May 16 2007

Mel Brand Interview

Update: 5/25/2007:
I had a chance to listen to the interview with my father today.  It was awsome to listen to.  It was nice to listen to the two of you talking about those times.  It was also nice to hear my father sounding so happy. 
Thank you
Michael Brand
Note: A winning entry arrived!

Sensei Mattson,
I believe the boy in the photo on your webpage is a young Kiyohide Shinjo.
                                 Walt Young

A Very Interesting Interview with Mel Brand!

(This is not his picture. . . but a picture of a student in the Kadena dojo during the time Mel was on Okinawa. Oh yes… a free set of training posters will be given to the first person who e-mails me with the name of the student! Compliments of Ihor Rymaruk.) Click on the student’s picture for the link to the interview & more pictures.
Although I am given credit for being an early pioneer of Uechi-ryu, there were actually Americans who “dabbled” in the dojo of Okinawa even before me. Most were only interested in learning how to fight and the Okinawans allowed them to punch the makiwara and kick a heavy bag until they tired of the hard work and quit.
A few years after I returned to America, a few soldiers actually requested duty on Okinawa in order to study Uechi-ryu in a serious and diligent manner. Milford “Mel” Brand was one of these individuals.Mel studied a little Judo in Fort Bragg before being transferred to Okinawa. Soon after his arrival he was fortunate in discovering the dojo of Master Seiyu Shinjo in the village of Kadeda. From that day on, Mel trained whenever possible and before returning to the states, earned his Shodan (1st degree Black Belt).

A few weeks ago, Mel’s son Michael Brand contacted me and asked if I would like to have some photographs taken on Okinawa that his father gave him. Naturally I wanted to also find out more information about Michaels’ father and one thing led to another, resulting in the one hour interview I did with Mel this morning.
We don’t have a lot of factual, documented history relating to our style. Most of what we do and what we know is stored in the mind-vaults of the early practitioners of our art who were fortunate enough to have trained with the original masters of Uechi-ryu – many who actually studied with Kanbun Uechi and the original techniques and methods taught by Kanbun.
I hope you enjoy the “off the cuff” discussion between two “very old” timers as they reminisce and recall the teachings and philosophies of early Uechi-ryu and as taught by the most respected of teachers. . . Shinjo, Seiyu.

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May 15 2007

More Bad Science

More bad science
by Bill Glasheen
I hate it when “junk science” makes it into the mainstream media – particularly when it is politically motivated. I’ve been all over the CO2 “doom and gloom” scenarios in other threads.

This one is about a study allegedly linking vitamin use with prostate cancer. The study will be published Wednesday, but already USA Today is all over it.

But wait… Get past the sensationalist headlines, and you see a different picture.

Here’s the deal. Sooner or later, men are going to get prostate cancer. Live long enough, and you get it. Some get it sooner than others.

In the past, studies were done to see if vitamins would somehow aid the body’s ability in fighting cancer. Well… It doesn’t work that way. You see those rapidly proliferating, nondifferentiated cells like those vitamins just as much as the “normal” ones do. So feed the cancer, and guess what happens? Duh! It grows!

So the news stories are coming out saying there is a link between vitamin use and cancer. This is not news. It is 3 decade old news. WE ALREADY KNOW that if you feed cancer cells they grow faster. A common tactic to treat estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells is to deny them their estrogen. But you don’t really want to be inhibiting estrogen in normal women, do you? Of course not. Same with prostate cancer. Higher testosterone levels may make the cancer grow faster. Want to neuter us all so we’ll never get it? Be my guest!

Meanwhile… Read many, many layers deep in the articles, and the truth comes out. The vitamins don’t really affect the incidence of new cancers. It’s only about what happens once you already have it.

The study as written up in the junk science press doesn’t say anything about the types of multivitamins that the 300K high risk men were taking. It could have been anything fron one-a-days to Grandma’s Organic Brew. IF however the vitamins had contained lycopene (known to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer), then the results could have been different.

The moral of the story? Read your junk science articles carefully. Consider the source. Who gains by paying attention to the study? Who loses? And get past the fear-eliciting headlines and to the source data. What do they say? How carefully was the study done? Was it randomized, or an epidemiologic study? Does the experimental design make sense?

Everything in moderation, and with a bit of common sense.

- Bill


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May 10 2007

How Often Do You See This???

Invitation from Darin Yee…..

Darin called me yesterday and said: “Hey George… Every year a few of us enjoy a game of golf on Thursday, the day before SummerFest begins. How about inviting some of the other karate golfers to join us this year?”

Well Darin. I think it is a great idea!

So. . . all you golfers who want to be part of the first annual SummerFest Golf Tournament. . . please contact Darin ( as soon as possible for the details. Darin knows all the best courses on the South Shore and is bound to organize one great event. See you on the first tee!

How often do you see this?

