Thanks for your comments. Now, I remember some of this discussion following last year's tournament.
To rehash a little bit. There were some serious concerns following last year's tournament due to the number of injuries and the low turn-out. I think if we kept to the same rules, we would have had an even lower turnout this year. I think the changes in rules and, of course Gary's prefight prep and sales pitch, led to a much higher turnout this year. It's true that this may lead to a type of competition fighting further away from the "Uechi-ryu" norm (though I honestly I can't say what that is because a good hit is a good hit is a good hit!) Like most things, we have a trade-off of sorts. Yet, I do think the increased interest and participation because of the rule changes are positive things. Better more people are encouraged and allowed to experience the "rush" of sparring than not. Freestyle sparring teaches straightforwardly through experience the distance, timing and reflex that are needed to make martial techniques work. If enough folks engage themselves, we may even return to the halcyon days when Uechi-ryu (and the Mattson Academy) was a force to be reckoned with in many of tournaments in the Northeast and nationally, REGARDLESS of the rules of a particular tournament. Sparring and tournament participation have always been (from my own experience) the strong focus of a small minority of Uechi-ryu students of a given dojo. But it seems the minority is so much smaller now. I can't believe (my own perspective) that this is a good trend for Uechi-ryu.
I appreciate your comments about the type of sparring that you like to see. Actually, I am for that and think indeed that preparatory skills, e.g ukemi, need to be developed for it. Before this notion or use of the term, "uechi-ryu type sparring" (TM), the Cambridge St. Dojo were already engaging in this type of sparring (so were some of the other notable Uechi-ryu dojo's, like Bob Bethony's, Jimmy Maloney.) The Mattson Academy's Thursday night sparring class was often attended by significant core group of in-house regulars and dojo visitors from all styles. If I there were any rules, the one I remember was pretty much "don't kill the other guy", but anything else goes. You have people grabbing and punching, sweeping, front kicking, high kicking, jump spin kicking, backhanding, jabbing, reverse punching, leg kicking/checking and whatever else I missed in the list. Any participant was encouraged to use whatever they deemed fit and were able get in (a good hit is a good hit is a good hit is a good hit!) I don't remember anyone getting hit, high kicked, swept, legchecked or whatever and complaining, "HEY! that's not UECHI-RYU!" To be truthfull, there were many injuries (I got my share) and no lawyers (though lawyers were present as participants) ready to followed the injured to the hospital to prep a suit. The Hancock St dojo had a "tradition" of fighters and there were always enough of a minority to get involved in sparring and become good enough at it to uphold that tradition in and out of the dojo. As Bob C used to like to say, "MY BOYS ARE FIGHTERS!" And, Bob proved that he was ONE as well as against a certain Okinawan "Uechi-ryu fighter" (TM) and champion who doubted his skills.
You mentioned how you and Rad thought Bob C. was a Uechi-Ryu type fighter. He may be that, though I don't know for sure except that he was (is) a FIGHTER, a good/great one at that. I worked enough with Bob in my first five years to know that he never made that fine distinction. I remember in sparring session throwing a reverse punch at him and finding myself flying head over heels across the floor (ukemi-what's that?) I jumped back up and said, "What's that!?" He said, "Oh it was something I saw Kanai sensei (New England Aikikai) showed at a demonstration. I now know he did a perfect kaitennage (wheel throw) on me. Several years ago, he demonstrated the same move at Jay's. He said it is a move out of sei ching. Indeed, such a move can be interpreted from sei ching (shrug). But, I know the first time he did it, he did it against me and he got the idea from Kanai sensei's, NOT Uechi-ryu. I remember on another occaison throwing a chest high side kick against him. Bob disappeared. Next thing I knew I was going through the air because Bob had ducked under and stood up right in my crotch area (ukemi-what's that?) I later read in Black Belt magazine of Bob C's match against Skippy Mullins (?last name) in Texas (Skippy was a top ten rated TKD fighter in the bare knuckle competition days). Several times, Bob C. ducked under Skippy's kick, came up and dumped Skippy on his butt (or was it his head?). To this day, that is one of my favorite technique against fighters who like to kick chest or higher. Bob was also famous for sweeping an attacker off his feet, a technique Clarence subsequently learned, mastered and made famous. Bob was notorius for leg checking leg kickers and kickers in general. And when he was p*issed at someone, I remember him dropping him with a front kick as much as that "one inch" punch to the chest of wing chun and Bruce Lee fame. The fact is Bob had a lot of ecclectic techniques he picked up from being out there -- in tournament competition, watching demonstrations and getting into what were often closed doors of Chinatown kwoons. Today, I hear people say Bob C.was one of the best of the Uechi-ryu fighters. (shrug). He certainly was a great fighter, one of the best. He was because of being opened and exposed to other fighters and techniques of other styles. Can we produce the same by just sparring in our own limited circles. I don't think so though others a free to disagree.
I agree with using the the types of techniques and approach you advocate for "uechi-ryu" sparring. We did that and more in the past though we never thought of it as "Uechi-ryu fighting" (tm) per se. It was just good fighting techniques, some of which we individually preferred and do better then others. (We each need to find out own strengths don't we, rather than fit into uechi-ryu fighter cookie cutter.) I also agree that for this type of sparring, folks should learn some ukemi (what's that?) to protect themselves as opposed to Bob C's prescribed remedy for various injuries -- "Just rub dirt on it. You'll be fine."
Frankly, outside of a few dojos, we are going to need to work hard to build back up folks' interest in sparring and, yes, even tournament competition to the level of a respectable minority. I think WKA rules may be an introduction for that. At same time, I don't see nor want WKA rules to prevail in in-house dojo sparring. We should practice and utilize what you described as "Uechi-ryu" sparring and what some of us have grown up without calling it as such. I CERTAINLY DON"T WANT TO SEE WKA RULES FOR PROMOTIONAL SPARRING!. I think we need to be a little less rule oriented -- except for "Don't kill the other guy!" -- type of sparring for dan testing. Are our aspiring black belts ready for that? (shrug). Well, perhaps, they better be.
As for developing another venue for non-WKA sparring, why not use Summer Camp. Do it as an exhibition. No winners, No competition. Just interested folks who want to exhibit their idea of "Uechi-ryu" sparring. Also, continue with the idea of intramural dojo sparring to enourage and promote this form of sparring. If we get enough interest and involvement, lets revisit the rules for a "Uechi-ryu" tournament. Long journey begins with small steps.
Finally, with regards to prearranged kumite, I know I am one who believes at a certain level these become less useful. I hope I have not been condescending about that. I think it is part of the art. I believe at the lower levels, it teaches basic skills around timing and distance (not so much reflex). For those interested in pursuing Uechi-Ryu for what ever reasons other than sparring or fighting skills, then this is enough. But, I still think for those interested in fighting (self-defense skills), there is huge gap from prearranged kumite to freestyle sparring, and from the latter to real life. Simply my opinion. Every one else is entitled to theirs. And we will all practice accordingly. I am perfectly happy with that.
Bill, I appreciate you sharing or rehashing your views and chance for me to share some of my own.
[This message has been edited by david (edited 05-27-99).]