Many today with YouTube and other tools but a finger touch away do not realize what karate was 40 years ago.
Literally karate was almost what you instructor(s) shared with you.
There were few sources of other information with much depth available. Perhaps what was not documented would remain unseen by others outside of a tradition.
This probably extended to where you lived in the world too. One example I had heard through the magazines of Goju’ Superimpe kata, but had never seen it. It would be perhaps 10 years before I did see it, to understand what was being discussed. Perhaps not a big deal to many, but in those times that was mostly ‘kept’ knowledge, at least where I lived.
For what you could not see was always something that could work against you.
Now I was aware of Uechi, had even seen George Mattson’s book which had their Seisan kata in it, but never saw much in detail. Living in Scranton Pa for a decade, there just was not Uechi around the area.
Years later (probably when I was about a dozen years into my own training) I had 3 guy’s join my adult program. 2 of them former Ueichi Brown belts. They took to Isshinryu very, very well due to some similarity in the basics of the systems. I always encouraged them to take time before or after class to continue to work on the Ueichi technique. Not what I was teaching, but people should continue to work on what they learned.
One Saturday morning before class I watched Tom Chan work on his Ueichi Seisan kata. Watching closely I noticed something I had not noticed previously. I then asked Tom to repeat his Ueichi Seisan kata. He did, and at the moment he did the movement I had observed I asked him to stop.
I questioned were those movements thumb strikes? He was astonished I had noticed that, and he explained that is what they were. Technically the Uechi Boshiken strike.
After all the people I had trained with, I knew how to observe. And that observation opened up a new line of study for me to consider.
In time I had Tom teach me Ueichi Sanchin and Seisan. Aware of how they formed much of the basis for Uechi-Ryu. I was not trying to be a Uechi student, just looking to explore what they had, Then decades of further practice and study for myself.
A number of years later Tom took me down to Massachusetts to George Mattson’s karate shack, Unfortunately he was not there that day, but Tom wanted to work out there, he had been a Buzz Durkin student and had heard of that location. As he was working in with them, with no difficulty on his part, after a while I heard the next kata would be Seisan.
I asked those instructing the group if perhaps I might join in, and they agreed.
I think they were somewhat amazed when I was able to follow along,
I wasn’t Ueichi by any means, but what Tom had shared was spot on.
And it is always a good feeling when you can mystify others……
Today you can Google Boshiken, or find it on YouTube quite readily. There are few ‘secrets’ today.
Of course reading about something, or viewing it is not the same as what is required to make it work, a different dimension from just looking.
It is too easy to look and then believe you understand. Looking you rarely realize there is just as much which cannot be seen. Even though seeing can be helpful. It never can replace a skilled instructor.
So began another string of study for me. Something obscure for many.
Boshiken. Tameshiwari 試し割り Uechi Ryu 上地流