Home Articles of InterestSubmitted by Other Authors A Brief History of Uechi Ryu / Shohei Ryu Karate in Australia

A Brief History of Uechi Ryu / Shohei Ryu Karate in Australia

by George Mattson

By John Long,
Western Australian Museum,
Perth, Western Australia 6000
email: long@museum.gov.au

These are notes I’ve put together from talking with Arthur Moulas, George Chaplin and David Hayward. If there are any errors, I’d be pleased to hear about them for future correction. Sensei Arthur Moulas is the head f the Shohei Ryu Association of Australia, he has all the details of Australia’s interesting history in this karate style. He can be contacted at 20 Ryan St, Thirlmere, New South Wales, Australia, 2572. The phone numbers fro there are (046) 831 781 or mobile (018) 673 745.

Uechi Ryu karate was first brought to Australia by Ahti Kaend, an Estonian who lived in Sydney in the late 1960s and began teaching classes. Ahti Kaend is now kyoshi, 7th dan, and lives in California, USA. Amongst his students were Robert Donnelly, one of the original students who studied under Kanei Uechi in the 1970s and began teaching in Australia in the early 1970s. During this time he taught a number of students including Graham Morris, Peter Foherty and Peter Gooding. Robert Donelly now teaches Uechi Ryu in Sydney. Arthur Moulas, one of Morris’s students is currently Head of the Australian Shohei Ryu Association, and holds Renshi, 6th dan grade.

Arthur Moulas is also an accomplished referee for karate tournaments and has served in that capacity at many Australian and overseas tournaments, including the annual Antioch Uechi-Ryu tournaments run by Sensei Allan Dollar. The Thirlmere Dojo has an interesting history. Arthur Moulas built the dojo himself and lived in it for 2 years before building his house. Today it stands as a tribute to traditional Okinawan karate and values, complete with okinawan weights, punching bags, makiwaras, trophies from international events, and student name tags adorning the walls. In 1995 the Australian Uechi Ryu Association became the Australian Shohei ryu Association, as part of the Okikukai group. There are now some 400 karateka practising Shohei Ryu in some 10 clubs throughout Australia, and there are about 50 black belts actively training. Sensei Moulas hosts a major Australian Shohei Ryu tournament each year in mid October. In 1996 visitors included Shinpo Mataysoshi, 10th dan kobudo master and Sensei Gaja, 7th dan. In 1997 Sensei Yonamine 8th dan visited the clubs in Thirlmere, Whyalla and Perth for training and to officiate at gradings. Tsutomo Nakahodo, 9th Dan head of Shohei Ryu, has also visited this dojo in 1995 whilst passing through Australia.

Australia is due South of Japan, and Perth, in Western Australia operates within the same time zone as Tokyo. Because of this, and close proximity to Hong Kong, several of the Australian Uechi Ryu teachers have had multiple opportunities to train or compete in Okinawa. Dennis Brett, 5th dan, who teaches at Coolum, Queensland, trained in master Kanei Uechi’s dojo back in the early 1980s, and went on to become an Australian kickboxing champion for 10years. He holds a record at being able to smash through 5 baseball bats with one shin kick.

Karl Ayeliffe, 4th dan, from the Thirlmere Uechi Ryu dojo, is one of the world’s champion kumite fighters. In 1992 he won the All Okinawan karate tournament open fighting division title, and then proceeded to win again in 1993. In 1994 he came runner-up to Ric Martin, from the Largo Florida dojo.

In South Australia, Uechi Ryu was founded by Sensei Peter Gooding, whose first black belt student, David Hayward, took over control of the club in 1978 when Peter joined the Australian Army. Today Peter Gooding runs a club in the Toowoomba district. One of Peter’s students was Steve Daws who moved to Hong Kong and started a club there. He also taught George Chaplin who founded Uechi Ryu in W.A. David Hayward trained in Okinawa in Kanei Uechi’s dojo back in the early 1980s. Today he is a 5th dan and runs a club at Whyalla, and some of his students also run clubs at Cleve, S.A. (Carol Hutchinson, 3rd Dan), Port Augusta (Gary Finch, 3rd Dan); Lightning Ridge, N.S.W. (Geoff Peady, 2nd dan) and Broken Hill, N.S.W. (Peter Henderson-Wilson, 2nd dan).

Uechi Ryu was first taught in Western Australia by George Chaplin, (now yondan),who had come from being an instructor at Bob Campbell’s Hong Kong dojo. He arrived in W.A. in 1989 when his wife, Dr Nina Jablonski took up a position as a lecturer at the University of W.A. This link was to have many repercussions as the first karate students were also students of Nina, plus Guy Oxnard, son of the Professor of Anatomy, Charles Oxnard, and Guy’s wife, Birgitta. In late 1994 Nina took up a position at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, so George Chaplin departed Australia, leaving the club to keep training under their own steam. At this stage Guy Oxnard was at 1st kyu and John Long at 3rd kyu. John Long works at the Western Australian Museum, as is fortunate to have travel opportunities. In 1995 he spent 3 months in Paris, and had an opportunity to train with Sensei Takemi Takayasu (7th Dan, from the Kadena Dojo). In April 1997 Sensei Yonamine and Sensei Arthur Moulas visited the Perth dojo for training and graded Guy Oxnard and John Long to Nidan. Guy Oxnard heads the Perth club.

We would welcome any overseas visitors to train with us at our dojos, so please drop us an email or contact the Head dojo at Thirlmere (address above) if you are planning a holiday to Australia sometime in the future.

Australian Shohei/Uechi email contacts:
Sensei Arthur Moulas (NSW), Shohei Ryu: moulasa@ideal.net.au
Sensei David Hayward (S.A.), Shohei Ryu: jamakada@merlin.net.au
Sensei Peter Gooding (Qld) Uechi Ryu: peterg@tmba.design.net.au
Sensei Guy Oxnard (Perth), Shohei Ryu: go@parkers.com.au
Sempai John Long (Perth) Shohei Ryu: long@museum.gov.au

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