Habitual Acts of Physical Violence

Patrick McCarthy began his training in the 60’s and came up through the ranks with good old-fashioned hard traditional type karate training.  He forged his identity on the tournament floor in kata, kumite and kobudo during the 70’s

In the 80’s he relocated to Japan, and became widely recognized for his field studies and historical-based writings. His groundbreaking research, several books, including the best-selling publication “The Bubishi,” now translated into several languages, have been published everywhere during the 90’s.

He is responsible for establishing the world’s first University-level undergraduate Diploma of Martial Arts Instruction program in the new millennium. The success of his international seminars has made him one of the most sought after master instructors anywhere in the world.

As a 5th generation instructor of Uchinadi, following Kinjo Hiroshi, Hanashiro Chomo, Itosu Ankoh, and, Matsumura Sokon, he’s walked in the footsteps of those masters who pioneered modern karate and received his credentials (Kyoshi 8th dan) from the Dai Nippon Butokukai.  Recognized in his study of the application practices of traditional kata, McCarthy Sensei has is best known for the term HAPV, Habitual Acts of Physical Violence.  This is a simple list of realistic acts of violence you are likely to face.  There are 36 catalogued

  1. Swinging punches
  2. Straight punches
  3. Downward strikes
  4. Upward strikes
  5. Swinging kicks
  6. Straight kicks & knee strikes
  7. Head-butt/spitting
  8. Biting
  9. Testicle squeeze
  10. Augmented foot/leg trips
  11. Single/double-hand hair pull from the front/rear
  12. Single/double-hand choke from the front/rear
  13. Front neck choke from rear
  14. Classical head-lock
  15. Front, bent-over, augmented choke (neck-hold)
  16. Half/full-nelson
  17. Rear over-arm bearhug (& side variation)
  18. Rear under-arm bearhug (& side variation)
  19. Front over-arm bearhug (& side variation)
  20. Front under-arm bearhug (& side variation)
  21. Front/rear tackle
  22. One-handed wrist grab (same & opposite sides-normal/reversed)
  23. Two-handed wrist grabs (normal/reversed)
  24. Both wrists seized from the front/rear
  25. Both arms seized from the front/rear
  26. Single/double shoulder grab from front/rear
  27. Arm-lock (behind the back)
  28. Front arm-bar (triceps tendon fulcrum up supported by wrist)
  29. Side arm-bar (triceps tendon fulcrum down supported by wrist)
  30. Single/double lapel grab
  31. Single/double-hand shove
  32. Garment pulled over the head
  33. Seized & impact
  34. Single/double leg/ankle grab from the front (side/rear)
  35. Ground straddle
  36. Attacked (kicked/struck) while down

The following is an article taken from here and describes Patricks journey from competition Karate to the formation of the HAPV and the drills defined from Kata to deal with these acts of violence.  His research group can be found here and contains lots of interesting information

Sometimes you don’t know how to fit in until you break out

Since Okinawa reclaimed its rightful heritage as the birthplace of karate, a moot point mainland Japan has laid claim to, grounds for looking into its cultural landscape and social mindset have kicked opened the door for questioning existing beliefs not previously challenged! Never before has there been such emphasis placed upon questioning the origins and application practices of kata, than now. From before such a movement ever became popular the IRKRS has been providing a growing number of progressive learners a valuable source with which to network and find more pragmatic explanations to an otherwise highly convoluted tradition.

What started as one person’s quest to resolve the ambiguity in understanding the defensive application of kata has since grown into a worldwide movement of like-minded people in pursuit of common goals. By 1985, after nearly twenty years of training in traditional fighting arts, I had grown terribly frustrated by its rule-bound practices, cultural ambiguity and inflexible mindset. It wasn’t because I disliked the traditional fighting arts or wanted to stop practicing orthodox rituals, it was mostly because I could no longer stomach the commonly accepted interpretation of kata application, irrespective of how religiously they were protected. Consequently, I began to search for a teacher, a style, or even an organization that could teach me the original and more functional combative application practices of kata and in a rational, coherent and systematized manner. Specifically, I was looking for someone who could –

