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Kanbun Uechi
Some believe Kanbun Uechi was born in Izumi on the Motobu Peninsula, and that he moved to the tiny mountain village of Takinto at three or four years old. However, evidence clearly indicates that Kanbun's parents, Kantoku and Tsuru Uechi, had already moved to Takinto and it was in the mountain top village that Kanbun was born on May 5, 1877.
Kanbun Uechi grew up in this area, part of a proud, traditional Okinawan family of bushi (Samurai or Shizoku) lineage. The Uechi family farmed daikon radishes and sold them in the village at the bottom of the mountain. Radishes are still grown there today. Empty handed Okinawan fighting arts (te), kobudo, and the samurai arts were a cultural part of rural life in Okinawa, especially on the Motobu peninsula. More organized martial arts were being taught in the southern areas such as Naha, Shuri and Tomari. Those systems were greatly influenced by the martial arts of China (tote).
Kanbun learned bojutsu (staff arts) from exposure to Motobu experts such as Taru Kise and Kamato Toyozato as well as his father, Kantoku. Kanbun often taught the younger people of his area and led bo demonstrations that accompanied holidays and festivals. An aged martial arts master from Tobaru named Toyama instilled in Kanbun the desire to pursue martial arts training in China. Toyama had visited China many times to study the martial arts and bojutsu. Though he did not leave a lasting historic mark on Okinawa, Toyama influenced many young men in the Motobu peninsula, including Kanbun Uechi.
Kanbun's keen interest in karate and social objections to serving in the Japanese army provoked his decision to leave Okinawa.
Excerpts from "The Secrets of Uechi Ryu Karate and The Mysteries of Okinawa" and "The History of Uechi-Ryu Karate"
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