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scohen0300
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Joined: 09 Feb 2016
Posts: 249
Location: It varies
Styles: Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2023 11:00 am    Post subject: Question on Uechi Ryu Reply with quote

I hope I donít get any negative responses, Iím asking because this has been my experience.

Why isnít Uechi Ryu more popular?

Hereís why Iím asking this.

1. I would LOVE to try out some classes. I think it looks incredibly fun, interesting, and practical.

2. I can never find any dojos anywhere! I see a lot of Shotokan, some Goju Ryu and Shorin Ryu. Kenpo/Kempo, Aikido, Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do. MMA/BJJ places are everywhere. Occasionally judo. But Iíve lived in 3 different states, multiple areas in each and traveled around quite a bit, and Iíve never come across an Uechi Ryu place.

3. Iíve heard a number of popular karate people mention their interest in Uechi Ryu (*cough* Noah *cough*) but none of them seem to have actually tried it. And Iím not familiar with any popular karate people who are representing Uechi Ryu either.

So what gives? How can we get more Uechi Ryu around the world?
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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 29784
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2023 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It strikes me as the kind of style that really isn't interested in global popularity. I think those who propagate the style are happy with having a smaller number of dedicated students, and don't care to advertise commercially to draw in a bunch of students who don't plan to stick around.
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DarthPenguin
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Joined: 03 Dec 2021
Posts: 501
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Styles: Shotokan, Judo, BJJ

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2023 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe message Aurik, he trains Uechi-Ryu and may be able to point you towards some good sources - might just be like bjj was here in Scotland when i started it : there were a few clubs but terribly advertised and you only really found out about them via word of mouth (this was in the late 2000s/early 2010s so it was a well known style!).

Good luck with the search!
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 16054
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2023 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My believe is that one of the reasons that Uechi Ryu isn't more popular, if that's even an accurate thought, might be because of its Sokusen-geri (Toe-kick) Conditioning. That type of conditioning is no joke and not for the faint-in-heart. While I see the effectiveness of Sokusen-geri, with its penetrability, especially to soft tissue, I also see that training and willingness to subject one to what it all takes to condition ones toe are way and far apart.

"OUCH"!! I'm sure that that's often heard from those who are starting to train their Sokusen-geri, of which, they tuck their tails out of the Uechi-ryu dojo faster than a bullet, I'd be one of them because the idea of subjecting my toes to that required conditioning and training, no matter how effective that kick is, are not my cup of tea. Not today and not ever.

That's my guess as to your question in the OP, "Why isnít Uechi Ryu more popular?". I just know for sure why I'd never train my toes with that type of conditioning. Sure, in the MA, we're suppose to train every part of our body to serve us for whenever we're attacked, yes, sure, ok, I get that, however whatever parts of my body th/at I've conditioned and trained will have to suffice without Sokusen-geri.

There are about 25 or more Uechi-ryu Governing Bodies around the world. Perhaps Uechi-ryu is more popular around the world than one might imagine...perhaps.

For those who train in Uechi-ryu and in the co0nditioning of Sokusen-geri, I bow to them in all sincerity. Train hard and train well.

Imho!!



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Wastelander
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2678
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2023 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Bob said, I think the conditioning that Uechi-Ryu is known for is partially responsible for its lack of popularity. Both the finger conditioning and toe conditioning are rough, and most people aren't interested in that.

I will add that Uechi-Ryu also does not have very many kata, and the kata they do have don't typically do well in kata competition. Like it or not, competition is how martial arts generally spread the most, and Uechi-Ryu just isn't one of the popular options for karate competition.

It's unfortunate, for sure. As you mentioned, I am interested in doing a bit of cross-training in Uechi-Ryu, because I find it interesting (although I don't plan on picking up the entire style, or switching over to it). There is one Uechi-Ryu school in Arizona that I know of, and I have tried calling, emailing, and sending Facebook messages, but they never respond. I also know of Uechi-Ryu schools in other states, but they don't seem to do any advertising or promotion, so that may be part of the problem, as well.
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aurik
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 352
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2023 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been training Uechi Ryu for just under 4.5 years. The reason I started training had less to do with the style and more to do with the instructor. When we moved to Colorado, I started looking for a place to enroll my son (and eventually myself). When I started looking at instructors I did some research on them -- what stood out to me was the fact that my CI is still very much a student, even as a 5th degree master instructor (at the time). He still travels to Michigan to train with his instructor a couple times a year, and he travels to Okinawa regularly to train with several 10th degree instructors there.

