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Shoehei-Ryu Emblem

Shohei-ryu is a style of Okinawan Karate that is descended from Uechi-ryu, and hence from Pangai-noon Kung Fu. Following the 1991 death of Kanei Uechi, son of Uechi-ryu founder Kanbun Uechi, there was an organisational split and the directors of the Okinawa Karate-Do association officially created the name Shohei-Ryu for their organization’s version of the style.

Shohei-ryu means in Japanese to “shine brightly with fairness, equality, and peace.” The organization’s chairman is Tsutomu Nakahodo.

The art is practiced internationally, with schools in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Ryuko Tomoyose (Shohei-ryu Hanshi 10th Dan) was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Asset holder in the Field of Okinawan Karate and Martial Arts with Weaponry by the Okinawa Prefecture in 2000.

Shohei-Ryu / Uechi-Ryu Karate

Uechi-Ryu Emblem

Uechi-Ryu Emblem

Uechi-ryu is a traditional style of Okinawan karate. The founder of Uechi Ryu was Kanbun Uechi (1877–1948), an Okinawan who went to Fuzhou in Fukien Province, China to study martial arts when he was 20 years old. Uechi-ryu means “Style of Uechi” or “School of Uechi”. Kanbun Uechi studied Pangai-noon (half-hard, half-soft) under Shushiwa in the Fujian (a.k.a. Fukien) province of mainland China in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

After studying 10 years under Shushiwa, Kanbun Uechi opened his own school in the province of Nanjing. Two years later, Kanbun Uechi returned to Okinawa, determined never to teach again because one of his Chinese students had killed a neighbour with an open-hand technique in a dispute over land irrigation.

While he was working as a janitor he was persuaded by a co-worker, Ryuyu Tomoyose, to teach again after having been first convinced to show Tomoyose ways of defending himself against different attacks. When his confidence as a teacher was restored, Uechi, with the help of Ryuyu Tomoyose, moved to Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, where, in 1925, he established the Institute of Pangainun-ryu (half-hard half-soft) Todi-jutsu, and opened a dojo to the public. Eventually, in 1940, his Okinawan students renamed the system as “Uechi Ryu”

Early history

KanbunUechi

Kanbun Uechi

Kanbun Uechi studied Pangai-noon (half-hard, half-soft) under Shushiwa in the Fujian (a.k.a. Fukien) province of mainland China in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

After studying 10 years under Shushiwa, Kanbun Uechi opened his own school in the province of Nanjing. Two years later, Kanbun Uechi returned to Okinawa, determined never to teach again because one of his Chinese students had killed a neighbour with an open-hand technique in a dispute over land irrigation.

While he was working as a janitor he was persuaded by a co-worker, Ryuyu Tomoyose, to teach again after having been first convinced to show Tomoyose ways of defending himself against different attacks.

When his confidence as a teacher was restored, Uechi, with the help of Ryuyu Tomoyose, moved to Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, where, in 1925, he established the Institute of Pangainun-ry? (half-hard half-soft) Todi-jutsu, and opened a dojo to the public. Eventually, in 1940, his Okinawan students renamed the system as “Uechi-Ryu”.

George Mattson and Ryuko Tomoyose

George Mattson and Ryuko Tomoyose

Kanbun Uechi’s son, Kanei Uechi, taught the style at the Futenma City Dojo, Okinawa, and was considered the first Okinawan to sanction teaching foreigners. One of Kanbun’s students, Ryuko Tomoyose, taught a young American serviceman named George Mattson who authored several books on the subject and is largely responsible for popularizing the style in America.

Uechi-Ryu emphasizes toughness of body with quick blows and kicks. Some of the more distinctive weapons of Uechi practitioners are the one-knuckle punch (shoken), spearhand (nukite), and the toe kick (sokusen geri). On account of this emphasis on simplicity, stability, and a combination of linear and circular movements, proponents claim the style is more practical for self-defense than most other martial arts.

In contrast to the more linear styles of karate based on Okinawan Shuri-te or Tomari-te, Uechi-Ryu’s connection with Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken means the former shares a similar foundation with Naha-Te (and thus with Goju-ryu) despite their separate development.[2] Thus, Uechi-Ryu is also heavily influenced by the circular motions which belong to the kung fu from Fujian province. Uechi-Ryu is principally based on the movements of 3 animals: the Tiger, the Dragon, and the Crane.