What is the value of an apology?
By Bill Glasheen (Dojo Roundtable Moderator)
Some consider it a virtue; some consider it vice.There’s this whole “liberal guilt” think that goes on that frankly sickens me. In the recent first 2008 Democratic debates, some (Edwards in particular) were falling all over themselves to “apologize” for their vote pertaining to the war in Iraq. Somehow they were supposed to have known that the intelligence was bad, right? And if you don’t now apologize, you aren’t a true Democrat, right? Frankly my view of Hillary went way up when she stuck by her guns and said she made the best decision with the available information. Of all the people debating, she appeared to be one of the few with “a set.” Go figure…

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Apr 21 2007

Welcome to Ihor…

Eastern Arts and is very pleased to welcome
Iron Arm International and it’s founder, Ihor Rymaruk to our family of site sponsors. Besides supporting this site financially, Ihor will be involving himself with our renovated "On-line" Learning Center and other site activities. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rymaruk sensei, I’ve posted a small biography of this talented and gifted martial art instructor, author and innovative inventor.

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Apr 12 2007

Calling Topos

This forum entry is worthy of “home page” coverage. I hope you enjoy the “trip down memory lane” as much as I did this morning. For those of you who have not had the privilege of meeting “Topos”, suffice it to say that he is a national Uechi-ryu treasure who has been studying Uechi-ryu for a  long time and has a wicked good memory.

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Calling Topos,

You are obviously someone who knows a whole lot more than most, what violence is. 

How do you see uechi ryu karate, as a system of hand to hand survival, and how do you approach the integration of karate with all of your other training?

What are your thoughts about karate?

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Apr 09 2007

Van Canna Sensei promoted to 9th dan & Hanshi title

Eastern Arts Newsletter Proudly announces. . .
Van Canna sensei, awarded 9th degree black belt and Master’s title of “Hanshi”. April 9th, 2007


The I.U.K.F. honors Van Canna’s many years of service to the Uechi-ryu community with this master’s title and rank.
George Mattson, the president of I.U.K.F. and Van Canna’s teacher, recommended to the Board of Directors that Canna sensei be elevated to 9th Dan and be honored with the third gold stripe and title of “Hanchi”. This promotion is in recognition for his many years of teaching, his creation of innovative and important “realist” programs, for the validation of such a step by the old New England Uechi brotherhood, and for his ongoing work as “moderator” on Eastern Arts Forums.
George Mattson recommended the promotion and title at the April’s Board of Directors meeting, where all directors were present. Following a discussion where Mattson highlighted Canna sensei’s many accomplishments over the years and his ongoing loyalty to both his teacher, Uechi-ryu and the I.U.K.F., the board voted and unanimously approved the promotion.
In addition to meeting all the requirements and standards for both his rank and title, Canna sensei symbolizes the selfless dedication and hard work from seniors that is needed to build the traditional martial arts and provide the leadership for maintaining Uechi-ryu as one of the world’s most important “Warrior” arts.
As a senior member of I.U.K.F., Canna sensei has agreed to serve on the “titles” committee. He and other committee members help and assist other master degree candidates select thesis topics or other work that will qualify them for the titles of Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi.
Canna sensei will be presented his kyudan certificate and “Hanshi” belt and certificate in a formal ceremony at this year’s SummerFest. George Mattson will be presenting the belt and certificates.
- – -
On a personal note: George Mattson, the Board of Directors of I.U.K.F. and the Uechi-ryu world of martial artist, wish to congratulate Canna sensei and hope that he will continue to remain active and an inspiration to all students and teachers

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Apr 01 2007

SummerFest 2007

SummerFest 2007

SummerFest 2007Hope everyone is thinking about the upcoming SummerFest for 2007. The dates are July 27-29th and the place is the Mass Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA. (Everytime I see the picture on the left, I remember all the good times and good friends these “Fests” represent to me!)

I never know who will show up, but the regulars can always be counted on to provide the “best of the best” material from all the familiar subjects we have come to appreciate and look forward to practicing.
My “core” Uechi program has taken on some new subjects while retaining all the important basics that my seminars have become known for. After so many years of trying to “pin down” the breathing explanations, I’ve become comfortable explaining it finally and after 50+ years, feel that the secret (if we wish to call it that) remains in Sanchin. In addition to my 6:30AM Sanchin on the Beach seminars, I’ll be teaching my “Flinch” kyu kumite drill, that was previewed in a forum clip a while back and has matured to something that should be of interest to all ranks and all skill levels.
By now, all you “frequent flyers” here on know, running an annual camp cannot happen without “you”. We need support from all the martial artists who practice and enjoy “crossing arms” with other players from other dojo and other systems.
This year we will once again have a full Uechi-ryu schedule; one that will keep all ranks busy and productively exploring the system. We are hoping that teachers of other systems will again be joining us to share what they are doing and in the process learn more about Uechi-ryu.
Of course, one of the main reasons people come back year after year is to meet new people and renew old friendships.
The only way the SummerFest formula can continue is:
  • Sign up early yourself.
  • Get your dojo to support the event. Get your friends to join you and encourage them to get their friends involved. Consider renting a bus to take your dojo’s group to Bourne this year.
  • If you have something of value that you wish to teach in a one hour seminar, contact me ASAP with a brief description of your seminar
  • Get the kids in your dojo to sign-up for Jr. Fest on Saturday. A full day of excitement and martial arts.
  • Don’t wait. Please…. do it now!
George E. Mattson

