Uechi Ryu Karate
Traditional Okinawan Karate
History of Uechi-ryu Karate
May 5 1877
Uechi Kanbun is born in Izumi, a mountain village on the Motobu Peninsula in northern Okinawa, the eldest son of samurai descendents Kantoku and Tsuru.
Kanbun (age 19) flees to China in order to escape Japanese military conscription. He arrives in Fuchow City,Fukien Province in the same month and stays at the Ryukyukan Jueneki (Okinawa Fellowship Hall) temporarily. In early summer he joins the Kugusku Dojo, taught by another Okinawan, Makabei. Soon after he leaves there and comes under the wing of Shushiwa (Shushabu as pronounced by Kanbun). For the next ten years Kanbun immerses himself in the study of kenpo and Chinese medicine.
Kanbun (27) receives certification in kenpo.
Kanbun (30) opens a school, in Nansoe, a day's journey southwest of Fuchow.
One of Kanbun's pupils kills a neighbour in a dispute over irrigation of the drought stricken rice fields. Kanbun closes the school.
Kanbun (33) returns to his native village of Izumi in Okinawa.
Kanbun marries Toyama Gozei.
June 26 1911
Uechi Kanei, eldest son of Kanbun, is born. In the following years two daughters, Kame and Tsuru, and a second son, Kansei (July 23, 1922), are born.
Kanbun (47) goes to the industrialized Kansal region on the mainland in search of stable employment, leaving his family behind. He arrives in Wakayama and begins working as a janitor in Hinomaru Sangyo Kabushiki Kaisha, a cotton mill. Tomoyose Ryuyu (24), a young Okinawan who lives next door, convinces Kanbun to teach him kenpo.
It is the first time Kanbun teaches outside of China.
Kanbun (49) opens a school, Shataku Dojo, located inside the cotton mill compound with the assistance of Tomoyose Ryuyu. He teaches the three primary katas (Sanchin, Seisan and Sanseiryu), kumite, kotekitae (arm conditioning), and Chinese medicine.
Kanei (16) joins his father in Wakayama and enters Shataku Dojo.
Kanbun (54) opens Pangainoon-ryu Karate-jutsu Kenkyu-jo (Pangainoon Karate Study Hall), a fully-fledged school located in the migrant Okinawan community.
Shubukai (Organization of Martial Training) is formed.
Kanei (26) receives instructor certification and begins teaching also in the Kansai region.
October 18, 1939
Kanei (28) marries Nakahara Shige from Izumi, Okinawa.
The students at Pangainoon-ryu Karate-jutsu Kenkyu-jo rename the style "Uechi-ryu" and give Kanbun (63) the title of Grandmaster.
Kanei (30) is promoted to go dan.
May 10, 1941
Uechi Kanmei, eldest son of Kanei, is born.
Kanei's students are called away to World War Two and he returns to Okinawa to look after his family in Nago. Upon arriving he begins teaching his brother and other youths from the neighbourhood in the family yard. It is the first time Uechi-ryu is taught in Okinawa.
Kanei (33) and his students are called into the war effort to defend Okinawa.
Kanbun (69) returns to Okinawa placing the care of his school in the hands of Tomoyose Ryuyu. Two students, Shinjo Seiryo and his son Seiyu, travel with Kanbun while others return separately. Kanbun reopens the school Kanei had begun in Nago.
Kansei (25), who had been a member of the Japanese forces disarmed by the Russian army in Manchuria and who had spent two years in a Siberian prison camp, returns to Nago.
November 25, 1948
Uechi Kanbun (71) dies of nephritis.
Kanei (38) moves to Ginowan and opens a school, Uechi-ryu Karate-jutsu Kenkyu-jo (Uechi Karate Study Hall), with the assistance of Tomoyose Ryuko (20), son of Ryuyu.
The first meeting of the Okinawa Karate-do Renmei (Okinawa Karate Federation) is held in Naha with Uechiryu as a charter member.
George E. Mattson (19) begins approximately one and a half year's tutelage under Tomoyose Ryuko at the latter's home in Kitanakagusuku, Okinawa.
Kanei (46) moves his school a short distance to its present location in Futenma, calling it "Uechi-ryu karate Dojo."
Mattson returns to the United States, begins teaching at the YMCA in Boston, and it is the first time Uechiryu is taught in America.
Kanei (48) receives a Master Instructor Certificate from Tomoyose Ryuyu.
December 15, 1963
Reconstruction of the school in Futenma is completed and is renamed "Soke Shubukan" (Style Headquarters).
Kanei (55), Ryuko, and other members of the Uechi Karate Association visit Taiwan and meet with Chinese kenpo experts to discuss the origins of Uechi-ryu.
The Zen Nihon Karate-do Renmei (All Japan Karate Federation) awards Kanei (56) ju dan (tenth degree).
The Zen Okinawa Karate-do Renmei (All Okinawa Karate Federation) awards Kanei judan.
Kanei and Ryuko visit the United States to observe Uechi-ryu in America.
Shubukai is renamed "Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do Kyokai" (Uechi Karate Association), which becomes an international organization with member schools in the United States, Canada, England, France, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Kanei (64) is elected President of the All Okinawa Karate Federation.
