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Mel Brand Interview

by George Mattson
Update: 5/25/2007:
I had a chance to listen to the interview with my father today.  It was awsome to listen to.  It was nice to listen to the two of you talking about those times.  It was also nice to hear my father sounding so happy. 
Thank you
Michael Brand
Note: A winning entry arrived!

Sensei Mattson,
I believe the boy in the photo on your webpage is a young Kiyohide Shinjo.
                                 Walt Young

A Very Interesting Interview with Mel Brand!

(This is not his picture. . . but a picture of a student in the Kadena dojo during the time Mel was on Okinawa. Oh yes… a free set of training posters will be given to the first person who e-mails me with the name of the student! Compliments of Ihor Rymaruk.) Click on the student’s picture for the link to the interview & more pictures.
Although I am given credit for being an early pioneer of Uechi-ryu, there were actually Americans who “dabbled” in the dojo of Okinawa even before me. Most were only interested in learning how to fight and the Okinawans allowed them to punch the makiwara and kick a heavy bag until they tired of the hard work and quit.
A few years after I returned to America, a few soldiers actually requested duty on Okinawa in order to study Uechi-ryu in a serious and diligent manner. Milford “Mel” Brand was one of these individuals.Mel studied a little Judo in Fort Bragg before being transferred to Okinawa. Soon after his arrival he was fortunate in discovering the dojo of Master Seiyu Shinjo in the village of Kadeda. From that day on, Mel trained whenever possible and before returning to the states, earned his Shodan (1st degree Black Belt).

A few weeks ago, Mel’s son Michael Brand contacted me and asked if I would like to have some photographs taken on Okinawa that his father gave him. Naturally I wanted to also find out more information about Michaels’ father and one thing led to another, resulting in the one hour interview I did with Mel this morning.
We don’t have a lot of factual, documented history relating to our style. Most of what we do and what we know is stored in the mind-vaults of the early practitioners of our art who were fortunate enough to have trained with the original masters of Uechi-ryu – many who actually studied with Kanbun Uechi and the original techniques and methods taught by Kanbun.
I hope you enjoy the “off the cuff” discussion between two “very old” timers as they reminisce and recall the teachings and philosophies of early Uechi-ryu and as taught by the most respected of teachers. . . Shinjo, Seiyu.

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