aggressor was one of Uechi Sensei’s most gifted disciples, the argument proved to be a fatal one, and a peasant died. Clearly the death of the unfortunate farmer was not intended, but nonetheless it weighed heavily on the conscience Kanbun Sensei. He had given a young man the ability to kill with his bare hands, but not the discipline to exercise that fatal power with discretion. As an honest, responsible, and compassionate man, he felt he had failed both parties to the fatal dispute.

His intense feeling of responsibility and guilt forced him into a downward spiral of depression from which he could not save himself. Shu Shi Wa and the other members of the dojo asked him to stay on in China, but he had already decided to remove himself from the scene of the tragedy by returning to his childhood home in Izumi Village, Okinawa. Vowing to never again teach martial arts, he closed his dojo and left Fukien, drawing as he did so, a veil across his past that would stay in place for more than seventeen years.

Kanbun Uechi was not alone in his belief that teaching martial arts to all and sundry was not advisable. Other great martial artists had refused to share their knowledge due to concerns about its misuse. Prime examples are the last Itoman warrior Kinje Matsu (Macha Buntoku; please see part 1, footnote 41) and Ru Ru Ko(52) who was asked to teach a group of villages, but refused on the grounds that only individuals with exceptionally good characters and strong self-discipline were suitable candidates for martial arts training. As a result, if a suitable successor to a master could not be found, his arts would often die with him.

Uechi Sensei had been taught Chinese martial arts by Shu Shi Wa in tandem with the philosophical concept that winning by not fighting, as delineated in Sun Zu’s Art of War, was the ultimate goal of every martial artist. Therefore, the taking of an innocent life by his premier student effectively destroyed his belief in himself and his achievements.

Uechi Kanbun’s Seventeen Years of Silence

After more than ten years in China, a country where he was recognized as a man of exceptional martial ability, Uechi Sensei’s home coming should have been joyful and triumphant. However, this was not the case. He returned to Okinawa from China depressed, haggard, and already embarked upon what would prove to be a lengthy period of seclusion and self-evaluation. He told himself that no human being was perfect, and that to learn martial arts one needed an iron will that should breed the necessary self-discipline, with the right encouragement and training. The actions of his student still trouble him greatly, and he asked himself if anything he could have done would have changed things. He was not wallowing in self-pity and sentimentalism, but examining himself in order to find a way forward that would allow him to become both a warrior and a humanitarian.

Being steeped in the ancient traditions of martial training, he refused the requests of local officials to teach publicly as he felt that few were suited to the rigors of karate training. His experience in China had taught him the awesome responsibility of creating lethal hands. Despite the fact that from 1905 some karate instructors taught junior high school children in the Prefectural school system as a form of physical education, Kanbun Uechi would not. For him, karate had always been, and remained, something transmitted by master to student away from prying eyes. As a conservative man, he did not feel at all drawn to the concept of “public” karate. For him it would always be a secret art taught only to those deemed suitable after careful selection. At this time in Okinawa martial arts were very popular, and it was therefore natural that the general public would be interested in karate experts like Kanbun Uechi.

When Kanbun Uechi’s parents learned of his impending return, as was the custom in those times, they arranged for the betrothal of their son to a local girl, Gosei, the fourth daughter of the Seiko Toyama family. Three months after his return they were married. Kanbun, who has spent his entire life striving for perfection in karate to the exclusion of all else, now found another focus in his life, his bride. For the first time he loved, and was loved by a woman who, being fourteen years his junior, he treated with tenderness and care. Gosei, for her part, respected and adored her older husband. The loving union was blessed with a son, Kanei on 26 June 1911, followed by daughters Kame and Shiru, and then a second son, Kansei Nago.

Go Ken Ki(53) had become a close friend of Kanbun Uechi in China, where they had trained together in Nanyu,(54) Fuchow. He lived in Okinawa from 1912 until his death in 1940, where he worked as a tea merchant from store, Eiko Sangyo, in the Central Higashi area of Naha, the capital city. After he settled in Okinawa he took the Japanese name, Yoshikawa, and was well known as a master of White Crane style boxing. His best student was Yoko Aniya who also owned a tea store. Go Ken Yi was a friend and contemporary of Chojun Miyagi Sensei who was himself much attracted to the White Crane style of Chinese Boxing. Go Ken Ki praised Kanbun Uechi publicly, and made known the fact that he was a superb martial artist who had been much respected in Fukien Province. He told all who would listen of Kanbun’s reputation, so that before long educational officials were heading north towards Izumi village to recruit the services of this martial arts paragon.

When asked to teach in the schools, Kanbun refused immediately. He wished only to cultivate his land and live a quiet life. His days as a warrior seemed to be in the past, and he had no plan to take students. He limited himself to coaching people in long staff techniques so they could take part in village dances and other folk festivals. He could not have known at this stage that the pressure on him to teach would increase to a point where he would need to relocate to mainland Japan in order to escape it.

In these early years of the twentieth century, several of the most prestigious men’s schools decided to adopt karate as part of their physical education program. The school authorities recognized that it was an efficient way of building healthy minds and bodies, while preserving a uniquely Okinawan art. Teachers as famous as Ankoh Itosu were engaged to develop karate programs for youths, and simplified kata were adapted from older models for use in schools.

This activity coincided with the anniversary of the foundation of the Police Station in Motobu in Northern Okinawa where Uechi Sensei lived. Demonstrations of Judo, karate, and Kendo were planned as part of the event, but also in the hope that Uechi Sensei could be coerced into giving a demonstration of his art, and thereby satisfy the intense curiosity of the local people. Kanbun Uechi was completely unaware of this scheme, and attended the grand opening of the festival without a second thought. During the martial arts demonstration, at the insistence of the volunteers who had organized it, he was goaded into showing the empty hand fighting method he had learned in China. He could keep his secret no longer, and reluctantly agreed.

Removing his shirt, he performed his favorite kata, Seisan. His audience was shocked and amazed by his performance. While the movements seemed alien and fear inspiring, it was obvious from his ability that he was a master of the highest order. Other martial arts instructors present declared that ability of this level could only be acquired through the most intense and severe training over an extended period. Curiosity was turned to awe, tinged with fear. They had witnessed more than they had bargained for, and the experience would never be forgotten by those who saw his performance.

Before long the Governor made an inspection of northern Okinawa during which time Kanbun Uechi was asked to teach karate at the prefectural school. This put him in a difficult situation as he could not refuse the governor, but nor would he teach. The only solution was to move to mainland Japan where he took a job in a textile mill, leaving his family behind in Okinawa.

