Tiger Martial Arts
Uechi Ryu Information
The following will cover Uechi-Ryu as understood at Tiger Martial Arts, from history and lineage to forms and
kata, all technique practiced, including conditioning and exercises, kumite and bunkai, as well as common
terminology and basic info. Should you have any further questions, seek the guidance of your Sensei.
A Dojo, literally meaning “Way Place”, is the place where one trains and, as such, a student is expected to pay
the proper respect to it, and their teacher while on the mat.
· Bowing is done from the waist with your hands by your side. Bowing is a sign of respect, a greeting and
an acknowledgement. We believe it is also a promise to do your best in whatever you are about to do. When
bowing with a class, for an exercise, in a greeting or for kata, eyes are cast downward.
When bowing to a partner for kumite exercise or sparring eyes are on your partner. It is a fighting gesture, as
you can never assume you know what is about to happen.
· Bowing onto and off of the dojo floor is always done facing the pictures of the founders at the head of
the dojo. When entering the dojo to train please make sure your uniform and feet are clean. You always want
to make sure that you have your finger and toe nails clipped short so you do not scratch your partners.
Jewelry is not allowed to be worn during class - make sure it is put away safely or left at home. You may wear
a white t-shirt under your uniform.
Always tie your belt facing away from the front of the dojo, or facing away from your sensei.
WHAT IS KARATE?
Karate is the martial art native to the island of Okinawa. A great deal of trade was done between Okinawa and
China, including knowledge of various Kung Fu systems, parts of which were eventually combined with the
native Okinawan martial art at the time, simply called Te (“Hand”), to make what we now know as Karate.
· FACT – The island known as Okinawa, as well as islands around it, used to be called the Ryukyu
Kingdom, until the 1800’s when Japan made it officially part of the nation.
· FACT – The capitol of Okinawa is Naha city.
Karate is a word that means "Empty Hand", referring to an unarmed form of self-defense. Karate-Do means
"The way of the empty hand", referring to Karate as a way of life. Indeed, the martial arts are known for
instilling many virtues in its practitioners. These include Awareness, calmness, mental stamina, physical
strength, and of course confidence.
Karate was first introduced and taught outside of China by an Okinawan man named Gichin Funakoshi who,
like our founder Kanbun, also went to China, learned a system of Chinese boxing, and taught it to his people.
His style of Karate is called Shotokan, and is one of the main systems of Karate today.
· FACT – Before the nineteenth century, the written character for Karate, while still written the same way,
was pronounced as Kodite, meaning Chinese Hand. It wasn’t until Japan made Okinawa a part of the nation
that the pronunciation changed to Karate, and the meaning changed to Empty Hand.
WHAT IS UECHI-RYU?
Uechi-Ryu Karate is a classical Okinawan adapted system of Chinese boxing, or Kung-Fu. It was originally
taught as Pangainoon, meaning "Half hard and half soft", the idea being to have a hard exterior that can take
a blow and have strong defense, while at the same time having a soft interior that can move and breathe and
is still flexible. This is a defining characteristic of Uechi-Ryu, something it still stands for today.
Our founder Kanbun Uechi (1877 – 1948) Kanbun’s teacher Shushiwa (1874 - 1926)
Our founder Kanbun Uechi learned Pangainoon from a Chinese man named Zhou Zi He, or Shushiwa. Before
teaching Pangainoon, Shushiwa is believed to have studied the styles, Shaolin fist, Iron palm, and Tiger
fist. Pangainoon is believed to be a combination of these styles.
· FACT – Kanbun studied briefly at a karate school in a migrant Okinawan community in Fuchou, but a
senior ranking student eventually drove him to leave by making fun of him for having a speech impediment.
Soon after, he met Shushiwa.
An account of Kanbun’s acceptance into Shushiwa’s school, as told by Seiko Toyama and Kanei Uechi is as
follows. One day, Shushiwa was stricken with a massive headache. His alarmed students called upon Kanbun
to use his knowledge of medicine to alleviate Shushiwa’s suffering, which he did, using herbal mixtures. After
which, Kanbun was accepted into Shushiwa’s school in a secret ceremony called Pai Soo.
