November 25, 2006: I've received hundreds of email from people who looked forward every month to my "MailBag" feature. Unfortunately, because of an ever increasing work load associated with my importing business, I can spend less and less time on the Uechi website. I do answer all email in a timely manner, but attempting to build a webpage at the end of every month was a task that kept getting more time consuming. I've been feeling a little guilty since April, when my work load prevented me from getting out the MailBag. During the months since Mayl, I've tried to figure out a way to revive the MailBag, while eliminating the work and time usually associated with this feature.
I try to keep on the "cutting edge" of web technology and from a personal necessity, am always looking for ways to provide the most interesting material with minimum programming and editing. My biggest problem is getting the rest of the martial art world (who frequent my sites) to take advantage of all this fancy technology. I still get at least a dozen phone calls a week from my close friends who ask if they can send something to me, that I in turn can publish to one of the self-publising areas of the site! :)
There is also that nagging feeling (I presume) among contributors, that if they first send something to me, I will edit out anything that might be grammatically incorrect or misspelled. (This has never bothered me, as you English majors may have already figured out) . People are funny. They enjoy seeing their articles and letters published, but at the same time, they are concerned that they may be laughed at or embarrassed by publishing something without the intervention of an editor.
So, my new Blog "MailBag" will remain a bit of a mystery for awhile. I'm going to make it as easy as possible to use. . . with a few safeguards in place to minimize the "troll" factor. . . and hope that all you hundreds of MailBag fans will make this feature as popular as the old MailBag.
I'm archiving all the old MailBag letters, as an incredible amount of very interesting material exists for those who wish to forage into the past.
Watch the "MailBag" link on the home page for the all new BlogMailBag. I'll be reading it every day and will be contributing often.
Note: In the course of a month I get literally thousands of e-mail. I don't normally place correspondence in the "Mailbag" that are either labeled "personal" or contain information of a personal nature. As I read and answer mail, if I find a letter that I find interesting, amusing, topical or educational, it gets filed in my "mailbag" for future use in this feature. I try to edit out any personal information like addresses or telephone numbers, unless the writer specifically requests that I publish it.
I welcome all e-mail and will answer everyone in as timely a manner as possible. Don't be surprised if you find (or don't find) your message in this section. However, if you are concerned about your letter finding its way into the "Mailbag", simply include in the header or at the beginning of message "personal" and I will honor your request. GEM
Subject: Wakayama tape
Dear Mr. Mattson,
greetings from Okinawa, Japan.
Some time ago I have bought the old Uechi Ryu Wakayama (VidMag 12) video from your webshop. It is a really interesting material on the tape, one has to ask himself why the Uechi ryu style differed so much in Wakayama & Okinawa.
May I ask you, whether you have any information about the dojo where the video was taped? E.g. what was the name of the dojo, the sensei or whether the dojo still exists..
Good to hear from you and thanks for your interesting questions.
I asked the same questions back in the 60s when Tomoyose sensei, Charles Earle and I visited Tomoyose sensei's father in Wakiyama.
Ryuryu Tomoyose (the father) who was Kanbun Uechi's first and most famous student, argued with his son, that what he learned and was teaching, was the way Kanbun taught him.
Of course, people's recall of past events tends to change as do physical movements. Kanei Uechi, who according to Ryuko Tomoyose, spent more time with his father, working on the basics, is thought to have preserved the style, at least in the way the basics were taught, more closely to the way Kanbun taught.
There is lots of speculation regarding the subject going on in the Eastern Arts forums. You should ask your questions there in order to get many more theories.
The dojo in Wakiyama Japan was built for the Tomoyose family by the village people. I'm sure it is still there as it was very famous at the time I visited.
I don't remember what it was called, but I would guess the word "Uechi" would be part of the name.
New Dojo Listings
Sensei Mattson -
I hate to bother you with something as trivial as this but I hope that you may be of assistance in this matter. Late last year I bothered you to post my dojo information on your “Uechi-Ryu Karate Teacher Directory” and you did (thank you!).