The twelfth year of the reign of the Emperor Taisho, (1924) saw Kanbun Uechi, now forty-seven years old, living in the Tebira section of Kanagawa City, Wakayama Prefecture, a location he would call home until 1947. He worked at the textile mill of Hino Maru Industry Co. Ltd for twenty-three years from his arrival in Japan, almost until he returned to Okinawa, and viewed Tebira as his second home. Textile factories were dirty, noisy, and at times, dangerous places to work. However, the hardy Okinawans were happy to fill the positions in this industry that the mainland Japanese shunned, to the extent that Tebira became an Okinawan enclave. Cultural factors played a role here, as did the fact that many Okinawans had little education, and often could not speak Japanese. They existed as a distinct social group, within, but apart from Japanese society, based in the company housing units of the textile factories, and held together by a common culture and adversity.

Minority groups who lived in this fashion, often become victims of bad elements within their own society, and the Okinawans in Tebira were no exception. Notorious among them was a criminal group known as the Wa Bo Dan(55) led by a gangster called Kinjo from Kakinohara, Oroku Village, Okinawa. The gang’s activities included blackmail, extortion, theft, and the abuse of women. They were violent, ruthless, organized, and their outrages were a frequent topic of daily conversation in Tebira which had developed the reputation of a lawless area as a result of this criminal band. They were completely shameless as the following incident shows.

The Teruya family from Okinawa worked hard and lived modestly. Believing that they would remain childless, the birth of a son understandably brought them great joy and a reason to celebrate with their neighbors. This most joyous event coincided with another stroke of fortune for the Teruya family that gave them to means to do so. With their small windfall they prepared a party and invited their countrymen to celebrate their good luck, and the birth of their son.

During the party a group of the Wa Bo Dan gangsters swarmed the celebration, consumed the modest offerings of food and drink, then stole the gifts that Okinawan custom dictated each guest should bring for the family. Their outrageous behavior left everyone at the gathering stunned and feeling very vulnerable. As an ethnic group recognized as citizens only grudgingly by most mainland Japanese, they had little if any access to a formal legal solution to their problem. They were embittered by the experience, and the many others like it.

Martial Justice

Bungoro Nakamura(56) a graduate of Waseda, the elite private university in Tokyo, and the founder of his own school of Shamisen, had seen enough of this misery, and determined to eradicate the gangsters. He therefore set about gathering a group of men from within the Okinawan community with this goal. He decided that three people were pivotal to the success of this strategy, Kanbun Uechi, at this time forty-nine years old, Chomo Motobu,(57) and Ryuyu Tomoyose(58) aged 29 years, a student of Kanbun Uechi.

Chomo had practiced the martial arts from an early age, and was the nephew of Choki Motobu the famous karate master known in Okinawa at Motobu Zaru (monkey) because of his agility. His father, Choyu, was the creator of Motobu Ryu which was also referred to as Toraju.(59) He passed Motobu Ryu on to Seikichi Uehara (1904-2004) who lived in Ojana, Ginowan City, Okinawa, and was also referred to as a Toraju warrior. The three martial artists began their campaign of annihilation in early 1926.

Kaei Akamine(60) and Susumu Tamaki(61) met and became friends in Wakayama. Akamine was tall and heavily built, fearless by nature and extremely strong; his grip was compared to that of Chojun Miyagi.(65) Tamaki, the president of the Tamamura Industrial Development Co. was more modestly proportioned but strong, courageous, and very decisive. Both had studied karate for more than three years with Rampew Maezato(62) (known as Meizato no Tanmet(63) and Katei Akamine.(64) These two had already decided to rid their community of the gangsters before the more senior martial arts people became involved.

Using the special skills of these martial artists in a carefully planned and well coordinated campaign, one by one the gangsters were eliminated, and finally the Okinawan community in Tebira freed from criminal oppression.

While this group came together in order to bring justice to a community under siege, their interaction would lead to the creation of the Uechi Ryu karate movement, and began its first golden age.

When the Okinawans living in Tebira realized the extent of his martial arts prowess, Kanbun Uechi was inundated with requests for tuition. Therefore, in April 1926 after seventeen years of teaching no one, he created an informal dojo behind the housing unit of the Hi no Maru company where the Okinawans worked. His first students were Nakamura and Tomoyose who came to understand eventually why their master would not teach for the seventeen years prior to this, and vowed not to make the same mistake themselves. Rather, they and their teacher practiced martial arts for self improvement, and the benefit of their community; a community still grateful for the elimination of the Wa Bow Dan gang.

From this moment Uechi Ryu karate as we know it today began to develop. Indeed, these were the years in which modern karate began to form in mainland Japan. Using a single karate strike, Choki Motobu had knocked-out a huge European boxer in a prize fight that took place in Kyoto; Kenwa Mabuni was teaching at the renowned Doshisha University in Kyoto; in 1928 Chojun Miyagi would receive an invitation from the judo club at Kyoto Teikoku Daigaku (Kyoto Imperial University) to teach Goju Ryu karate there. In Eastern Japan, Gichin Funakosahi(66) had been teaching Shuri-te(67) karate at the Meiseijuku, a hostel for Okinawan students in the Koshikawa district of Toyko, since 1921. Funakoshi would propel himself into the spotlight of martial arts on the Japanese mainland by giving a demonstration of karate before Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, on June 4 1922.

Funakoshi, a retired school teacher, saw his role as promoting karate as a healthy physical activity for the educated class, as can be seen from the fact that his first permanent dojo was established in the prestigious Keio University on October 15th 1924. Later he would also teach students from Tokyo, Waseda, and Hosei universities, as well as the Nippon Medical College. In contrast, the students of Kanbun Uechi tended to be everyday people, living and working in the Okinawan community of Tebira. However, their teacher had studied karate full time with a famous Chinese master for an extended period, something that was rare even in Okinawa.

From 1926 until 1932 the textile company dojo operated on a very traditional basis. Only a small number of students were admitted, and then only after being proposed and seconded by senior students or trusted friends of Kanbun Uechi. Students were admonished never to demonstrate the art publicly, and alcohol was strictly forbidden. Students trained clad only in a lion cloth, behind closed doors and shuttered windows, and with no spectators other than their fellow students. If they were interrupted unexpectedly, a student would always be prepared to dress rapidly and engage the caller in polite conversation to divert attention away from what was really going on in the room beyond the door.

The first of Uechi Sensei’s students at the textile company dojo was Ryuyu Tomoyoso, also known as Tomusi Nu Kami,(68) the father of Ryuko Tomoyose. He proved to be a talented martial art practitioner, and a man of noble character who would become the master’s right hand, and the disciple he hoped would help carry his art forward to the next generation. Saburo Uehara(69) was another notable disciple of the early Golden Age who would become President of the Uechi Ryu Karate Do Promotional Association and the father of Takenobu Uehara. Others were Kaei Akamine,(64) Susumu Tamamura,(61) Kiyonori Shinjo,(70) and Nobuei Sakiyama.(71) Probably the best known student was Kanei Uechi the master’s son. He had been raised in Okinawa by his mother Gozei until he was sixteen, and started training with his father at the age of seventeen. He proved to be a worthy successor, and a true warrior of the modern era.

