Question about Uechi ryu's katas

punisher73

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I was looking around on another thread about the differences between Goju and Uechi. I discovered that they both share three of the same kata.

During my reading/looking around the web I also found out that originally there were only three kata in Uechi-Ryu; those being Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiru.

Some of the stuff I have read stated the following about the additional 5 katas being added (kanshiwa, Kanshu, Seichin, Seiryu, Kanchin)

1) The founder didn't stay long enough to learn the other katas so he only had three to base his system on.
2) The founder thought that everything that was needed was in those 3 katas and that was why he only had three.
3) The other katas were added to "round out" the curriculum and fill in the some needed areas.
4) The other katas were added to give the students more material to learn so they wouldn't get bored with only 3 kata.

Which of these theories do you support if you are a student of Uechi Ryu? I don't think that all of them are mutually exclusive either.
 

arnisador

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Some of the stuff I have read stated the following about the additional 5 katas being added (kanshiwa, Kanshu, Seichin, Seiryu, Kanchin)
[...]
3) The other katas were added to "round out" the curriculum and fill in the some needed areas.
4) The other katas were added to give the students more material to learn so they wouldn't get bored with only 3 kata.

I used to study this system, many years ago. My understanding is that the original Chinese system may have had a fourth form that he didn't stay long enough to learn. No one knows for sure as Pangainoon is long since extinct. My understanding is that after the founder's death his son added the other five kata to round out the system, including by adding in some of his father's favorite techniques/combos that weren't explicitly in the other kata; to give the students more material; and, to better conform with the other Okinawan arts, which generally had at least 8 empty-hand kata.

It's an interesting system that is unlike the other Okinawan styles!
 

Live True

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During my reading/looking around the web I also found out that originally there were only three kata in Uechi-Ryu; those being Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiru. [...]Some of the stuff I have read stated the following about the additional 5 katas being added (kanshiwa, Kanshu, Seichin, Seiryu, Kanchin)

1) The founder didn't stay long enough to learn the other katas so he only had three to base his system on.
2) The founder thought that everything that was needed was in those 3 katas and that was why he only had three.
3) The other katas were added to "round out" the curriculum and fill in the some needed areas.
4) The other katas were added to give the students more material to learn so they wouldn't get bored with only 3 kata.

Which of these theories do you support if you are a student of Uechi Ryu? I don't think that all of them are mutually exclusive either.

I'm currently compiling data for my Uechi club's website, so I'm in an unique position to address some of this. I've been pulling information from club history/Uechi history handed down; a PhD Uechi history dissertation by Jon D Mills, who was an interpreter for the 1985 Uechi associations's trip to China and the US; and source material from Sensei George Mattson's book, Uechi Ryu Karate Do. etc.

These sources note that Uechi Kanbun spent 10 years learning from Shu Shi Wa (a shaolin monk). All agree that he learned Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu, but they disagree on whether he left before learning Suparinpei was taught or simply chose not to teach it for his own inexplicable reasons.

Most also agree that the 5 bridging katas were created to address the shorter Western attention span as well as focus on specific techniques. My favourite quote of Uechi Kanei, Kanbun's son, is, "By showing a student what he thinks he wants, I am able to squeeze in what is important."

I found this interesting, and hope you may as well, Kanei didn't create all 5 of the bridging katas, some of them were created by his students. According to the sources I have:
  • Kanshiwa-created by Kanei in 1956
  • Kanshu-created by Uehara Sabura, a student of Kanei, 1956
  • Seichin-created by Itokazu Seiki, student of Kaneit
  • Seiryu-created by Kanei in 1950
  • Kanchin-created by Kanei in 1960
I tend to think that attention span was only part of the reason, as there appear to be some clear progressions in the katas on certain techniques. For example; Kanshiwa, as practiced in my Uechi club, has a series of wauke/double bushikens that are practiced as follows:
  • slide step, then wauke
  • double bushiken strike
  • step, then wauke
  • double bushiken strike
  • step, then wauke
  • double/bushiken strike
In Kanshu, this slide/step/step is repeated with a different strike combination, but the motions are tighter and not as seperate. The connection of movement and strike allows you to use the forward momentum as part of the strike in Kanshu, which is not present in Kanshiwa.

Unfortunately, I can only personally speak to these two katas, as that is where I am in my own learning process, but the typing of the more advanced katas (Seisan and Seiryu) shows me this pattern again with more connection to the parts and some variations off that same theme...I hope that makes sense! It appears the goal is to link the speed and timing of the sequence in a tighter and more focused way so your body's movements and actions work together, but the initial katas allow you to focus more on the mechanics.

I look forward to hearing what others have to say on this!
 

Laird

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There are many Uechi organizations these days. Each with it's own spin on things. Oral histories are like the ministry of truth. Glad lots of folks are writting down their version of history. I think the waters are well muddied, one very senior sensei from Okinawa when asked why Kanei Uechi added five more kata replied, because our demonstrations were too short.

Uechi-ryu functions well with only three kata. The five "bridging" kata offer nothing that is not in the original three. I've been training Uechi for 30 years. I do 4 kata. I liked the new kata Seichin so much I kept it.

The concept of stepping stone kata is interesting in that when a student finally attempts to learn the next of the big there kata they discouver they know half of it already as the bridging kata are seeded with bits of the original work. My point of view is why teach them 2 or 3 new kata when you can teach them just one that contains all of it.


I teach Sanchin Seisan and Seichin after the Dan test I introduce Sanseiru.
 
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