In 1967, Angi Uezu visited the United States for the first time to travel and teach Isshinryu for his teacher and father-in-law, Tatsuo Shimabuku. It was during this visit that Grand Master Uezu first met and trained with Georg Iberl; this initial meeting began their 40-year friendship.
Since 1967, Master Uezu has traveled to the United States over 30 times. I wonder if most people have any idea what type of commitment this was for him. A direct flight from Okinawa to the United States takes a full day time wise (if you take into account stops and layovers) and is about 7,700 miles. Double these numbers for a round trip flight and multiple that by 30. If you do the simple math, this translates to at least two solid months that Master Uezu spent just ‘getting here’, traveling some 426,000 miles to and from the U.S. This doesn’t even consider the travel that he did within the U.S. once he arrived.
Were all those trips easy ones? Was he treated with the respect and courtesy he deserved by everyone? Was he always happy with his students here? No, no, and no. I could tell stories about how callously he was treated by some during his visits here and how it angered me; although the actions of those people disappointed him, he let them go. Did those disappointments stop him from coming back again and again and again? No. Why was that? The answer is simple. He was keeping a promise that he made to his teacher and father in law, Tatsuo Shimabuku to continue to travel and teach Isshinryu as he was taught.