In April 1932, Kanbun Uechi founded the Pangai Noon Karate Research Center(72) a dojo open to the public on Tebira’s Showa Street. Public interest was immediate and attracted even Judo practitioners to the school. From this point the fighting art of the Dragon, Tiger, and Crane would be available to all, providing they were of good character, sound body, and sober habits. Uechi Sensei had clearly come to believe that the days of strict secrecy within martial arts schools was coming to an end, and in the fullness of time this realization would lead to his karate spreading around the world.

Initial training was limited to Sanchin, Seisan and Sanseiryu just as it had been in the training hall of Shu Shi Wa in Fuchou. For the first three months new students would practice only moving forward and backwards in Sanchin. This caused the less dedicated to leave, at which point a more rigorous training in Sanchin was given, until the weakest of those who remained would become demoralized, leaving only the most dedicated students for the master to invest his time in. Although the somewhat draconian nature of the training resulted in severe attrition, enrollment increased to a point where Kanbun Uechi was able to give up his job, rent premises, and teach Pangai Noon on a full time basis. Training was mainly in the evening, but senior students such as Kaei Akamine, Susumu Tamamura, and several others were also taught privately in the daytime.

During this time, the use of the Chinese characters for “open hand”(73) became more common. Previously it had been written as tode, “China hand” and referred to variously as tei,(74) kumite jutsu,(75) kempo,(76) tode, and finally, karate do(77). It is widely believed that the first use of this combination of Chinese characters to describe the unarmed fighting method of the Ryukyu Islands occurred in Gichin Funakoshi first book, Ryukyu Kempo Karate, in which he states, “Unique Okinawan kempo, so called karate.” By 1926 this was widely accepted as the correct form, so much so that in 1929, face cloths produced to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the founding of Keio University’s karate club were inscribed with these characters. At this time Gichin Funakoshi became the Chief Instructor of the Keio University Karate Club with Law Professor, Shiyo Kashiwadani.(87) However, it should also be noted that in August 1905 when Chomo Hanashiro(78) wrote his comments on karate training, he used the same characters for karate, empty hand as opposed to China hand, so it had already been is use in this context for at least twenty years.

Clearly some classical masters in Okinawa did not approve of the new name, and resisted using it until 1936 when the Ryukyu Shinposha (Ryukyu Newspaper Company) sponsored a meeting entitled, A Symposium of Okinawan Karate Do Grand Masters, on October 25 at the Showa Kaikan in Naha. This was attended by karateka, educators, journalists, military and police officials including; Chomo Hanashiro,(78) Chotoku Kyan,(79), Choki Motobu,(80) Choshin Chibana,(82) Juhatsu Kiyoda,(81) Shimpan Gusukuma,(83) Chojun Miyagi,(65) Choei Oroku,(84) and Genwa Nakasone.(85)

It was decided at this meeting that in future, the standardized form of the word karate would be written using the combination of Chinese characters that read, “empty hand.” This was how it was currently being used by Gichin Funakoshi, and Kanbun Uechi, Kenwa Mabuni,(86) in his book, Karate Kenkyu, published in 1935. (See Classical Fighting Arts magazine Vol. 2 No 11.)

Perhaps, as some have suggested, Gichin Funakoshi was influenced by the Rinzai Zen of Buddhism,(88) in his choice of the character for “kara” or “empty.” He did visit one of its major temples, Engaku Ji(89) in Kamakura, frequently and his friendship with the head priest, Takamichi Furukawa,(90) was well known.

Zen Buddhism has at it heart the concept of enlightenment through the realization of emptiness (of the mind). Mastery of karate requires training to the point where appropriate (defensive) movement requires no conscious thought. Therefore the character, meaning empty or sky, is appropriate for an empty hand form of self defense. It is interesting to note that the monument erected to honor Gichin Funakoshi’s achievements is located in the grounds of Engakuji Temple, Kamakura.(91)

Anecdotes taken from the book, Uechi Kanbun Essays by Ryuyu Tomoyose

Around 1928 or 1928 Uechi Kanbun Sensei told us the following story at our Tebira City dojo, Wakayama Prefecture.

In the past there was a street performer in China called Ryu Ryu Ko,(93) who was known for his ability to perform apparently superhuman feats before an audience that would completely amaze them. Hearing that a theatrical performance was being held in his village, he decided that he wanted to see it. However, there was such a crush of villagers before him he could see nothing and he therefore looked around for a good vantage point from which to view the performance.

Close to the stage there were two pine trees growing straight and tall, very close to each other. With his body against one and his feet against the other, he used his powerful back muscles to climb to a height sufficient for him to gain a perfect view of the performance. At the conclusion of his story the Master asked his students, “What do you think! Can you believe this story?” Without pausing he continued, by saying that the feat defied physics, and therefore logic, but that they should consider questions this story posed more deeply.

If a young man were motivated to train really hard and conscientiously in karate for an extended period in order to duplicate this feat, is this wrong! Even if he became the object of ridicule for believing the story, if it inspired him to train hard for ten years, there would be a great difference in his ability compared with others who had not trained so assiduously. This was how Uechi Sensie told us we must set ourselves a very high standard, and work hard and patiently to achieve it. He told us many Chinese stories like this, and they motivated us to train harder while providing us with spiritual guidance.

Amazing Technique

By the time the Pangai Noon Ryu Research Center was opened in 1932, Kanbun Uechi had established a reputation as a strong fighter which, of course, attracted those wishing to build a reputation for themselves by challenging and beating him. The world is full of people who believe themselves to be strong and courageous. However, rigorous hand-to-hand combat with a true expert often prove their beliefs to be illusions. Although Uechi Sensei received many challenges, few were made good on, and when they were, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. His reputation for invincibility grew to a point where few would confront him face-to-face, as we will see.

One balmy evening in the spring he was returning from the public bathhouse wearing only a simple cotton kimono, with his wash bowl in his hand and a towel over his shoulder, when a large black object by the side of the road caught his attention. Peering into the shrubbery to see what it was, he was suddenly attacked by an armed man who screamed, “You die!”

