“The Old Way” by Grandmaster George E. Mattson, 10-Dan
What a great time to take the opportunity to learn what I believe to be a whole new approach to Uechi-ryu and path to understanding the not fully understood phrase. . . “All is in Sanchin”!
I have been studying, practicing, and teaching this fascinating fighting system since 1958, when I established the first Mattson Academy in Boston, after returning home from a two-year tour on the Island of Okinawa, where I studied Uechi-ryu karate from Grand Master Ryuko Tomoyose and Grand Master Kanei Uechi.
Tomoyose Sensei always talked about how Shushiwa taught Kanbun Uechi in China and related it to how he would have liked to have taught me, had I been able to stay on Okinawa for many years and if I had the patience it took to endure this “Old Way” of learning Uechi-ryu.
I understood that the “Old Way” was not very exciting and certainly would not be a method that I could introduce to the West, especially since it wasn’t even practiced on Okinawa. Because of this, the “Old Way” remained in hiding for over 50 years.
It was not until 2019 did I create a program that successfully taught what I call “body flow” that sort of reverse-engineers body movement, maximizes energy, power, speed, and timing into a combined “body flow” in an amazingly effective, fast, and simple way. . . in a 12-week program.
For new students, at the end of the Old Way course, you will have learned the primary kata Sanchin and the “body flow” used throughout the system. For experienced students, you will have learned the way to bring your Uechi-ryu practice to the next level. In addition, you will understand how “All is in Sanchin!”
What other students says…
I just finished my 15 minute closed gate mediation. It was challenging, but not as challenging as some other days this week. I have officially completed George Mattson’s 12 Week OldWay course!!!!! (At least phase 1😉)
And I am very pleased & proud of myself for doing it and am very glad I signed up. It was an amazing and very valuable experience. I can’t put a price on the knowledge I’ve gained in the last 12 weeks, I know it will continue to benefit me and whoever I teach. I also know that my learning is not done and that I still have lots of practice to put in to improve on what I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to tackling Kimi-in the OldWay!
Sensei Kristin Amirault, is a Black Belt 5th Dan degree in Uechi-Ryu, and she helps Patty Young run the “Young’s Uechi-Ryu Karate & Fitness” dojo in Nova Scotia, Canada.
What other students says…
I am studying this excellent program right now. Although I have been practicing Uechi Ryu for over 55 years and am a 10-Dan, I have accumulated some bad habits that need to be corrected and there is always room for improvement no matter your rank. Furthermore, the program is really designed for newer students so they learn Sanchin properly from the start and “corrects” some movements their senseis may have “changed” for whatever reasons and some may even be harmful. Sanchin is an old kata originated from China and consists of some important ideas and concepts some later generation Senseis may not have learned themselves. Always try to improve.
Sensei Henry Thom, 10° Dan Uechi Ryu
Opinion from one of our students
For many years I’ve taught new students as Sempai and I had pride in being able to teach a new student Sanchin kata within a couple of classes. Years later after realizing many of those students had no passion for Sanchin kata the “Sanchin mill” needed restructuring. Once a student moves on to the next kata without a good understanding of what Sanchin is the likelihood of them staying with Uechi-Ryu is significantly reduced. The “ Old Way” method may seem slow (and boring) but with proper reinforcements it definitely can be weaved into teaching new students and expanding on the knowledge of the seasoned practitioners.
Personally I’ve found I’ve eliminated the segmentation of my Sanchin kata to a great degree already, I feel more like the kata is one continuous movement instead of the stop and go I was frustrated with in the past. My stance has become my entire body not just my legs and feet. The Sanchin thrusting drill which at one time I used for strengthening my grip and learning to strike out hard has become actually stronger without actively thinking about the next thrust be hard or harder. I’ve applied this to my kayaking and I no longer wake the next day to sore shoulders.
Another benefit is I can now look at everything I do that involves motion with a different perspective, isn’t that an important part of our studies? Many individuals go through their lives without experiencing a real street fight…what a shame if that was their only reason to study such an interesting art that really is Mind, Body and Spirit.
