Kanbun Uechi, the founder of Uechi-Ryu Karate, was born May 5, 1877 on Okinawa. In 1897 he left Okinawa for China to flee military conscription. While in China he studied martial arts at the Fu Chuan Shin Temple (1897-1910). The Chinese name for the system he studied was Pangainoon. The first three years of Kanbun's training were devoted to Sanchin. Kanbun remained in China for a number of years before returning to Okinawa where he established his first dojo in Japan (1925) and began teaching Pangainoon. Kanbun's son, Kanei, renamed the system to Uechi-Ryu after the death of his father in 1948.
The Three Animals
Uechi-Ryu Karate emulates three animals; the dragon, tiger, and crane. Each form does not represent a single animal, but all three animals. The dragon (ryu or ryo) represents strong breathing, use of the "dragon's claw" for grabbing in conjunction with blocks, dynamic movements, and footwork. The tiger (tora) is represented by the tension of the muscles. The muscles are tightened for strength when needed and remain supple for speed during transition. The crane (tsuru) is represented in the upright stance with the shoulders and head always over the hips. The one-legged stance of the crane (tsuru dachi) teaches balance and grace.