While there may be a number of different governing bodies in Uechi-Ryu, the heads of the organizations all know each other to one degree or another. For example, when my instructor travels to Okinawa and a senior instructor asks "What organization is that?" All he has to say is "It's Master Thompson's organization". Each organization teaches the same hojo undo and the same kata. Some of the kata may be slightly different, but it's one of those signature things where "If you do it this way, I can tell you learned it Master so-and-so's organization". Some of the two-person drills are different, but that's not a bad thing. In Uechi-Ryu, there is one core tenet that crosses all organizations, "All is in Sanchin". And as I learn more, I can see that is definitely the case.

One reason that Uechi-Ryu may not be as popular is its conditioning. I can certainly see that. When I was a white belt, I attended a seminar given by the head of our organization. I learned some new conditioning techniques, and my partner for those was my instructor's younger brother. I was still very inexperienced and he was used to training with other advanced students. The result was that I had bruises on my shins that took months to heal. However the goal of conditioning is to start slowly and learn what you can tolerate and go just to that point. When I work with a new student I tell them "Figure out how much you can do so that you're mostly recovered in a day or two". Bruises slow down the process. A good instructor and experienced partner will help ease student into things.

Another possible reason for the lack of popularity is the limited number of kata. However I see that as a strength. In several styles, by the time you reach shodan, you will have learned as many as 10 different kata (one for each kyu grade). In Uechi-Ryu, you only learn 5 kata (of the 8 total in the system). Our kata aren't as flashy and showy as some other styles, so they may not do as well in tournaments. So that may be a detractor. For me I find it a strength though - you work each kata long enough to get pretty good at it, and the number of kata is small enough that you can run through the entire set at the end of a 1.5 hour class.

If you are interested in trying out Uechi-Ryu, I am familiar with a number of the organizations in the USA and can try to steer you in the right direction. Or I can try to answer any other questions you might have. Feel free to drop me a PM.
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scohen0300
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Styles: Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2023 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aurik,

I completely agree that having LESS kata should be viewed as a strength. I love kata, and Iím always eager to pick up a new one, but the simple fact is that less is more for in this case. Keep it simple, then get REALLY good at simple. However, I love Shorin Ryu as a whole, the kata and the movements make sense to me, so I donít think I could ever make a full switch.

If you could point me towards a decent dojo near Pittsburgh, PA I would really appreciate it!
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aurik
KF Sempai
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Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 352
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2023 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scohen0300 wrote:
Aurik,

I completely agree that having LESS kata should be viewed as a strength. I love kata, and Iím always eager to pick up a new one, but the simple fact is that less is more for in this case. Keep it simple, then get REALLY good at simple. However, I love Shorin Ryu as a whole, the kata and the movements make sense to me, so I donít think I could ever make a full switch.

If you could point me towards a decent dojo near Pittsburgh, PA I would really appreciate it!


I don't know of any dojos near Pittsburgh (and I've looked -- my wife's family is near there). The only information I have been able to find (so far) is on Bill Mattson's Uechi-Ryu dojo list: There is one listed in Greensburg PA. I don't know if he is still actively teaching, since Mattson Sensei doesn't update his site very often. I do know that Mattson Sensei (like many instructors since the pandemic) offers an online program, I cannot speak to its effectiveness, but Mattson Sensei was one of the first Americans to earn a shodan in Uechi-Ryu and one of a handful of Americans to hold a 10th degree. So that may be a way to go.

One of the things I like about Uechi Ryu's katas is their consistency, but that also makes things more difficult at times. As you learn new katas, you'll see the same sequences in different katas. For example, we have a sequence that consists of circle block-hammer fist-boshiken tsuki-nukite. You see that sequence in slightly different expressions in at least 4 katas (I haven't learned the last 2 yet). It sometimes makes things more difficult because you'll sometimes find yourself starting one kata, and finishing another.

This is likely due to the origins of Uechi-Ryu. When Kanbun Uechi studief pangai-noon in China, he only learned 3 kata - sanchin, seisan, and sanseiryu. After he died, his senior instructors created the additional 5 kata to flesh out the system, and break the 3 main kata into more manageable chunks. Also all of the hojo undo we do (our version of kihon) generally come straight from our kata, and you practice those every day.
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