  1. Use realistic acts of physical violence [instead of the commonly accepted rule-bound reverse punch scenarios against a compliant “attacker”], as the contextual premise with which to successfully apply the prescribed techniques of karate. I knew this exemplified the true nature of physical violence and would provide deeper insights into the original art.
  2. Teach me the so-called prescribed application practices to these realistic acts of physical violence, as handed down by the pioneers. In doing so, also clearly illustrate how/why and who transformed such functional lessons into mnemonic-like rituals. I felt certain that such knowledge [i.e., recreating realistic scenarios of physical violence—in a controlled environment— & applying the prescribed defensive lessons against progressive levels of resistance] would help me better understand the mechanisms with which kata were developed.
  3. Show me how the prescribed application templates [i.e., the mnemonic-like rituals that make up the abstract solo-routines, known as orthodox kata] not only culminated the fighting lessons already imparted but, when linked together into choreographed solo-routines, clearly offered something greater than the sum total of their individual parts.
  4. Identify, and competently demonstrate, the general mechanics of these prescribed application practices, and adequately explain the fundamental principles upon which their mechanisms work. Irrespective of the culture from which one comes, all human beings share the same general anatomical structures, which are governed by the same fundamental mechanics and principles. As “domestic one-on-one empty-handed physical violence” [i.e., the universal contextual premise upon which prescribed self-defence application practices were originally developed] is not discriminatory, and knows no geographical boundaries, I believed that what may have been concealed and passed on by a human being from 19th Fujian, China [or Okinawa], could be just as easiely be equally understood by any 20th century Western learner.

While there was certainly no shortage of excellent practitioners everywhere I looked, I found no trace of such teachings anywhere inJapan, or Okinawa! Dissatisfied, I began to cross train in many styles, Asian & Western. Cross training opened many new doors of opportunity while providing valuable insights about both training and life that I had never before realized. Based upon this experience, recalling the thought-provoking wisdom of Basho [“not —blindly—following in the footsteps of the old masters but rather seeking out what they sought”] I was compelled to make my own deductions. This gradually resulted in the establishment of the HAPV-theory [Habitual Acts of Physical Violence] and two-person drill concepts. Such findings ultimately lead me to [re-]discover old and lost practices and the essence of what the ancient masters both sought and taught. Wanting to preserve and share this important study, while paying homage to both the Okinawan pioneers [most responsible for handing down this eclectic art], and the Zen-inspired Japanese culture [which profusely influenced its growth and direction], I ultimately brought these collective teachings together into a wonderfully systematized practice called, ‘Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo-jutsu,’ a name inspired by my Okinawan master, Kinjo Hiroshi.

More than a decade ago I formally introduced my research surrounding the HAPV-theory and corresponding two-person drill practice. Between 1993 and 2005, I popularised the practice under the name “Tegumi renzoku-geiko” [hand-grappling flow drills] during the delivery of some 600 seminars in more than twenty countries around the world. The informal explanation presented herein provides a glimpse into the study preceding its introduction.

During the years I studied swordsmanship [Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu], at the Sugino honbu dojo inKawasaki[Japan], I gained a huge respect for how the style accomplished its combative outcomes through using highly functional two-person training drills. While delving into its origins I became deeply impressed with the way classical attack scenarios had been first identified and studied before being ultimately catalogued into individual and collective leaning modules each with prescribed responses and variations on common themes. Never having been terribly satisfied with the incongruous ippon-kumite practices of karate and unable to understand the defensive “effectiveness” of kata [as traditionally taught against modern reverse punch scenarios] or how its abstract mnemonic mechanisms were methodically linked back to actual real-life fight circumstances, I always felt that something was missing in traditional karate and from this blinding flash of the obvious [BFO] I finally realized what it was.

Challenged by such an experience I began looking into those classical acts of physical violence habitually used by men-against-men in empty-handed one-on-one fight scenarios commonly encountered during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the era in which karate was developed. I borrowed liberally from my ju-jutsu experience, Chinese and SE Asian martial art practices, used abstract themes from the Bubishi, and the contextual premise used in Katori Shinto Ryu and finally contrasted them with classic Shaolin empty-handed scenarios. Broadening my analysis, I also explored the defensive practices found in turn-of-the-century ju-jutsu styles, and medieval manuals on empty-handed fighting. Two other important mentors during this study were my karate teacher, Kinjo Hiroshi Hanshi, and submission-kakutogi pioneer Takada Nobuhiko. Kinjo Sensei is simply a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge, a genuine living treasure, and the link between the old and the new worlds of karate. Amidst the many valuable things I learned from Takada Nobuhiko were his functional grappling practices and the unique way they could be linked together through solo re-enactment drills exemplifying the concept of ancestral-based kata. During my study I gradually modified the classical empty-handed attack scenarios to best exemplify those acts of physical violence commonly found in today’s western society, and fortified the experience by developing many variations on these common themes. I further divided the attack scenarios into three individual categories for easy study reference:

  1. Seizing
  2. Impacting
  3. A combination of 1 & 2 used together

The Human Body

Throughout this entire undertaking the one subject, which always remained constant, was the human body.  So simple and yet seemingly so unknown, or perhaps I should say so unstudied! As the human body is the principal subject in empty-handed physical violence, and size, strength and how it is used, are always such determining factors, it made perfect sense to better understand its fundamental anatomical structures if I was to ever fully grasp how it is used best and how those defensive concepts best worked against it. Up until this point in my training I had always relied solely upon my own physical prowess, as a competitive athlete, to get the job done. Concluding my study I determined that it is always the human body, its unique structures and common anatomical weaknesses that ultimately determined how kinetic energy [seize/impact] best impeded motor function; the dispassionate aim of self-defence. Armed with this understanding I turned my attention towards reverse engineering the classical defensive themes found in the mnemonic templates of kata.