After Kanbun learned Pangainoon, he brought it to Japan, and eventually back to Okinawa and taught it to his
countrymen, more or less as he had been taught himself. Before he died, his students would re-name the style
from, then Pangainoon-Ryu, to Uechi-Ryu in his honor, as well as naming Kanbun as grandmaster.
· FACT – Kanbun’s favorite pastimes were cockfighting (A game that pits two roosters against each other
in a fight to the death while spectators bet on which will win), and playing a stringed Japanese instrument
called the Samisen.
· FACT – Kanbun’s favorite saying is “All is in Sanchin”, referring to his belief that everything one needs
for self defense lies in Sanchin kata.
Uechi-Ryu is based on the movements of three animals, the tiger, the dragon, and the crane. From the
tiger, we find strength, ferocity, and determination. From the dragon, we find speed, flexibility, and breathing.
From the crane, we find balance, and our classic circular blocking motions. There are also particular strikes
and techniques that come directly from the movements of a given animal. For example, the Kanushiken is also
known as the crane beak strike, and the Hiraken Fist is also known as the tiger paw.
· NOTE - Removed from the style are the snake and the panther. These were removed because the
techniques they brought to the style were so dangerous that many students were getting maimed from
Notable Students of Kanbun Uechi
· Ryuyu Tomoyose, the man responsible for persuading Kanbun to continue teaching. His son, Ryuko
Tomoyose would study Karate under Kanbun’s son Kanei.
· Seiryo Shinjo, a man who joined Kanbun’s dojo in Wakayama, Japan, shortly after it opened. All of
Seiryo’s sons and grandsons would continue studying Uechi-Ryu after him. The current generations of Shinjo
men are some of the leading authorities on Uechi-Ryu today.
· Seiko Toyama, who moved with his family to Wakayama, Japan, at the age of 5. His father was so
impressed with Uechi-Ryu, after seeing a demonstration at Kanbun’s dojo, that he put Seiko’s Karate training
in Kanbun’s hands immediately.
Words you will hear around the dojo
Counting in Japanese: #1 - Ichi, #2 - Ni, #3 - San, #4 - Shi, #5 - Go, #6 - Roku, #7 - Shichi, #8 - Hachi,
#9 - Kyu, #10 - Ju
· Dojo - Name for the training hall one studies in, literally means "Way place"
· Gi - Training uniform Obi - Belt
· Shomen - Front · Ushiro - Back
· Yoko - Side Tsuki - Strike
· Uchi - Strike
· Geri – Kick - when paired with a directional, i.e. Shomen Geri (Front Kick), Yoko Geri (Side Kick).
· Karate - "Empty Hand", referring to a weaponless form of fighting
· Karate-Do - The way of the empty hand
· Karate-Ka - A dedicated karate practitioner or student, one who is committed to practicing.
· Kyu - Beginner, referring to rank Dan - Advanced, referring to rank
· Ryu - Style
· Uechi-Ryu - Uechi style karate, a classical Okinawan adapted form of Chinese boxing
· Pangainoon - The original Chinese name for the style of Karate we study,
literally meaning “half hard and half soft”.
· Kiotsuke - Attention · Rei - Bow
· Yooi - Ready · Kamaete - Post position
· Hajime - Begin · Yame - Stop
· Ganbarimasu - To do ones best · Migi ashimae - Right foot forward
· Hidari ashimae - Left foot forward · Yudansha - A person of black belt rank
· Mudansha - A person currently below black belt rank
· Ki - spirit, spirit energy · Kiai - spirit shout, often done on strikes
· Domo arigato - Thank you · Domo Arigato gozaimas - Formal, more polite thank you
· Dozo - Please · Do Itasi-Mashita - You're Welcome
· Hai - Yes, or acknowledging what one has said
· Mushin - No-Mindedness, to clear one’s mind of all distractions
· Min-chin-chu-ryu - A phrase used by Kanbun Uechi to describe Pangainoon,
meaning "glare in the eyes with fast hands".
