Sep 29

Message from the Chairman



By Henry Thom, 9-Dan, Hanshi


As a brief introduction, IUKF is a federation of Uechi-Ryu practitioners who share a common lineage to Grandmaster Kanei Uechi.  A member of the South China Martial Arts Alliance [SCMAA] and the Okinawa Family of Uechi Organizations, the IUKF was founded in mid-1980 by George Mattson, Hanshi 10th Dan.  Sensei Mattson studied directly under Grandmaster Kanei Uechi and Master Ryuko Tomoyose and is acknowledged as one of the senior world leaders of Uechi-Ryu by various Okinawa Karate Systems and teachers.   In addition to George Mattson, IUKF senior leadership includes Van Canna and Arthur Rabesa, both 10th Dan, Darin Yee, 8th Dan / Vice President of IUKF, and Henry Thom, 9th Dan / Chairman of IUKF.

Individual Uechi-ryu practitioners and dojos, regardless of current affiliations, are welcome to join IUKF as Individual or Dojo Members.

IUKF believes that when a large group of Uechi-Ryu dojos work together in a synergistic fashion, it makes individual dojos stronger.

IUKF dojos are run by the dojo owners, not by IUKF.  The IUKF, by design, is there to support and help members grow their dojos and maximize their potential, rather than to restrict them with arbitrary rules and regulations.   As such, IUKF membership is not exclusive.  Rather, we encourage member Dojos to maintain existing links with other associations and teachers, with IUKF providing another source of knowledge, activities, friendship and extended senior access. IUKF dojo owners are charged with maintaining IUKF standards within their dojos, and have a single mission:  to nurture and grow within their own students the knowledge and confidence given to them by their teachers.  IUKF will help individual dojos become builders of strong and successful individuals.

IUKF is an internationally recognized source of promotion and certification for Uechi-Ryu Dan (black belt) rank.  IUKF is a strong believer in maintaining what Grandmaster UECHI Kanei termed the “Sacred Space” between students and their sensei. IUKF has determined that ultimately, the teacher should remain the final authority regarding when students are promoted. However, IUKF also recommends that the member Senseis take advantage of IUKF’s senior teachers and recommended procedures relating to promotions, as detailed in the (for members only) Black Belt Test Guide (BBTG). The BBTG provides valuable information on the study and practice of Uechi-Ryu and the testing and ranking requirements. The IUKF leadership will always be available to assist dojo owners and students upon request.  IUKF also conducts semi-annual events including regional black belt tests for those who would prefer to have their students test in front of a large board of very senior Uechi-ryu teachers rather than handle the details of testing on their own.  Automatic recording of ranks and title in the International Rank and Titles Registry website is a benefit of membership in the IUKF.

There are several additional benefits of IUKF membership.

SEMINARS: Many higher ranking IUKF black belts perform seminars in various locations around the world. For dojos which would like to invite Senior IUKF Teachers to lead formal seminars, daily rates for IUKF Seniors are standardized, so dojo owners can budget and plan easily. The website keeps our members in touch with each other and with developments in Uechi-Ryu.

FORUMS:  The IUKF Forums allow for a lively exchange of ideas.

FORUMS:  The IUKF Forums allow for a lively exchange of ideas.

VIDEO:  The IUKF video section is rich in content.  IUKF provides administrative and training webinars on dealing with social media and advertising tutorials, and provides programs relating to “Bullying” and other problems affecting both children and adults.  IUKF also provides helpful tutorials and live webinars on all areas of running a successful dojo.

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:   Sensei Mattson also distributes his monthly Newsletter with special training tips to members.

If you have questions regarding IUKF, concerning membership, etc, please contact Henry Thom at henrythom(at)   Sensei George Mattson is available at gmattson(at)

You may also contact country-specific IUKF leadership as noted below.  Important:  All member countries are independent entities.

