The Sōke (Motobu Chōsei) began to study under Uehara Sensei in 1976 when he received a request from Uehara Seikichi to succeed to the Sōke of Motobu Udundī. This was because it was Motobu Chōyū’s last will and testament that only members of the Motobu family could succeed to Motobu Udundī. Uehara Sensei first went to Chōyū Sensei’s grandson to ask him to succeed, but the grandson refused. So Uehara Sensei asked Chōyū Sensei’s nephew, Chōsei, to succeed.
Note: Sōke (宗家) is the hereditary head of a martial arts school.
At the time of his training, the Sōke learned a series of kata called Kasshindī from Uehara Sensei in Osaka. These kata were created by Uehara Sensei.
To continue the knowledge transfer, Uehara Sensei came to Osaka every year to teach Motobu Udundi to the Sōke privately. In 1977, when the Japan Karate-dō Motobu-kai (the organization of Motobu Chōki’s karate), was formed, the members of Saitama Prefecture also began to learn Motobu Udundi from Uehara Sensei in Osaka.
In addition to teaching the Sōke privately in Osaka, Uehara Sensei also taught a different Kasshindī kata to students in Saitama prefecture. The Sōke always wondered about the fact, but didn’t ask Uehara Sensei, as not to be rude.
Two or three years later, the Sōke traveled to Okinawa to learn from Uehara Sensei at his dojo. He saw disciples of Uehara Sensei practicing Kasshindī, but yet again it was different.
The Sōke wondered why there were three different versions of the kata with the same name. He asked Mr. S at the Uehara Sensei’s dōjō this question. Mr. S looked slightly surprised and said, “That’s because you’re special. We’re still inexperienced, so we haven’t been taught the secret kata.”
The Sōke noticed that Uehara Sensei taught different versions of the same kata according to the rank of his disciples.
Uehara Sensei was very cautious in the way he taught. This type of teaching was generally common in martial arts in the past. However, since karate began to be taught in schools in the Meiji era (1868–1912), the teaching methods were more open, so it was unique in postwar Okinawa. The Sōke has experienced this secrecy of Uehara Sensei many times since.
Uehara Sensei worshipped Motobu Chōyū and tried to be faithful to his will. Therefore, Uehara Sensei must have thought that Motobu Udundi’s secret techniques would be passed on only to the Motobu family.
The original Japanese article was written in February 2016 on Ameblo.
Written by Motobu Naoki
Shihan, Motobu Kenpō 7th dan, Motobu Udundī 7th dan. Discusses the history of karate and martial arts, and introduces Japanese culture and history.