Beginning and Secondary Exercises
Practiced in the beginning of every class is Junbi-Undo. "Junbi" in Japanese means beginning, or preparatory,
Undo meaning exercise. Junbi-Undo is concerned with loosening the body, and warming it up for practicing
There are ten sets of exercise in Junbi-Undo
· Heel Pivot Exercise - Ashi Saki o Agero Undo
· Heel Lift Exercise - Kakato Agero Undo
· Knee Ankle Rotation Exercise - Ashikubi O Mawasu Undo
· Knee Circle Exercise - Hizo Mawasu Undo
· Leg Lift and Turn Exercise - Ashi o Mae Yoko Ni Nobasu Undo
· Straight Leg Kicking Exercise - Ashi o Mae Uchi Naname No Agero Undo
· Waist Scooping Exercise - Tai o Mae Ni Taosu Undo
· Trunk Stretching Exercise - Koshi No Nenten Undo
· Double Hand Striking Exercise - Ude o Mae Yoko Nobosu Undo
· Neck Rotation Exercise - Kubi o Mawasu Undo
Hojo-Undo is secondary exercises and consists of all the actual technique of Uechi. Not all techniques are
present here, particularly some kicks are left out, but nearly all technique found in the Uechi kata are practiced
here so it is a good way for one to become familiar with those techniques. Required knowledge for Black Belt
There are fourteen exercises in Hojo-Undo
· Side Snap Kick - Sukoto Geri
· Front Kick - Shomen Geri
· Roundhouse Punch - Mawashi Tsuki
· High Block Tiger Fist Punch - Hajiki Uke Hiraken Tsuki
· Front Punch - Shomen Tsuki
· Bladed Hand Strike Back fist One Knuckle Punch - Shuto uchi Uraken Shoken Tsuki
· Elbow Strike - Hiji Tsuki
· Front Snapping Finger Strike - Shomen Hajiki
· Up Down Out In Wrist Strike - Koi No Shippo Tate Uchi
· Side To Side Wrist Strike - Koi No Shippo Yoko Uchi
· Side Stepping Front Legged Kick - Tenshin Zen Soko Geri
· Side Stepping Rear Legged Kick - Tenshin Ko Soko Geri
· Side Stepping One Knuckle Punch - Tenshin Shoken Tsuki
· Deep Breathing Exercise - Shinko Kyu
Formally Practiced technique of Uechi-Ryu
Closed Fist Strikes
· Proper or Front Punch - Seiken or Shomen Tsuki
· Four knuckle or "Tiger Fist" Strike - Hiraken Tsuki
· Hammer fist strike - Tetsui Uchi
· Back fist strike - Uraken Tsuki
· One knuckle punch (phoenix eye or tiger tooth)- Shoken Tsuki
Open Handed Strikes
· Bladed Hand Strike - Shuto Uchi
· Thumb Knuckle or Palm Heel Strike - Boshiken
· Ridge Hand Strike - Haito
· Cupped Hand Strike - Koken Tsuki
· Crane Beak Strike - Kanushiken
· Spear Hand Strike – Nukite
· Spear handed front punch - Sanchin Strike
· Hiji Tsuki - Elbow Strike
· Koi no Shippo Uchi - Wrist Strike
· Snapping Block - Hajiki Uke
· Low Block - Gedan Barai Uke
· Circle Block - Hirate Mawashi Uke
· Front Kick - Shomen Geri
· Roundhouse Kick - Mawashi Geri
· Side Snap Kick - Sukoto Geri
· Side Thrust Kick - Yoko Geri
· Knee strike - Hiza Geri
· Back kick - Ushiro Geri
· Jumping kick - Tobi Geri
· Toe kick - Suksen Geri
General Directional References
· Jodan - High area. example: Jodan Mawashi Geri (High roundhouse kick)
· Chudan - Middle area. example: Chudan shomen tsuki (mid front punch)
· Gedan - Low area. example: Gedan suksen geri (low toe kick)
When Kanbun brought his knowledge of Pangainoon back from China, all he taught were the three original
forms (Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu), Kotekitae or body conditioning drills, and Jiyu Kumite or free
sparring. When a new student joined under Kanbun’s teaching, they would do Sanchin Kata for the first two
years of training.