Kanei (73), Ryuko, Kansei, and other members of the Uechi Karate Association visit Fuchow City, Fukien Province, China to retrace Kanbun's life there and the origins of Uechi-ryu.
The same group visits the United States to observe Uechi-ryu in America.
Uechi Kansei dies at the age of 65 having achieved the rank of eighth dan. His classes at the Nago dojo were taken over by three of his sons. In the same month Uechi Kanei is taken in to hospital with a severe stomach ailment.
February 21 1991
Uechi Kanei dies at the age of 80
Many senior members leave the Uechi-ryu Association due to political disagreement.
Those who left the Uechi-ryu Association create the Okinawa Karatedo Kyokai (Okikukai) in order to continue training Uechi-ryu karate. Tomoyose Ryuku is the first president of the new association. Shinjo Kiyohide also leaves the Uechi-ryu Association and formalises the sub-group that he had created called the Uechi-ryu Karate Kenyukai into an Association.
The Okikukai create a new karate school called Shohei-ryu following the prevention of the use of the Uechi name by the Uechi-ryu association.
The Okinawa Karatedo Kyokai (Okikukai)
As members of the Okikukai GB, this club is affiliated to the largest Uechi-ryu style association on Okinawa. The Okikukai was created by students of Uechi Kanei who felt compelled to leave the Uechi-ryu Association because of internal disagreements following the death of Uechi Kanei in 1991. The Uechi-ryu association, called Soke, is presently run by Uechi Kaneis Son, Kamei.
The Okikukai emblem was designed by Master Takeo Sakiyama, Kyoshi 7 Dan for
the new association. The official explanation behind the design is as follows.
The emblem is a composite of two symbol, one representing the old Okinawa and
one the new. The off-centre circle within a circle is the official prefectural symbol of Okinawa; the outer red ring represents the ocean, the inner white ring, peace and the central red sphere means development or progress. This symbol of modern Okinawa is enclosed within the symbol of the ancient Ryukyuan kingdom consisting of three yellow waves that circle a white region. The Okikukai emblem combines symbols to represent the continuity of ancient Ryukyuan values within modern day Okinawa, and the concentric circles motif symbolises, variously, the eternity of Heaven and Earth, self-completion, equality and peace. This Whirling vision of justice and peace, so central to the Okikukai philosophy is also the confident expression of the belief that the ancient Ryukyuan ethos continues to enliven Okinawan life.Following the breakaway from the Uechi-ryu Association the members of the newly
formed Okikukai continued to practice the Uechi-ryu style of karate. Shortly after the creation of the Okikukai the Uechi-ryu association decreed that the Okikukai would no longer be allowed to use the name Uechi in the description of their style of karate. The result was the creation of a new name. The style that is practiced is still Uechi-ryu; only the name, out of necessity, has changed.
The official explanation behind the new name is as follows.
The New School Name
On November 6th 1995, the board of directors of the Okinawa Karatedo Association
created a new school (Ryuha) and officially named it Shohei-ryu, choosing this one from 28 proposed names.
The name Shohei-ryu was chosen for its historical significance and also because its meaning speaks to all members of the Okinawa Karatedo Association regardless of nationality. The word comes from two Chinese characters, sho and hei, the first of which means to shine brightly and the second of which means fairness, equality and Shohei-ryu peace.
Shohei-ryu’s name and year of origin also express another level of significance, one reflecting more particularly to Okinawan history and philosophy. In 1989 the Okinawa Karatedo Association came into existence, the same year that the present emperor of Japan acceded to the throne. The era name changed from Showa to Heisei and Shohei-ryu, referring to both eras is an amalgam of the old and the new. It is our choice, as modern Okinawans, to neither reject the past, nor ignore the future, and so our name represents the meeting and mixing of historic eras and is also a reminder of historical events which the world must never forget. It is highly significant that Shohei-ryu has come into being in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa and the Pacific War.
Shohei-ryu, thus, is a name to mark the epochal changes of our time, and the name also proclaims our deep-seated attitudes toward history and tradition. The poet Basho once taught us not walk only in the physical footprints of the ancients, but to follow their creative mentality. We believe this but we also walk in the footprints of the ancients to know the present. In the development of this new Ryuha the members of the Okinawa Karatedo Association resolve to enrich our lives and our art both technically and spiritually. Thus the Shohei-ryu promises unlimited and everlasting development of the Okinawa Karatedo Association in the days to come.
In September 2016 the Okinawa Karatedo Kyokai (Okikukai) decided to revert the name of the style back to Uechi Ryu due to a change in the circumstances which triggered the original name change.
The Ryo Shin Kan Karate Dojo is located in the Calso Heath and Fitness Club. Click the link below for their website.
A Google map and details about the Calso Health and fitness club are available on the link below
Monday and Thursday . 20:00 - 21:45
Calso Fitness Centre
28-30 Letchworth Drive
Bromley, Kent, BR2 9BE
020 8466 0506 (Calso)
07885 327065 (Sensei Del Charlton)