Jan 23 2013

You are Never too Old!

You Are Never Too Old To Learn Uechi-ryu Karate

         It was at the Summer fest 2010 I met George Mattson for the second time.  I had studied Uechi-ryu karate with George in 1965 and 66 in Boston, but stopped because, like many of us, work, travel and family took priority.  Surprisingly George remembered me (still has great memory) and encouraged me to look up Darin Yee as I live in Plymouth where Darin teaches.  I was 74 at the time and not to anxious to take the beating I remembered from years gone by.  In your 20’s it’s great fun, not later in life.  I lived in CT for many years and studied under John Spencer for a few months, again family and business took priority.  So I had good memories of the people I met and the unique “hard-soft” philosophy imbedded in Uechi-ryu.  So why not give it a try again (third time never fails, right?).

While I did not remember much of my kata from past years, some of the drills from instructors like Bob Fulton still resonated.  Yet I had been away from karate for so long Darin was dealing with a green kyu and not a “retread”.  This made it easier for both of us.  I was totally uninformed and he didn’t have to explain why his technique was different.  At this point I must emphasize that Darin teaches Uechi-ryu karate and not some variant.  So it was easy for me to get back in the groove.  Easy but painful because a 70 plus year old body doesn’t bend the way it did 50 years ago.

As I worked out and I have been going to the dojo an average of five to six times a week (one of the blessings of being retired); more of my past training in Boston started to surface.  I was able to see the different interpretation Darin has of Uechi-ryu versus what I remembered.  Not that it was different but Darin has many more variations to our understanding of movements.

Darin’s instruction places more emphasis on (1) be flexible, don’t take the opponent’s punch or kick, but deflect it or guild it and attack quickly (2) use the turning of your torso and shoulders to generate the power which is transferred to your arms and legs (more torque) and counter attack (3) every movement in kata is either an attack or defense and I should envision how to use each technique.  There are no wasted moves.  Uechi-ryu is a fighting style not a show style.

In class, Darin has us do three versions of each kata.  He uses the Chinese mythological characters or animals as metaphors.  First kata is like the dragon.  Slow and focus on footwork, balance and breathing.  We work on the perfection of each movement as only moving slow will allow.  Second (of the same) kata is like the crane and move at middle speed.  Focus on even and smooth movements not only within the move (block and punch) but transitioning to the next move.  For example in Kanshiwa, our first move is to our left but then moving at the same rhythm to what would have been the right.  The third kata is like the tiger.  It combines the first two but adds the power and speed characterized by this animal.

Another example is the way Darin does the wa-ucki.  In the 60’s, I first learned to move my arm in a circular manner with torso facing forward.  We now rotate our torso and raise our arm (as a block).  This combination is done simultaneously so it is still circular but the power is coming from the rotation of the torso and is transferred to the (blocking) arm.  Which is stronger your arm or your torso?  The block is actually easier, faster and takes a lot less effort.

Slowly over almost two years of constant practice and associated sore muscles, I could feel a big change in my physiology.  While I had been in good shape before starting, I now noticed that I moved quicker, had more pep in my movements and I believe it improved my reflexes.  So I guess I can keep cutting the grass for a few more years.

In retrospect, I have concluded there is a big market out there of people like me who have an affinity for karate, the time and money to pursue it.  But, given our late age, the hard pounding, board breaking, straight through attack is not going to work.  Darin’s process does not negate or alter the principals of Uechi-ryu but re-interprets them in such a way as to produce a more effective fighting technique suitable for all ages.

John R. Joseph

Plymouth, MA

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/you-are-never-too-old/

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Dec 25 2012

My Herman Digital Trainer!

My favorite training tool of all time is the Herman Trainer! I introduced it at the 2010 Summer Fest. Harry Skeffington set up the software and I set up the testing components and logistics.

Darin Yee had a punching device (Bob) that I attached the sensor to and Harry programmed his laptop to pick up the impact signals from “Bob” and translate them into power numbers. Each competitor hit “Bob” with two punches and two kicks within a 15 second time period.