IUKF-USA: Please contact Brett Maine: bmainelmt(at)

IUKF-Canada: Please contact David Mott: david(at)

IUKF-UK: Please contact Lee Adams:  lee.adams(at) and Al Wharton: alwharton8(at)

IUKF-Germany: Please contact Bruce Hirabayashi: bruce.hirabayashi(at) and/or Paul Kronschnabl: paul.kronschanbl(at)

IUKF-Cuba: Please contact Noslem Torres M.: mtmiranda(at)




2015 Greetings,

IUKF-USA is entering another very successful year of operation. For the new visitors to this site, please allow me first present a very brief history of Uechi Ryu in the U.S. before proceeding further. In 1958 Grand Master Kanei Uechi (RIP) asked Sensei George Mattson, a soldier in Okinawa, to bring the art to the U.S. and prompted him to open the first Uechi Ryu dojo in the U.S. and expand the art in the country. A lot has occurred since then. Master George Mattson started his teaching in a humble little corner of a Boston YMCA some 58 years ago to subsequently opening up his huge and very successful Mattson Academy in Boston. He has trained literally more than a thousand students and hundreds of black belts. Many of his black belt students have since scattered worldwide and some have branched off and built their own Uechi Ryu organizations. Two of Master Mattson’s original students, Sensei Van Canna and Sensei Art Rabesa, are now 10-Dan in IUKF. I am also one of Master Mattson’s original student from 50 years ago.

For IUKF-USA to continue to grow, we must have members who pay dues in order to support the various IUKF activities. There are a lot of activities.

“What is the IUKF doing for me”, may be the question in your mind.

Well, the more we do for the IUKF, the more it will be able to offer its members. Currently, the IUKF is a promoting and certifying source for Uechi-Ryu black belt rankings. The members only Black Belt Test Guide provides valuable information on the study and practice of Uechi Ryu and the testing and ranking requirements. Many higher ranking black belts perform seminars in various locations.

The website operates on behalf of Uechi Ryu and the IUKF. This site alone keeps our members in touch with each other and with developments in Uechi Ryu. Its Forums allow for lively exchange of ideas. The video section is rich in content, and will be available exclusively for members. Master Mattson also distribute his monthly Newsletter with special training tips to members. The Eastern Arts store in has DVDs, books, Uechi insignia clothes, gym bags and jewelry, all discounted to IUKF members.

If you are a new or relatively new student, please join up and support IUKF. To those who have been around for a while and benefiting from IUKF one way or another but are not paying members, please start considering how to give back to IUKF in a meaningful manner, which means pay your membership due.

The members of the IUKF Advisory Board and its various committees are individuals who volunteer considerable amounts of their time with no cost to IUKF. Every bit of membership dues received by the IUKF goes to communications and projects on behalf of the members.

If you are a dojo owner and prefer joining as a dojo, please contact IUKF Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Henry Thom at
The general membership fee is $50 for adults ($30 for juniors), about a tank of gas. For general membership please contact IUKF’s Membership Administrator, Brett Maine, at Brett Maine (

Hope to see all of you at the next Summer and Winter Fest. Please check the website for details.        

The following was written by Dr. Paul Haydu in 2006:

What is an IUKF member?

The IUKF is a young organization and the Board of Directors was discussing the question of what makes an IUKF member.  Other Martial Arts organizations require membership dues in order to join.  If you’re an engineer, lawyer or doctor, you pay annual dues to belong to professional organizations.  The year you omit your dues, is the year you cease to be a member.

It was mentioned that some people think that because they’ve been affiliated with IUKF activities, that they’re a member.  Some feel that because they are seniors, they ought to be considered a member.  Others who volunteer time and effort on behalf of the organization believe that this equates to being a member.  What they all miss is that in order for an organization such as the IUKF to grow and prosper, it needs funding.  For it to create projects and items of value to its members, it needs funding, and that comes from all of our dues!

Every bit of those dues received by the IUKF goes to communications and projects on behalf of the members.

To give you an example, the members of the Board of Directors are individuals who volunteer considerable amounts of their time.  Still, each one of them is a paying member.  Darin Yee, who is an advanced teacher, has forty years of Martial Arts experience and gives classes and seminars on behalf of the IUKF, has paid extra, to become a lifetime member.  The members of the Board understand that the more senior one is the more one should understand that our organization needs the support of each one of us, to survive and prosper.  So a dues-paying person, is a member of the IUKF.

“What is the IUKF doing for me”, may be the reply to a request for dues.  Well, the more we do for the IUKF, the more it will be able to offer its members.  Currently, the IUKF is a promoting and certifying source for Uechi-Ryu Dan rankings.  The Eastern Arts website operates on behalf of Uechi Ryu and the IUKF.  This site alone keeps our style’s members in touch with each other and with developments in our style.  Its Forums allow for lively exchange of ideas.  The video section is rich in content, and will be available exclusively for members.

The Eastern Arts store has DVDs, Uechi insignia clothes, gym bags and jewelry, all discounted to IUKF members.   And the Summer Fest tuition cost is discounted each year sufficiently for IUKF members to off-set for the cost of dues each year!

