U.S.-Uechi History

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U.S.-Uechi History

Postby Walkman » Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:51 pm

I have read the history of Uechi-Ryu as it pertains to it origins on several website as well as from Fuller Sensei. I'm interested in finding some history of how it came to the States and who some of the pioneers and "legends" are.

Thanks-

-Walkman
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Postby JaySal » Wed Jan 14, 2004 10:34 am

Hello Walkman:

The answer to your question is one name, George Mattson. Sensei Mattson brought Uechi Ryu to the USA. You said in your original post, you have read a number of Uechi Ryu web sites relating to history. If the web sites you read, did not list this well know and historical fact. Then I would question the authenticity of the information posted on that web site.

Reguarding Uechi Ryu legends. The answer will differ depending on who you talk too. There are many outstanding karateka's in Uechi & Shohei Ryu alike. Great karate skills does not make one a legend. All it does is make one a good practitioner. I have traveled all over and their are a million great karateka's out their in all styles. What makes one a legend is their actions, deeds, acomplishments, and especially how they treat people.


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Postby Walkman » Wed Jan 14, 2004 1:59 pm

Legends was probably not the best word to use. I was really looking for the early pioneers who were among the first to study Uechi-Ryu here.

The things I've read so far only discuss Kanbun Sensei and Kanei Sensei.

Is there a good site that has more that this that you know of?

Mattson Sensei-Could you add some light on this for me?

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Early Pioneers of Uechi-ryu

Postby gmattson » Wed Jan 14, 2004 2:48 pm

In my first printing of Uechi-ryu Karate Do (1974), I published a listing of all the registered black belts since 1958. Here are some of the early black belts:

James Thompson
Fred Norris
Charles Earle
John Conroy
Walter Mattson
Gerald Gravo
Gary Chrostowski
Nels Anderson
Bill Lee
Van Canna
Ahti Kaend
John Spencer
Robert Boyd
James Maloney
Frank Gorman
Charles Merhib
Alden blake
Arthur Rabesa
James Hawkins
David Finkelstein
Robert Campbell
David Mott
John Zachistal
Arthur Durkin Jr.
Robert Bethoney
Lawrence Mahar
Robert Boyd
Jim Robinson
James Ringdahl
Thomas Preston
John Scott

Hope this helps,
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Postby SAN-DAI-RYU » Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:51 pm

SENSEI
PLEASE
AS OF THIS ACTIVE LIST THEY ARE TODAY?
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Postby Ron Klein » Wed Jan 14, 2004 8:24 pm

Walkman:

Alan J. Horton was the first practitioner of Uechi Ryu in Michigan. He studied under Master Tomyose. He began teaching Uechi Ryu in the mid-60's. He opened his martial arts school in late 1965, William L. Keith ( who taught in Florida and is now teaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan)was his student and partner. Some of his students who earned their shodans under Al and are still active (to the best of my knowledge are):

Steve Fuller
Ron Klein
William Arch
Larry Mahar

The person who knows the most about Uechi Ryu in the Midwest is Larry Mahar who runs his studio in Allegan Michigan and has done so since the early 70s' ! He is an amazing source of information and reference material.

( Some of the registrations on the certificates from Master Uechi in the late 60's for the above folks don't match the dates listed in GEM's text--just a comment).......


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Postby 2Green » Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:02 pm

May I also add that James (Jim) Maloney, from your list, has the special distinction of being the person who brought Uechi Ryu to Canada; specifically Nova Scotia.
This gives Nova Scotia a special little place in Uechi's Canadian history.
If this is in error, please correct me.

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Postby Bone » Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:26 pm

I don't want to argue or get into a who is better then who but I would like to mention the person who I belive does not get the recognition that he deserves because he does not seek it ie toot his own horn and that would be Mr. James Thompson!

Mr. Thompson studied on Okiniawa longer then any other non-asian, was teaching classes as a Brown Belt under the guidience of Kanei Uechi. It is also my understanding that Mr. Thompson was present during the old Black & White filming of katas that many practioners in the US studied to continue their study.

Mr. Thompson is one of the must humble people I have met in the martial arts. While others cling to titles and make their rank well known Mr. Thompson has recieved rank that he did not promote when others would have or did.

Mr. Thompson is a true treasure for us to have and has so much knowledge to pass on, as well as the interpetations the way he was tauoght for many years under Kanei Uechi himself.
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Postby Ron Klein » Wed Jan 14, 2004 10:11 pm

Bone:

Jim's name was at the top of George's list. He is well recognized by the Uechi community, he is respected and highly regarded. Many of us trained with or under Jim for extended lengths of time. He is respected, as are many of the Uechi practitioners-and there are many-who also are in those old films. This is not a discussion of who is better or worse, or mythology-this is a question of historical clarity.

