A Glance into Hanshi McCarthy’s insight of Karate

The following extract is the response Hashi McCarthy sent to a fellow martial artist who emailed him.

I have highlighted fragments of the text which I found of special interest or, for whatever reason, have resonated in my ears. I have also deleted anything that makes reference to any specific person or association to focus on the educational material encapsulated in this wonderful email.

I’ve left the very last paragraph of the original email to highlight his wonderful open-door policy by which Hanshi lives karate (and his life).

The lecture you are about to read is master class and this is reproduced with Hanshi McCarthy’s permission.


“Greetings from Brisbane, Australia where I hope that my reply finds you well and getting ready to enjoy the Christmas season. It’s always nice to meet a new friend and enjoy some camaraderie with likeminded people on the pathway of the fighting arts.

Of course, you couldn’t be more correct in saying that Karate is a system of fighting built upon an incomplete study of Chinese Quanfa … and arguably that which originates in Yongchun. Having been involved with Karate for so many years [I assume Shotokan] I am confident you have must experienced all that which is lacking in the modern Japanese interpretation of the art, and its competitive element, too.


In 1985, and after 21 years of studying Karate in my home country of Canada [fyi, I first started in 1964 and later also took up Lam Saiwing-lineaged Hung Gar Kung Fu in 1970 along with Pencak Silat], I walked away disappointed from the modern tradition of Karate, its rule-bound, shallow competitive practices and narrow-minded politics. At that time, I had decided to travel to the source of its origins to discover and better understand the original art. As such, I migrated to Japan and lived there for more than a decade. While living there, however, I discovered that the Japanese art of Karate was based upon an older art developed in Okinawa during its old Ryukyu Kingdom Period. Therefore, I made several trips to Okinawa in an effort to discover the original art. The lengthy study was very interesting and I learned much from the many senior instructors from a wide variety of different styles. Surprisingly, however, and during that mid-1980’s study I also discovered that, “Karate” was actually a hybrid discipline based upon incomplete elements of various foreign fighting practices introduced to the tiny island culture over a long period of time by different people [often identified as, “pioneers”] in a haphazardly [unorganised/unsystematised] manner. As you could imagine, with such an inquisitive personality like mine, I couldn’t let it rest just there and had to continue to pursue the journey.

My first trip to China was during the late 1980’s and over the subsequent years I continued to ventured to many places like Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Shaolin, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Changle, Putian and Yongchun etc., for cross-training and related historical studies with many of the leading authorities of the most well-known Chinese fighting arts. During my studies [between North & South, Internal & External, Hard & Soft, etc.] I discovered that the older southern-based Chinese fighting arts [such as Monk Fist, SPM, Crane & Haka boxing, etc.] were actually original sources from which various elements found there way into Okinawan culture. Of course, my early fascination with the studying and translating the Bubishi [武備志/Wubeizhi], and the history of Fang Chiniang, lead me to Yongchun and the Pan family twenty-six years ago in 1990. Since that time, I have long been an admirer of Yongchun Boxing and its wonderful, albeit too often misunderstood, heritage and legacy. However, because of my own interests, varied background with the fighting arts, obligations and ultimate goals [and knowledge of Chinese/Japanese customs, culture & politics], I never joined Grandmaster Pan’s group, or ever requested becoming “an official member.” To this day, however, I remain a staunch supporter of Yongchun Beihequan, the Wen Gong Ci and everything they represent.

Koryu Uchinadi

Koryu Uchinadi [aka KU] is a modern practice I established about twenty-five years ago. It is based largely my personal study and interpretation of the four principal foreign fighting practices once used during Okinawa’s old Ryukyu Kingdom Period. It is a functional coherent and completely systematised method of self-defense based upon the HAPV-theory and corresponding 2-person drill practices.


The acronym, “HAPV” stands for the, HABITUAL ACTS of PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. It is the systematized contextual premise, from which non-lethal empty-handed [one-against-one] self-defense practices can be applied to, in a domestic environment [in contrast to the rule-bound sporting arena, multiple/gang-related violent scenarios and or the “battlefield, etc.] See more here http://www.koryu-uchinadi.org/KU_HAPV.pdf

Pedagogical Abstract

Individual HAPV are identified, described in detail and studied [so that the learner comes to understand its mechanics, the principles that make it work, why it’s dangerous and how it can be effectively negotiated] before being recreated in Futari-geiko/二人稽古 [i.e. 2-person drills ~ see here tinyurl.com/zymx2f3].

In 2-person drills, the attacker recreates the HAPV, with passive resistance [i.e. learning speed] while the defender rehearses its corresponding defensive theme. The exercise is continued on until the learner gains familiarity with the practice. This is to say that the learner can now progress to the next level after feeling comfortably proficient: If only in the reenactment process.

