Kanbun Uechi is considered to be the founder of the Uechi-Ryu style of karate. He trained with the master Chou-tzu-ho in the Fukien province of China from 1897 to 1910 and the style was known and described as Pwangainoon (meaning half hard-half soft). He returned to Okinawa, eventually teaching his skills to a few friends and his son Kanei Uechi who became the Grand Master until his death in 1991 when the style fragmented and the Okinawan Karate-do Association (OKIKUKI) was formed along with the International Uechi-Ryu Karate Federation (IUKF) and the Uechi-Ryu Kenyukai Association (UKA).
Unusually, there are only eight kata, the three original Chinese kata : Sanchin, Seisan and Sanseirui and five supplementay kata: Kanshiwa, Konshu, Seichin, Seirui, and Konchin developed to help progresion through the Chinese kata.
Sanchin (as in other styles) refers to three concepts which are not clearly defined, but may be thought of as spirit, strength, and fluidity. It is essentially an exercise to develop stance (footwork), posture (body positioning), turns, blocks, strikes, speed, strength throughout the body and ease of movement. Sanchin is simplest of the kata in terms of the variety of moves, but achieving degrees proficiency in these aspects can take a lifetime. It is the essence of the style and it is performed at least three times during a class, softly and slowly, medium and lastly as strong and as fast as the instructor asks for with great emphasis put on testing of the student throughout the kata.