Uechi Sensei, without hesitation, struck his assailant with a washing bowl, and jumping to the side, deprived him of his weapon as he threw him violently to the ground and pinned him down with his foot. As he was about to deliver a potentially fatal coup de grace, his victim begged for his life screaming: “Wait! This is Kinjo! Forgive me!” Realizing that this was the leader of the vanquished Wa Bow Dan gang, Uechi released him and send him away with the dire warning that their next confrontation, if there were one, would be Kinjo’s last. Uechi Sensei never mentioned this incident; news of it became public as a result of Kinjo telling people that the experience had prompted him to reform his character.

In a real fight there is no formula that can be applied to ensure success, no amount of prior experience will allow you to precisely predict what your opponent will do, no strategy exists that will always prevail. Success in combat is dependent upon the body being fully conditioned to conflict by hard, repetitive training over a long period, so its response is instinctive, and therefore completely free of conscious thought. In this way, regardless of the nature of the attacker effectively subdued. When an exponent has trained himself to this level, he can be considered an expert in karate.

We can analyze the incident of Kanbun Uechi and Kinjo the gang member by breaking it down into its component parts.

Sense the attacker as the attack begin or even before.

Strike him with whatever is to hand (In this case a wash bowl) the hand, or the fist, to unbalance and deter him. Take the offensive so as to become the psychologically dominant force in the conflict.

Position oneself strategically.

Disarm your opponent, and as you do so...

...throw him as violently as possible to the ground...

...where you immobilize him with your foot/legs...

...pinning him to the floor so you can...

...strike him violently in the face with your fist.

Uechi Sensei’s action, which was the result of long and arduous practice using proven methods, took a split second, and was instinctive. His lifetime of hard training had taken his ability to the point where it was regarded as close to superhuman, which further advanced his reputation as a true warrior.

Kanbun Uechi’s Iron Will

As a karate master Kanbun Uechi was stern, uncompromising, and iron willed. When he made a decision it was final, and he would neither change nor modify it. In his private life however, he was known as a good husband and father with a natural tendency to be tolerant and easygoing with his friends and neighbors. Towards those close to him, his immediate family, friends, and students, he was capable of feeling deep compassion. The following incident clearly shows his “karate” side.

A disputer arose at a banquet attended by Uechi Sensei and his students, at which insults and abusive language were exchanged to the extent that the normally mild mannered Moritoshi Urasaki(94) lost his temper. In his anger, he struck a column close to him with full force, causing a picture to fall and shatter its glass on the floor, from which point, uproar ensued. Uechi Sensei witnessed this, and immediately dismissed Urasaki from his dojo believing that drunkenness, and lack of the self-discipline that all martial artists must cultivate, was the cause. Subsequently, despite a heartfelt apology from Urasaki, and the pleas for clemency of other guests who had been present at the banquet, he would not relent, and the dismissal was final.

The Birth of Uechi Ryu

Encouraged by his students and those close to him, fifteen years after the establishment of the Pangai Noon Ryu Karate Rsearch Center, Kanbun Uechi changed the name of his dojo to the Uechi Ryu Karate Research Centre.(95) Changing the name of his style to that of his own marked the beginning of a leap forward that would elevate Uechi Ryu to a powerful position in the world of karate. It had been thirty-one years since Uechi Sensei returned to Okinawa from China in 1909. Now, with his son and successor Kanei Uechi by his side, and their loyal students around them, they stood on the threshold of fame and history.

Teaching method

The method and theory of training before WWII and afterwards was a little different, just as people’s lives were different. It is natural that as one changes, so must the other, and this is acceptable providing the principles of karate remain intact. In the days of the Karate Jutsu Research Centre in the textile factory in Wakayama, training for the most part was limited to the evenings from 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM, although special training, as many as three classes a day, took place on the twice monthly factory holidays. Senior students trained privately with Kanbun Sensei in the daytime whenever possible, and classes were also offered at 5:00 AM before the long working day began. At this time, both teachers and students needed to be highly motivated, and supremely fit.

Pangai Noon in the Wakayama Period was based on the study of Shu Shi Wa’s three kata, Sanchin,(92) Seisan,(96) and San Sei Ryu,(97) and a two man arm drill. The core of modern Uechi Ryu karate remains the three main kata, and to which were added, Kan Shi Wa,(98) Kan Shu,(99) Sei Chin,(100) Sei Ryu,(101) and Kanchin.(102) Making a total of eight kata in all to which were added, warming up exercises,(104) prearranged sparring part 1,(105) and prearrange sparring part 2.(106) The original arm training drill was changed to improve its utility.

Of all the Okinawan styles of karate, practically and ideologically, Uechi Ryu remains closest to its Chinese roots. It’s philosophy is transmitted to its followers by means of the Eight Common Virtues: Courtesy,(107) Loyalty,(108) Honesty,(109) Frugality,(110) Justice,(111) Generosity,(112) Fortitude,(113) and an unyielding iron will.(114)

The system can be summed up by the expression: “Seize and control your opponent with your strong spirit.(115)

My Story: Tsukasa (Scott) Higa (translator)

When I was asked to do this translation of his History of Uechi Ryu Karate by Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei, I was both flattered and a little intimidated. A highly respected professor of both Kokusai and Meio Universities and coauthor (with Katsuhiko Shinzato Sensei) of the Karate Kobudo Jitten (Karate & Kobudo Encyclopedia), he is a superb karateka with a reputation of being a perfectionist. Initially I felt the weight of the responsibility of this task, but I later I came to view my involvement as a privilege that allowed me to gain a much greater appreciation of the karate that I study, and the achievements of those who have gone before me, especially our Founder, Kanbun Uechi Sensei.

As my work progressed, I came to identify myself with Uechi Sensei to a certain extent. We had both left our homeland of Okinawa as young men to travel overseas to order to improve ourselves. And while his time spent in China was undoubtedly more difficult than the 17 years I spent in the United States, I personally understood as I read Takamiyagi Sensei’s words, the sense of loneliness and isolation that Uechi Sensei must felt when he arrived in a foreign country alone, without friends, and unable to speak the language.

Today, we can instantly communicate with anyone in the world at little or no cost. When I left Okinawa 40 years ago, living overseas meant a continuous period of exile from all that was familiar and comfortable, interrupted only by an occasional letter or long distant telephone call. When Kanbun Uechi Sensei left Okinawa for China 150 years ago, for his family and friends, it was as he had ceased to exist as anything more than a memory. How things have changed in the span of a few generations!

When our Founder left China behind him, how desolate he must have felt. Knowing that he would never see his teacher Shu Shi Wa again, speak to his many Chinese friends, or train in the dojo where his skill had been forged. As I worked on the manuscript I thought to myself how lucky I am to be able to visit every Okinawan master whenever I wish, and return to the US as and when I feel the need.