In stage number two, the attacker is required to gradually-to-exponentially increase the intensity of the attack until such time that each engagement is virtually equal to the brutality of a real scenario and any/all glitches in defender’s ability to effectively use the defensive template are resolved.

In level number three line-drills [i.e. working back and forth with various other partners; e.g. big, small, young, old, male, female, fast, hard, compliant and non-compliant, etc.] are continually used in subsequent training in order to take the learner outside their normal comfort zone.

This is the stage of practice where much discovery is unveiled about, “Murphy’s Law” [Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong], the brutality of physical violence, and the constant variables that surround function and competency. As the learner arrives at a functional understanding the training experience is culminated mnemonically; i.e. saving the defensive theme [for the exampled HAPV] into a solo reenactment practice or ritualized template [Kata/型].


By linking together such ritualized templates into choreographed solo- routines, clearly something greater than the sum total of their individual parts becomes evident … in this light, it is my belief that, “Kata was never meant to teach anything but rather, culminate the lessons already imparted [in 2-person drills].” When the contextual premise is NOT present, or is misunderstood, and/or not supported by functional scenario-based 2-person drills [i.e. the “lost formula”] that Kata becomes something different from what it was originally meant to be.

When learned indiscriminately, this profound time capsule is reduced to little more than a misunderstood cultural recreation. How many times have you learned Kata but remained completely in the dark with regards to its original defensive application? In this regard, I liken Kata to learning a song in a foreign language; an exciting melody to the ears, but without understanding the words in which it is sung its meaning forever remains a mystery. In 1905, French Philosopher, Henri Poincare, wrote: “Science is built upon facts much in the same way that a house is constructed of stone, however, the indiscriminate collection of facts is no more a science than a pile of stones is a house.”

The four individual, and original, sources from which KU comes are:

Tegumi [手組] was originally a form of grappling dating back to the time of Tametomo [11th century Japan]. The discipline is believed to have been originally derived from Chinese Wrestling [Jiao Li/角力 from which comes Shuai Jiao/摔角 — new name est. 1928] and evolved into a unique form of wrestling before finally became a rule-bound sport called Ryukyu/Okinawan Sumo.

Torite [Chin Na/Qinna/擒拿in Mandarin Chinese] is the Chinese Shaolin-based method of seizing and restraining an opponent. Once vigorously embraced by law enforcement officials, security agencies and correctional officers during Okinawa’s old Ryukyu Kingdom Period, the solo re-enactment of this practice can be found in Kata.

Kata [Hsing/Xing 型/形 in Mandarin Chinese], in spite of its vigorous local cultivation during Okinawa’s old Ryukyu Kingdom Period [see my Kumemura theory], are solo fighting routines which trace their origins back to [Fujian] Chinese quanfa [拳法]; e.g. Yongchun Crane Boxing, Monk Fist and Southern Praying Mantis styles, etc. Used as forms of human movement, and unique ways of personal training, they were popularized by the Chinese as ways of promoting physical fitness, mental conditioning and holistic well-being.

Ti’gwa [手小] was Okinawa’s plebeian form of percussive impact—–aka “Te,” “Ti,” “Di” [手 meaning hand/s] or Okinawa-te and Uchinadi. It was an art that depended principally upon the use of clenched fists to strike an opponent [in contrast to the open hand method preferred by Chinese arts, according to both Kyan Chotoku & Miyagi Chojun] although the head, feet, shins, elbows and knees were also favoured.

The Template-based Teachings of Koryu Uchinadi

#1. Uchi/Uke-waza:
Giving & receiving percussive impact/blunt force trauma [29 techniques]

#2. Tegumi, Kotekitai, Kakie, Ude-Tanren & Muchimi-di
Negotiating the clinch & its variables: [36 techniques]

#3. Kansetsu/Tuite-waza
Joint manipulation, cavity seizing & limb entanglement: [72 techniques]

#4. Shime-waza
Chokes/strangles-air/blood deprivation: [36 techniques]

#5. Nage-waza
Balance displacement: [55 techniques]

#6. Ne-waza
Submission-based ground fighting: [72 techniques]

#7. Gyaku-waza
Escapes & counters: [36 techniques]

I continue to oversee our worldwide movement largely because my elders taught me to appreciate the undeniable pedigree of our pioneers from which comes a deep and strongly rooted tradition that is principally about three key factors; evolution, functionality and preservation. Kata conditions the body, cultivates the mind & nurture the spirit.

Finally, I am always interested in pursuing a meaningful relationship with any/all likeminded people and happily leave my door open for you my friend to enter at your convenience.

In the spirit of friendship,”

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