Roy Bedard killed “Bob” with power that almost went off the chart. That was until Robb Buckland took his turn. Fortunately “Bob” held up to the punishment, but heavy as it was, Robb actually made “Bob” jump off the floor a few inches with every hit. No question as to who is the strongest puncher and kicker at that year’s SummerFest!

We will be setting up “Bob” again in August to see if anyone will be able to best Robb’s record.
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If you would like to incorporate My Herman into your dojo or to use at home, check out our information site by clicking HERE. The manufacturer is extending a $50 discount to my friends who visit Uechi-ryu.com. [Store Link]

 

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/my-herman-digital-trainer/

Dec 03 2012

1st N.E. Regional Workout. . .

1st New England Regional Workout-12-1-2012

I am very please due to the outcome of our regional workout which Sensei Pat Saunders hosted for December 1st 2012.  The turn out was exceptional and we were blessed with the attendance of some of the best Uechi-Ryu practitioners in our area.

There was a lot of sweat as a workout should be.  No one puts on a gi to hear another talk the entire seminar.  We also had a chance see and understand much of what other senseis teach as everyone was respectfully given the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity.  We will post some of the pictures and maybe a few of the recorded techniques.  Please feel free to use and teach any of the bunkis you enjoy from our workouts.

  We got the chance to workout with many whom we respect but have not seen for a long time.  We met many whom we did not know and now form a new relationship.  Most important of all, we had an opportunity to meet some of the young, up and coming superstars for our system.  I believe it is of the utmost importance to expose them to all the great minds of our Uechi-Ryu system.  I encourage all our senseis to promote our workouts to their young students.  This may help spark and promote your own dojo workouts.

Our next workout is March 9th at “The Hut” hosted by 2 of our old time greats.  Paul and Vinny has been around forever.  I will list their workout and their starting time as soon as I find out.

Again, congratulation to Sensei Pat for a great kick off.  I’ve receive nothing but positive feed back regarding every aspect of this workout.  Please be reminded if you are a supporter of our workouts, please do not hesitate to give us your feedback positive or constructive suggestions.  Every host dojo will decide on their own workouts and regardless of rank, we are there to workout.  If any participating dojo want to be a future host, please write to Darin Yee at darinyee@hotmail.com., Pat Saunders at  kodora0317@aol.com., or Christian Maine at whitemountainkarate@gmail.com.

GREAT JOB PAT!!

 

Darin Yee

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/1st-n-e-regional-workout/

Nov 23 2012

Happy Holidays

GEMattson Seminar in RI at Ed Oakley’s dojo- 2001

This is just a note to wish everyone in our Uechi Family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  After I’ve ate with my family, I was sitting in my living room watching football and thinking about all the things I have to be thankful for.

Last night after I finished teaching for the night, I went to Boston Chinatown to attend some of the parties I’ve been invited to.  While I was there, I’ve met with a lot of people whom I haven’t seen in a long time.

After engaging in minor conversation with a few of them, I realized there are a lot of people who are facing financial difficulties.  Myself being one of them.  Yet because we were together and sharing good news and bad, I returned home (at about 3am) feeling a lot better then when I got in my car to drive toBoston.  Friends are irreplaceable.

We as Uechi-Ryu practitioners are family.  We are bounded by the common goal of training and perfecting our art.  None of us are that far apart.  As a student, we seek,, no,, we demand respect.  Which of us don’t?  Regardless of rank or time in grade, we dedicated and invested a large part of our lives learning, training and in many cases teaching this passion.

My letter here is to let you know, after 53 years of studying, training and teaching, I respect everyone who trains in the martial arts and look forward to the time when we can meet and train together.  A good student can always learn regardless if he/she is teaching at the head of a class or lined up to workout with others respectfully seeking more knowledge.

Please take care of yourself and your family and train diligently.  Respect, share and assist all who is within your reach.  Happy holidays to you and yours and may you obtain health, wealth and wisdom.

