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Patrick McCarthy
Patrick McCarthy - IRKRS Director
Patrick McCarthy - IRKRS Director
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Karate Training & What to Know About Fighting
by Kyan Chotoku

Okinawa-Prefectural School of Agriculture & Forestry

Japanese to English Translation by Patrick & Yuriko McCarthy © Copyright 2001

At sixty-one years old this year, Mr. Kyan’s face, when compared to anyone else his age, is still full of spirit and drive. Presently an instructor at the karate dojo, hosted by the School of Agriculture & Forestry, this instructor is very committed to the welfare and education of our youth. Editor

A History & Outline of Karate [2]
In an unarmed altercation, one can take advantage of the situation any moment that the opponent is off guard by striking with the clenched fist, smashing with the elbow and or kicking with the feet. The hands and the feet can also be used to parry strikes. Moreover, one can also avoid being attacked by learning to shift the body properly. A martial art unique to Okinawa, Karate dates back about 400 years ago, to the Oei or Eikyo periods.[3] Introduced to Okinawa from China by an unidentified person who had studied it there, the practice gradually improved over time and ultimately became regarded as Okinawan. Since that early time these skills have been further cultivated and continually improved.

It’s important to understand the difference between Chinese method and Okinawan preference. The Chinese commonly use the tips of their fingers against an opponent while the clenched fist is chiefly used in Okinawa. It should be noted that the clenched fist is one of the fundamental differences that makes karate a unique fighting method.

Nowadays, there are two principal styles of karate, Shorei-ryu and Shorin-ryu. In total there are dozens of kata between them, which primarily encompass physical conditioning and defensive application. While, both have their good and bad points, it can be said that the Shorei-style focuses largely on conditioning the body while the Shorin-style addresses application principles. However, hasty judgments on which is the right or wrong style should be avoided, as training methods are be based on the learners' character and physical condition.

The application principles of karate are truly kaleidoscopic, however, in the case of fighting actually only two points really count: "sei" & " ki".[4] The three ways to support the practical application of these points are a.) Observation [Go no sen] b.) Imperceptibility [Sen no sen] and c.) Transcendence [Sen]. Which of the three combative initiatives best resolves any physical confrontation depends entirely upon the individual and the circumstances. Of course, engagement is also determined by knowing both the opponent and yourself. These are issues at the forefront of fighting and winning.

More ... 
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2017 KU/IRKRS Updated Seminar Itinerary

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Excerpted from my 1995 lecture, "Karate-do - Development, Essence & Aims"
by Patrick McCarthy

Physical Aims of the Kata
Kata is a metaphor...the actuality hides behind the visible aspect. If you have not experienced it, it is quite difficult to understand. On the surface, kata training strengthens bone and muscle, which helps to maximise one’s biomechanics. This refers to developing optimum performance with the least amount of energy, and includes the ability to vibrate, torque and rotate the hips, and expand and contract the muscles: the total summation of joint forces. One learns to build, contain, and release qi (vital energy, ki in Japanese and Korean) through regulating the breath and synchronising it with the expansion and contraction of muscles. Kata is also an excellent source of oxygenating the body and cultivating qi energy that has an incredibly therapeutic and holistic effect upon the body both internally and externally. In short, kata serves to develop a healthy body, fast reflexes, and strong movements, increasing one’s ability to respond effectively to potentially dangerous encounters.

While discussing the significance of breathing and the principles of qi energy, Fujian White Crane master Lin Guozhong described the importance of inhalation (swallowing), exhalation (spitting), holding up (floating), and holding down (sinking) the breath.[13]

Master Wu Bin, of China’s Wushu Research Institute, describes combative paradigms as vitally important in mobilising the inner circulation of airflow to guide it to all extremities to synthesise one’s external and internal forces. Kata is also an excellent way to keep the body electrically charged and physically tuned. When done correctly, kata should not overstrain one’s muscles or cause injury, but rather massage one’s internal organs and invigorate the body. Kata has long served as a remarkable therapeutic exercise because diligent practice ultimately strengthens the body and helps prevent disease.