I was reading through the forums today and noticed that someone was looking for a dojo here in the D.C. metropolitan area. I double-checked the directory listing to make sure that my information was available, and it was not.
My question to you sir is, “Can I once again be listed on your ‘Uechi-Ryu Karate Teacher Directory’ list?” The page does state “Non-members may receive a free listing, including name, city, State, Telephone number.” Not to mention, my instructor (Sensei John Carria) has recently encouraged me to join the IUKF. Being a little more superstitious, I’ve elected to mail in my application.
My Information is as follows:
Name: Tony Williams
Dojo Location: Falls Church, Virginia
Web Address: www.Uechi-Kokusai.com/FallsChurch
E-Mail Address: t-mwilliams@Verizon.net
Sensei Mattson, I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could lend in this situation. Should you have any questions of me please feel free to contact me via the information provided. I look forward to becoming an IUKF member!
Fellow Uechi-Ryu Karate-ka,
No problem at all. IUKF members receive a special link, with email, web and other information. But all Uechi dojo are welcome to the free listing that includes the teacher's name, city and telephone number (or email). I'll post your listing the next time this section gets edited. GEM
Hi! I am trying to locate Janice Bass, located in or near Ft. Myers,FL. Any info? Thanks!
Sorry... I don't have any information on her. You might post a message on our "looking for a dojo/instructor" forum. Everyone reads that and will contact you with the information.
Long time, no contact. Don't know if you remember me. I am one of Roy Bedard and Bill Hall's former students. I stopped training with Bill after things went awry for him a few years ago. Actually I heard he was not in the best of health and have no idea about his current condition ... if any.
Anyways, its my understanding that you are now here in Mount Dora, Florida. I am in West Palm Beach. I stopped my training at the ni-kyu level and would really like to continue what I started years ago.
However, I do not think there is anyone left in the West Palm area any longer. Are you teaching in Mount Dora? If so, I would be interested in making the drive periodically. Please let me know. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
You are always welcome at my dojo Robert. Meanwhile, I believe Rik Potrekus is in your area. (tel # enclosed) GEM
hi: My name is Rafael Gonzalez, I'm from San Juan Puerto Rico. I've been looking incesantly over the internet to see if I could find a Uechi Ryu school here in Puerto Rico, unfortunately it seems there is none, the only name I could find was the one in your listed instructors at uechi-ryu.com, but when I dialed the number , someone else took the phone, it seems it doesn't belong to him anymore. His name is Guillermo Abudo. Do you think you could help me solving this matter? I will be most greatful if you do. I really, really want to learn this system. Thanks.
So what did you think of my bonkai/kumite? Should we continue to develop it? If you liked it, put in a commercial plug..."Only at the Hut!", etc...
Hope you had a good visit and I am sorry I missed you. I had a wonderful weekend in Paris with my family (my son's graduation gift).Paul Giella
Very impressive! Of course, I was expecting something spectacular and I wasn't disappointed.
I like that "shoulder butt" technique.... Really thinking "out of the box"!
The opening move should satisfy those who don't like "blocks"! Interesting interpretation, but something we've been doing for ever.... Blocking as we destroy.... We don't worry about the incoming attacks, they just get in the way of our attacking the center-line! :)
I'm planning to be back to the Hut in May for another session. Hope to see you then.
Pleased to hear you enjoyed Paris. We all were worrying about your getting in the middle of all the protesting going on.
Take care and give everyone in your family a big hug for me.
Subject: simon laily suparunpei
sensei i just recieved the copy of simon lailys suparunpei,tiger comes down the mountain,dvd.during your interview with him laily sensei says that he recorded two forms,could you please tell me a little of this second kata and if it is available on dvd.
thank you for your help with this matter.yours in karate do,
I thought both kata were on the dvd sent to you. (I haven’t viewed it in years)
I did a second interview with Simon some years after this first one. I’ll have to try and find it. If I do, and it contains any kata, I’ll contact you.
Dear Mr Mattson,
My name is Laura Jacobson and I am a brown belt in Goju-Ryu. For my black belt paper I am researching the highest ranking American in Uechi-ryu and Shorin-ryu who's lineage is in Okinawa. I was referred to you. If you could please assist me by answering a few questions?
