Okinawan Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do is a form of Chinese Temple Fighting. In the United States, it is referred to as Kung-Fu or Karate, and in Japan and Okinawa as karate.
In China, it’s formal name is Fwange-Nun.
Fwange-Nun, derived from the Shaolin Temple in Northern China, is the interwoven movements of the tiger, crane, and dragon. It is a specialized method of self-defense that concentrates on the use of the Single-Knuckle Punch, Spear-Hand Strike, Pointed Kick and Circular Block.
Grand Master Kanbun Uechi, the founder of Uechi-Ryu karate, is responsible for lifting the Chinese Veil of Secrecy, bringing this art out of China and into Japan and Okinawa. He was born on May 5, 1877 in Izuma, a small village in Northern Okinawa. At the age of twenty, to avoid serving in the Japanese military, which at the time occupied Okinawa, Uechi fled to China. There, in Fukien Province, he studied the art of Fwange-Nun. His teacher was Shushiwa, a Buddhist priest who had received his training in the Shaolin Temple. Uechi studied in Fukien for ten years Nanchon, a city in Fukien Province. He 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, closing his school and returned to his homeland. The year was 1910. 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 sets of movements).
In 1924, the Uechi family moved to Wakayama Prefecture near Osaka, Japan. IN 1927, Master Uechi began teaching his son Kanei the art of Fwange-Nun. 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. Master Kanbun Uechi continued to teach in Wakayama Prefecture until 1947. He returned to Okinawa in April of 1947 and died November 25, 1948 on Iejima, an island off the coast of Okinawa. His body was returned to Jago, Okinawa for burial. He was 71 years of age.
His son, master Kanei Uechi, opened his Dojo (training hall) in Futenma, Okinawa in April of 1949. He taught Uechi-Ryu karate daily until his illness and death in February 1991. He was 80 years old. His son, Kanmei Uechi, (Kanbum’s grandson) now teaches in the Futenma dojo.