Common Mechanics Contrasting them with more traditional response methods found elsewhere, I drew heavily upon those immutable principles supporting common mechanics, and used the five Ancient Machines along side a simple 5-part rule to exploit anatomically vulnerable structures made available through opportunity or design while negotiating the HAPV. The response categories included; percussive impact, the seizing and pressing into cavities unprotected by the skeletal structure, attacking bony protrusions [the periosteum], neurological structures and connective tissue, the hyper-flexion/extension and the over-rotation of joints, the constriction of blood and air passage ways, the displacement of balance, and those tactics commonly found in grappling.

Reverse Engineering

The realistic attack scenarios provided a workable opportunity to recreate and study each conceivable scenario of physical violence in a safe learning environment. Analysing [bunkai-jutsu] each HAPV provided the basis of understanding their mechanics, and dynamics, their strengths and weaknesses. The more I delved into this experience the more I wondered how, without such intelligence, could early pioneers [or anyone for that matter] ever develop functionally tactical strategies to be used against them. In the same classical format used in Katori Shinto Ryu, I brought these application practices [oyo-waza] to life in two-person drills. Each HAPV was recreated by the uke [attacker/receiver] while the tori [defender/taker] re-enacted the prescribed defensive responses. As learners gained familiarity and proficiency with each drill I encouraged them to increase power, strength and resistance [gradually or exponentially depending entirely upon physical prowess, and aptitude] to exemplify the tenacity of an uncooperative attacker so that two outcomes could be achieved:

  1. Making the attack scenario as life-like as possible, and…
  2. For each learner to develop highly functional skills.

By separating the two-person drills into equal parts [#1. the HAPV portion and #2. its prescribed defensive response] I was able to subsequently ritualise each part of the practice [the attack and its prescribed response] into mnemonic templates. Herein lies the value of reverse engineering—ritualising each solo re-enactment produced mnemonic templates, which, considering 19th century oriental mentality, looked virtually identical to the individual composites of kata. Historically speaking, I believe that kata were originally devised by using such individual model responses and expressed by using the following ideogram 型 [model]—pronounced Xing in Chinese or kata in Japanese. By arranging HAPV-related prescribed responses into unique geometrical configurations, expressed by using the following ideogram 形 [shape]—also pronounced Xing in Chinese and kata in Japanese—I took for granted that early quanfa pioneers succeeded in developing something greater than the sum total of its individual parts…Kata. Not only could learners come into contact with the HAPV, and learn highly functional prescribed defensive responses to them, they could also improve their physical skills, mental focus, and holistic condition, hence strengthening the overall learning process. In an effort to establish and standardize core curricula in these early quanfa schools, I believe that pioneers formalized prescribed model 型 responses into creative geometrical shapes 形 to create kata/xing.

Arriving back at the Beginning

In lieu of no other pragmatic explanation surrounding the evolution of kata and its functional application premise, I believe that this rationalization not only provides a sound crucible, it is even plausible to reason that kata were never originally developed to impart the actual lesson, but rather to culminate that which had already been taught; and not just as a creative exposition of physical prowess. This, I believe changed, and quite radically so, when the attention of kata shifted from the classical one-on-one, or small group-style instruction, to drilling huge groups of students in the schoolyards of turn-of-the-centuryOkinawa. There, kata were simplified and became the principal vehicle used in fostering physical fitness and social conformity in Okinawa’s school system in support of the war machine during Japan’s radical period of military escalation. The way kata is learned in modern/traditional karate traces its lineage back to this crucible, a time when the practice evolved from an art of self-defence into a form of callisthenics. Through the senpai~kohai system and a lack of critical thinking, imitative behaviour and the trickle down effect, has perpetuated kata as the enigma of karatedo.

Challenging myth and tradition, I used eclecticism and critical thinking, as immutable devices in deciphering the time-honoured enigma called kata. In doing so I was able to move my understanding of kata forward where established classical sources could not. I am honoured to be at the forefront of such a movement and grateful to all those who have supported this effort.

2 responses to “Habitual Acts of Physical Violence

  1. Patrick McCarthy a Sensei with great ability and vision. I enjoyed reading the above article on his achievments, all good stuff.THANKS

  2. Pingback: Foothills Karate & Kobudo Club » Blog Archive » Habitual Acts of Violence·

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