Despite the many difficulties and hardships he faced in his life, I believe that Uechi Kanbun Sensei died a happy man, knowing that his style would survive while so many others had disappeared with their last great teacher. In his case he had excellent students whom he had trained personally in Wakayama who were able to transform the Pangai Noon he had learned in such secrecy in Fukien, China, to the worldwide movement of Uechi Ryu karate that we know today.

Translating this work was difficult, but there were hidden benefits. It made me appreciate my karate and how it has helped me grow as a person. It also gave me a sense of awareness of my existence and purpose, and helped me to appreciate the teachers who gave me the benefit of their time and experience over the years. I owe so much to my former teacher, Toshiyuki Itokazu, who left us in 1985. Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei and my kobudo teacher, and Nakamatsu Sensei who has taught me for the past twenty-three years. I enjoyed every minute of their instruction, and they made me what, and who I am today. They also made learning karate very exciting!

I am also indebted to Yoshinobu Teruya who assisted me with deciphering the many difficult Chinese characters that I encountered in the text, as well as translating passages from Chinese and Okinawan dialects. Teruya San passed away before he could have seen this finished work, which saddens me. I owe an even greater debt to my late wife Marilyn and our daughter Jessica, a young woman who continues to support my work, and inspire me.

The original version of this work was compiled by Takamiyagi Sensei from all known sources that offered information on the history of our style. Inevitably, when dealing with oral tradition, accounts may have been enhanced somewhat as they passed from teller to teller. In all cases I have done my best to separate fact from exaggeration, and when in doubt, have excluded material I felt was unsupported, or that might mislead the reader. I can say with sincerely that I spared no effort with this translation, and that I have done my best to stay true to the original Japanese text.

To all those who study the way of karate I would ask you to consider the following:

--

Life is like a book, not to be judged by the cover, but for each page to be considered a day in the life of a person. We must look past the cover to the inside where knowledge and insights are to be found. As every book has a last page, so we have a last day. Therefore, we should judge a book by its contents and not by the quantity of its pages.

--

A long perilous road tests the horse: a long perilous journey tests the man.

--

Why would a peaceful nation have military forces?
Why should a police officer carry a gun?
Why would a friendly neighbor study martial arts, and even more, why would a priest study martial arts?

--

Keiki – practice in the old way. Sanchin has never been modified.

--

Onko chishin – Study the old to understand the new.

Postscript

At the time of publication Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei is gravely ill. We pray for his recovery so that we can practice Sanchin together again some day. For me it was a great honor to be chosen to translate Takamiyagi Sensei’s manuscript
–Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, P.E.

Footnotes:

48. Nan-Sei-No-Cho. Town in South East China.

49. Nan Sou. Same as footnote. 48.

50. Hakai (The Broken Commandment). Novel by Toson Shimazaki.

51. Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Chinese revolutionary and stateman (12 Nov. 1866 – 12 March 1925)

52. Ken Sei Ru Ru Ku. Reputedly the Founder of Ryuei-Ryu.

53. Go Ken Ki (Wu Tsien Kuei) Chinese tea merchant and White Crane boxing exponent. A friend and contemporary of Chojun Miyagi and Kenwa Mabuni.

54. Nan Yu. Please see Part 1, Footnote 38.

55. Wa Bow Dan. Gangster organization.

56. Nakaura Bungoro. Waseda University graduate, humanitarian.

57. Motobu Chomo. Uechi Kanbun’s student.

58. Tomoyose Ryuyu (1897-1970). Ryuko Tomoyose’s father.

59. Toraju. Life of Tiger technique.

60. Akamine Kaei. Uechi Kanbun’s student (1909 ~ 1977)

61. Tamamura Susumu. Uechi Kanbun’s student (1907 ~ 19??)

62. Maezato Rampo. Uechi Kanbun’s student.

63. Mezato Nu Tanme in Okinawan dialect “Old Maezato” same as Footnote. 62)

64. Akamine Kaei. Uechi Kanbun’s student.

65. Miyagi Chojun. Founder of Goju Ryu, Kanryo Higaonna’s (Naba Te) best student (25 April 1888 – 7 Oct. 1953).

66. Funakoshi Gichin. Pioneer of Shuri-te karate in mainland Japan. (23 Dec. 1866 – 26 April 1957)

67. Shuri-Te. Shorin Ryu Karate, after Shuri the capital of Okinawa during the Ryukyu Kingdom, and home of many famous warriors in the King’s employ.

68. Ryuyu Tomoyose, Ryuko Tomoyose’s father. Called informally, Tomu Si Nu Ka Me.

69. Uehara Saburo. (Shinyu Gushi Sensei’s teacher) 1901-1965. Creator of kata Sei Chin with Shinyu Gushi Sensei.

70. Shinjo Seiryo, Shinjo Kiyohide’s grandfather, and dojo master of the Kadena Dojo (1909-19??)

71 Shaiyama Shoei.

72. Pan Gai Noon Ryu Karate Research Center in 1932. From 1940. Uechi Ryu.

73. Karate. Modern name (Literally empty hand)

74. Te (Hand). Old pronunciation, tei.

75. Kumite jutsu. Free sparring or Prearranged combat technique.

76. Kempo. Techniques of thrusting, punching, and kicking.

77. Karate Do. The way of Karate.

78. Hanashiro Chomo. Itosu Anko’s disciple (1869-1945)

79. Kyan Chotoku. His teachings can be found in Shorin Ryu. Shorinji-Ryu, and Matsubayashi-Ryu. (1870-1945). Informally called Chan Mi Gwa.

80. Motobu Choki. (1870-1944), also called informally Motobu Saru (monkey) due to his dexterity while young. Renowned for his prize fight with a heavyweight Russian boxer (Jan Kentel?) whom he dispatched in short order despite being thirty years his senior.

81. Kiyoda Shigehatsu, (Juhatsu). (1887-1968). Disciple of Higashionna Kanryo, the founder of Higashionna (To’on Ryu) Ryu.

82. Chibana Choshin. (1885-1969) Founder of Shorin Ryu.

83. Gushikuma Shinban. Okinawa Shorin Ryu Practitioner. (1890-1954) or (1891-1957?)

84. Oroku Chotei. (1660-1701), martial artist

85. Nakasone Genwa. (1895-1978). Publisher of Karate Do Encyclopedia.

86. Mabuni Kenwa. (1889-1952). Founder of Shito Ryu.

87. Kashiwatani Shinyo. Disciple of Funakoshi Gichin. Keio Juku Karate Club (first wave in 1924)

88. Rinzai Shu. (? ~ 867) Rinzai Shogen is propagated in China. The religious organization is Getama Shitatato to Maha Shama and 28 generations boddhidharma (India) to China.

