I was asked these questions by a member of the IUKF from overseas, and I wanted to share my answers with the rest of the IUKF community.
1) Is Uechi Ryu about breaking boards?
The quick and easy answer to this question is NO. Breaking boards is not what karate is about. Breaking boards just demonstrates personal qualities one was gifted at birth. Not everyone was fortunate enough to have the size, strength, or speed to be the greatest fighter.
Karate was and always will be the science of fighting and teaching every student to use movements to be the best they can be. We should all realize that every martial arts student is different, and not everyone can do what someone else does. We should all train and study to understand what’s best for ourselves and not try to be exactly like someone else.
The greatest fighter does not mean the greatest martial artist. I grew up in a neighborhood where tremendous fighters never took one martial arts lesson. Train honestly and diligently, and you will gain the respect of everyone.
2) How do I achieve control in the vicious attacks of Sanchin? How many students train in an aggressive way?
We are a product of our beliefs and training. If you are asking about the Sanchin kata, I agree Sanchin is an aggressive kata. I’ve always been taught that defense is usually a move backward. In my opinion, Sanchin is a continuous forward kata which demonstrates our intention to be aggressive.
Although most people just perform their katas with strong, powerful movements, my firm conviction is that everyone should train like the Dragon with slow, decisive, exact actions seeking perfection in balance and stability. Second, train like the Crane and flow with smooth, connecting movements while the body adjusts to the timing and feeling the natural body movements to create the most powerful strikes and intercepting blocks. The power of the Tiger can be achieved in so many different ways.
As for how many students train in that fashion? I try not to judge others for what they do. I have always trained to improve myself and freely offer my acquired experiences to anyone wanting what I have to offer. Everyone should train in whatever way they feel would make them the most productive martial artist they can be.
3) Does the kata end with each one in the corner of the Dojo?
While I’m not sure of the intent of the question, I hope the following will suffice.
As performed by contemporary practitioners, Uechi-Ryu Kata will begin at one spot and end up wherever they end up. However, I trained in the old Chinese belief where I would start on one spot and end my kata in the same spot. Much Chinese nuances and philosophy have been lost since Pong Gai Noon was brought to Okinawa.
The sad truth is most people study believing they will become a great fighter. That may be true. Training will give most people more confidence, and that alone will increase your fighting abilities.
Always remember, you are who you are. You will hopefully become the best that you can be. Please do not compare yourself with others. No matter how good of a fighter you may believe you’ve become, sooner or later, there will always be someone younger, stronger, and faster.
Always be proud of your training and accomplishments. You can always share and pass on your knowledge, but no one can transfer their abilities. Being a good fighter does not automatically make you a great teacher.
4) Should you fight like you fight in Kyokushin, letting the blows in? Or are you looking for a knockout?
I’ve met a lot of students who believe Uechi-Ryu is a one-strike one-kill system. I cannot speak for others, but I’ve trained continuously for over 60 years, and I honestly cannot expect that outcome with most of my Uechi-Ryu strikes. We train to understand our personal abilities and limitations.
I trained to use my Uechi-Ryu movements to deflect an attack while injecting a counterattack simultaneously.
Please understand the most important thing in a fight is not how much you can hurt your opponent. The most important thing about getting into a fight is not getting hurt yourself.
I hope I’ve been of some help to you.