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Uechi Ryu Karate Do Kokusai Kyokai

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Kanbun Uechi 

Kanei Uechi

James Thompson

Allen Bennett

Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do is a blend of Pangai-noon and native Okinawan fighting techniques, and is the martial art practiced by the Uechi family of Okinawa, Japan.  The International Uechi Ryu Karate-Do Association (Kokusai Kyokai) is a major organization of Uechi Ryu, headed by Master James Thompson, Kyoshi Hachidan.  The organzation was created in 2000, and is comprised of several dojo throughout North America as well as Germany.


Defining Characteristics of Uechi Ryu


  • Developed from three animal styles of Kung Fu: Dragon, Tiger, and Crane. 

  • Practices Sanchin, which is considered the core kata of Uechi Ryu.

  • Practices three Chinese kata: Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseirui.

  • Sokuto Geri technique: Forward striking kick with the blade side of the foot.

  • Sokusen techniques: Kicks are not with the ball of the foot, but with the toe.

  • Kote Kitae: Arm rubbing and pounding exercise used for conditioning the body.

  • Circle blocking techniques emphasizing half hard, half soft properties of offense and defense.

Definition and Purpose of Kata in Uechi Ryu


A kata is a set of pre-arranged karate movements, which are designed to develop certain abilities in the karate student.  It is from the kata, that all karate techniques and principles come. There are eight kata in the Uechi-Ryu.  Sanchin, the basic kata, develops the principles of focus, power, and technique, which are needed for true karate-do.


The remaining seven kata are sometimes called fighting kata, because they show the self-defense applications of Sanchin in a more obvious manner.  All advanced techniques come from the seemingly simple moves of Sanchin, and show how Sanchin can be applied. The learning of these fighting kata means much more than merely memorizing the movements and doing them properly.  The student must be able to actually use each technique effectively.


Eight Kata of Uechi Ryu


  • Sanchin

  • Kanshiwa

  • Kanshu

  • Seichin

  • Seisan

  • Seirui

  • Kanchin

  • Sanseirui


Uechi Ryu Sanchin


Sanchin is characterized by a narrow, upright, "pigeon-toed" stance, performed with emphasis on "dynamic" muscle tension.  The entire body is moved as a solid stable unit. Breathing is controlled, and exhalation is forced through clenched jaws resulting in a "sst" noise.  Energy is focused from the body's center rather than a twisting hip movement.  The rear foot is facing forward, while the front foot is turned inward at a 45-degree angle.  The knees are bent inward facing each other in order to protect the groin, and the back is straight.


Sanchin means "three conflicts" or battles.  And it is interpreted to mean the battle to unify one's mind, body, and spirit.  These three concepts are central to kung fu, and are integrated into Uechi Ryu.  Compared to other Japanese styles of karate, Sanchin in Uechi Ryu is the most similar to the original Chinese form.  Many styles that teach Sanchin only teach the kata after students have reached the black belt rank.  In Uechi Ryu, Sanchin is taught at the beginning level so that students can better grasp its meaning. 


The Uechi Ryu version of Sanchin uses fast open hand techniques instead of slow closed fist strikes, characteristic of most Okinawan styles like Goju Ryu.  Arms are held up parallel to each other at shoulder height.  Fingers are together pointing upward at a 45-degree angle.

Modern Uechi Ryu

Like most martial arts styles, Uechi Ryu experienced organizational splits after the death of both Kanbun and Kanei Uechi.  Some of these organizations are now under a new name such as Shohei Ryu and Pangai-noon Ryu.  Some are still known as Uechi Ryu, but have different organizational affiliations.  All of these styles and organizations still teach the three basic Chinese kata, and still teach the kata introduced by Kanei Uechi.  

Some Okinawan Organizations Include:

Uechi Ryu Shubukan - Organization of the Uechi Family

Uechi Ryu Kenseikai - Headed by Yoshitsune Senaga

Uechi Ryu Okikukai - Headed by a rotating president: Website

Uechi Ryu Kenyukai - Headed by Kiyohide Shinjo

Uechi Ryu Konankai - Headed by Seisho Itokazu

Uechi Ryu Organizations Represented in the United States Include:

Uechi Ryu Kokusai Kyokai - Headed by James Thompson

Uechi Ryu Kokusai Renmei - Founded by George Mattson

Uechi Ryu Butokukai - Headed by Buzz Dirkin

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