How time flies. Seems like I was writing last year’s holiday newsletter just a few weeks ago. Must have something to do with aging and enjoying life! Today Sue and I are joining friends for a Thanksgiving “Brunch” at a local resourt famous for its two magnificent golf courses and five star restaurant. I always feel that eating there is somewhat wasted on me, since I can only eat a small sampling of what is offered. I’m usually fully satiated after a couple trips to the buffet table while I watch others enjoy endless trips, enjoying all of the dishes.
Goals for 2011. . .
My biggest goal is to breath new life into our aging martial art camps. I’ve been going over the archive photos, newsletters and SummerFest documents. Being the first such camp meant lots of groundbreaking and imaginative thinking. I felt the need to bring Uechi practitioners together where our training methods could be critiqued and where new and innovative methods shared. My original idea was to invite the Okinawan Uechi community to attend and be part of this exchange and where their students could interact with our students. This didn’t work out for some reason, but what has happened to Uechi-ryu politically might have been much different if this could have succeeded.
The first camp was 100% devoted to working on core training, which was essentially doing what we do in class. I continued to invite our Okinawan teachers, but expanded the list to include other martial arts that were compatible with our Uechi-ryu. Delegations from China began to attend starting in 1984, along with grandmaster Kanei Uechi and his family. For the first time we saw and studied root systems from Fuzou China that were very much part of what we were doing. In 1985 I conducted the first Martial Art Tour to Okinawa (Which was also the first WinterFest) that over 100 attended.
As time went on, SummerFest evolved into a high energy event where students and teachers could learn more about their Uechi-ryu through other arts with similar origins yet with different interpretations and applications. There is no question that Uechi-ryu outside of Okinawa became more popular and relevent due to the camps.
I conducted an online “webinar” a few months ago that was very well attended by Uechi seniors. The theme was “How can we make SummerFest better!” Many very interesting and useful ideas were proposed and after I published a newsletter on the subject, I received quite a few e-mail with more excellent ideas.
One of the things that I discovered was that I failed to publicize the camp’s theme sufficiently. I simply asked people to attend, without a clear message as to what the person might expect to achieve. Others hoped that I could come out with a more detailed and planned itinerary, so students could put together their schedule prior to being there.
These and many more improvements will be made in 2011. Of course, one of the biggest changes is moving from the Mass Maritime Academy to an indoor/outdoor facility in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although many of us will miss working outside in view of the ocean, we decided that Plymouth was much easier to reach by car or bus and the usual gridlock on the weekend could be avoided for the “daytrippers”.
The next SummerFest will be held the 1st weekend in August and many more seniors will be assisting in the planning and implementation of the event and from the calls I’ve made so far, everyone is very happy about the new plans.
WinterFest is looking to be another great event. This year it is being hosted by the Mount Dora Recreation Department and is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 11th and 12th. This year, like SummerFest, the event will be focused on Uechi-ryu study and practice, with emphasis on technique involving core principles of our art. Susan and I have been working with the Chamber of Comerce and have many wonderful places to visit that will make the 2nd weekend in February a great place to take your Winter vacation. Next month’s newsletter will be devoted to the Martial Art WinterFest in Mount Dora.
I would like to see the Uechi community throughout the world delete all the internet video clips of teachers breaking things over the bodies of their students and clips where viewers are entertained watching teachers beating the $#%^ out of their students while the students stands like a statue, submissively taking the beating. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trying to explain to people that Uechi-ryu is not the famous karate system where people learn how to break things over their bodies and learn how to win fights by allowing their opponents to punch them until the opponent’s fist breaks!
Yes, it would be nice if Uechi practitioners could say they can all fight in a UFC match and win with their skill, but we can’t. It would be nice if Okinawa could brag about how tough their teachers are and how they can beat up any person in a fight, but they can’t!
Accept these facts and focus on what makes Uechi-ryu such a great physical art that has benefits that many people wish to have. Benefits that don’t include being a punching bag for the teacher.
If you have any questions about what our Uechi-ryu is all about, talk to the senior-senior members of our community. . . the ones who studied under Kanbun and remember the correct and healthy way to train their students. . . that does not include breaking things over their bodies or using them as makiwaras.
Gifts that you may enjoy giving or receiving…
I’ve received many e-mail from readers who plan on getting or giving my new “The Way of Uechi-ryu Karate” book for Christmas. Get your copy now!
From the Editor:
Note: As our inventory diminishes, the market price of this book rises. Get your copy now while a few copies remain!
Visit the book’s facebook page for reviews, comments and a look at the book’s contents. Click HERE!In the Fall of 1956, PFC George E. Mattson embarked on a journey to the Far East as a member of the US Army. An average Midwest kid, slight in stature and ignorant of the world, Mattson didn’t realize that he would one day be considered one of the fathers of modern martial arts.
The Way of Uechi-Ryu Karate is the story of one man’s journey of more than 50 years as a practitioner and teacher of classical Okinawan karate.
In his own words, Mattson recounts for the first time, the story of bringing the style of Uechi-ryu back from Okinawa to the United States. Written in novel style, Mattson takes the reader on a cultural tour of Japan and Okinawa before landing them in the city of Boston, MA where he set up his first dojo (hall of training) and began to teach the art of karate.
With Mattson’s honest writing style, the reader will get a visceral feel for the interesting events and characters that helped shape the face of modern karate. Mattson shares several behind the scene stories and tells of both his struggles and successes as he built Okinawan Uechi-ryu into one of the most successful and respected karate styles in the world.
Laced with history and culture in both text and imagery, the book can be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the martial arts.
This beautifully bound hard cover book is a library quality keepsake that can be passed on for generations. With nearly 500 pages of text and photos spanning over fifty years, it is a documented time capsule of the life of George E. Mattson and the development of Uechi-ryu karate in the United States. Complimented by a Gold embossed black hard cover, the book is surrounded by a sanguine-red dust jacket adorned with a beautiful new Chinese dragon.
The Way of Uechi-Ryu Karate includes an enormous appendix of articles and transliterations from a variety of sources and contributing authors, giving each book owner an instant library of excellent martial art reference materials.