I could add much more but for now I must get into motion.
My best always,
Students are getting great benefits from our courses
I am completely loving the old way course so far! It is informative and really a pleasure. I did the morning exercises today and felt blood flowing. This is real pleasure for me, I currently train in judo, Brazilian jujitsu, and Shingitai jujitsu – with various other martial arts in my past. But Uechi has always alluded me. I do the daily hojo undo my father taught me and use the makiwara.
When you would suggest I join the monthly program to begin my training and work towards rank and goals? Thank you again and I hope you are enjoying Florida! Ohio is rather dark and cold today.
Dr. Michael E. Polnik
Thank you for the encouraging feedback. I will be sure to pay attention for any pain or discomfort in the warmup as I progress. Nothing I can think of so far though.
I feel that my training is going well. The old way training continues to be a huge eye-opener for me. It’s changing the way I move and the way that I think about movement in general. It is also responsible, I think, for a different (deeper?) change that I have noticed lately. It is difficult to describe but I will try. I can say that I am smiling now when I complete my workouts. I feel calm and accomplished. Not accomplished as in “a job well done” but more so as if I have just placed the last piece into a very large puzzle. Satisfied maybe? It’s hard to explain but it is definitely a different feeling than I am used to. (Before, my martial arts workouts were all about releasing anger and frustration and I would feel I had done well if my knuckles were sore.) This “internal shift” feels important so I wanted to go ahead and share it with you.
Hope you are doing well! Just posted my 30th post on my workout blog which means that 30 days passed since I joined your Academy and virtual dojo.
Time is flying by so quickly. And although it was only the first 30 days, I have learned so much from you already. I would have never learned so much in a real 3D dojo because the time we spend there is very limited compare to this.
I just started week 4 in the old way course and I like it very much. It’s like computer programming which takes time but then it goes automatically.
Building muscle memory is time consuming but as I go ahead in the week, I feel like my sanchin gets better and better. Especially the parts that I already practiced in the old way course.
Double high thrusts felt really good today. Natural & flowing. As soon as I completed them I did a kata workout. 3 Sanchin, 3 Seisan, 3 Sanseiryu, 1 each of the 5 bridging Uechi Kata, Nijuroku, & Superempi. They were the smoothest, most fluid, most effortless kata I’ve ever performed. They felt wonderful. Maybe it was the 15 mins of double high thrusts first, or maybe that I was on my dad’s lawn watching the lake I grew up on, my most favourite place. Doing the Sanchin kata, both the 3 early morning ones & then the ones in my kata practice, I also worked on having less of a pause between my turns/steps & thrusts, I think that is becoming more fluid as well.
I definitely feel the energy flow, and it’s now clear it’s more than just blood flow into the hands from the multiple repetitions. Fixing the angle of my opening thrust has helped with lowering my center of gravity right at the beginning of the form. Settling down into the hara / dan tien and doing the thrusts in a more relaxed, mushin manner really makes a difference in the “feel” of the movement. I will let that feeling happen with the sanchin thrusts this week as I work through more repetitions of the Week 3 exercise.
I get the feeling you are clueing us in (via experience) that maybe Uechi is more of an “internal” art than most people appreciate. We don’t discuss ki or chi that much in our training, but it’s clear the mechanics lend to developing power in a different way than just “striking harder”.
I am about a week into the first week of the old way and I’d like to share my thoughts. At first, I was annoyed. I am thinking, I’ll never get a rank doing this. I’m not learning much…then as the time goes by, my mind starts to settle and wonder. I was thinking, did I set out to learn Uechi Ryu or get a rank? This brought up a lot of thoughts for me…and I sort of settled into the moment of doing the movement. Or rather “it” was happening. Then I had to ponder, if this is how the founder of my art learned, who am I to question. I am the one who is learning.
Then, I started to feel that this simple arm thrust is a foundation for sanchin as the first movement of sanchin starts to occur now without my thought. The move “happened.”
I am loving the growth that is happening with the old way. Thank you again and have a wonderful day sensei!
Dr. Michael E. Polnik