Ikkei Ukai (Japanese:
He has short gray-white hair and a tiny beard at the bottom of his chin. Despite his age, he appears to be well-built and athletic.
He appears scary and brisk at first sight but deep in his heart, he is a kind person who wants the best for his students.
As a coach, he's very strict and uses brutal training methods; Ryūnosuke Tanaka stated once during the summer training camp that he "hasn't been running this much since Ukai Sr. stopped coaching the team". In addition, Chikara Ennoshita said that the ungrateful second years left the volleyball club because of Ukai's harsh practices.
Before Karasuno was famous, the name Ukai was already well-known. After the Small Giant joined the team, Ukai led Karasuno High to its first National Tournament. Some time afterward, Ikkei went into retirement for a while. Just a few months before Hinata and Kageyama joined Karasuno, Ikkei had temporarily come out of retirement to coach the team again but the esteemed coach collapsed and had to be hospitalized. It has been stated that one of the reasons he collapsed is that he overdid things in his younger years.
Ikkei currently coaches kids, college students, and adults of various ages at the Lil' Tykes Volleyball Classroom.
Tokyo Expedition Arc
Ukai has just been released from the hospital and is practising with his students when Keishin Ukai brings Hinata to him for help with his training. Ukai criticizes Keishin for not knowing what to do with his own team and immediately flips his grandson over.
Hinata nervously exclaims that he came here to get stronger in order to fight on his own. Ukai states it's hard to take control of mid-air battles with that height, but Hinata quickly retorts that he wants to do it because of his height. His exclamation suddenly reminds Ukai of the Small Giant and the coach agrees to help Hinata. After setting a court up, he explains to Hinata that in a quick strike, the spiker takes the initiative–something Hinata should never forget. He then tells Hinata to block the kids and starts setting up 'tempo' moves. Throughout the mini-match, Ukai's amazed by Hinata's high jumps.
Afterwards, Ukai explains timing to Hinata, stating that in a quick strike, the setter matches the spiker; basically, it's an attack led by the spiker, not the other way around as Hinata and Kageyama have been doing it. As he explains the setter's and spiker's jobs, Keishin suddenly has a revelation and runs off, leaving Hinata with Ukai.
Hinata then says determinedly that just reaching the top isn't enough, so he wants Ukai to teach him how to fight at the top.
Sometime later, Kageyama joins Hinata in training with Ukai; this extra practice helps them improve their quick-strike tremendously.
Spring High Preliminary Arc
Ukai attends the Karasuno vs Ohgiminami match with some of his students. One of the spectators teases him, asking if he was here to watch his "cute grandson". The spectator then compliments Karasuno, stating that the members are pretty good this year. Ukai replies that there is no such thing as a match where a victory or loss is guaranteed, so he can't say for sure that Karasuno will win all of its matches.
He watches Karasuno's match against Kakugawa and comments to his student's the different ways that players can try to overcome someone to is significantly taller than them; such as using more players and using different tempo's.
Around the beginning of the fourth set of the Shiratorizawa vs Karasuno game, Ukai surprises Shimada, Takinoue, and Akiteru by showing up behind them and commenting on how the current Karasuno's doing better than the alumni did. The three greet him respectfully out of fear and Ukai remarks that they used to just jump at the ball without thinking, unlike what the current members are doing. Takinoue quickly replies that they just had too much to think of at the same time during matches. Ukai then sits down and notes that Washijō's still the same, amassing all the strong players onto one team.
As the game progresses, Ukai would comment on Shiratorizawa's strength and smile in pride at Hinata's vast improvements.
Tokyo Nationals Arc
After Hinata had crashed the First Year Training Camp, Ukai reveals the news to Takeda that Ikkei has been hospitalized once more though he is certain that his grandfather is not in critical condition.
Ikkei would later appear to watch the Karasuno vs Nekoma match from his hospital room with other patients and two of his young students. He beamed with pride when someone commented on how his grandson looked just like him. At the end of the match, he placed his hand out when Nekomata would shake hands with Keishin.
Ikkei's final appearance in the series comes when he is shown to be on a video chat with Nekomata while his grandson and Takeda are watching the Japan vs Argentina match on tv.
Despite his age, he can still play volleyball on par with high school students and flip his grandson over.
- Small Giant: Ukai had the best team in all of Karasuno's history when the Small Giant was around. In the past, Ukai also gave the Small Giant additional training to help him develop other skills to make up for his lack of height.
- Shōyō Hinata: Hinata reminds Ukai of the Small Giant, especially when he came to the coach to ask for help with his training; the Small Giant did the same thing in the past. During the summer, Ukai taught Hinata how to use tempos in his attacks and helped develop Hinata and Kageyama's quick-strike by providing them with advice and a place to train.
- Karasuno High: Ukai is both feared by and well respected among every member of Karasuno due to his excellent coaching and brutal practices. It's been years since they graduated, but Akiteru, Shimada, and Takinoue are still afraid of Ukai; Takinoue became terrified when he accidentally let it slip in front of Ukai that he used to slack off during practices.
- Keishin Ukai: Keishin is Ukai's grandson who is also Karasuno's current coach. Although Ukai treats his grandson roughly, such as flipping him through the air when he came for advice and arm wrestling with him, Ikkei cares for his grandson deeply. When Keishin was introduced as Karasuno's coach during the match against Nekoma, Ikkei beamed with pride when it was commented how much the two look alike.
- Yasufumi Nekomata: Ukai and Nekomata are longtime friends, both having met each other in middle school during a tournament. During their youth, they displayed countless competitiveness against each other each time they face off on the court. On their last middle-school tournament, Ukai was frustrated because Nekomata transferred to Tokyo, thus breaking their promise that they will battle again in a tournament. Years later, both become coaches of their respective former schools, Karasuno High and Nekoma High. Their teams played against each other for years–although Nekoma usually won. Despite all of their competitions, Ukai acknowledges Nekomata as a talented coach with strong players.
- "Humans have no 'wings', so they search for ways to fly." (To Keishin Ukai, Volume 4 Chapter 30)
- "There is no greater toss than one which is easy for the spiker to hit." (To Hinata, Volume 10 Chapter 83)
- "Volleyball isn't a game where you 'carry' the ball. It's only touched for a mere fraction of a second. In that instance when you control it, the ball becomes like an extension of your body." (To Hinata, Volume 10 Chapter 84)
- "There's no such thing as a match you can definitely win or a match you'll win for sure." (Volume 12 Chapter 99)
- "As a sport, volleyball is all about height. Of course tall players will have an advantage. Highly polished individual talent is one valid concept around which to build a team. A continually evolving offense of new tricks is another, equally valid concept. In fact, it is thanks to all the possible concepts out there that the game is as varied and diverse as it is today. The qualities that make a good team are truly many and multifaceted." (To himself, Season 3 Episode 10)
- There are rumors that Ukai keeps ferocious crows as pets.
- He tends to give people nicknames. When he first met Hinata, he nicknamed him "Small fry" which eventually developed to "shrimpy". "Shrimpy" eventually developed to "Shrimpo".
- Current Concern: The prospect of losing to his grandson at arm wrestling makes him feel slightly uneasy.
- Ukai (烏養) - Crow Nurturer
- Ikkei (一繋) - First Link