What is Uechi-ryu Karate-Do?

Uechi-Ryū Karate-Do (meaning: The way of the style of Uechi karate) is a traditional style of Okinawan karate and one of the three main styles of Karate practiced on Okinawa today.  Originally called Pangai Noon, the style was renamed Uechi-Ryū after the death of Kanbun Uechi in 1948 (see History).  The style was expanded and popularized by his son Kanei Uechi.

Pangai Noon, meaning “half-hard, half-soft”, refers to the principle in Uechi-ryu where one develops body flow to maximize energy, power, speed, and timing by accelerating movements with no tension (soft); and focusing energy at contact (hard).  Uechi-ryu (Pangai Noon) is derived from the tiger, crane and dragon.  It is a very practical style of karate for self-defense emphasizing front facing stances and body position; circular blocking movements; tenshin (evading) movement; combined block/strike techniques; kicks below the waist; and toe, knuckle and open hand striking.

There are eight kata in Uechi-Ryū.  The three original kata from Pangai Noon are SanchinSeisan, and Sanseiryu.  The other five kata were added to the style by Kanei Uechi and other senior students of Kanbun to help the student further develop their Uechi-ryu techniques. Sanchin kata is the foundation of the style.  Kanbun Uechi is quoted as saying, “All is in Sanchin (see the Old Way).”

The eight kata are:

  • Sanchin
  • Kanshiwa
  • Kanshū
  • Seichin
  • Seisan
  • Seiryū
  • Kanchin
  • Sanseiryū

In addition to the eight kata, the style practices Junbi Undo stretching exercises; Hojo Undo technique-based warm-up exercises; pre-arranged kumite (sparring); free-style kumite (sparring); Bunkai (kata movement application); Kotikitae (arm conditioning); and Ashikitae (leg conditioning).

Kanei Uechi
Ryuko Tomoyose