Walkman's question was in regard to who brought Uechi Ryu to the US in the early years, the pioneers. In the mid 60's Jim was studying in Okinawa, he did teach in the US during the times he was stationed here. You may want to confirm the dates and places with Jim and get them to Walkman.

I assume, from your response, that you are one of Jim's students at the Okinawan Karate Academy Kalamazoo, you are fortunate. That particular entity has been in existence since 1965, originally founded by Allen Horton, and then operated by William Keith. If my memory serves me correctly Jim acquired the school from Keith in 1978-79.

I believe Walkman's question is interesting. There are many ex-servicemen who studied in Okinawa during the 50's and 60's. Their training time was defined by their enlistment limited to a brief 18 months or so. They returned to the US and passed on the art-we should not forget the contribution these folks made to Uechi-Ryu in the US.


I personally was extremely fortunate that some young marine had the opportunity to study under Master Tomyose and share his training with us. These people should not be forgotten.

Good question Walkman-I will be interested to see what you do with the information.

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Postby Walkman » Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:36 pm

Thanks for the info everyone!

Ron- my current sensei is Jason Fuller, the son of Steve Fuller. He's currently 4th Dan. I've found him to be an excellent teacher.

Actually Thompson Sensei was someone I was wondering about. He has an excellent reputation around the area (I live about 30 minutes south of his Dojo) from the standpoint of other martial artists. I remember when I was studying Shotokan a decade ago, the people I trained with held him in high regard. I had seen his name mentioned and quoted in several places, so I was assuming he was held in high regard in the community. I found Fuller Sensei by a referral from his dojo.

-Walkman
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Postby Ron Klein » Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:59 pm

Walkman:

I remember Jason when he was a little kid :wink: , please give him my regards. Is he teaching in Three Rivers? We are located just a tad north of Schoolcraft.


Now. My question is... What is a pioneer??????

When we discuss "pioneers" I believe it is important to separate two things.

There are martial artists who are technically outstanding and who have had a significant amount of experience and training.

There are martial artists who have additional skills in leadership, organization and creating a sense of community. Fighting battles and struggling with issues that are far more difficult than anything experienced on the dojo floor.

I believe that the latter have perhaps made the most significant contributions to the development and acceptance of Uechi Ryu in North America. And have added to the evolution and enrichment of an art we can call our own. This is what I think of when I think of pioneer. Basically people whose leadership efforts result in our having a legacy which otherwise would sputter out and die.

This is not to take anything away from highly respected and skilled teachers and practitioners. There are some fantastic martial artists I have had the good fortune to call instructor and friend, but I can't say that they have really contributed to creating a sense of community and acceptance of the art. Again I do not, in anyway, imply or suggest any disrespect or negative implication focused on skilled and dedicated students and instructors of the arts.

So Walkman, if you use the definition of pioneer I outlined above who fits the list?
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highest ranking okinawan

Postby rchin » Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:09 pm

Shinyu Gushi is the highest Ranking Okinawan teaching uechi-ryu here in the United States...he is a 9th dan(i have read he is also the first okinawan to teach uechi in the US but this im not sure on)...Gushi is also highly ranked in kobudo..
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Postby Walkman » Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:27 pm

Ron-
Jason is teaching in TR. This is the first time I've had a dojo less than 5 minutes from my house.

As far as the pioneers-

I agree with your second definition. Those who go beyond merely practicing the art, but seek to develop and promote it's practice. The same way Bruce Lee pioneered the study of Wing Chun outside the Chinese population.

As far as who from the list fits the bill, I'll let that fall to others who know better. Right now, Thompson Sensei is the only one I'm familiar with.
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Unintentional oversight

Postby gmattson » Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:36 pm

Received an email mentioning that I left Jack Summers off the list. Jack fits all the definitions of a Uechi pioneer and deserves to be high on the list.

Unfortunately, my list was compiled in February of 1974 and was published in the first printing only. Therefore, many early pioneers who came up through the ranks later than Feb of '73 would have been left off my list.

Sorry about that....
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Postby Walkman » Thu Jan 15, 2004 8:01 pm

rchin-

I just saw a bunch of videos with Shinyu Gushi in an ad in Classical Fighting Arts . I would assume that they would be very good, yes?
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