As a member of the Knights of Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island, Ernie Harriman was responsible for providing entertainment at Knights’ social events. A telephone advertisement of Charles Earle’s karate school offering “Demos on request” brought Ernie face to face with Uechi karate for the first time. In Earle’s demonstration was an acquaintance of Ernie Harriman, and the apparent physical transformation and improvement of his friend created a strong impression on Ernie. Charles Earle was an early devotee and pioneer of Uechi karate in the United States when Ernie enrolled for classes in the early 1960′s. Classes were tough and Ernie’s new-found consciousness of good health brought his weight down from 235 to 168 lbs quickly. Ernie Harriman moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1967 with his promotion to General Agent for the Knights of Columbus. Ernie continued studying Uechi-ryu with Frank Gorman, Walter Mattson, and then John Spencer who eventually assumed responsibility for the dojo. Ernie’s persistent training earned him his Shodan on September 20,1970, Uechi-ryu Certificate #451. In 1987, Ernie and John Griffin took ownership of the Hartford dojo, with John Spencer continuing as senior advisor. The dojo presently has sixty students. In 1988, Ernie and John Griffin went to Okinawa for three intense weeks of training with Kiyohide Shinjo at Kadena. The time passed quickly as long workouts, translating, and note taking filled the hours. As always, Mr. Shinjo responded to questions and elaborated extensively on technique and training. Ernie was tested and promoted to Godan on October 13, 1988.
About Kiyohide Shinjo, Ernie Harriman says “I really think he is a superior human being. He is also the perfect lesson for Americans who think they have no further to go. He is so smooth and powerful. Mr. Shinjo is a tremendous teacher – he helps you understand right away, he gets it through.”
Teaching children has a high priority for Ernie. With forty children enrolled in classes, Ernie has a lot of experience designing an effective program encompassing many creative drills that other Uechi instructors find useful to include in their own classes.
Ernie’s classes reflect the vigorous Uechi training ethic acquired under Masters Kiyohide Shinjo, Tsutomu Nakahodo, Kosuke Yonamine, and the artistry and skill acquired from Ryuko Tomoyose and Kanei Uechi. Extremely hard and heavy arm, leg, and body conditioning is emphasized in addition to strong kata and kumite skills.
Ernie strives to relate every element of kata and training to SanChin. Every movement is analyzed for its origin within SanChin. Hartford Dojo’s Teaching Staff
Ernie says, “I’m extremely proud of the people who are teaching here. I can see that when people start teaching classes they get better. They start to have a better understanding of what they are doing, because when you teach it makes you think about what you’re saying and what you’re doing and why you’re doing it – things that you don’t think about while you’re working out – it’s almost like someone else is doing your thinking for you.”