Uechi-Ryu Karate Do

Hedge End, Near Southampton

A member of the Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Europe




2009 Visit to Okinawa to train with Master Kiyohide Shinjo

The article below is written by Luise Kaunert. Luise is a French 1st Dan student of Master Takemi Takayasu and she trains in one of the Paris Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Dojos. Luise has translated the article for me herself and as a mark of respect for her I have not edited it because I just wish I could speak her language as well as she does ours!

I went to Okinawa in April 2009 to train with Sensei Kiyohide Shinjo for two weeks. I had a rather unexpected opportunity to go there and I seized it immediately, as it has always been a dream for me. Before even organizing my trip, my friend and member of the Paris dojo Naomi Fukushima made the introduction for me in Japanese to ask if Sensei Shinjo would accept my visit. Through the year, many visitors from all over the world come to train in his dojo in Yomitan.

To go to Okinawa from Paris, I took the plane to Tokyo (12 hours non stop), from Tokyo to Naha (Okinawa, 2h40) and then the bus 120 from the airport to Yomitan village (Owan) where I stayed in the Yomitan Village Backpackers hostel close to the dojo. The Yomitan Village Backpackers hostel is a great place for all those who do not need a three star hotel and who prefer instead a family like place where you can meet Japanese people who are visiting from the mainland. I had a little room only for myself and a shared access to the bathroom, the kitchen and the living room. They provided me a bike and it took me only 10 minutes to the dojo, which is very close to the beach (Toguchi beach).

I was impatient to start the training in the famous dojo. The training for adults is scheduled three times a week, each ca. 2 1/2 hours. It is very intense and Sensei Shinjo requires the maximum attention and focus of his students. While I was training with them, Sensei Shinjo put a strong focus on katas, which we performed each several times sometimes with different speed. Sometimes, the training started right away with Sanchin Gitae. Without a good Sanchin stand and the right position of the hips pushed forward, it is almost impossible to resist the kicks and punches during the test. After a first part with Hojo Undo, Kata, Kyu yakusoku kumite, Dan yakusoku kumite, Bunkai, etc. the training goes on with sparring. Sensei Shinjo or some of his high graded students are counting the points while two students are sparring.

I was amazed to see that all of Sensei Shinjo's students, including the kids, have a very good level in kata and sparring and display an great force and determination. The training was highly motivating and made me aware of many aspects that I have to work on in order to improve.

Besides the fantastic training, I had a very good time with the people of the dojo who welcomed me to Okinawa in a very heartful way. Shinjo Sensei and his most graded students made sure that I am having a very good time and that I enjoy my trip. After the training, we often went out to eat and drink with Sensei Shinjo and some of the students, which was a nice opportunity to know them better and to practice Karaoke. Some of them even took their time off to show me around in Okinawa. It is a beautiful island with a very rich culture and tradition. Not to say, that Okinawaien people are very sweet, open and warmhearted.

All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I hope that I will have an opportunity to return.

Competition Success for Essex Uechi-Ryu Club

The Benfleet Uechi-Ryu Karate club achieved significant success in the recent South East Karate Championships held in Ipswich. Sensei Dean Lowe said “It was a great day for the club, every single person that represented the club did themselves, their club, and myself a great credit. I am very proud of everyone involved, from the parents to the fighters themselves" He added that "we have a very special friendly atmosphere at the club and the future for the club looks very bright, the children train very hard all year round and its at times like these that they get rewarded for all that hard work”.

Anyone interested in joining the club should contact Dean Lowe on 07914 581071, or by dropping in at St Marys Church Hall, High Road, Benfleet on Tuesday evenings at 7pm.


Visit to Hedge Dojo by Master Ryuji Hayashi

We were honoured to welcome and host Master Ryuji Hayashi and Hiroki Tokaida on Monday 29th October 2007. I met them shortly after lunch and took them to the New Forest to show them around. The places we visited included Beaulieu and Rhinefield House. They particularly liked the way the ponies, cattle etc were free to roam within the forest and they loved the very old buildings/villages that are thankfully preserved within the New Forest. Needless to say they also loved Rhinefield House and its gardens which were stunning as the trees were vibrant with their autumn colours and afternoon sun. Both men were a pleasure to host and thoroughly enjoyed their time in the forest.