Master Kanei Uechi (1911 – 1991)
Kanei Uechi, firstborn son of Kanbun Uechi and grandmaster of the style after his father died. Kanei is largely
responsible for popularizing Uechi-Ryu, and preserving the interest of new students by making it more
available to a general public, while still preserving the hardness and authenticity of Pangainoon. Kanei is
responsible for adding 5 new kata to the style, for use as stepping stones between the original 3, and two new
sets of pre-arranged partner sparring drills, Kyu Kumite (beginner sparring), and Dan Kumite (advanced
The 5 kata in between the originals are known as “Bridge Kata”. They are Kanshiwa, Kanchu, Seichin, Seiryu,
and Kanchin. Though Kanei officially added all of them to the style, he actually only designed 3 of them,
Kanshiwa, Seiryu, and Kanchin. Kanchu kata was designed by Seiki Itokazu, and Seichin kata was designed
by Saburo Uehara, two senior black belt students of Kanei at the time.
There are 8 total Kata in Uechi-Ryu
1 – Sanchin
· Meaning - Three Conflicts: Mind, Body, and Spirit
· Origin - The first of the three original forms from Pangainoon, brought back from China by Kanbun
2 - Kanshiwa
· Meaning - The combination of two names, Kanbun and Shushiwa
· Origin - "Bridge" kata, designed by Kanei Uechi. Kata originally called Kanshabu, due to mistranslation
of Shushiwa's name, originally thought to be Shashabu
3 - Kanchu
· Meaning - The combination of two names, Kanbun and Shushiwa
· Origin - "Bridge" kata, designed by Seiki Itokazu, a Dan ranking student of Kanei Uechi. Kata is also
referred to as Dani Seisan, meaning "little Seisan"
4 - Seichin
· Meaning - The combination of two names of kata, Sanchin and Seisan
· Origin - "Bridge" kata, designed by Saburo Uehara, a dan ranking student of Kanei Uechi
5 - Seisan
· Meaning - 13 positions of attack and defense
· Origin - The second of the three original forms from Pangainoon, brought back from China by Kanbun
6 - Seiryu
· Meaning - 16 positions of attack and deffense
· Origin - "Bridge" kata, designed by Kanei Uechi
7 - Kanchin
· Meaning - The combination of the name Kanbun, and the name of the kata Sanchin
· Origin - "Bridge" kata, designed by Kanei Uechi
8 - Sanseiryu
· Meaning - 36 positions of attack and deffense
· Origin - The third of the three original forms from Pangainoon, brought back from China by Kanbun
Bunkai - application or study of a kata.
Kumite - "crossing hands", referring to exchanging attacks and blocks with a partner. ,
Jiyu-Kumite - free sparring.
Yakusoku-Kumite - prearranged sets of attacks and defense preformed by two partners.
Kyu-Kumite - beginner partner sparring, consisting of five sets of prearranged attacks and defense.
Dan-Kumite, - advanced partner sparring, consisting of six sets of exchanges.
Kotekitae - refers to body conditioning exercise involving rubbing or pounding arms with a partner. The
"Kote" in Kotekitae means "forearm" in Japanese. Thus, Kotekitae refers chiefly to arm conditioning. Also
practiced in Uechi is Ashikitae, "Ashi" meaning foot, in which two partners exchange kicks to toughen the legs
· FACT - Because of the body conditioning exercises used, Uechi-Ryu is considered a “Hard Style” of
Ranks of Uechi-Ryu
The ranking system in Uechi-Ryu serves two main purposes. One, so that students can readily identify a
practitioners of greater experience, so they know where they might have questions answered, or to seek
advice, and two, to motivate students to continue their own training, to keep coming back and earn the next
rank. The color of each belt is also symbolic of the level of experience that practitioner has. As a newcomer,
ones belt is white. Gradually, it becomes stained by the grass and turns green. With time after, the grass that
stained it may wear away and the belt will take the color of the dirt below and turn brown. As those stains grow
darker, it eventually turns black. Then, with time, the layer of fabric that turned black will grow thread-bear and
start wearing away, and turn white again, to signify a return to the beginning. This is believed to be a reminder
that we are all students in one way or another.
While adult ranks are typically the traditional four colors, white, green, brown, and black, children’s ranks are
known to have many more colors, blue, purple, orange, yellow, red, etc. to provide a broader range of ranks to
achieve, so motivation is increased.