89. The official name is Zui-Rokusan Enkaku-koshozunji. Established 1282 by the Kamakura Shogun Hukugyo Tokumine. There is a strong focus on seated meditation (zazen) as a path to self-enlightenment.

90. Fukukawa Gyodou. (1872-1961). Head priest Chief of Kamakura Rinzai Shu Engakuji.

91. Maga Hannia Hara Mita Shin Gyo. Teaches completeness of knowledge in past, present, and future. There is no sorrow, reason for sorrow, and elimination of sorrow. In summary, complete knowledge brings freedom of awareness.”

92. Sanchin. First Uechi-Ryu kata.

93. See footnote 52. (Ru Ru Ku)

94. Urasaki Moritoshi, one of Uechi Kanbun’s disciples in Wakayama City

95. Uechi Ryu Karate Research Center. Established in 1937 and later called Uechi Ryu in 1940.

96. Seisan. 5th Kata of Uechi Ryu. This kata is from China.

97. San Sei Ryu. 8th Kata of Uechi Ryu. This Kata is also came from China

98. Kan Shi Wa. 2nd kata Uechi Ryu.

99. Kan Shu. 3rd Kata of Uechi Ryu.

100. Sei Chin. 4th Kata of Uechi Ryu.

101. Sei Ryu. 6th kata of Uechi Ryu.

102. Kan Chin. 7th kata of Uechi Ryu.

103. Junbi Undo, warming up exercise (Calisthenics exercise number 1)

104. Ho Jo Undo. Auxiliary exercise (Calisthenics exercise number 2)

105. Yakusoku Kumite Daiichi. First pre-arranged sparring drills.

106. Yakusoku Kumite Dauni. Second pre-arranged sparring drills.

107. Reigi, courtesy.

108. Shingi, loyalty.

109. Renketsu, honest.

110. Shittuse, Frugality.

111. Kohei, Justice.

112. Kandai, Generosity.

113. Geka, Fortitude.

114. Fukutu No Ish Ryeku. Unyielding (uncompromising) iron will.

115. Mi Chin Chu Sho. Grab and control your opponent with a strong spirit.
Attachments
Left: Tsutomu Nakahodo Sensei, 10th Dab Uechi Ryu. Right: Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, 7th Dan Uechi Ryu and translator of this work by Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei 10th Dan Uechi Ryu. Scott is a retired engineer who spend most of his professional life with the US government.
Left: Tsutomu Nakahodo Sensei, 10th Dab Uechi Ryu. Right: Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, 7th Dan Uechi Ryu and translator of this work by Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei 10th Dan Uechi Ryu. Scott is a retired engineer who spend most of his professional life with the US government.
Scott.jpg (103.84 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Front row, left to right: Professor Shigeru Takamiyagi 10th Dan Shohei Ryu, Tsutomu Nakahodo, 10th Dan Shohei Ryu. Back row, left to right: Professor Katsuhiko Shinzato, 9th Dan Matsubayashi Ryu, Kosuke Yonamine, 10th Dan Shohei Ryu, Masao Tominori, 9th Dan Shorinji Ryu, Masaaki Ikemiyagi, 10th Dan Goju Ryu.
Front row, left to right: Professor Shigeru Takamiyagi 10th Dan Shohei Ryu, Tsutomu Nakahodo, 10th Dan Shohei Ryu. Back row, left to right: Professor Katsuhiko Shinzato, 9th Dan Matsubayashi Ryu, Kosuke Yonamine, 10th Dan Shohei Ryu, Masao Tominori, 9th Dan Shorinji Ryu, Masaaki Ikemiyagi, 10th Dan Goju Ryu.
Group Photo5.jpg (114.03 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Kanei Uechi Sensei
Kanei Uechi Sensei
Kanei Uechi Sensei.jpg (30.83 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
10 February 1938: Keilo University Graduate Students from the Physical Education Department Karate Club. Instructor Gichin Funakoshi is seated in the center of the front row.
10 February 1938: Keilo University Graduate Students from the Physical Education Department Karate Club. Instructor Gichin Funakoshi is seated in the center of the front row.
Group Photo4.jpg (57.72 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
The memorial to Gichin Funakoshi at Engakuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
The memorial to Gichin Funakoshi at Engakuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
Gichin Funakoshi.jpg (57.19 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Group Photo3.jpg
Group Photo3.jpg (59.77 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Saburo Uehara with his students, among them the fifteen year old Shinyu Gushi (1939-2012) second row, first on the left. Photo courtesy of the Gushi family.
Saburo Uehara with his students, among them the fifteen year old Shinyu Gushi (1939-2012) second row, first on the left. Photo courtesy of the Gushi family.
Saburo Uehara.jpg (61.59 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Jan Kentel of Estonia
Jan Kentel of Estonia
Jan Kentel.jpg (35.18 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Choki Motobu (shown with student) fought a European boxer much younger than himself (possibly the professional strong man Jan Kentel of Estonia) in a prize match in the early 1920s that was graphically reported in the mass circulation Japanese magazine Kingu. He ended the fight in seconds by knocking out the boxer with, according the Kingu, a single karate strike to the head. Chosei Motobu recalls that his father challenged the boxer because he knew he could beat him. He bet heavily on himself as the odds against him winning were so high, and won a substantial sum of money. Photos courtesy of the Hawaii Karate Museum.
Choki Motobu (shown with student) fought a European boxer much younger than himself (possibly the professional strong man Jan Kentel of Estonia) in a prize match in the early 1920s that was graphically reported in the mass circulation Japanese magazine Kingu. He ended the fight in seconds by knocking out the boxer with, according the Kingu, a single karate strike to the head. Chosei Motobu recalls that his father challenged the boxer because he knew he could beat him. He bet heavily on himself as the odds against him winning were so high, and won a substantial sum of money. Photos courtesy of the Hawaii Karate Museum.
Choki Motobu.jpg (82.66 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Left to right: Ryuyu Tomoyose (40), Kanbun Uechi (60), Susumu Tamamura (31), Kaei Akamine (29).
Left to right: Ryuyu Tomoyose (40), Kanbun Uechi (60), Susumu Tamamura (31), Kaei Akamine (29).
Group Photo2.jpg (86.87 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
January 1936. Front row (left to right); Kazuo Kishimoto, Kanbun Uechi (59), Ryuyu Tomoyose (39), Kanei Uechi (25). Second row: Hachizo Oshiro, Shuei Sakiyama, Noboru Uchima, Takeo Gibo.
January 1936. Front row (left to right); Kazuo Kishimoto, Kanbun Uechi (59), Ryuyu Tomoyose (39), Kanei Uechi (25). Second row: Hachizo Oshiro, Shuei Sakiyama, Noboru Uchima, Takeo Gibo.
Group Photo1.jpg (106.48 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
“The sound of Eii rings in the ears. Our next courageous generation of young people know that a priority is to train their bodies. The young people of Motobu School take a karate lession.” Photo courtesy Toru Kadekaru.
“The sound of Eii rings in the ears. Our next courageous generation of young people know that a priority is to train their bodies. The young people of Motobu School take a karate lession.” Photo courtesy Toru Kadekaru.
Motobu School.jpg (99.38 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Okinawa 1912. Go Ken Ki, (Wu Hsien Kuei) was an expert in Fuchow White Crane boxing who moved to Okinawa in 1910, married a local girl, and eventually took the Japanese name of Yoshikawa. He had met and became close friends with Kanbun Uechi at the dojo of Shu Shi Wa in Fuzhou, China. Photo courtesy Ryuko Tomoyose Sensei.
Okinawa 1912. Go Ken Ki, (Wu Hsien Kuei) was an expert in Fuchow White Crane boxing who moved to Okinawa in 1910, married a local girl, and eventually took the Japanese name of Yoshikawa. He had met and became close friends with Kanbun Uechi at the dojo of Shu Shi Wa in Fuzhou, China. Photo courtesy Ryuko Tomoyose Sensei.
Yoshikawa.jpg (112.39 KiB) Viewed 7692 times
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

