A pioneer and influential teacher of shorin-ryu
karate who was once described as having a warrior's spirit and a gentleman's
candor, died May 7 at age 69.
childhood with his father and with a shorin-ryu hanshi, or grand master.
Shorin-ryu is a discipline of karate that originated in Okinawa centuries ago.
In 1944 during America's invasion of the island, Ueshiro's parents were killed,
and his hands were severely disfigured during a war-related fire. Determined
to rehabilitate his hands, he delved deeper into karate and took up weaponry as
Later, he would tell his children that it wasn't what happens to you or why
it happens that's important, but rather how you work around it.
Ueshiro, who became a grand master of shorin-ryu karate and a four-time
world champion, had a stroke May 4 and died three days later at South Nassau
Communities Hospital in Oceanside. He had lived in Farmingville since 1972.
"He felt martial arts wasn't just a sport," said one of Ueshiro's sons,
Ando Ueshiro of Kamakura, Japan. "He thought that martial arts was more a way
of life, that it helps people find themselves."
Ueshiro taught karate to American servicemen stationed overseas in the
1950s before immigrating to the United States in 1962 with four consecutive
world championship titles and intentions to teach. He started out working for
the import/export company Nippon Express, eventually opening his own business
in the same industry.
He married his wife, Hiro, in 1958; the couple had five children, three of
whom were born in Japan. Ueshiro's life was "very well balanced" between
teaching karate, running a business and raising a family, his son Ando said.
He described his father as a spiritual man who believed all living things
A martial arts history published in 1993 identifies Ueshiro as the pioneer
teacher of Okinawan karate in the United States. In 1970, he founded the
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA group and established 16 schools, including locations in
other schools in the United States have ties to Ueshiro's teachings.
Ueshiro became a U.S. citizen in 1986 and retired from his business in 1989
to devote more time to shorin-ryu.
Shorin-ryu is distinguishable from other types of karate by its emphasis on
more traditional forms, exercises and self-defense rather than competition,
according to Michael Mackay, a student of Ueshiro for 23 years and chief
instructor at Midtown Karate Dojo in Manhattan. "The whole premise of Master
Ueshiro's teaching is that there is no first attack in karate," he said.
Mackay described Ueshiro as having both a warrior's spirit and a
gentleman's candor. "It was always an interesting paradox to me that he could
demonstrate both those qualities," Mackay said, though "there was no mistaking
how formidable he could be."
In addition to his wife and son Ando, Ueshiro is survived by a brother,
Tsurok Ueshiro of Okinawa; a sister, Mitsuko of Miyazaki, Japan; son Angiro
Ueshiro of Holbrook; daughters Yoko Ueshiro of Port Jefferson, Yuko Ueshiro and
Yasuko Ueshiro of Farmingville; and three grandchildren.
Services were at Dodge-Thomas Funeral Home in Glen Cove Saturday. Burial
was at Locust Valley Cemetery.