1. What is your rank and who promoted you?
2. What Okinawa origination is your certificate from?
3. At what age did you receive your rank?
4.When and where was your promotion?
Thank You very much for your time.
If you know who is the highest in Shorin-ryu I would appriecate if you could let me know.
Mrs. Laura Jacobson
Good luck with your project. My information enclosed. I'm not sure who to recommend you contact regarding shorin-ryu. Perhaps if I mention it in the next "MailBag", someone will respond. GEM
Applications of Seisan:
To Bunkai or Not To Bunkai
by Ethan Miller
Not too long ago, I bicycled over to the "Hut" for the Sat. morning workout and found to my surprise that the floors were being refinished. No class for the week. A couple of other people had apparently shown up and left judging from the tire tracks. I was wondering about my next move when who shows up but Vinnie Christiano, Sensei from the Brandeis dojo. I expect he showed up just to make sure that any stragglers like myself got the word about the canceled class.
Vinnie agreed to go through a short workout, and we went through a set of kata, focusing on the three main, sanchin, seisan, and sanseiryu. I got a good opportunity to increase my understanding of what I believe to be one of the most, misunderstood moves in the kata Seisan: The hip level strike and grab and the turn of the adversary 90 degrees to the right.
I have seen many talented, powerful and experienced martial arts people do this unique Uechi move and not been convinced that the application is being done effectively. I can say that I have not been comfortable with attempting this application either in sparring, or self-defense - however when you watch Vinnie do it, you believe it just might work.
Vinnie performs the strike and grab, close in with a seamless strike to grab transition that ends with his grab snapping the opponent as he ends in sanchin... Essentially, breaking the opponents balance. It is then an easier to turn the opponent. Vinnie has a compact build and a lower center of gravity and this he uses to great effect. I do not, but I started to see how this technique might be adapted.
The approaches I've seen that are different include a nukite strikes to the mid-section changing to a grab of the belt, or gi and trying to lift the opponent to turn them. Not going to happen unless you have the strength of Hercules and even then the opponent has the opportunity to head butt, grab the head, elbow strike and many other close in techniques. I've also seen people strike and grab and them turn themselves 90 degrees. Well, maybe - but is that a good application? If the idea is to avoid, why bother grabbing?
I believe that the nukite strikes, or perhaps even with boshinken to the hip seam or abdomen can transition, to grab with that "jerking" quickness that will essentially break the opponents balance. Now imagine instead of trying to lift the opponent you transition the grab by releasing and "lifting" with open palm hand under the elbow of the opponent or at the ribcage, or tricep. This will not just turn him 90 degrees you're going send him sprawling over the floor.
If you are a practitioner that believes this technique might be a thrust into the opponents skin and ripping out organs an then launching the carcass into the rafters, then I say you have too much sugar in your diet and watch too many video games. It is good to think of this as a "jacketed" technique. It's much more practical as a strike then a grab that utilizes the opponents coat or garmet to complete the unbalance. I can say with confidence that it is common that the clothes are often used to attack, or unbalance in many an altercation in the street, and also to defend. We should remember to look at the kata from that perspective as well.
New 2nd Edition of the Black Belt Test Guide
The URL with .exe extension worked like a charm, and self-loaded to desktop.
More importantly, the e-book looks first rate! It is easy to read, pleasing to the eyes, and navigating around is as easy as it could be. Illustrations are clear, and the video clips work fine, giving an additional demension we wouldn't get with a regular book. BTW, the program you chose to use for display is wonderful, allowing intuitive page turning, and easy return to the table of contents... I actually prefer it to Adobe Acrobat reader.
This is a huge advantage to IUKF members, and the first example of good things to come! Also, your Introduction and links to the IUKF give the reader lots of chances to get more involved with the organization.
Thanks for the very kind review. Because I don't have the email addresses of all the IUKF members, if any IUKF member reads this and would like a copy of this e-Book, please write and request your copy. GEM
Subject: A quick hi
I hope you are well. A quick update for you as you are responsible for much of it....
