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Kanbun Uechi
Kenyukai History

Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do is named after the founder, Kanbun Uechi. Mr. Uechi was born on May 5, 1877 in Izumi, Motobu-cho, a small village in northern Okinawa. At the age of 19, Mr. Uechi left Okinawa in March of 1897 to avoid conscription into the Japanese military and began his study of the martial arts at the central temple of the Fukien Province in southern China. He studied under Maser Zhou Tzu Ho (pronounced Jo su ho) who is known in Okinawa by his Japanese name Shushiwa. Mr. Uechi studied a system of martial arts based on the movements of the tiger, dragon, and crane with Shushiwa for approximately 10 years. After which time he opened his own school in the village of Nanching(Nansei) in the Fukien Province of China. Master Uechi referred to the art which he taught as Pangainoon, which means half hard/half soft. He taught there until 1909 when he returned to Okinawa

Back in Okinawa, Master Uechi married and began farming. He did not formally teach for a number of reasons. In 1924 Master Uechi moved to Wakayama, Japan where he resumed teaching in 1926.

His first student in Wakayama was Ryuyu Tomoyose, who initially tried to trick Master Uechi into teaching him by making up stories of fights he had gotten into and asking him how to defend himself in these situations. Master Uechi continued teaching in Wakayama until 1946 when he returned to Okinawa (Ie Jima island near Okinawa). He did not teach formally after his return to Okinawa, but continued to train a few students. Two years later at the age of 71 Master Uechi died on Ie Jima.

Kanei Uechi

At the time of Kanbun Uechi's death, Kanei was not actively teaching. However, Ryuko Tomoyose, a son of Ryuyu Tomoyose - Kanbun's first student in Wakayama, convinced him to start teaching. Ryuko Tomoyose and other students build a dojo in Futenma, Okinawa for Master Kanei Uechi. He continued teaching at that same location until his retirement in 1988. After a bout with a lingering illness, Master Kanei died at the age of 80 in March of 1991.

Seiryo Shinjo

Another early student of Kanbun Uechi was Seiryo Shinjo. Seiryo Shinjo was born on Ie Jima on June 10, 1908. In 1923, he traveled to Wakayama to seek employment where he coincidentally got a job at the same factory as Kanbun Uechi. He trained with Uechi Sensei until a respiratory ailment prevented it. Seiryo Shinjo had a son on July 10, 1929 who he named Seiyu.

Seiyu Shinjo

Seiyu Shinjo was taught by his father and Kanbun Uechi and later trained with Kanei Uechi. Seiyu Shinjo eventually became well known in Okinawa as an outstanding karate man as well as a great teacher of Uechi-Ryu.
Kiyohide Shinjo
On November 3, 1951, Seiyu Shinjo's first son was born, Kiyohide Shinjo. Seiyu Shinjo began the training of his son Kiyohide when he reached the age of 10. Kiyohide was required to learn Uechi-Ryu and did so reluctantly at first. He continued training under his father's watchful eyes eventually becoming of the best (if not the best) martial artist on Okinawa. Starting in 1970, he became the unprecedented, nine time, undefeated kumite and kata champion. Shinjo Kiyohide Sensei took over as the chief instructor of the family dojo located in the "circle" in the town of Kadena after the death of his father Seiyu in 1981. Shinjo Sensei continues the family tradition to this day and is Sensei Foley's Sensei. Shinjo Sensei was promoted to Hachidan on November 24, 1996 by Seiko Toyama Sensei. Toyama Sensei is the last surviving student of Kanbun Uechi and still teaches in his dojo located in Zakimi, Okinawa. In honor of his father, Shinjo Sensei has named the organization of Uechiryu practitioners associated with the Kadena dojo as the Kenyukai. The "Ken" in Kenyukai represents "strong fist". The "yu" comes from the second character in Seiyu. Kai means association or group. Put together the translation is Seiyu Shinjo's Strong Fist Group.


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