 

Darin Yee

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/happy-holidays-2/

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Nov 09 2012

December Seminar Update

Hello Brother and Sisters,
The December 1 date is closing in fast and Sensei Pat Saunders is trying to get a head count on the participants in our invitational work outs.  Sensei Pat’s dojo can accommodate approximately 30 people.  With the head count we have now we will possibly need another venue as our count has exceeded 30.  What Sensei Pat will seek is a venue large enough to handle what we will need.  Only way to do that is for us to commit and inform either Pat Sensei (kodora0317@aol.com), Christian Sensei (whitemountainkarate@gmail.com) or myself (darinyee@hotmail.com).
This will be a great workout with a bunch of great people.  After our workout, Sensei Pat will recommend a good place for use to sit in a comfortable setting eat and engage in good conversation.  Lets dress comfortable because I must admit I am a little bit of a slob.
I remember how we use to visit other dojos in the “70s”.  We always had a great time meeting and working out with our brother dojos.  We’ve even worked out in dojos of other systems.  What a great way to understand our fellow martial artists.  That is how friendship and respect is formed.  Please reply as soon as you can so we can help Sensei Pat move ahead in her plans for our glorious workout.

Darin Yee

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/3448/

Oct 27 2012

Hard/Soft Systems – Part two!

Thank you everyone for your response to my last posting regarding my understanding of our hard and soft system (pong gai noon).  I especially appreciate the practitioners who come to realize if we are to continue enjoying and training in this wonderful art from China and redirected in Okinawa, our bodies can not maintain this brutal abuse as we age.  That is the reasons so many of our dojos lose loyal members as we age.

Due to the many responses I’ve received and the many questions, I was compelled to write this follow up.  If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to write me direct at darinyee@hotmail.com.  I am always willing to share knowledge and experiences with respectful practitioners.

Let’s first inject the aspect of body, mind, and spirit.  We all understand to a degree the body aspect.  We train hard to develop muscles strength and soft to develop speed and balance (some of us).  Some of us lift weights for more upper body strength.  We do our road work for leg strength and endurance.  We stretch for flexibility and greater range of mobility.

The mind aspect relates mainly to our kata.  Along with some physical work, our katas are a teaching tool to align our physical with the understanding of fighting techniques in our system.  The people who claim kata is not fighting don’t really understand kata.  We are Uechi students because we study and train Uechi katas and all the techniques within these katas. There are no other reasons for kata.

Because we are Uechi students, we should be using Uechi techniques while we fight.  How many of us actually fight with Uechi techniques?  Who has ever used the combinations within our katas?  Who had successfully used the shuto-rikon combination?  How about the elbow-backhand?  What about the double nukitei while lifting and throwing your opponent?  Think and be honest before you answer yourself.

If we don’t use these techniques; the question would be why?  What are the reasons we do not use Uechi kata techniques which represent our system.  As I’ve always said to people explaining techniques to me.  If a technique doesn’t work, there are 2 reasons why it didn’t work.  The student either doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills to perform that technique or that technique doesn’t work the way you’ve learned it.  Either way, it didn’t work.  I will say without hesitation everything in every kata works perfectly for me.  I would also add I fight Uechi techniques.  Those who know me or have worked out with me or have competed against me will verify I can hold my own fighting and my katas does not look like the “Tin man” before oil.

Thirdly there is the spiritual.  This comes with the peace of mind regarding who and what we are.  I know very few who are on the right path.  Those who need to compare with others are on the wrong path.  Those who see nothing but negativity in others are on the wrong path.  Most important of all, those who will not recognize that which is right in front of them are totally lost.

Many of the reader wrote to me and informed me they are learning about the soft aspect of Uechi through Tai Chi.  Too many Tai Chi people for me to answer individually so this is one of the reasons I am writing this follow up to my first letter.  If this includes you, please do not take offense.

There is a huge difference between Tai Chi and Uechi-Ryu.  One can not learn the soft aspect of Uechi-Ryu by learning about the softness of Tai Chi.  They are 2 entirely different systems with 2 completely different mind sets.  Some of the ideas are similar but most are not the same.  It’s good to look outside the box but you need to learn what you have inside your box first.  A good example is trying to dance the ballet by learning the Cha-cha.  Maybe buying a a dress to use as a suit .

