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History of Uechi-Ryu


Kanei Uechi

Kanei Uechi

While Kanbun Uechi was in Wakayama, Japan, his eldest son Kanei lived in Okinawa with his mother. After Kanei reached thirteen years of age, he lived with his grandmother for three years.

In 1927, at sixteen years old, Kanei traveled to Wakayama and joined his father. Kanei joined the Shataku dojo and began chuan fa training under his father.

Kanei soon realized he would be the successor of the martial arts legacy left by his father. He took this responsibility seriously and trained daily with great enthusiasm to become proficient in Pangainoon. After ten years of rigorous study Kanei Uechi received a certificate of instruction and full proficiency from his father in 1937. At age 26, he opened a branch dojo of his own, the Osaka dojo.

In 1941, Kanei Uechi was promoted by his father to Master level. In 1942, Kanei, with his wife and family, returned to his mother's new home in the village of Miyazato, near Nago, Okinawa.

Kanei Uechi's first Okinawa dojo

Kanei Uechi began teaching his twenty-five year old brother Kansei and other young men from the village in the yard of his home. This was the first time Pangainoon (soon to become Uechi ryu) was taught in Okinawa.

Kanei closed his dojo after only two years. He and his students responded to the government call into the war effort to defend Okinawa.

Ryuko Tomoyose, then twenty years old, learned from his father, Ryuyu, that Kanei was back in Okinawa. In April 1949, he helped Kanei Uechi establish the Uechi ryu Karate jutsu Kenkyu-jo in Ginowan-son, Aza Nodake, known as the Nodake dojo. The style name was then changed from Pangainoon karate jutsu to Uechi ryu karate jutsu in honor of Kanbun Uechi.

In 1957, Kanei Uechi combined the Futenma dojo and the Kanzatobaru dojo. The resulting dojo was relocated a short distance to a new site.

Uechi ryu karate and the Futenma dojo were open to the public, including American servicemen in 1958.

Kanei Uechi was very ambitious about organizing and teaching his father's system. He recognized the difficulty in teaching newer generations in the rough manner of the past. His desire was to make Uechi ryu karate available to the public at a level at which they could participate, without compromising the integrity and authenticity of Pangainoon.

Toward this end Kanei and other senior Uechi ryu practitioners created four new kata between 1954 and 1958. These were to be used as steppingstones between the three kata that Kanbun Uechi brought from China.

In June 1958, Kanei Uechi held the first dan test and awarded the first belt ranks in Uechi ryu karate. Students of Kanbun Uechi such as Seiko Toyama and Seiyu Shinjo were promoted to Godan (fifth degree) while others received first through fourth degree promotions depending on their seniority and ability.

In July 1959 Kanei Uechi was awarded the Master Instructor Certificate by Ryuyu Tomoyose.

In February 1967, Kanei, at age fifty-six, was promoted to Hanshi Judan (tenth degree) by the Japanese Karate-do Federation, Zen Nihon Karate-do Renmei.

In May 1975, Kanei, sixty-four years old, was elected President of the All Okinawa Karate-do Federation, Zen Okinawa Karate Renmei, which had been founded in May 1956. In April 1977, Kanei was promoted to Hanshi Judan by that association, ten years after his promotion from Japan.

In 1987, Kanei Uechi was hospitalized with a severe stomach ailment. He remained in that frail condition until his death on February 21, 1991. He was eighty years old.

Kanei was a kind, gentle person like his father. His soft-spoken manner was in direct conflict with the expressiveness of his karate. He dedicated his life to his father's style of karate and directed his efforts to its propagation. Kanei Uechi's vision and years of tenacious work have created a karate system that is practiced in many countries throughout the world.

*from Okinawan Uechi Ryu Karate Kenyukai


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