Training Elements

Additional training elements

Kanei Uechi, besides adding kata, also introduced a sequence of exercises to the Uechi-Ryū training regimen. The junbi undo are warm-up and stretching exercises based on Asian school training exercises. The “hojo undō” are standardized exercises that incorporate elements of all of the katas of the system.

The junbi undo exercises are:

  1. Ashi saki o ageru undo (heel pivot)
  2. Kakato o ageru undo (heel lift)
  3. Ashikubi o mawasu undo (foot and ankle twist)
  4. Hiza o mawasu undo (knee circular bend)
  5. Ashi o mae yoko shita ni nobasu undo (leg lift and turn)
  6. Ashi o mae uchi naname ni ageru undo (straight leg lift)
  7. Tai o mae ni taosu undo (waist scoop)
  8. Koshi no nenten (trunk stretch)
  9. Ude o mae yoko shita ni nobasu undo (double arm strike)
  10. Kubi o mawasu undo (neck rotation)

The hojo undo exercises are:

  1. Sokuto geri (Side kick)
  2. Shomen geri (Front kick)
  3. Mawashi tsuki (Hook Punch)
  4. Hajiki uke hiraken tsuki (Tiger paw blocks and strike)
  5. Seiken tsuki (Closed Fist Punch)
  6. Wauke shuto uraken shoken tsuki / Shuto Uchi – Ura Uchi – Shoken Tsuki (Chop, Back-fist, One-knuckle punch)
  7. Hiji tsuki (Elbow strikes)
  8. Tenshin zensoku geri (Turn-Block-Front Kick-Forward Leg)
  9. Tenshin kosoku geri (Turn-Block-Front Kick-Back Leg)
  10. Tenshin shoken tsuki (Turn-Block-One Knuckle Punch)
  11. Shomen hajiki (fingertip strikes)
  12. Koi no shippo uchi, tate uchi (wrist blocks in four directions)
  13. Koi no shippo uchi, yoko uchi (Fish-tail wrist blocks)
  14. Shin Kokyu (Deep breathing)

Training Sparring Drills

Kanei Uechi developed a set of pre-arranged sparring exercises for the pre-black colored belt ranks. These exercises are referred to as yakusoku kumite. They involve two partners exchanging a formal sequence of blocks and strikes. There are five to eleven of these exercises, and each one involves three to six exchanges of single blocks and strikes. The kumite exercises involve blocks and strikes that are, for the most part, also found in Uechi-Ryū kata. Thus, like kata no bunkai, these exercises help students become familiar with the application of Uechi-Ryū techniques. Typically, the highest kyu ranks are expected to be able to move through these exercises with great strength and fluidity. Dan level students practice additional pre-arranged sparring exercises.

Applications of kata are also practiced in a pre-arranged format. These patterns are called kata no bunkai. Kanshiwa Bunkai and Seisan Bunkai date to Kanei Uechi. Other bunkai for other katas, such as Kanshu and Seichin, are also often practiced but may vary in format more from dojo to dojo.

Special forms of strength training and body conditioning are generally practiced in Uechi-Ryū drilling. A formal Uechi-Ryū forearm conditioning exercise, called kote kitae, involves the ritualized pounding of one’s fists and forearms against the forearms of a partner. Kanbun Uechi learned this conditioning exercise in China. A similar Uechi-Ryū exercise involves exchanging leg kicks with a partner (ashi kotae).

Working with a makiwara is also a part of Uechi-Ryū training. Uechi-Ryū karateka also incorporate other traditional Okinawan physical conditioning exercises as part of their training, such as plunging hands into baskets full of rocks, or performing Sanchin kata leg movements while gripping nigiri-game (heavy stone jars).