The deepest physical benefits of kata include the strengthening of bones, muscles, and tendons; regulating the neurologic system; promoting circulation; massaging internal organs; and balancing hormone production. This is accomplished when our energy channels are fully opened and appropriate alignments are cultivated. That is why in rooted postures the back must be straight, shoulders rounded, chin pushed in, pelvis tilted up, feet firmly planted, and the body remain pliable.

The kata improves concentration, coordination, and the functions of various organs of the body. The controlled breathing techniques, vigorous twisting of the body and oscillation of the limbs, and the contraction and expansion of the muscles unimpedes jingluo (blood and lymphatic vessels) and improves the functions of the skeletal and muscular structures as well as the digestive system. Hence, the kata is an excellent adjunct for physical training as they provide curative effects for such chronic diseases as neurasthenia, high blood pressure, enterogastritis, heart trouble, TB, arthritis, diabetes, emissions, and internal piles.

Generally speaking, many people impair their energy pathways through poor diet, obesity, smoking, inactivity, and indiscreet lifestyles. The unique group of alignments that orthodox kata cultivates, open the body’s inner pathways allowing the energy to flow spontaneously and hence nourish and invigorate the entire anatomy. When the channels are purified, energy flows freely, the neurological system is cleansed, and the internal organs are regulated.

An important point when considering kata should be to know that the techniques were never contrived to be used in an arena, against a professional warrior, or on the battlefield; rather, they were first developed to be used against a preoccupied aggressor. In fact, self-defense applications work best against those who are completely unaware of the techniques being used to counter their assault.

Pregnant with a myriad of self-defense applications, the kata needs to be studied deeply to fully understand these applications. A practice that has not become a popular practise within karate’s competitive element, and one that is only now forcing the international community of Karatedo to re-evaluate its understanding of the tradition.

Non-Physical Aims of Kata
Matsubayashiryu founder Nagamine Shoshin said, “that only through the relentless study of Karatedo could one achieve the highest standards of inner beauty and strength. The fusing of the body and mind through Karatedo is indescribably beautiful and spiritual. When totally absorbed in kata, one is brought into complete contact with the central core of their being. It is there that the essence of Karatedo is to be discovered.”

Shitoryu founder Mabuni Kenwa concluded that understanding Karate’s deepest meaning first meant transcending ego-related distractions and finding inner-peace. In an abstract poem, Mabuni Sensei wrote, “when the spirit of Karatedo [written as “bu” for budo] is deeply embraced, it becomes the vehicle [described as a boat] in that one is ferried across the great void to enlightenment [that Master Mabuni described as an island].

Correctly studied, kata reveal both the physical and metaphysical precepts of Karatedo. Best described through the abstract tenets of “shu-ha-ri,” Kinjo Hiroshi, a man characterised by Richard Kim as a walking encyclopedia of karate history, philosophy, and application, maintains that kata is the bible of Karatedo.

Shuhari can be described as the three phases of transition from beginner to master. The term “Shu” literally means to protect or maintain and represents “learning from tradition.” This is the way the chain of tradition is perpetuated and passed on. This initial stage of training is an indispensable step on the infinite ladder of growth and development in Karatedo. There are no time limits for each of the three stages, and transition from one level to the next is neither simple nor immediate. Rather, levels tend to overlap in the transition phase, which allows for a gradual withdrawal from one level and a subtle entry into the next.

“Ha” literally means, “to detach” and refers to breaking free the chains of tradition. However, often misunderstood, it does not mean to depart from that which has given strength. Rather, “Ha” represents a transitional phase from which a person emerges strengthened through the power of introspection.

Described as exploring the “world within,” the kata and protracted introspection become the focal points through which the supreme power of one’s mind is first realised. Having a profound effect upon every aspect of one’s life and understanding of Karatedo, daily training, and life itself, takes on a completely new meaning as one continues a relentless pursuit to the next phase of mastery.

“RI” is the final stage of transition and literally means to go beyond or transcend. This is what is commonly referred to as enlightenment or spiritual emancipation, Daoists call it becoming one with the source, but it is probably better described as unrestricted realisation.