I Am off hunting cranes again this month. Home to Yong Chun and then schools set up in the 30s in Malaysia and a modern school in Canada via a Hong Kong student which is a branch from one of the initial head of our Wu Shu Guan in the 30s as well - so all very exiting for cross referencing forms and materials etc.
This all ties, hopefully, with the singapore Nam Yang Tiger Crane system - well that is I know it does but need exact names / dates to tie it all up. Plus translating, training, learning. There are 2 old old timers left in Yong Chun and I hope to interview them on tape much as you did for the masters in Okinawa in your Yellow bible as they are literally a dying breed. ( last year there were 4 left and I did not seize the opportunity.... ).
At the other end of the scale I am taking a cultural evening in the neighbouring village tonight to talk about south chinese kung fu. Payment in Cerveza of course!
Very Best Wishes,
So good to hear from you. I'm very pleased that you enjoy the martial arts and are doing so much research on one of the key systems that is the core of Uechi-ryu. Hopefully you will continue to share the information gained with the Uechi community.
I'm hoping to join the IUKF tour to China this October. Darin Yee is organizing the trip and because of his connections with China (Head of the New England Chinese Masons) and contacts in the China MA community, this trip should be very interesting. Perhaps you can meet us there!!!!
Is there any chance that you can participate in my July 28 - 30 SummerFest? I promise you a very good time and I'm sure our Uechi group would enjoy learning more about what you have been doing.
Subject: A Late Thank You
Hello Mr. Mattson,
I am a former student having studied at your school in the mid-70's with Robert Campbell and Darrin Yee. My brother, David Morimoto, also studied at this time. Perhaps you remember us. I have permanent memories of the classes, tournaments, demonstrations, lessons of respect, self-discipline and community. The overall experience greatly influenced who I have become today.
Although I have not continued training under the Uechi-Ryu system since then I am still active in practicing what I can remember. I have blended the basics of Uechi-Ryu with some elements of Thai Chi, my own system and breathing techniques. Both my body and mind serve me well at 46 years of age and I continue to get closer to being one in mind, body and energy. There are many plateaus yet to reach for me.
In our lives we are free to choose many different paths. I appreciate, respect and applaud what you and your instructors have chosen to do in bringing Uechi-Ryo to so many people. I hope to have my 9 year old come to understand the Uech-Ryu system. Currently, he studies in a different style (more Kung fu based).
If you have a chance, perhaps you could forward my email to Robert Campbell and Darrin Yee as a thank you to them from me.
What a nice surprise. Good to hear from you and learn that you are doing very well with your life. Not surprisingly, I get many letters every year from people who, like yourself, find that their Uechi training helps in all aspects of life. I hope you will stay in touch and send us a letter from time to time.
I know Bob and Darin will also appreciate the gesture.
Subject: History of Okinawan Karate
Dear Mr. Mattson,
While it has been some time since I studied karate with Art Rabesa, I still find the history of the art quite fascinating. I came across a web site today that I thought I would share with you. While the title of the site is Karate and Martial Arts with Weaponry, there is a great section on the History of Okinawan Karate complete with videos of katas being performed by some of the true masters including Seiko Toyama demonstrating kata- sandairui. If you have already seen this site then I apologize. If not, I think you will find it interesting and a wonderful source of information. The URL is http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/023/eng/index.html .
Thanks for the note and information about the Okinawan site. We've been aware of the site for a couple years and the url has been mentioned on our forums dozens of times. It is a really neat site.
Good to hear from you.
N.E. Junior Championships
Happy faces of tournament success. Here are 8 of the 16 kids who attended Sundays event that were in class Monday.
If you don't mind, I'll publish these in the April Mailbag.... hope to have time to do it this week.
Your kids have been training hard, with good instructions; A surefire formula for success.
I would like to Thank all of those who made the effort to get there early on the first morning of Daylight Savings Time, those who encouraged and sent their students to participate and especially those who did an outstanding job in putting of a super tournament.
