Palace Hand

An esoteric martial art from old Okinawa.

Master Toma outside his home/dojo.

Okinawa 2002 

 

I was introduced to Palace Hand in the home of 84 year old Master Toma on the island of Okinawa. That is Toma sensei waving to me outside his home at the top of this page.

 

Toma, with his crooked walking stick in one hand, demonstrated simple techniques that easily brought me to the ground. It was so effective, yet relaxed and deceptive.

 

A few years later I was able to learn from two teachers skilled in Palace Hand, Taira and Takamiyagi sensei's. Taira was the senior living master of Udundi.

 

Our teachers were steadfast in supporting our endeavor to bring Udundi to America. Besides teaching us on Okinawa, Takamiyagi sensei has come to our dojo in Rhode Island several times and Taira sensei visited us shortly before his passing at the age of 80.

A Little Background

 

Palace Hand ('Udundi' in the Okinawan Language) was the martial art of the royal family back when the island of Okinawa was home of the Ryukyu Kingdom, an independent nation. Udundi was little known beyond Okinawa until recently as there has been little interest in teaching foreign students.

 

There are currently about a half dozen dojo's practicing Palace Hand on Okinawa, another half dozen on mainland Japan, and a handful scattered around the world.

We learned Udundi directly at the source, Okinawa (not mainland Japan), where it has been practiced for 500 years.

 

Here is a little bit about our story.

Master Toma with katana.

Taira Ryoshu studied under Seikichi Uehara for thirty years taking private lessons twice a day. 

 

In 2006 Taira sensei asked me to teach this style in America. Myself and some of my students visited Okinawa several times to learn from Taira sensei and he visited our school here in Rhode Island before his passing in 2009. He was very generous with us and provided unprecedented access to this rarely seen martial art.

 

Seikichi Uehara presented Menkyo Kaiden

(Certificate of Complete Transmission) to Taira Ryusho.

Taira Ryusho, Koza, Okinawa.

Takamiyagi sensei, who studied under sensei's Toma, Uehara and Taira, continues to teach us. He has gone to great lengths to provide us with opportunities to train in private schools of Udundi that are off the beaten path on Okinawa. We were able to learn from many very skilled Udundi teachers because of his connections. He has made six visits to Rhode Island to help us establish this style here in America. 

 

Takamiyagi sensei also has extensive karate training and is ranked Hachidan (8th degree black) under the world-reknown Shimabuku Eiso, and was awarded Judan (10th degree black) by Seiki Toma.

Takamiyagi Tetsuo

Kodokai was the first school outside of Japan offering a full curriculum of Udundi.

 

We are deeply indebted to our teachers. They provided countless hours of private lessons during our visits to Okinawa. Days often began at 6:00 am, and, after a mid-day break, ended around 11:00pm.

 

Our teachers brought us into the homes and dojo's of other Udundi masters, included us in memorial services for family members, arranged a private tea ceremony, shared meals and endless conversations of philosophy and strategy. We enjoyed lessons on crowded sidewalks, in the busy airport, on sandy beaches and anywhere the opportunity arose. The rich cultural environment of Okinawa was our school.

 

 

Both sides of Takamiyagi sensei's business card.

Taira sensei was proud of Udundi being a uniquely Okinawan martial art and not 'Japanese". He often expressed that we should tell people that...

 

 

"We learned Okinawan martial arts, on Okinawa, from Okinawan people".

We are not affiliated with any Japanese-based  Udundi organization.