And he will be conducting a morning AND an afternoon seminar entitled: Grappling Essentials for a Stand-up Martial Artist! And. . . just got an e-mail from Raffi Derderian who volunteered to teach a morning and afternoon session!
This Martial Art SummerFest is shaping up to be one of the best!
On Another Subject: “The Superempei Controversy”
I’ve been exchanging e-mail with a good buddy regarding the authenticity of what I called the “4th Uechi Kata, superempei. He believes the kata is an “imposter” and highly vocal against my proclaiming some kind of link with the system that Kanbun Uechi synthesized from the three systems or teachers he studied with during his China stay.
I believe that the kata is legitimate as a Chinese set, originating in the Fukien Province during the time Kanbun was learning what he eventually brought back with him to Japan and Okinawa. According to Simon Lailey, who discovered the 80+ year old master who taught him the form and further explained to Simon the history of the form and its relationship with Kanbun, the kata was indeed part of at least one of the systems that Kanbun practiced.
Now if this is not enough proof that the kata is “related” to our Uechi-ryu, I urge you to view the form as performed by Canadian Victor Swinimer, who has been performing the kata at major tournaments and earning him top awards in his performance.
I believe the symposium on the subject we plan to conduct at this year’s SummerFest will be interesting. We will watch the three accepted kata of Uechi-ryu and will discuss the expansive nature of the kata in terms of how the kata grow in both length and content. . . in a kind of a martial formula. . . and how superempei fits into this formula in all areas and how the new kata fulfills a number of nice additives to the system that the fourth kata, whether superempei or another lost kata should offer.
This should be an interesting discussion and I hope everyone reading this will be there to put forth their views relating to this Chinese form.
In any event, I’ll be putting forth the argument that the kata is a great additive to our style. It is long, it is difficult, it offers many variations of existing Uechi movements and techniques. It is a perfect challenge for the missing youth market that for the most part are abandoning Uechi-ryu in favor of self defense systems with more content and/or relevancy (in their estimation).
As one of the surviving “old timers”, I will probably never be able to perform the kata with the same intensity I perform sanseiryu. And unlike many of the kata’s detractors who are too old for adding anything complex to their workouts, I won’t spend a lot of time practicing it, but I won’t withhold it from those who are capable of mastering it. . . simply because most of the old seniors can’t do it! And if calling it the “4th kata of Uechi” is violating some “law of karate”, than so be it.
Like it or not, superempei is here to stay and the more controversy based on “It isn’t taught on Okinawa”, the more it will be practiced without fanfare.
You know it will be here forever when word gets out that it is “banned” by some teachers! 🙂