As the IUKF grows, it will become the kind of organization that will have the power to offer the wide array of products and services that you would like. 

As a young outfit, it needs your help.

Apr 22

Canada IUKF Administrator’s Blog

Rank by David Mott

dave_mott2The rank that I really wanted above all ranks was a green belt. Since I started Uechiryu at the Boston YMCA and spent a year as a white belt there, followed by another year at the Mattson Academy as a white belt, It seemed like I was forever a white belt. Remarkably the rest of the ranks came relatively quickly. After teaching for some years at the Mattson Academy as an apprentice teacher, (1967 –1971) I started my own dojo at Yale as a Nidan and advanced through Sandan. After coming to Canada, I decided to wait for further testing until I had students from Toronto to be tested for Shodan and so the rest of my advancement was a bit sporadic. I tested for advanced rank with the idea of benefiting the dojo rather than as achieving a personal goal. Now, my Hachidan/ Kyoshi belt is wearing out. It is rapidly becoming stripped of its black cloth covering and so it is, fittingly, turning white. I am returning to the beginning.

One of the perplexing problems in Uechi-ryu, which has a ranking system to Judan, is how do you define what qualities are required to advance to the next rank? I have some ideas about this. Let’s start with the pre-black belt ranks. White belt signifies not much more than raw material. Green belt is really a good beginner –able to move relatively correctly with a modicum of skill. Brown belt is really a good intermediate student. There is some fire and heaviness in the movements which are becoming real. There is also some evidence of real karate spirit.

Shodan. In some ways this rank of first degree black belt is the most important rank of all and, in other ways, it’s not all that important. The reason it has great significance is that the physical skills and the embodiment of karate have developed sufficiently that one is a true Uechi-ryu karateka. Karate has begun to seep into one’s bones. Shodan is also important because it signifies a level of competence of practice that can sustain. But in reality, this also means that Shodan is a new beginning where learning can now really begin. While Shodan is a culmination of everything that led up to this attainment, and this is a significant achievement, the distance from Shodan to Judan is quite vast. If I use the analogy of mountaineering, you’ve arrived at the base of the mountain with all of the necessary skills and equipment to climb it. Now you have to climb.
My Shodan test took place in Providence, Rhode Island at Charles Earles’ dojo. The night before my test I was performing with a jazz band that was supposed stop at 1 a.m. but got hired on until 4 a.m. With travel time back to my home, an hour away, and rising in time to drive for the 9 a.m. start, I had two hours of sleep. It served me well. I was simply too tired to waste any energy on being nervous. Although I found Mr. Earle’s dojo disconcerting –all four walls were covered in floor to ceiling mirrors–I made it through the test. Among the successful candidates that day were a number of the North American seniors: Robert Campbell, Jack Summers, Buzz Durkin and Jimmy Maloney. The test, in spite of my tiredness, was both exhilarating and an immense relief. I can remember feeling a sense of culmination and a new beginning. The wisdom traditions point out that it is the Path that is the goal. I could feel my feet firmly placed on the Path of the Way of Karate.

What are our expectations for a candidate at any level? Before I go further, it is
important to point out that no two people are the same in what they bring to karate. Any attempts at creating a uniformity of students is a vain endeavor. So there is a base line of expectations mitigated by who the karateka is and how far they’ve come developmentally. While there are identifiable traits to each dojo’s karate form, there will still be a fairly wide spectrum of abilities within each rank, within each dojo, as well as within Uechi-ryu.

There are a number of things to look for in a candidate .

Kata/Junbi Undo/Hojo Undo/Zhan Zhuang (–a traditional qigong standing meditation as practiced at the beginning of each class at Cold Mountain)

1) Accuracy of movement.
2) Refinement of movement.
3) Integration of movement.
4) Quality of movement.
5) Speed/heaviness.
6) Strength/power.
7) Spectrum of movement –from the large to the detailed or nuanced.
8) Understanding.
9) Presence of being.
10) Intensity or projection of intent.
11) Centre.
12) Spirit.
13) Depth.
14) Stillness.

In addition to the above:

1) Timing and distancing.
2) Flow.
3) Consistency.
4) Footwork.
5) Clarity.
6) Accuracy of targeting.
7) Defensive skill.
8) Resilience.
9) Ability to control another’s attacks with followups.
10)Strategy and tactics.