We kicked it off at 9:02 and Josh and I were the last ones to leave at 1:21 after all was cleaned up and put away.
For those who for whatever reason could not or chose not to attend, I think that I can speak for all in wishing that you will be able to contribute in some way to next years series.
Enjoy and Thanks Again,
More on "Empty Force"
Hello Mr. Mattson,
I've been trying to click this link from your website and it keeps directing me back to your home page without going to the article. I was hoping to read this rebuttal. Is it possible that you may be able to forward me the article at this link, or a link that works? Thank you.
Here is that link:
Response to the Empty Force Test and Rebuttal John David Morenski, M.D. [Written in January, 2001 but lost in my files until 7-4-01]
P.S. I signed up at your website thinking maybe that was why I couldn't get the article, but it didn't help. I tried to view several articles and I kept getting sent back to your home page. One article I tried did work though.
The link is now at:
Hello Mr. Mattson,
The link you sent me is a response to your rebuttal of John David Morenski's Empty Force test. This link shows what your opponent is saying in regards to the test and I was hoping to see your original rebuttal against John David Morenski, M.D., a guy who seems to claim that he debunked Empty Force with this test. He is also slightly sarcastic in his rebuttal it seems to me.
I was trying to locate video demonstrations on the internet of Empty Force, but I failed to find any. Do you happen to know of any links to video footage of Empty Force demonstrations? Thank you Mr. Mattson.
The link you requested was Morenski’s response to Sifu Mooney’s article, not mine.
Sifu Mooney was the person who claimed “empty” force powers and volunteered to be tested at my camp.
After the results of the test were published, Sifu Mooney wrote a rather strong letter (that I published in the articles’ section) saying that the test was not fair.
Morenski wrote the letter/article you requested, in response to Sifu Mooney’s letter.
Soon after, Sifu Mooney requested that I remove his letter, which I did.
I have the master copy of the independently video taped “double blind” test performed at my camp. I would have to have it transferred to dvd if you wish a copy (We don’t do video any longer) I’d be very happy to provide a copy of the test in DVD format for $50.
Thank you for the information. I appreciate it. I didn't really want to see the test footage however, but I trust the test wasn't fair as stated by Sifu Mooney. I'm sure his abilities are genuine based on everything I've seen or read to date on the subject. It's truly an amazing phenomena. I wish I knew how to do that, but I doubt I would have the discipline to stick with all the years of practice necessary to achieve results. I haven't practiced martial arts in years. There isn't any local schools where I live that I would be interested in attending, plus at 280 pounds of body weight, I lack the physical stamina usually needed in martial arts classes. I used to weigh 340 pounds at 6 1/2 tall until I got sick and lost nearly 100 pounds a couple of years ago. Then I put about 40 pounds back on. I'm in no shape to train in a rigorous martial arts program like I was when I was younger, but I do admire those who still do.
Keep up the good work.
Books To Review!
Dear Mr. Mattson,
I am contacting you in hopes you may review and endorse my second and forthcoming book Life Success: A Practical Guide for Making Your Dreams Reality.
I am a former Navy SEAL, Master Scuba Diving Instructor, Musician and Black Belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate who has chosen to follow my heart’s calling and create my own life success. The story of my life is one of tragedy, transformation and achievement. This story and the wisdom I’ve gained become the catalyst to inspire people to change for the better. During years of coaching, lectures, workshops and marketing my first book, I’ve motivated hundreds to pursue happier, more successful lives.
Life Success is a unique book. Read it not just for its success stories but for its road-map to empowerment in taking action to change your life. Read it to delve into who you really are, what you are naturally good at, and what you want most in your life. This is not just a book, it is a workbook for a successful life, with step-by-step goal setting, inspiring action-planning workshops, in-depth journaling exercises, and innovative fear-conquering techniques that give readers the power to script the path of their lives exactly as they want it to be.
Thank you for your time. Below is all my personal contact information.
To the Readers of MailBag: I'm reading Dave's book at this time. It is a fascinating read and I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned from his book with the Uechi community later this month in our Eastern Arts Review section. Watch for it! GEM
Lets Support Manny's August Tournament!
