Good friend and early Uechi-ryu pioneer, Harry Brawley loses his life to cancer. Although Harry was one of the Mattson Academy’s first instructor and dojo owner, he will probably be best known for his famous post workout gourmet breakfasts and weekend parties where everyone would congregate in Harry’s kitchen and where he would act as the chef, directing his guests who worked on different elements of his complex dinner menu. Harry and I spent many hours searching for fine vintages of wine and I’ll never forget the expression on Harry’s face when he would discover an unappreciated case of a very exquisite wine that the store owner was not familiar with and happy to sell at a substantial discount!
Harry was certainly one of a kind – his early morning workouts, consisting of a five mile run, then a half hour of kata and kumite would begin with a large turnout, but within a week of daily torchure, Harry ended up with a class of one! No one could keep up with him.
I talked with him a few times after he moved to Maine. Although he built himself a small private dojo and would work out often, he didn’t keep in touch with his Uechi friends, which was unfortunate. Even though he had never attended a Summerfest or any other events, he was the topic of many conversations following a hard day of working out, sitting around, talking about the “good ‘ol days”.
Harry requested that I post his last words for his friends:
Shortly before he passed away, on April 5th, Harry asked me to be sure to tell you how very much a lifetime of karate practice stood him in good stead at the end.
For a couple of years, he’d been suffering from esophageal cancer. He had chemo for a while, but then decided he’d rather have a better of quality of life for however long he had left. He never suffered any pain — except the mental pain of losing his splendid ability to use his body, and (in the last couple of days only) of being unable to read
Throughout it all, though, he kept exercising — doing his katas at least 3 times a week until the last month. And he claimed the reason he was able to accept his fate relatively calmly was the discipline of karate. He remained cheerful to the end — always putting my comfort and lack of stress ahead of his own frustrations.
So, George, I’d like to thank you on behalf of both of us for putting Harry on the track of uechi-ryu! And he’d really like you to share his experience with your students in the years to come.