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Mar 31 2007

Whoon Hei (chi)

I have long stayed away from any comments on this subject for fear of contradictions to another’s belief or understanding of such.  The practice of hei ghoun has always been a portion of every kung fu style I’ve learned beginning in 1960 and also in the twenty or so years I’ve been going to China for learning and training.

The Chinese art of Tai Chi has always been given credit for their practice of hei ghoun (some call it chi ghoun depending on what geographic location the speaker is from).  This is because most westerners do not see the value of Tai Chi as a fighting art. 

Most western martial artists adopting the macho Japanese attitude of strength conquers all does not see the importance of evasiveness and speed over strength. 

Many of the triad families in Hong Kong and China study and train in just that.  It is called “hai geat tharn shill” which in western terms means tai chi loose hands.  Most do not even care to learn the tai chi 108, 80, 40 nor the 24.  They just learn what they need to do what they must.

In truth, “hei ghoun” exist in every system and style.  The training is called “whoon hei” or “the movement of air”.  This health benefit credited to Tai Chi can be obtained in any and every style.  The secrete (if there really is a secrete) is in the way we take in and discharge the life giving air.  This has been taught to me since I was 9 years old.  This is also the understanding and teachings of every accomplished Chinese Martial Artist I’ve had the pleasure to meet and trained under.

We have it in Uechi-Ryu.  I make everyone of my students aware of the benefits of proper breathing.  As a matter of fact, I am developing a routine for my students to wind down after a hard work out.

Please do not forsake the importance of proper breathing.  Improper breathing on the other hand can become a detriment.  Be careful not to confuse the 2.   

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Mar 27 2007

“Happenings” around the Uechi-ryu World!

Happenings of interest around the Uechi World. . . .
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I am constantly amazed at how many people still have difficulty navigating the Internet. Naturally I’m comfortable with our website. . . after all, I designed and created it! :) However, I get at least one or two email a day from frustrated loyal followers of the site, who can’t figure out how to navigate the table of contents in the left frame.
Others, fearful of clicking the wrong link and destroying their computer or worse, our web site, will avoid all links, hoping that by “refreshing” the screen many times, that different pages will eventually pop up.
Still others, register for the Uechi-ryu site (this one) then expect to be able to post on the forums. Actually, this is not a dumb assumption; After all, both sites are run by me and share the same server. But for various reasons, I elected to keep these two sites separate and therefore if you wish to unlock a number of interesting areas here, you must register where indicated in the left frame. (By the way, I finally had a little time and was able to find just about all of the “lost” links in the archives, articles and other sites. These are only available to registered members of this site.)
Since I don’t often have time to “explore” the site, if any of you come across a missing link, a typo or other error, please feel free to contact me.
Now… Whats happening in the Uechi world that you should be interested in:
  • Hopefully you will all be joining me at this year’s SummerFest. It will be held July 27-29th at the Mass Maritime Academy. The application was just posted. You can print it out right now, fill it out and send it in with your payment. SummerFest is “THE” Martial Art Festival! Please plan to attend. You will (I promise) have a great time – meet lots of fantastic and friendly people and you will learn lot about many Uechi-compatible martial art systems.

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Mar 22 2007

Uechi-ryu: “A lifetime Activity”!


Uechi-ryu: “A Lifetime Activity”!
A good friend and Uechi-ryu teacher called me recently, asking advice regarding a gifted student he had, who was “breezing” through the Uechi curriculum in record time. The teacher’s question involved rules regarding speeded-up promotions and how to teach this individual, who could memorize a kata every couple days.
Wow, as teachers, we should all have such problems.
I thought about this for awhile, as in my nearly 50 years of teaching, I too was blessed with a couple of students who had what Bobby Campbell used to describe as “Stealing” eyes. (what was seen, could be repeated) Since Bob was one of those remarkable students, I was always challenged to keep his interest in working out, while focusing his attention on areas of training that were quite unorthodox for a fighting system like Uechi-ryu, where the kata were few and relatively easy to memorize.
Gifted students like Bobby, became the target for coaches in better known sports such as basketball and football. It was hard to focus his attention on an activity where achievement was recognized by a thin colored belt rather than the adoration of cheer leaders and a supercharged crowd of fans.
The challenge to retain students, whether gifted or garden variety klutzes, who after a year or two, become gifted, remains the same. The teacher must present the martial art material with goals that are different than what Western sports and activities normally attempt to achieve.

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