Obviously, the higher the Dan rank, up to and including Godan –where the emphasis on the physical reaches its apex– the higher the expectations. In general, as a matter of comparison, one would probably rarely give more than a five out of ten to any Shodan candidate whereas, for a Godan candidate one would expect 10 out 10. But this is ideal. Such scores do not account for the person, their body size and strength, their depth of being, their athletic ability or lack thereof, their age, their gender and so forth. Nor does it recognize that in some individuals where one area is lacking, there are compensatory skills which more than make up for any weaknesses. The frustration for test board members is that, if we established absolutes for any particular rank (if that were even possible), few would ever pass their test and advance. So we have to look carefully at the individual, understand what a base line expectation is, and assess from that basis. Any test board also has to assess whether or not advancement or delay is in the best interests of the candidate. Advancement can offer encouragement whereas delay can discourage a candidate. On the other hand, a delay can offer a meaningful “gateless gate” to pass through. The pretest for the lower Dan ranks is an excellent means of providing feedback to a candidate. (For Sandan candidates and above a pretest hardly seems necessary unless there is a particular area of weakness to be addressed).

If we only reward good form with advancement, any candidate with natural physical skill will succeed. But is there depth? Is there stillness or centre etc.? What if the form is lacking but those last categories are abundantly present? The Dan test itself is a great help in this. Sanchin Kata, primary Kata and sparring all must meet base line expectations with, at least, minimum scores. The remainder of the scores must average out to a base line average. This means that some categories may not be as strong as others but the over all profile of a candidate’s ability must meet minimum expectations.

Border line cases are often difficult and result in considerable test board discussion and even debate. And test boards don’t always get it right. Since each member has a vote, a simple majority is all that is necessary to determine the outcome. The critical thing to remember is that determining a candidate’s test outcome should not be approached from a rigid frame of reference since the practice is designed to benefit the candidate, not to reward or punish. While it is a fairly select group who will achieve advanced rank in Uechi-ryu, it must not be an exclusive group.

We are not looking to reward only the “best of the best”. We are offering a Way. The Way is not limited to the physically gifted, it is available to all who undertake it and diligently pursue it. The question always to be asked is, will passing or delaying a candidate further them in their pursuit of the Way? This decision must be made from a place of wisdom rather than absolutes. The higher the rank to be granted, the more that intangibles must be assessed. In other words, there are three areas to be assessed in Uechi-ryu: Body Mind and Spirit. At the lower end of the Dan ranks we assess mostly on the basis of Body. In the mid range of Dan ranks, Mind plays a greater role.

At the upper range of Dan ranks, Spirit is paramount. Of course, for the master ranks, we are also assessed on the basis of our contributions to Uechi-ryu.In the end, the only thing that matters is one’s practice. Rank serves to advance the dojo more than its head teacher. All benefit from advancement that is real. But there is a danger in that advanced rank, when personalized, can become a matter of ego fulfillment.

Years ago at a gathering of Zen students a young man came up to me and introduced himself as being a fourth degree black belt in a Korean sword martial art. He was aware that I had some background in martial arts so he promptly asked me what rank I was. I told him that I too was a fourth degree black belt. I then asked him how long he had been practicing his martial art and he replied, “Four years”. Somewhat taken aback I said, “Well then you are a much more gifted martial artist than I”. (And I tried to say this without any intended irony as I could see his pride of accomplishment). After quite visibly basking in that praise, he thought to ask how long I had been practicing and I said, “Fifteen years”. That ended our conversation.

We should neither take pride in being stingy with awarding advanced rank nor should we be indiscriminate by handing it out like candy. Advanced rank should be meaningful. However we view a test candidate, the rank attained must be merited. Furthermore, while those of us who teach can neither take the credit nor the blame for a candidate’s outcome, we are still responsible for them.

I have also had students, off and on over the years, who are very judgmental towards themselves (and others). Usually after a test, they come to me and say, “I really don’t think that I deserve . . . .” So I’ve always said, “You’re questioning the test board’s judgement? Give me back your black belt!” They never have. It’s always a transparent ploy for reassurance. I then say, “I guess that you’ll have to work extra hard to fulfill your own standards.” Sometimes karateka dip down into a bit of depression following a successful test. As if life would suddenly change for the better with their new rank. I guess that the disappointment lies in the reality that they are no more skilled a day after the test than they were a day before the test. The achievement is, in the end, ephemeral. In Zen, there are “gateless gates” to pass through. Barriers that present various challenges to the depth of our realization. There are times when the barriers seem  insurmountable and it takes every bit of our effort to squeak through. But that required effort, brought to bear, is the means of opening to transformation. Never easy but always essential. In a recent Nidan test, one of the successful candidates had her daughter video her test. She told me that, after viewing her test on video, she finally realized, “I’m a martial artist!”