To learn the soft of Uechi-Ryu movements, you need to go directly to a Uechi-Ryu instructor who understands the soft uses of Uechi-Ryu.  How can you tell if these instructors truly understand?  Many talk about concepts and theories.  Some will tell you they’ve done this for years.  My fool proof way is to say “let’s try it out”.  If he is willing, go at him as fast and powerful as you can.  Strike him as you mean to hit him and not as a “dojo mate”.  If you punch lightly to the side or miss him on purpose, you are both fooling yourselves.  If the technique works, he should be able to block you.  If you hit him,try again.  If you hit him again,,,re-read above my 2 reasons listed above on why a technique doesn’t work.

Darin Yee

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/hardsoft-systems-part-two/

Oct 23 2012

IUKF Titles Application Due!!!

Hi IUKF Members:

Joan and I would like to get a reminder up on your site that all applications for titles need to be submitted to us before May 1. There was just too much running around at the last minute this past year.

We also wanted to remind people that most know when they are approaching consideration for a title and they should not wait until they have been nominated or wait until the last minute to start working on their presentation. Most after 20 plus years of study have an idea of something they would like to write about or something they would like to share with the Uechi community. If not then it is even more of a reason to get an early start on finding a subject to present. We the committee would even be willing to interview the candidate to find where their interests lie and help them choose a subject.

Paul and I in a recent conversation discussed the possibility of people running out of subjects to choose, and proceeded  to come up with half a dozen ourselves. We also want it to be know that we the committee are here to encourage people to pursue titles not discourage. We will help walk you through the process. You can use either of our e-mail to apply for titles, and we will then bring it to the committee for consideration.

Bruce Witherell  – ariesent@Qaol.com
Joan Neide – neidej@saclink.csus.edu

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/iukf-titles-application-due/

Oct 21 2012

“Force” is Velocity Times Mass!

Taiwan 1965 demonstration

The origin of Uechi-Ryu is named Pong-Gai Noon which translated from Chinese means half hard and half soft.  A true understanding of this style commits the practitioner to learn and understand its’ movement in a hard path and with little to no effort use this same movement in a soft path.  Both paths should produce the same results.

Soft does not mean weak.  Those who believe that do not understand soft.  Most instances soft is stronger then hard.  Remember “force” is velocity times mass.  If your fist is your mass, how fast can you thrust your fist if you are rock hard?  On the other hand, if you relax your arm a little while keeping your fist hard, how fast can you thrust it now?  Try tightening your arms as hard as you can when you punch.  How fast is that?

While your body is as hard as a rock you won’t be able to move.  How many rocks have you seen change its form without being smashed and broken apart?  You would have to loosen up in order to even throw a punch.  I suppose it is the degree you want to loosen up.  Question is how fast do you want to be able to punch?

While we are young and at our physical peak, we employ our strength and smash flesh to flesh, bone to bone.  As we mature, we develop more skills, timing and finesse.  By understanding how our bodies work with each movement, we are now true matured, martial artists and not mindless brutes.

If hard is our only path, we learn only half a system called “half hard, half soft”.  Are we truly masters if we only understand half a system?  As we mature, are we  advancing when we become much less effective because we can not withstand the forces of youth.  Training in finesse, we can overcome the simplicity of hard strength.  We no longer have to abuse our thinning bone density, brushing that last for months and fear of not having the strength to block an attack from a younger, stronger opponent.  We should enjoy our maturity in a beautiful, flowing and effective art which will last us a life time.  How many of us no longer train because we can no longer withstand the pains of a hard, pounding workout?  At the infancy of my training, I trained diligently to be able to take a hard smash.  Now that I’ve trained for over 53 years, I’ve gain enough skills to avoid getting punched.

Darin Yee

Permanent link to this article: http://uechi-ryu.com/force-is-velocity-times-mass/

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