As we discusssed the last time we spoke, my family and I will be hosting our 9th "Bay State Karate Championships" on Saturday, August 19, 2006 at "The Lantana", Randolph, MA.
The tournament is open to all styles, children and adults.
There are lots of changes as compared to previous "Bay State" events. The BIG change is in the rules format. I will be using the "World Okinawa Karate-do Kobudo Shobukai Federation" competition rules which is the International format. The rules will be called the "Bay State Karate Championships Competition Rules". There will be IPPON's and WAZA-ARI's (at least for the adults) awarded at this transition event. Awards are Olympic style gold, silver and bronze medals with trophies going to the grand champs. Participation certificates to all the kids 12 and under.
(I'll be seeing you at your tournament in Bolton on Saturday, April 2. I'll bring flyers if that's ok.). Also, please send me the email of potential candidates that may be interested in center refereeing and side judging for me. As you know, it's really different and requires significant preliminary training and dedication to learning these rules. I've revised some of the rules to allow open competitors (not just karate people).
I don't expect alot of competitors due to the "newness" of the rules format. There won't be 6-foot trophies, no prize money, no rating services involved, Although I think there'll be more satisfacation, in the spirit of the martial arts, for everyone, if I can get the help to do it correctly. Please see attached flyer.
Good luck with your tournament Manny. We listen to all kinds of training suggestions, arguments over who's Uechi is the purest and what methods produce the best results. But few of our word warriors actually get out of their computer room and are willing to take advantage of the absolute best way to test their karate and in the process learn a bit about themselves and their "warrior spirit"! I appload your willingness to once again offer the New England karate community an opportuntiy to extend their training onto the tournament floor, using rules of International competition. What a great way to "put up or shut up"!
Again, good luck. GEM
PS. Visit Manny's website for more information
From: Andrew E. Moores
I hope all is well on your end. I hope your new dojo is coming along how you want it to. Things here are crazy. Just walked in the door (1 AM) from painting the new dojo. We have 11 days till we open the doors. All the students are excited. I'll send some pictures along when we are finished.
I wanted to give you a heads up incase you weren't aware, but your section in your store titled "Historical Photos from Okinawa" does not show any photos. I'd like to purchase some for the new dojo.
Thanks for the “reminder” about the historical pictures. (I have hundreds!) I was planning on adding more pictures, but just forgot about it! I’ll get working on it asap.
Meanwhile, the most popular dojo pictures are the “dojo kun”, which are poster size reproduction of Master R. Tomoyose’s hand painted “kun”. And of course the portrait sets… http://karateworld.safeshopper.com/21/106.htm?211
Wish I could be with you and your friends/students at your opening. But I would be very happy to do a nice PR article on my website if you send me pictures and facts.
Ps. Our mats are being delivered from the port next week. This is last phase in our dojo building program.
We already have the two dojo kun's and some of the portrait sets. I actually ordered some more of the portrait sets last night. One picture we don't have is a picture of Sensei Tomoyose.
When you get the pictures up I'll take a peak. We've got a ton of wall space to cover.
Thank you for your offer of putting a PR article up. When we are finished I'll send you some pictures with all the approriate info.
Glad to hear everything is going well with your new dojo.
I am pursuing the possiblility of a wrestling instructor for Summerfest. Is there a tentative date for the camp in 2006?
Sure is Ethan! July 28, 29 and 30th. Please have him get in touch with me asap so I can list him in our schedule. I hope to have time in May to begin working on the SummerFest site! GEM
Smile. . . You will live longer and happier!
(this was actually reported by a teacher).
After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their holiday away from school. One child wrote the following:
We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house but Grandpa got retarded and they moved
to Florida. Now they live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass. They ride around on their bicycles and wear name tags because they don't know who they are anymore. They go to a building
called a wrecked center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now, and do exercises there, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but in it, they all jump up and down with hats on.
At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out.
They go cruising in their golf carts. Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night: Early Birds.
Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center and call it pot luck.
My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too.
When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out so they can visit their grandchildren.