Children's program ranks:
Beginning - White Belt - 1 yellow stripe, 2 yellow stripes, 3 yellow stripes
Yellow Belt - 1 orange stripe, 2 orange stripes, 3 orange stripes
Orange Belt - 1 blue stripe, 2 blue stripes, 3 blue stripes
Blue Belt - 1 red stripe, 2 red stripes, 3 red stripes
Jr. Shodan (Jr. Black Belt)
Kyu (Beginner) Ranks, arranged in descending order as they are issued
· 10 – Jukyu – White belt with no stripes
· 9 – kyukyu – White belt with one green stripe
· 8 – hachikyu – White belt with two green stripes
· 7 – sichikyu – White belt with three green stripes
· 6 – rokkyu – Green Belt
· 5 – gokyu – Green belt with one brown stripe
· 4 – yonkyu – Green belt with two brown stripes
· 3 – sankyu – Brown Belt
· 2 – nikyu – Brown belt with one black stripe
· 1 – ikkyu – Brown belt with two black stripes
Dan (Advanced) ranks, arranged in ascending order as they are issued
· 1 - Shodan
· 2 - Nidan
· 3 - Sandan
· 4 - Yondan
· 5 - Godan
· 6 - Rokudan
· 7 - Sichidan
· 8 - Hachidan
· 9 - Kyudan
· 10 - Judan
NOTE - Fourth degree black belt was changed from Shidan to Yondan because "Shi" means "Death" in
Japanese, so it was changed to avoid it being known as a "Death Rank".
NOTE - First degree black belt is called Shodan instead of Ichidan, simply because "Sho" in Japanese means
"little", and first degree black belt is largely considered to be only the beginning of one’s journey in the martial
As a black belt, the belt you receive is the belt you will keep regardless of further promotion until you become
eligible for a teachers title at the rank of 6th degree black belt, or Roku-Dan, at which point one would receive
a new black belt with one gold bar on the very end. A new bar is added for each new title received. The titles
are recognized as teacher’s ranks. They have more to do with what you've accomplished as a teacher, and
what you've added to the Uechi community.
Teacher’s titles do not automatically come with a rank. One could be a 6th degree black belt, but hold no
teachers title. One could also be a 9th degree black belt and only then receive a title. Assuming, however, that
one earned a teachers title right at Roku-Dan and continued to be awarded a new title with each promotion,
the order they would be issued in is as follows.
History of Uechi-Ryu, from its creation to being taught at Tiger Martial Arts
May 5, 1877 - Kanbun Uechi is born in Izumi, a mountain village on the Motobu peninsula of Okinawa. His
parents are Kantoku and Tsuru, who were farmers of daikon radishes. In his youth, Kanbun would enjoy
learning the Bo staff, which he taught other youth of the area, and performed demonstrations at holiday
March 1897 - the Japanese military orders a conscription, or military draft, of the Okinawan people. Kanbun’s
parents were wealthy enough that they could facilitate his fleeing to China. Kanbun lands in Fuzhou city,
Fukien province of mainland China, where he meets Shushiwa and begins his study of Pangainoon. He would
stay at the Ryukyukan Jueneki (Okinawan Fellowship hall) temporarily, while he studied. He arrived not
knowing a single word of Chinese and had to pass himself off as a Chinese man in order to blend in. He
accomplished this, as well as learning to speak Chinese.
1904 - After seven years of study, Kanbun earns his certificate to teach Kempo.
1907 - Kanbun begins teaching in Nansoe, China
1910 - In February of this year, a dispute over land irrigation would cause a student of Kanbun to kill his
attacker with a fatal strike. Due to public scorn, and shame for the attack, Kanbun returns to Okinawa at the
age of 33.
May 1910 - Kanbun marries Gozei Toyama.
June 26, 1911 - Kanei Uechi, Kanbun’s eldest son, is born.
