Uechi-Ryu developed from the Okinawan style of martial arts practiced by Master Kanbun Uechi (1877-1948) and his son Kanei Uechi (1911-1991.) Kanbun Uechi trained in Okinawa and then in the Fujian province of China before founding his style. When he first taught his fighting style, he also founded a Zen Society for self-improvement. Since the membership of karate club and his Zen Society overlapped, he combined the two into what became Uechi-ryu.
Uechi Ryu is characterized as a close-in, brutal, empty-handed self-defense system and a powerful method for self-development. The backbone of Uechi-Ryu is the exercise Sanchin. Sanchin develops: a practitioner's connection to the ground (called "root"); dynamic, whole body strength built with proper breathing technique, spiritual concentration and mental discipline, a so-called "iron" body, and explosive-yet-fluid movement.
Uechi-Ryu uses hand and foot techniques aimed at precise targets. Hand techniques are often done with open hands for faster deflection, controlling grabs, and ease of striking. Strikes using a closed fist include a spear hand called "nukite," a one knuckle strike known as the "shoken", and palm thrusts to support thumb knuckle strikes called "boshiken." Kicks are primarily delivered at or below the mid-section using the toes for target penetration or the shins for breaking power. The legs, knees, elbows, and forearms are also used for redirecting and striking.
To begin training in Uechi-Ryu does not require exceptional strength or athletic ability. People from all walks of life enjoy the benefits from the martial arts, regardless of their level of proficiency or physical capabilities.
In the practice of Martial Arts, one must distinguish between training and practice. In Japanese the word "renshu" is used for training, which means to prepare or train the body; and "keiko", is the word used to define practice, which means to train or prepare the spirit.
The word keiko is important not only in the study of martial arts, but also in many other cultural activities where the spiritual aspects are of fundamental importance, for example, in the tea ceremony and in flower arrangement. Keiko literally means "to reflect on, review the past"; it imbues training with a reflective character, consisting of respect toward the maintenance of the best of past traditions while preparing the spirit to learn.