I said, “Welcome”.

Apr 22

How The DanTest Process Works!

IUKF Dan Testing Ranks (Shodan through Godan)

By Harry Skeffington, International Black Belt Test Administrator

The International Uechi-ryu Karate Federation (IUKF) encourages teachers to conduct Dan tests for ranks Shodan through Godan (1st through 5th Dan) with other dojo.  While this is not a requirement, it is meant to encourage IUKF dojo to support each other and maintain testing standards.  Testing requirements, procedures, and test scoring forms can be found in the Black Belt Test Guide, and is made available to each member of the IUKF upon receipt of membership payment.

The IUKF, a world-recognized black belt test authority and registry, requires that all test applications be processed by the International Black Belt Test administrator (IBBTA).  The online application form, to begin the testing process can be located on the home page of this site.  Harry Skeffington, the current administrator, can be reached at  for help on submitting applications.

The IUKF requires all instructors to submit test applications 30 days prior to a scheduled Dan test date, in order to ensure the timely delivery of Dan test certificates.

Role of the IBBTA

The role of the IBBTA is to verify the qualification of Dan test candidate applications that are submitted.  The IBBTA does not promote or fail candidates for rank. This responsibility rests solely with the instructor and test board.  This list of qualifications can be found in the Black Belt Test Guide on page 3. In brief, the qualifications verified are:

1) the total time studied;

2) time in grade;

3) instructor approval;

4) the status of IUKF membership(paid membership for a minimum 1 year); and

5) that the candidate must be with their approving instructor for a minimum of one year prior to submitting the application.

The tool most commonly used for verification is the IUKF Black Belt Registry. Instructors may be contacted by the IBBTA as part of the approval process.

Upon approval, the IBBTA will send a confirmation e-mail to the instructor and candidate, stating that the candidate qualifies for promotion. Instructions will also be included for the instructor(s) regarding payment for the Dan test and certificate fee*.

Master’s Ceremony

The IUKF recognizes Dan ranks six through nine as master ranks.  The Master’s Ceremony is held once a year at SummerFest.  In order to participate, master-rank candidates must submit their applications to the IBBTA no later than July 1.  All master rank applications will be reviewed by the Master rank committee.  Upon approval, the candidate(s) will be notified, and a brief biography of the candidate will be required 10 days prior to SummerFest.

Titles (Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi, Hanshi Sei)

The IUKF Titles committee reviews nominees based upon age, years of active participation, contribution and service to the art of Uechi-Ryu Karate, and recommendations submitted by the candidate’s peers.

Please refer to the IUKF Titles requirements page at, regarding-titles-of honor and further information. All candidate submissions must be received by Bruce Witherell  the Titles committee chairman, at least six months prior to the Master’s Ceremony, in order to allow adequate review of the candidate’s application.  Upon approval of the application, the nominee will be awarded an “Honors” certificate.

Thank you,

George E. Mattson, President IUKF.

Apr 22

Darin Yee, VP

Hello Friends and Senseis,

darin yee 5-18-08-CThis is a reminder to watch for the next regional workout being held near you.

There is no politics.  Just a great workout with our Uechi Family and a dinner/social afterwards at a nice pub right across the parking lot.  All respectable dojos are welcome and encouraged to attend.

This 2 hour workout will consist of a few warm ups, stretching exercises, punching and kicking drills, performing all 8 katas, discussion and practice of choice techniques within all 8 katas and if we have any time, we can train some of the fighting techniques I used during my fighting days.

The mat fee is $15 per person.  This will cover the rental of the space, the payment for a custodian and insurance which was required for the rental.

Regional workouts are opened to all ranks.  I have assigned black belts to work with students who don’t know the higher katas.  At the last regional workout, I invited some of my Jr. black belts and they had a great time.  I am again allowing them to attend.  Please ask your Jr. black belts to attend also.  Remember they will be the future of our system.  We should want to get them involved and prepare them for the future.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  You have my email address.

Darin Yee

Apr 20

Brett Maine Appointed. . .

Brett Maine

Brett Maine

Uechi-ryu sensei Brett Maine has been formally appointed as IUKF Membership Director.

Brett, in his new position, will be in charge of handling all membership issues, including updating the master database, issuing permanent ID numbers with a membership kit.

Good luck Brett in your new jobs.

Brett’s email address is:

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