Soon after, Kanbun would father his first daughter, Tsuru, who would unfortunately die at the age of 3,
followed by his second daughter Kame, his third daughter, also named Tsuru, and finally his second son
While back in Okinawa, Kanbun is constantly pleaded with to teach his Karate, as rumors spread of his
expertise. He refuses all requests. Once a year, the Motobu police department hosts a festival including
demonstrations from Karate, Kendo, and Judo. Kanbun attends, and is asked to perform by the mayor himself,
to which he was finally unable to refuse. Still reluctant to demonstrate, he is playfully pushed on stage, and
demonstrates Seisan kata, his favorite at the time. He impressed everyone so much that none wished to go on
stage after him, and the karate portion of the demonstration promptly ended. This is the only time Kanbun
demonstrated his Karate before travelling to Japan.
1924 - Kanbun travels to Wakayama, Japan, to work as a janitor in a cotton mill. Here, he meets Ryuyu
Tomoyose, a co-worker, who tricks him into showing him self-defense techniques, and eventually convinces
him to teach his Karate. This is the first time Pangainoon is taught outside of China.
1926 - Kanbun opens his first school, the Shataku Dojo, located in the back of the Wakayama cotton mill in
1927 - Kanei begins his studies at the Shataku Dojo.
1932 - In April of this year, Kanbun opens his first official school at Wakayama-shi, Tebira, a migrant
Okinawan community, and teaches Pangainoon-Ryu.
1937 - Kanei Uechi earns his certificate to teach Kempo, and would open his first school.
1939 - Kanei marries Nakahara Shige
1940 - Pangainoon officially renamed to Uechi-Ryu, and Kanbun at age 63 is named Grandmaster of the style.
May 10 1941 - Kanmei Uechi, eldest son of Kanei Uechi, is born
1942 - When his students were called into military service, Kanei Uechi returns to Okinawa, and begins
teaching Uechi-Ryu in Nago, Okinawa. This is the first time Uechi-Ryu is taught in Okinawa.
1946 - Kanbun Uechi returns to Okinawa with students Seiryo, and Seiyu Shinjo, leaving his school in the care
of Ryuyu Tomoyose.
1948 - November 25th of this year, Kanbun Uechi dies of Nephritis, or inflation of the kidneys.
1956 - George Mattson begins his study of Uechi-Ryu under Ryuko Tomoyose sensei.
1957 - Kanei Uechi combines the Futenma dojo and the Kanzatobaru dojo. The new Futenma dojo would be
open to the public, including American servicemen
1958 - As a Shodan, George Mattson begins teaching Uechi-Ryu at the YMCA in Boston, Massachusetts. This
is the first time Uechi-Ryu is taught in America.
1967 - Kanei Uechi is promoted to Judan
Feb 24, 1991 - Master Kanei Uechi dies.
1998 - Sensei Wendi Barker begins study of Uechi-Ryu under Mike Rozumek Sensei. She would study under
his teaching until earning Nidan.
2004 - Mike Rozumek retires, and Sensei Wendi Barker continues study under George Mattson, during which
time she would promote to Sandan.
2005 – March 1st, Sensei Wendi Barker opens Tiger Martial Arts on Whidbey Island, Washington.
2006 - Sensei Wendi Barker begins study under Fedele Cacia Sensei, who is her current sensei to this date.
2008 – Sensei Wendi Barker earns the rank of 4th degree black belt, or YonDan
March 2013 - Sensei Wendi Barker earns the rank of 5th degree black belt, or Godan
Sept 13 2015 - Kanmei Uechi Died
2015 - Kanyu Uechi named grandmaster
Lineage of Sensei at Tiger Martial Arts
· -Wendi Barker, 5th degree black belt, Head instructor of Tiger Martial Arts
· -Fedele Cacia, 6th degree black belt, Sensei to Wendi Barker from 2006 to present
· -George Mattson, 10th degree black belt, Sensei to Wendi Barker from 2004-2006
· -Mike Rozumek, 7th degree black belt, Sensei to Wendi Barker from 1998-2004
· Mike Rozumek's Sensei - Buzz Durkin
· Buzz Durkin's Sensei - George Mattson
· George Mattson's Sensei - Ryuko Tomoyose
· Ryuko Tomoyose's Sensei - Kanei Uechi
· Kanbun Uechi
Thank you to Nick MetCalf for his help
in making this history and information