...
He returned to Okinawa from China depressed, haggard, and already embarked upon what would prove to be a lengthy period of seclusion and self-evaluation.
...

No question, Kanbun Uechi's guilt hurts after teaching a student who later used what he learned to kill an innocent man. That type of guilt happens to other people. Homer Hickam described the very same guilt in his autobiography Rocket Boys (Coalwood Book 1), chapter 18 "The Bump" and Chapter 19 "Picking Up and Going On". His close friend died in a tragic coal mining accident. He blamed himself for his death and for weeks lost interest in his favorite hobby -- rocketry. He sank into deep depression--felt no emotions, lost his joy, shun his friends and family.

It was fortunate both eventually snapped out of their depression and find courage to move on, continuing with their careers. Homer Hickam's friends helped him through encouragement, and convincing him that the death wasn't his fault. But I am unclear what convinced Kanbun Uechi to start teaching karate again, and eventually spread his schools to all over the world. He certainly didn't just man up and done it on his own. Depression is a dangerous sickness which often leads to death, or a life of disorder. Kanbun fled fame, left his family to live in a ghetto terrorized by gangs for twenty-three years, working at a filthy, noisy, sometimes dangerous textile factory. That's a classic case of Self-Sabotaging Behavior.
https://www.verywellmind.com/why-people ... it-5207635
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"When Kanbun Uechi Sensei left Okinawa for China 150 years ago, for his family and friends, it was as he had ceased to exist as anything more than a memory."

It does have one big advantages. It allows a fresh start. After Kanbun Uechi's favorite student killed someone during a dispute, Kanbun was able to escape the wrath of mourning parents who wish to remind him of his shame for the rest of his life. Kanbun also immigrated to China to escape the draft.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

“... if a suitable successor to a master could not be found, his arts would often die with him.” Japan has a long tradition of strict control of the deadly arts. In 1588, Japan’s ruler, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, announced the Sword Hunt, which banned possession of swords and firearms by people who were not soldiers to prevent riots and distinguishing peasants from soldiers. Restrictions and crackdown continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. When Japan was transformed into a modern country by the 19th century, gun control continued to be promoted.
https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/s ... 417226.pdf
(Law Library, Library of Congress; Firearms-Control Legislation & Policy February 2013; Japan; FIREARMS-CONTROL LEGISLATION AND POLICY; I. History of Gun Control in Japan)

It has a law prohibiting firearms, swords, model pistols, and imitation guns in general. Firearm licenses are allowed only for use in hunting or exterminating pests. Sword licenses may be given for hunting, killing pests, harvesting animals, fishing, construction, or construction. Swords are allowed in plays and other cultural or artistic practices. Weapon that are antiques or expensive works of art may be possessed through licensing. Self-defense is not a good enough reason. Licenses are refused for bad people having criminal records, drug addiction, etc.
https://www8.cao.go.jp/kisei-kaikaku/ot ... 05050.html

This is not meant to be a debate on gun control. I’m simply sharing details about Japan culture. Remember hearing about the Okinawans being such exceptional empty hand fighters because the pheasants cannot have access to weapons. Wonder if that’s true.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"The three martial artists began their campaign of annihilation in early 1926"

I wonder if they killed the bandits in the Tebira section of Kanagawa City. "Annihilation" or "eliminated" sounds deadly in those days.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"Why would a peaceful nation have military forces?"

Reminds me of Ronald Reagan's 1984 "Bear in the woods" campaign commercial.

"There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don't see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it's vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who's right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear."

It fits the spirit of karate in my opinion.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
Seizan
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Nagahama, Yomitan Okinawa
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by Seizan »

emattson wrote: Wed Feb 07, 2024 4:26 pm "The three martial artists began their campaign of annihilation in early 1926"

I wonder if they killed the bandits in the Tebira section of Kanagawa City. "Annihilation" or "eliminated" sounds deadly in those days.
Extremely doubtful, expecially if we consider the following to be true (which I have reason to disbelieve):

"He returned to Okinawa from China depressed, haggard, and already embarked upon what would prove to be a lengthy period of seclusion and self-evaluation."

I have reason to believe he returned to Okinawa in 1910 tired after 13 years away, but excited and eager to renew his life, starting with marriage and raising a family. All this will be documented and explained in Vol. 4...

However, here is a fractional excerpt from a subsection of the unpublished volume:

~~~~~
Supposedly after "the incident" in China, and out of guilt, depression, and dismay, keeping silent about his karate for 17 years, would Kanbun Sensei suddenly be willing to beat up and/or kill bandits (who did not commit murder, but merely stole things and offended people), or associate with "friends" who were willing to do so?

Kanbun Sensei and friends stopped fights and broke up arguments, and occasionally had to fight with individual members of a very loosely organized gang of bullies called the Wabodan (the "Against Peace" gang). The Wabodan collected "protection money", stole goods and items, crashed parties, insulted people, over-drank, and were generally a nuisance to the Okinawan community. They were not murderers.

To the best of my knowledge, Kanbun Sensei and those who joined him killed no one. To date, there is no documentation that anyone was killed or died as a result of fighting with Kanbun Sensei, Uehara Saburo Sensei, Tomoyose Ryuyu Sensei, or anyone associated with Kanbun. According to Toyama Sensei, the worst injury to a Wabodan member was a broken arm, but Sensei wasn’t sure if that was caused by Kanbun Sensei or one of the others.

After several members got beaten (some perhaps severely), the Wabodan just stopped bothering people. They didn't want to go up against fighters who were faster, tougher, stronger, and better-trained than they. The Wabodan just stopped being a bother. It was no longer amusing or profitable to scare the locals, whose protectors seemed to show up unpredictably, and far too often.

The gang simply disbanded.

Killing anyone, even a "bandit", was considered homicide under Japanese law and answerable in court as such. The Okinawan community in Wakayama was not simply left isolated to "deal with its own problems" except in terms of cultural differences, local holidays, and so forth. It was regularly policed, and law was enforced as in any Japanese community. It was much the same as it is today; the laws have not changed much except for modern legal wording.
~~~~~
User avatar
Seizan
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Nagahama, Yomitan Okinawa
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by Seizan »

