Uechi-Ryu is a traditional Okinawan style of karate originated by Kanbun Uechi in the early 1900ís. By blending native Okinawa techniques with a style of Chinese Kung fu, Kanbun Uechi devised a strong system that emphasizes strong body conditioning, quick powerful open hand strikes, and pointed toe kicks. Kanbunís son, Kanei Uechi, followed in his fatherís footsteps and not only opened the teaching of Uechi-Ryu to the military forces stationed on Okinawa, but also created new material that added to the system of Uechi-Ryu. Some of the signature movements of Uechi-Ryu are circular blocking and linear counter strikes. One prominent weapon is the use of the one-knuckle punch.

Kanbun passed along three katas to his students. These three are referred to as the main katas of the system. Kanei Uechi developed five bridging katas to allow the student to gain more understanding of the main katas.

Today Uechi-Ryu has spread throughout the world and has many different branches, in many different countries.


A kata is a set of pre-arranged karate movements which are designed to develop certain abilities in the karate student. It is from kata that all karate techniques and principles come. There are eight kata in Uechi-Ryu. Sanchin, the most basic kata, develops the mental principles necessary to truly understand Karate. At first glance, Sanchin may appear to be a simple exercise, consisting of basic movements; however it is a form of moving meditation which teaches the student to blend the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. The name Sanchin translates to Three Conflicts or Three Steps. The emphasis of Sanchin is the mental principles, but basic physical principles are taught too. The remaining seven kata's are sometimes called the fighting kata, because they show the self-defense aspects of Uechi-Ryu more clearly than Sanchin. All these advanced movements are derived from the seemingly simple moves of Sanchin.

The learning of these fighting kata means much more than just memorizing the movements and doing them in the same sequence that you were taught, the student must be able to actually use each technique effectively. This learning process cannot be rushed! The student must take the time to study each movement and see how it can be applied not only by itself, but in conjunction with the preceding movement and the following movement. This is quite important simply for the reason that there may not be just one application for each movement. While doing kata, one must try and visualize each technique in an actual circumstance.

  1. Sanchin
  2. Kanshiwa
  3. Kanshu
  4. Seichin
  5. Seisan
  6. Seiru
  7. Konchin
  8. Sanseiru
(The three main Katas are underlined)

The two person routines were introduced in order to teach the student timing, distancing, control, and harmony between you and your partner. It is up to each student to push his partner to improve, but yet at the same time, not to overwhelm a person physically and/or mentally. It is important to force your partner to block and punch strongly, in order to make the pre-arranged exercise as realistic as possible.


Pre-arranged # 1Pre-arranged # 2
Kicking exerciseKyu Kumite
Dan KumiteKata Bunkai
Kote KitaiJyu Kumite

The purpose of bunkai is to teach the student the application of kata (Bunkai means application). There are three different kata that have formalized bunkai's, Kanshiwa, Seisan, and Sanseiru.

(Preliminary Stretching Exercises)

The main purpose of these exercises is to loosen up the muscles before doing the more complex movements. Therefore, the body should be relaxed while performing these exercises. The stretching exercises aid greatly in the development of physical coordination and balance as well as improving posture and agility.

Ashi saki o gueru undoToe raise and turn
Kakato o ageru undoHeel raise
Ashi kubi o mawasu undoFoot & ankle rotation
Hiza o mawasu undoKnee rotation
Ashi o mae yoko shita ni nobasu undoLeg lift & turn
Ashi o mae uchi nanameni ageru undoStraight leg kick
Tai o mae ni taosu undoWaist scoop
Koshi no nentenTrunk rotation
Ude o mae yoko shita ni nobasu undoDouble arm thrusts
Kubi o mawasu undoNeck rotations

(Supplementary Exercises)

These exercises come from the movements of the katas and serve as a stepping stone for future training. They aid in the development of stamina, physical and mental concentration and coordination, endurance and technical and tactical proficiency.

Sokuto geriSide snap kick
Shomen geriFront kick
Mawashi tsukiHook punch
Hajuke uke hiraken tsukiRising block, half fist strike
Seiken tsukiStraight punch
Shuto, urachi, chudan shokenKnife hand strike, backfist, one-knuckle strike
Hiji tsukiElbow strikes
Tenshin zen soku geriMoving kicks, front leg
Tenshin kosuko geriMoving kicks, rear leg
Shomen hajikiEye strikes
Koi no shippo uchi tate uchiWrist blocks
Koi no shippo uchi yoko uchiFishtail blocks
Shin kyo kyuDeep breathing exercises

(Both Jumbi Undo and Hojo Undo are typically done at the beginning of every training session.)

Uechi Kanei added material taught in this art. He devised a set of preliminary and supplementary exercises to warm up the student and to teach him basic karate skills. He also created five bridging katas, which serves as stepping stones between the three main kata taken from Pangai-noon. He also devised several pre-arranged sparring drills designed to teach the skills needed for free style sparring. Uechi Kanei kept teaching in Futenma until he passed away on February 2, 1991.

The growth of Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do can be attributed to Uechi Kanei (1911-1991). The world wide expansion of Uechi Ryu is seen as a direct result of Uechi Kanei's teaching philosophy. He not only accepted American students, but encouraged them to study other styles as well, so as to increase their understanding of Uechi Ryu and also Budo in general.

The growth of Uechi-Ryu Karate Do has led to Dojos starting in many countries of the world. There are Dojos in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the United States. All from the students that have been taught by Uechi Kanei.

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