Continuing upon the journey without distance through the world within, one is absorbed in its abyss, so much so that the intermittent flashes of penetrating wisdom become more frequent before one emerges reborn. Those who fail to make this inward journey remain forever unfamiliar with the true essence of Karatedo and the self.

For the most part, this denotes the doctrine of “Shuhari” which, in Zen, is often referred to as completing the circle or attaining a primordial state. Although its symbol is an empty circle, it is not void of meaning for those who stand within it, as it aims to bring one back into harmony with nature. The Shuhari precept knows no time barriers.

More on Kata
To a beginner of Karatedo, kata is the vehicle through which the central principles of self-defense are first learned. If there is anything else to be discovered beyond that, it is only something that manifests itself after intense study and thousands upon thousands of repetitions; a practice that compels one to turn their attention inward. Miyamoto Musashi, a well-known samurai of feudal Japan, when describing the kata ritual, once wrote, Senjitsu no keiko Tan To ii, Banjitsu no keiko Rento Yu” (“1000 days to forge the spirit, 10,000 to polish it”).

Wise teachers often warn that when the spirit of repetition is not properly cultivated or, even worse, lost, the kata ritual becomes uneventful, even boring. A popular expression among old masters in Okinawa says that there can be no limit placed upon kata training, philosophical assimilation, or protracted introspection.

A Confucian tenet, (Analects 7:8) that permeates Japanese budo, describes the master unwilling to enlighten those who are not enthusiastic, or educate those who are not anxious to learn. He will not repeat himself to those who, when he raises one corner, do not return having raised the other three corners. It is the disciple’s responsibility to maintain enthusiasm and willingness to seek out Karatedo’s deepest meaning.

Consumed in and by the kata, impermeable layers of silence shield one from both external and internal distractions. Inner confusion gradually dissolves until it no longer exists at all. Regulating the flow of air from within the body and synchronising it with the execution of each physical contraction, the kata becomes a powerful vehicle of introspection through which external performance and internal thought correspond harmoniously. Both external and internal disturbances fade away into a muffled roar until they are no more disturbing than the distant sound of rolling thunder.

Captured by the essence of introspection, personal concessions, diligent training, and philosophical assimilation establish an inner balance. Through this balance, immunity against life’s trivial distractions gradually unfolds. So much so that, detachment from illusion becomes easier and quicker in time. Breath is the gateway between the body and the mind, between the physical and the spiritual. In this light, kata becomes Karate’s central vehicle, like meditation in motion, and training becomes as much mental as it is physical. Beyond exhaustion, despite aching muscles, I have experienced peacefulness flowing quietly within the brutality of Karatedo. It is through this tranquillity that our pursuit of fulfilment is realized.

There are no superfluous movements in the orthodox Karatedo paradigms. Every movement represents a specific principle, which corresponds to its defensive application. Practicing kata, one’s performance is enhanced if the karateka can actually visualise the physical application of each technique, hence employing varying degrees of rhythm, power, and focus. Knowing this, we can better understand what Master Kinjo Hiroshi meant when he said: “The performance of technique reveals one’s understanding of it.”

Up until the turn of this century, in Okinawa most, if not all, local disciplines revolved around only one or two kata. However, during Itosu Ankoh’s era, this tradition changed due in large part to the introduction and popularity of Toudi-jutsu (the name then used) in the school system. Later, when Toudi-jutsu was taken to mainland (Japan) group instruction, school clubs, and the competitive format completely revolutionised the practice of kata and study of Karatedo.

Prior to the turn of this century, curiosity on Japan’s mainland about Toudi-jutsu first surfaced from the attention it gained when the Imperial Army considered its value as an adjunct to physical training. Impressed by the physical conditioning of several Okinawan conscripts during their medical examinations in 1891,[14] the Army ultimately abandoned its interest in Toudi-jutsu because of unsafe training methods, poor organization and the great length of time it took to gain proficiency. However, that was not before a local campaign surfaced in an effort to modernise its practice. The movement, headed by Itosu Ankoh (1832-1915), was ultimately successful when Toudi-jutsu became a part of the physical education curriculum of Okinawa’s school system at the turn of the century. In linking the past to the present, Itosu’s crusade to modernize Karate-jutsu resulted in fundamentally revising its practice.

