Kanbun Uechi 5/5/1877–11/25/1948
Grand Master Kanbun Uechi, the founder of Uechi-Ryu Karate is responsible for bringing this martial art from China to Japan and Okinawa. At the age of 20, to avoid serving in the Japanese military (which at the time occupied Okinawa), Uechi fled to China. There, he studied the art of Fwange-Nun (Pong-Gi-Noon). His teacher was Shushiwa, a priest who had received his training from a temple monk. Uechi studied for ten years and, at the end of his training, Master Uechi opened a school in China and taught there for three years. During this time one of his students became involved in a dispute and called upon his training to kill another person. Disheartened by this event, Master Uechi vowed never to teach again, closed his school, and returned to his homeland.
Kanei Uechi 6/26/1911–2/23/1991
Master Uechi has the distinction of being the only Okinawan ever to have been accepted in China as a teacher. Returning to Okinawa, he married, and on June 26, 1911 his son Kanei was born. He still refused to teach his art and only once during the ensuing years reluctantly demonstrated his kata (formal set of movements). In 1927, Master Uechi began teaching his young son the art. Around this time, friends persuaded him to resume teaching publicly. The term Uechi-Ryu (Uechi’s style) was first used in the fall of 1940. In April 1942, Master Uechi’s son, Kanei, now a master in his own right, returned to Okinawa from Japan. Kunbun Uechi continued to teach until 1947. He then returned to Okinawa in April of 1947 and died November 25, 1948. His son, Master Kanei Uechi, opened his dojo (training hall) in Futenma, Okinawa in April of 1949. He continued to train until his death in February of 1991. Upon Kanei Uechi’s death, some of his senior students formed the Okikukai organization, naming their new version of the style Shohei-Ryu.
Shohei-Ryu Karate Philosophy
In 1995, the style’s name was changed to Shohei Ryu, which means “to shine brightly” and secondly, “fairness, equality and peace.” These values are exemplified by the Okikukai Emblem.
The red and gold emblem is really a composite of two symbols, one representing the old Okinawa and the other the new.
• The off-center circle-within-a-circle is the official prefectural symbol of Okinawa.
• The outer red ring represents the ocean.
• The inner white ring peace.
• The central red sphere means development or progress.
• This symbol of modern Okinawa is enclosed within a symbol of the ancient Ryukyuan Kingdom consisting of three yellow waves that circle a white region.
• The calligraphy reads “Okikukai” which is an abbreviation for the Okinawan Karate-Do Association, the group with which our school is affiliated.
The Okinawan emblem combines symbols to represent the continuity of ancient Ryukyuan values within modern-day Okinawa, and the concentric circles motif symbolizes, variously, the eternity of Heaven and Earth, self-completion, equality, and peace. This whirling vision of justice and peace, so central to the Okikukai philosophy, is also the confident expression of the belief that the ancient Ryukyuan ethos continues and will continue to enliven Okinawan life.”
At Gracie Farmington Valley, we hope to maintain the traditional values and cultural heritage of Okinawa while bringing it to a new generation of students.