The Style

Uechi-Ryu karate is an effective and practical means of defense. In part because it does not make great demands of flexibility or acrobatics. Furthermore, it’s upright postures and in-close striking do not require one to be stronger than their attacker. It incorporates soft flowing movements with hard direct strikes. There are nine forms (katas) in which one trains to perfect technique and accuracy, in combination with various body conditioning exercises. It is primarily centered on the Sanchin kata, a physical meditation, through which one works towards mind/body harmony and “ultimate awareness”.

The Tradition

 The forms and techniques have been passed from teacher to student over a century. As with any tradition, it has been subject to adaptations and interpretations of those who teach it. Classes are taught in a formal and disciplined framework. This helps garner a respect for others and yourself.

Sensei Al D. Saddler,  George Krob,  Saburo Uehara ,  Kanei Uechi,  Master Kunbun Uechi

From left to right: Sensei Al D. Saddler, George Krob, Saburo Uehara, Kanei Uechi, Master Kunbun Uechi

The Origins

A young man named Kanbun Uechi left his home in Okinawa for Southern China (circa 1897). There he began his tutelage under a poet, painter, and Buddhist monk, named Zhou-Zi-He, who taught him a Tiger, Crane and Dragon system referred to as Pan Gai Noon (hard and soft). Eventually, Kunbun Uechi would return to Okinawa and teach what he had mastered. In 1940, The Pan Gai Noon style was renamed in his honor to Uechi-Ryu, meaning “the way of Uechi”.

The Connection

Among Master Uechi’s students were his son, Kanei Uechi, and Saburo Uehara. Sensei Uehara taught U.S. Servicemen stationed at the military bases in Okinawa, Japan. George Krob was one of them. Krob achieved black belt and taught Uechi-Ryu at Luke Air Force base in Arizona. Al Saddler began his study of Uechi-Ryu under Sensei Krob, in 1968.

The influence

In 1971, Sensei Al D. Saddler II founded the AZ Uechi-Ryu Karate Association. Michael Strong began his training under Sensei Saddler in 1988. He later was named head instructor and, in 2016, Sensei Saddler renamed the Association to “Saddler/Strong’s AZ Uechi-Ryu”. Under the direction of Sensei Strong, classes are taught with the long-established criteria and methods set forth by Sensei Saddler. Classes are directly influenced by their experience and philosophies, some of which are expressed here. Learn more on the Instructors page.