Beyond Itosu’s letter to the Ministry of Education and Department of War in 1908, there is little testimony to support (or deny) allegations that Toudi-jutsu was developed to better prepare draftees for military service. Notwithstanding, Toudi-jutsu was ultimately introduced into Okinawa’s school system under the pretence that young men with healthy bodies and good moral character were more productive in modern Japanese society.

With Master Itosu removing much of what was then considered too dangerous for school children, the emphasis shifted from a self-defense art to a cultural recreation for physical fitness that underscored the value of group kata practice, but neglected its bunkai. Ignoring the spiritual foundation upon which it rested and not teaching the hidden self-defense applications (to disable, maim, or even kill, by traumatising anatomically vulnerable areas), the old discipline became obscured and a new tradition evolved. These geometrical paradigms virtually became only exercises for health and fitness during Itosu Ankoh’s generation.

This radical transition period represented the termination of a secret self-defense art and the birth of a unique recreational phenomenon. This phenomenon was introduced to mainland Japan, where it ultimately conformed to the forces of Japanese-ness and blossomed into a remarkable recreational discipline.

When compared to the mother paradigms of Chinese quanfa, the traditional kata of Japanese Karatedo are noticeably different. However, without understanding how anthropological forces affect the growth and direction of any cultural phenomena, it is perplexing at best to actually conceive the connection between Japanese Karatedo and its progenitor, quanfa.

Understanding the social matrix from whence it evolved, we can more easily understand how Japan’s inflexible and ritualistic society transformed these Chinese traditions once cultivated in old Okinawa. An old Japanese kotowaza (proverb) aptly describes how things or people that are “different” (not in balance with the “wa”) ultimately conform or are methodically thwarted by Japan’s omnipotent cultural forces: “Deru kui wah utareru” (“a protruding nail ultimately gets hammered down”).

As I noted earlier, presently there are various styles of Japanese Karatedo as each generation has produced authorities who have found reason to reinterpret Karatedo’s principles. However, if one looked deep enough, it would soon become obvious that the principles upon which combative subjugation rest are universal.

In his illuminating dissertation (at Japan’s Budo University in 1990) on the evolution of Zen Buddhism and its effects upon Japanese culture, Suzuki Kakuzen Sensei,[15] aptly described how variations in human behaviour (personality/attitude) were responsible for the advent of Zen’s various sects.

Comparing his dissertation to karate’s myriad of eclectic interpretations, it is easy to arrive at the same conclusion: the style is directly proportional to the experience, personality, and nature of its originator and or those people most responsible for its transmission. There is only one message, maintained Suzuki, however, there are many ways of teaching it. A popular kotowaza used by men of budo in Japan reads: “Many paths lead up a mountain, but only one moon can be seen by those who achieve its summit.” The principles upon which self-defense rest never vary, as human personalities do, hence it should be those principles that we strive to master.

After being introduced to the mainland of Japan, the kata of Okinawa Toudi-jutsu, like other ritualised Japanese disciplines, evolved into elegant, but fixed traditions, beautiful in their simplicity. Compared to the complexity of Chinese quanfa forms, which, like other facets of Chinese society, remained abundant yet enigmatic.

More here ...…/karatedo-development-essence…
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Thank you Kregg Jorgenson ... it was more than thirty years ago but I remain as grateful today as I was all those years ago my friend. Bringing together like-minded people in pursuit of common goals and celebrating empowerment, personal achievement & camaraderie through this remarkable art. 
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Having just watched Jesse Enkamp's recent video presentation [The Karate Nerd in Okinawa] I was reminded of my first visit to Okinawa during the mid-1980's. So much has changed since then ... here's an article by Kregg P Jorgenson outlining our, "Okinawan Odyssey," more than thirty-years ago.
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Myths of the Ryukyu Kingdom ~ 1994
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Meeting various Japanese/Okinawan authorities in an effort to better understand the teachings and contributions of Miyagi Chojun.