emattson wrote: Wed Feb 07, 2024 4:26 pm I wonder if they killed the bandits in the Tebira section of Kanagawa City. "Annihilation" or "eliminated" sounds deadly in those days.
By the way -- Kanagawa is not a city but a coastal prefecture just south of Tokyo. Its capital city is Yokohama. I think you mean Hyogo Prefecture, and Wakayama.
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"I wonder if they killed the bandits in the Tebira section of Kanagawa"

I asked that question not as a racist White man who talk down to foreigners as savages. My impression of Kanbun, as a man who used deadly force, comes from what I read.

"... it was said of him, 'One strike, certain death!'" (Last paragraph of the "Teaching Certificate Granted" section of "The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi" part 1). Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei, author translated by Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, used the word 'death', not 'knockout' or 'dropped'.

Uechi Sensei was confronted by an armed bandit screaming "Die". He was the leader of the vanquished Wa Bow Dan (Wabodan) gang. After Uechi violently slammed him into the ground, he was about to hurl his potentially fatal coup de grace when Kinjo, the gang's leader, begged for his life. Uechi Sensei released him, threatening that if he confront him again, it would be his last. Naturally, when reading about Kinjo threatening Kanbun's life, I simply assume that he really had killed people multiple times in the past. Kanbun group was justified in using deadly force if the bandits had been murdering citizens. Did he instead said 'die' as simply empty threats and never followed through during his career as a bandit? That tale reminds me of the popular American movie Death Wish--Okinawans being frustrated with the lack of policing and decided to take their law into their own hands. Describing how Kanbun and the Okinawans worked with the Japanese police, if they had at all, will give a Japanese law and order a more balanced view.
(Amazing Technique section, of "The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi" part 2).

George Mattson's Way of Karate retold an old tale describing Kanbum Uech instantly killing a bandit who attacked him. It could be just a legend.

Kanbun did enjoyed listening to stories of the adventures of Bushi (Okinawan Samurai). Bushi are warriors. I'm assuming that as warriors, they use deadly force, are trained to kill. Did they emphasize Bushi's code of ethics, bravery, and such to Kanbun, influencing his beliefs?

Obviously, everyone knows Kanbun is not bloodthirsty. When the Shubukai, (Association for Martial Arts Training) was founded, they established a strict code of ethics:
- We will embody the principles of filial piety and make efforts to be upright citizens.
- We will deepen our understanding of everyday life and pursue a hardworking, humble and frugal lifestyle.
- We emphasize physical exercise and bodily health.
- We will cultivate moral behaviour and increase our appreciation of others.
- We will promote social spirit and contribute to public well-being.
- Our members will refrain from drunken violence and will not injure another person under penalty of immediate expulsion.
Kanbun had expelled a student because of his drunken aggression.

Thank you for your thoughtful research.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"Removing his shirt, he performed his favorite kata, Seisan. His audience was shocked and amazed by his performance. While the movements seemed alien and fear inspiring, it was obvious from his ability that he was a master of the highest order."

In order to appreciate Kanbun's skills, the audience, gasping in admiration, must too be skilled in martial arts, know how to fight with deadly effectiveness, in my opinion.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
Seizan
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Nagahama, Yomitan Okinawa
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by Seizan »

emattson wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 4:12 pm "... it was said of him, 'One strike, certain death!'" (Last paragraph of the "Teaching Certificate Granted" section of "The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi" part 1). Shigeru Takamiyagi Sensei, author translated by Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, used the word 'death', not 'knockout' or 'dropped'.
That statement is not in the original Japanese text. The text ends with a description of the open hand techniques.

The book "Uechi Kanbun Essays" was written by Tomoyose Ryuko, not Ryuyu. The name was mistakenly translated as Ryuyu.

I have never seen that book, not once. I asked Takamiyagi Sensei about it several times when I was a member of his Chatan Dojo, but apparently it was not available to students.
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

The caption of one of the photo has “The sound of Eii rings in the ears."

What is the meaning of the word "Eii"? Curious, I looked it up in wordhippo.com. It's a Japanese word for "Keenly". It may also be "eagerly" or "earnestly". I'll welcome anyone more knowledgeable in Japanese to describe in better context.

https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-m ... d9e51.html
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
User avatar
Seizan
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Nagahama, Yomitan Okinawa
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by Seizan »

"Eii!" is the Okinawan equivalent for "Osu!" Today, many new non-Japanese students shout "Kiai!" or "Kia!" (which amusingly enough, simply means "shout!"), and in Mainland Japanese systems they normally shout "Osu!", which is seldom heard on Okinawa.

The pronunciation is "Ai-ee" and today would romanize as "Hai" (they sound identical; the H-sound is rather diminutive when shouted). In kata performance, "Hai" does not mean "Yes!" -- it is not a word as such, but merely a conveniently-produced noise or sound that emphasizes timing and focus for any specific technique.

It is still used in public school karate as a command to denote the end of one technique or sequence, and the simultaneous beginning of the next. However, most new students briefly pause at "Eii!" to allow slower students to catch up so everyone can start the next move together, etc. After a few weeks of training, everyone works up to the same speed, shouting "Eii!" together, and the group might be ready to show kata to their parents at the school's Sports Day Festival. They will still shout "Eii!" during performance.

ADDED: Sumako says it is better pronounced "Ah-EE!" and is often pronounced "Hah-EE" -- hai.
User avatar
emattson
Posts: 361
Joined: Mon May 08, 2023 8:29 pm
Contact:

Re: The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi 2

Post by emattson »

"Martial Justice" section:

Karate is normally a one on one fighting style. It works well for a man walking alone at night. Kanbun took karate to the next level by teaming up with other karate experts to destroy the bandits terrorizing the Okinawan community in Tebira. People can do incredible feats when collaborating.
Erik

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
- John Adams
Post Reply

Return to “Kanbun Uechi”