Today’s post features another great martial artist who looks back on more than 50 (fifty!) years of training and teaching Uechi-ryu karate.
Uechi-ryu Grandmaster George E. Mattson is rightfully considered a martial arts pioneer and I am sure you will agree with me after reading today’s post.
Uechi-ryu karate is a powerful, hard style, which even though it is considered Okinawan, originated in China. It was brought to Okinawa in the very early 1900s by Kanbun Uechi. It offers a lot of similarities with Goju Ryu karate. Uechi-ryu is characterized by upright stances, circular blocks, grabs, open hand and one knuckle techniques plus low kicking, often using the big toe.
As a 19-year-old stationed with the U.S. miltary on the island of Okinawa in 1956, Sensei Mattson was the first American to be taught Uechi-ryu karate and consequently the first American to be given a Black Belt Certificate.
Just several years later, in 1964, he was caught on film as a member of a distinguished group of other martial arts legends during Ed Parker’s Long Beach International Karate Championships.
Most of these martial arts greats have been featured or at least mentioned here before.
Check this out:
How many do you recognize?
For a true martial arts enthusiast, this is a truly epic photo.
I just think of how many millions of people, young and old, have been positively affected by these masters’ teachings. Nothing short of amazing!
But back to 9th Dan, George E. Mattson:
Master Kanei Uechi, the son of the style’s founder Kanbun Uechi, asked him in 1958 to introduce and spread Uechi-ryu Karate in America. Sensei Mattson complied and over-delivered. He proceeded in opening a Dojo (school) in Boston and published the very first textbook on Uechi-ryu Karate “The Way of Karate” in 1963.
Since this time Sensei Mattson, who has led the North American Chapter of the international Uechi-Ryu community, has continued to teach countless students from all corners of the world. Many have gone on to become accomplished masters in their own right.
Turning the backs on the cold winters of New England, Sensei Mattson and his wife retired in sunny Central Florida.
Not really, because in Mount Dora, not too far from Orlando, you can still watch this Uechi-ryu karate legend teaching at his Shubukan (“House of Warrior Training”).