Midwest Okinawan Karate

Okikukai (Okinawa)


Kambun Uechi

Kanei Uechi

Uechiryu Karatedo is named after a man named Kambun Uechi.  Mr. Uechi was born on May 5, 1877 in Izumi Motobu-cho, a small village in northern Okinawa.  At the age of 19, Mr. Uechi left Okinawa in March of 1897 to avoid conscription into the Japanese military and began his study of martial arts at the central temple of the Fukien Province in southern China.  He studied under Master Zhou Tzo Ho (pronounced Jo su ho) known in Okinawa by his Japanese name Shushiwa.  Mr. Uechi studied with Shushiwa for ~ 10 years, after which time he opened his own school in the village of Nanching (Nansei) in the Fukien Province of China.  Master Uechi referred to the art which he taught as Pangainoon, which means half hard / half soft.  He taught there until 1909 when he returned to Okinawa.  Back in Okinawa, Master Uechi married and began farming.  He did not formally teach for a number of reasons, but continued to train and taught a few friends.  In 1924, Master Uechi moved to Wakayama, Japan where he resumed teaching in 1926.

His first student in Wakayama was Ryuyu Tomoyose, who initially tried to trick Master Uechi into teaching him by making up stories of fights he had gotten into and asking him how to defend himself in these situations.  Master Uechi continued teaching in Wakayama until 1946 when he returned to Okinawa (Ie Jima - an island near Okinawa).  He did not teach formally after his return to Okinawa, but continued to train a few students.  Two years later (1948), at the age of 71, Master Uechi died on Ie Jima.  The traditions of Uechiryu were carried on by Kambun Uechi's eldest son, Kanei Uechi.  Kanei was born on June 26, 1911.  He began his karate training under his father in 1928 at the age of 17.  After about ten years Kanei began teaching in Osaka, Japan not far from Wakayama where his father taught.  In 1942, at the age of 30, Kanei Uechi returned to Okinawa where he took up farming near Nago.

At the time of Kambun Uechi's death, Kanei was not actively teaching.  However, Ryuko Tomoyose, a son of Ryuyu Tomoyose--Kambun's forst student in Wakayama--convinced him to start teaching.  Ryuko Tomoyose and other students built a dojo on Futenma, Okinawa for Master Kanei Uechi.  He continued teaching at that same location until his retirement in 1988.  After a bout with a lingering illness, Master Kanei Uechi died at the age of 80 in March of 1991.

Another early student of Kambun Uechi was Seiryu Shinjo.  Seiryo Shinjo was born on Ie Jima, an island close to Okinawa on June 10, 1908.  In 1923, he traveled to Wakayama, Japan (near Osaka) to seek employment where he coincidentally got a job at the same factory as Kambun Uechi.  He trained with Uechi Sensei until a respiratory ailment prevented it.  Seiryo Shinjo had a son on July 10, 1929 who he named Seiyu.  Seiyu Shinjo was taught by his father and Kambun Uechi, and later trained with Kanei Uechi.  Seiyu Shinjo eventually became well known in Okinawa as an outstanding karate man, as well as a great teacher of Uechiryu.  On November 3, 1951, Seiyu Shinjo's first son was born Kiyohide Shinjo.  Seiyu Shinjo began training his son kiyohide when he reached the age of 10.  Kiyohide was required to learn Uechiryu and did so reluctantly at first.  He continued training under his father's watchful eyes, eventually becoming one of the best (if not the best) martial artist on Okinawa, perhaps the world.  Starting in 1970, he became the unprecedented, nine time, undefeated kumite and kata champion.  Shinjo Kiyohide Sensei took over as the chief instructor of the family dojo after the death of his father Seiyu in 1981.  Shinjo Sensei continues the family tradition to this day.

Local History
Uechiryu was first introduced in St. Louis by Frederick L. Norris.  Mr. Norris trained in Uechiryu with Master Seiyu Shinjo while stationed in Okinawa with the marine Corp.  Mr. Norris returned from Okinawa with the rank of Sandan in 1961.  After a layoff of several years, Mr. Norris began teaching in 1968 to a small group of students.  Lawrence H. Jennings was one of his early students that eventually trained students of his own.

With a strong desire to further the spread of the art, Mr. Jennings began teaching a small group of students, mostly friends and aquaintances.  On November 13, 1973 he began teaching a class to the public at the Northwest County YMCA.  One of his early students in this class was James G. Foley.

Mr. Foley trained with Sensei Jennings until 1977 when Mr. Jennings moved to California.  Prior to Mr. Jennings' departure from St. Louis, he relinquished the responsibilities of continuing the class and furthering the art to Mr. Foley.  Mr. Klossner began training with James Foley in 1980. (refer to Wentzville history)

Wentzville Dojo History
Mr. Klossner, started his karate training in January of 1980 under James G. Foley.  In 1995 Mr. Klossner began teaching in Wentzville, Missouri and has continued to spread the art of Uechi-Ryu to this day.  His current insrtuctor is Sensei Steven Goss who currently hold the rank of Kyoshi (7th degree blackbelt), and Mehran Shahkar who also holds the rank of Kyoshi.  Mr. Klossner currently holds the rank of Shihan Godan (Master Instructor 5th degree).  Sensei Klossner also held his instructor certification with PPCT Management Systems, Inc. and the Institute for Control and Restraint Research, Inc. for sexual harassment, assault, and rape prevention for women.  Over the years, Mr. Klossner has trained with many Masters in Uechiryu Karate, some of whom were Masters Kanei Uechi, Kiyohide Shinjo, James Thompson, Steve Goss, Ric Martin, and Alan Dollar, among others.  Mr. Klossner has learned many insights from his karate training.  It has taught him self-discipline, self-defense skills and spiritual growth.  He has developed friendships with karate members around the world.  Two of Sensei Klossner's students also teach in Wentzville.  Chad Lent who has attained the rank Nidan (2nd degree blackbelt), and Greg Klossner who has also attained the rank of Nidan.  Midwest Okinawan karate is a part of Okikukai West and the Okinawan Karatedo Association of Okinawa Japan (Uechi-Ryu Okikukai).