The Untold Story Of Kanbun Uechi

The Footprints of Kanbun Uechi magazine articles

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Van Canna
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Re: The Untold Story Of Kanbun Uechi

Post by Van Canna »

Hi Henry,

Thanks for the good post. I am well thank you...glad you are doing fine.

I agree with your thinking... no matter what the style, a student who practices for self defense needs to know if he will be able to function during the stress and shock of a sudden, violent encounter...and any study of those tactical strategies, along with any chosen style, is the purview of the intelligent practitioner.

The smart person realizes violent encounters are mostly situational... Your adrenaline level will be greatly increased when trying to survive an attack... due to the increased chances of serious injury or death, as well as the added fear of the unknown.

Achieving preparedness along these conceptual lines is an ever changing problem. Reason why I like the writings of Rory Miller.
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Re: The Untold Story Of Kanbun Uechi

Post by Glenn »

Regarding the online interview about this book at, some of which Van has posted at different times earlier in this thread, I am particularly curious about this statement by author Mr. Fujimoto based on his interviews with Kanbun Uechi's surviving students (emphasis added):
I think he [Kanbun Uechi] would be most surprised by the circle block (mawashi uke) that is currently used in Uechi-ryu. Kanbun sensei did not teach a circle block and would instead use an inside-out parry (kake uke) for mid-section attacks and an upper block (hajiki uke) to defend against attacks to the head. I personally believe he would question why a circular motion should be used to protect against a strike to the face. Kanbun's students I talked to iejima who were with him in Wakayama sometimes said, "It may be that times have changed, but a lot of the karate used today doesn't seem to have much practical application." Of course, I recognize that the techniques of modern Uechi-ryu developed as a result of improvements made by our own teachers and am in no way demeaning their value.

Well that certainly opens up an interesting can of worms!
If the Uechi Ryu circle block did not originate with Kanbun's teachings where does it come from? Borrowed from other karate styles maybe:
And given its prominance in the kata, if it did not come from Kanbun what does that mean for the rest of what is taught in the 'Big 3' kata, how much is actually original to what he taught?

As a side-note, what is called a circle block does exist in southern Chinese styles such as Hung Gar and Choy Li Fut so it may have been known to Kanbun, but from what I can tell it seems to not be emphasized in these styles anywhere near the way it is in Uechi Ryu and is mainly used as an option against mid-section attacks when the defender's hands are down at the start of the defense. Also of note is that some forms of the kake uke trace a partial small circle, maybe the mawashi uke became an exaggeration of this? Not all kake uke is done this way, and an "inside-out parry" could be linear rather than circular.

Another interesting quote from Mr. Fujimoto in that interview (emphasis added):
Kanbun-sensei was a very careful person and was slow to accept new students unless they had an introduction, and he also treated Sanseiryu kata as a family treasure which he taught solely to his son Kanei. In light of this, I can only imagine half of him would have happily approved of the style’s current popularity, while the other half would be conflicted by some difficult feelings. Of course, there is a big difference in the world we live in today and the environment surrounding martial arts in Kanbun’s time.
Add to this the stories about Kanbun rarely performing entire kata even to his students, and the few times he did perform kata in public it seems to have been Seisan that he demonstrated, presumably no other student ever even saw how Kanbun performed Sanseiryu? Does treating Sanseiryu as a "family treasure" indicate that he created it?

I find all this very interesting, and regret that I missed out on this book when it came out.
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Re: The Untold Story Of Kanbun Uechi

Post by Stryke »

All the story's point to the same , I wish I could get a copy of this book.

Uechi seems to have been no different than any of the other arts in its evolution.

the fundamentals and templates exist and have flourished , but the context behind the changing often lost .

the popularity while the savior of the art is a double edged sword.

understanding means seeing both sides of the coin , the why of now and then , and the ability to explore each and choose for oneself.

Uechi is a beautiful concise art with incredible depth , no matter how you pursue it .

I've seen the same story throughout multiple styles , all agree and disagree , but the remaining fact is the art , the depth and the rich and fulfilling arts that are in many ways self evident, even if that is often clouded by those that know for sure.

context is everything.
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Re: The Untold Story Of Kanbun Uechi

Post by emattson »

"...jumps onto the rail, gets into a sanchin stance..."

Don't know how it's possible he kept himself so well balanced in such a way. In sanchin, the feet are positioned diagonally. That meant only part of each foot on touching the rail, the rest hanging over the air--not very stable.

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