Just back from Florida where I attended the Rengokai seminar for the purpose of paying my respects to Master Tomoyose sensei 10th Dan__ a true Uechi-Ryu icon ! As I have said before in these pages , Tommy-san And I go back 30 years and I had come to respect him not only for his great karate prowess but because of his warm and friendly personality and great wisdom !
I was not disappointed ! Upon entering the facility I came face to face with him as he sat among the masters facing the main entrance ! He got up in astonishment to come and hug me as a long lost friend __ very emotional indeed ! We spent the day almost glued together during his teachings and his breaks where he invited me to join him in the masters' private quarters for refreshments and heart to heart talks !
While waiting for his turn to teach , master Tomoyose and I sat for two hours on a bench in the main gym talking and dissecting Uechi katas, techniques and concepts ; soon a small group of students , including the formidable Bob Otto , gathered around to listen to great words of wisdom and were well received by this great man ! I told him I was a guest of Basset Sensei's dojo and some of his students were present for his seminar ! He wanted to meet each one of them , including Tony and Lori and he went out of his way in giving them much personalized attention with their katas and questions !
I was by his side all day long and what a privilege ! He told me that he has promised Mattson sensei to visit Boston soon and give seminars ; what a dream it would be to have him back in Boston ! He said that Mattson sensei was the first American who worked hard enough and was ready enough to receive all Three main forms in his initial Eighteen months of everyday training in Okinawa as his private student ! A first by Okinawan standards !
He is very proud of Mattson sensei and his senior students ! He was also proud to introduce me to the other masters at the Rengokai event as the most senior student of Mattson sensei , his first American student ! He invited me to visit Okinawa as his guest and reaffirmed the fact that anyone regardless of affiliation is welcome to train with any teacher !
He told me in private and then to the general body of students some wonderful stories of old never heard before ! A true Uechi-Ryu Patriarch , a gentleman and a very wise elder ! He said to me to always remember that in our karate practice there are two lives to look up to ; the life of our physical actions and the life of our minds and hearts and that we will be remembered in thoughts and deeds !
He touched Lori by the shoulders and told me she was very strong ; he took a liking to her determined performance and gave her his personal attention ! We all came away enriched by the experience !
The only disgrace for Americans is that out of a total of 200 students , only a handful [ nine] Uechi/ \shohei students showed up , all Basset sensei students ! The rest of the Florida Uechi/shohei were very conspicuous by their absence and Tomoyose -sensei was very sad ! What a bunch of idiots to miss out such an opportunity to drop in and pay their respects to a great man ! They might have learned something in the process !
In contrast , the other systems were well supported by a great group of students !
The parting was very sad ; I sincerely hope to see him again soon !
Wherever this may find you Tommy-san , thank you for the friendship , continued inspiration and gallantry , your smiles , gentility and nobility , humility and artistry , fine ideals , consideration , memories and dreams , grace and power , good breeding and manners ! You have the art of showing all Uechi brothers , by your external signs , the internal regard you have for them , much like our beloved /master Kanei Uechi did during his last visit to the US before he moved on !
Thank you for contributing much to the ease and happiness of those with whom you touched with your words !