* With Nagamine Shoshin ... who was personal friends with Miyagi and collaborated with him during the pre-war years in the development of promotional kata [Gekkisai/Fukyu-gata].

* At the Jundokan with Miyazato Sensei who was one of Miyagi Chojun's most senior students

* In Okinawa with Higa Yuchoku ... best remembered as a pioneer of Shorin Ryu, in his youth he also studied directly under Miyagi Chojun and Shinzato Jin'nan

* At the old Naha Butokuden which originally housed the bust of Miyagi Chojun

* In Tokyo with Yamaguchi Gogen [The Cat] the founder of Goju Kai

* Crying Crane-Fist [鳴鶴拳/Ming He Quan] pioneer, Xie Zhongxiang [aka Ryu Ruko ~ 1852-1930]. * Crying Crane-Fist [鳴鶴拳/Ming He Quan] is also known as Calling, Whooping, or Shouting Crane

* The final resting place of Miyagi Chojun on Kakazu Hill

* Enjoying a meal and conversation after training at the Gohakukai with Tokashiki Iken ... master of Tomari-te and Goju Ryu

* In Ginowan at the 1st Uchinanchu festival interviewing Aragaki Shuichi ... direct student of Miyagi Chojun

* In Tokyo at the private residence of the Konishi family; Konishi Yasuhiro was the original 1928 sponsor of Miyagi Chojun and Mabuni Kenwa, along with Motobu Choki and studied directly under Funakoshi Gichin

* With Shimabuku Eizo who studied directly under Miyagi Chojun

* In Okinawa at the Gohakukai with Tokashiki Iken IMO, Tokashiki sensei is only one of a handful of researchers to command a deep knowledge of the Bubishi. He was a student of Fukuchi Seiko and Nakasone Seiyu Tomari-te

* At the Higaonna dojo after training with Kina Seiko, direct student of Miyagi Chojun

* Some q-time with Higaonna Morio in Okinawa

* At the Meibukan with Yagi Meitoku one of Miyagi Chojun's senior students

* Uehara Seikichi was also personal friends with Miyagi Chojun

* At the Kodokan Dojo in Naha with Matayoshi Shinpo with studied Goju under Higa Seiko

* My copy of the original 1934 "Outline of Karate/Toudi-do" by Miyagi Chojun presented directly to me in 1989 by the Konishi family who had been its keeper since 1934. This document was officially translated into English in 1993 by my wife and myself.

* My copy of the 1936 published copy of the 1934 "Outline of Karate/Toudi-do" by Miyagi Chojun

* At the old Karate museum with my friend, Hokama Tetsuhiro [who studied Goju under Higa Seiko] who is ... arguably the most knowledgeable researcher of [Goju] Karate/kobudo and the Bubishi

* In Matsuyama Koen with Miyagi Ken ... son of Miyagi Chojun

* In Fuzhou, China with Higa Seikichi, son of Higa Seiko

* At my old ACNM college dojo with Seiwakai founder, the late Tazaki Shuji [1933-2011]. Yuriko and I served as personal interpretors for Tazaki and his Japanese seniors [Fujiwawa Seiichi, et al, ] on behalf of the Seiwakai Australia at various venues around Brisbane and Sydney for about 10-days in 2009. The assignment was very insightful and spending private time with Tazaki discussing his early training with Yamaguchi also proved rewarding.

* At the Higaonna dojo in Naha

* With Xie Wenliang ... great grandson of Crying Crane-Fist [鳴鶴拳/Ming He Quan] pioneer, Xie Zhongxiang

* In Ginowan where the Miyagi bust had been temporarliy relocated prior to being moved to the Jundokan

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Tokyo 1988 with Inoue Motokatsu, then one of my Taira-based Kobudo teachers, and Ueshiba Kisshomaru [son of Aikido founder Ueshiba Morihe] with Misa san, the daughter of Fujita Seiko [藤田 西湖/Koga Ryu Ninjutsu] in the background.

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It was an honour to work with with authorities like Uehara Seikichi. 
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Reflecting back upon memorable moments during my competitive era ... 
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