The evenings training session was excellent. Whilst it was not what I had envisaged, I had expected Master Hayashi to take the session just like any other session he would teach in Okinawa, which didn't happen, but I actually thought it was even more useful than I had hoped. When talking to him afterwards it became apparent that he thought that we were going to run the session and he would guide and advise as we went along. In the end it worked out a bit of the both.

After the training had finished I took both men to a very quaint old pub for a drink and a chat. This proved to be extremely useful as it allowed time for him to elaborate on what he had said during the training and to discuss other points that he wanted to pass on to us.

Master Hayashi wanted to pass on the following important points:

Uechi-Ryu is a style that is characterised by strong, effective, yet simple techniques rather than the flashy techniques that are so often seen, especially in competition karate. Instead of trying to learn other techniques, Master Hayashi stressed the need to practice the Uechi-Ryu techniques, both blocking and attacking, until you are fast, strong, and very effective with them.

When practicing Hojundo it is important to ensure that the techniques are practiced fast, strong, and with as much realism as possible. Do not treat Hojundo as an endurance exercise, it is all about developing good, effective techniques.

At all times ensure your feet, legs and hips are strong through a good Sanchin stance; it is not enough to have good upper body strength. Your lower body is your fighting platform so make sure it is strong and secure.

Develop your Sanchin stare/glare. When performing Kata do not let your eyes wander about the dojo, keep totally focussed and think only about performing the Kata correctly. When practicing with a partner practice your stare/glare on each other at all times. If practicing alone always imagine you are fighting an opponent and stare/glare into the opponents eyes.

Keep the height of kicks down, and keep them fast and strong. High kicks are easier to block so kicks should be kept to no higher than stomach height.

Different Okinawan Masters place different emphasis on speed, power, etc so there will inevitably be differences in the way some dojos perform Kata, even on Okinawa. This does not mean that one Master is right or another is wrong, it is simply the Master's way of performing a technique. Techniques should however be correct.

Whenever possible block on the outside of the opponent. It is very important to practice moving out of the way of an attack, thus putting yourself in a favourable position to block/counter-attack - taisabaki.

Master Hayashi said that the UK variation of Kanshiwa Bunkai that is practised by the non Hedge End dojos, was not the same as they practiced on Okinawa. However, he added that the exercise was still a good addition to training.

When body conditioning the stomach muscles with Sokuto geris it is very important to practice it facing each other square on and with good control. It is dangerous to kick Sokuto geri to this area of your body, especially from any other angle, and serious injuries may occur.

Master Hayashi commended everyone attending for the real effort that they were making to learn such a hard style of karate. He recognised that in these days of commercial clubs promising quick results and easy grading success it is too easy to give up serious training and take the easy option. He added that even in Okinawa serious karate clubs were finding it difficult to attract and retain students. He wanted to remind everyone that a Uechi-Ryu student (all of us regardless of grade) should be proud of his/her achievement because it is a real achievement and something to be rightly proud of.

Left Pic - Sensei Derek Charlton (Bromley), and Right Pic Sensei Kuda Adams (London) with Master Hayashi and Hiroki Tokaida



All Styles Open Training Session, Paris, November 2006

Nigel Coole went to Paris to take part in a 3 hour training session held by Master Takayasu. The seminar was open to students of all styles and martial arts. Attendees included Uechi-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Shotokan, and two different styles of Kung Fu. As with every session run by Master Takayasu, it was fast moving, realistic, and relevant to real life situations. The photograph below was taken after the session.



Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Europe Summer Camp 2006

As per the last four years the Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Europe Summer camp, led by Master Takemi Takayasu 8th Dan, was held at Temple-sur-Lot in France. Please click on the image below to view a selection of photographs from this years camp.

Click on the image above to view photographs from the Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Europe Summer Camp 2006



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