May 25, 2007

Karate - Stlye

Wado-Ryu was founded by Hironori Ohtsuka around the 1920s. Ohtsuka studied Jujutsu for many years before becoming a student of Gichin Funakoshi. Considered by some to be Funakoshi's most brilliant student, Ohtsuka combined the movements of Jujutsu with the striking techniques of Okinawan Karate. After the death of Ohtsuka in the early 1980s, the style split into two factions: Wado Kai, headed by Ohtsuka's senior students; and Wado Ryu, headed by Ohtsuka's son, Jiro. Both factions continue to preserve most of the basic elements of the style.

Uechi-ryu Karate, although it has become one of the main Okinawan martial arts and absorbed many of the traditional Okinawan karate training methods and approaches, is historically, and to some extent technically quite separate. The "Uechi" of Uechi-ryu commemorates Uechi Kanbun, an Okinawan who went to Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province in China in 1897 to avoid being drafted into the Japanese army. There he studied under master Zhou Zihe for ten years, finally opening his own school, one of the few non-Chinese who ventured to do
so at the time. The man responsible for bringing Uechi-ryu to the US is George Mattson.

Uechi-ryu, unlike the other forms of Okinawan and Japanese karate mentioned in the FAQ, is only a few decades removed from its Chinese origins. Although it has absorbed quite a bit of Okinawan influence and evolved closer to such styles as Okinawan Goju-ryu over those decades, it still retains its original Chinese flavor, both in its technique and in the culture of the dojo. It is a "half-hard, half-soft" style very similar to such southern Chinese styles as Fukienese Crane (as still practiced in the Chinese communities of Malaysia), Taiwanese Golden Eagle, and even Wing Chun. Conditioning the body for both attack and defense is a common characteristic of both Okinawan karate and southern Shaolin "street" styles, and as such is an important part of Uechi training. There is a strong internal component to the practice, including focused breathing and tensioning exercises similar to Chinese Qigong. Uechi, following its Chinese Crane heritage, emphasizes circular blocks, low snap kicks, infighting (coordinating footwork with grabs, locks, throws, and sweeps), and short, rapid hand traps and attacks (not unlike Wing Chun).


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