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Interesting Reading... *Knowledge is the Key to Learning *Old Style Karate *What RU Learning *True Legacy of Our Tradition
*Classical Tradition/Contemporary Insights   

 Patrick McCarthy | 


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The International Ryukyu-jutsu Research Society 

Using contemporary insight to better understand classical tradition, Koryu Uchinadi is a proven pathway to mastering the art of karate... "Not by blindly following in the footsteps of the old masters, but by seeking out what they originally sought,"... in a methodical fashion under the guidance of researcher, author and master instructor, Patrick McCarthy - Hanshi 9th Dan.


Whether you’re an experienced practitioner or novice of karate and/or kobudo, we’d like you to think of us as your first source of information about the traditional Okinawan fighting arts. 


This website is a gateway to the IRKRS’s services and a testament to its achievements and aspirations. Through this site we provide a comprehensive guide to the International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society and help you connect with some of the traditions most knowledgeable exponents and other like-minded learners from around the world.

Patrick McCarthy, Hanshi 9th Dan


I sincerely hope that the information you find here will finally bring you to this organization. Please take a little time to browse our site. These pages are updated on a regular basis, so we trust you will come back often to see what we have to offer.


Our services include an on-line network for intellectual exchange among members. Our principal activity focuses on mentoring learners and teachers of Japanese/Okinawan Karate/Kobudo [both classical & contemporary] through dialogue, lecture, journals, instructional DVD and special-interest activities. We have successfully built bridges uniting like-minded learners all over the world for the past decade through eliminating ambiguity, and imparting the true origins and evolution of Karate while specializing in the functional application practices of ancestral and traditional-based Kata. 

Interesting Reading - Knowledge is the Key to Learning Old Style Karate What RU Learning True Legacy of Our Tradition
Classical Tradition/Contemporary Insights    



Knowledge is the key to development  

Known for our thinking-outside-the-box policy, we are a dependable and professional information-based source of learning...unbiased by style. In addition to the many important historical publications produced, we have been assisting an international membership achieve goals never before thought possible for more than a decade. How? Through learning to identify the sum total of the original art's individual parts every learner becomes better equipped to accept and study the true nature of its form and function. An indispensable phase of the overall process is learning the HAPV-theory, and key two-person application practices. The learning curve is strengthened through understanding how Japan's shikata-based culture [仕方] influenced the growth, evolution and mindset of Okinawa's fighting arts.

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Old-Style Karate - 古流空手 

These days there is no shortage of internet-based discussion groups filled with personal opinion surrounding what old-style Karate was/is and or was/is not. Ranging from the sublime to the mundane, much of the dialogue examples the widespread curiosity in this subject. Irrespective of the fanciful conjecture citing Karate as a completely systematized and coherent art, evidence would suggest that old-style Karate (古流空手) was little more than a local interpretation of Siamese boxing [a formidable fighting art on its own]. A common mistake often made by the uninformed enthusiast, especially when trying to grasp the historical/technical ambiguities surrounding the evolution and application of early Karate, is to depend too much upon contemporary assumption. Simply put, without a detailed study of the cultural landscape and social mind-set of those people who shaped its practice, and the concurrent fighting arts of that period, un-substantiated opinion remains little more than speculation. Undertaking such a challenge and brought together into a single study [by Patrick McCarthy] under the name Koryu Uchinadi (古流沖縄), the original five fighting arts of Okinawa's old Ryukyu Kingdom, and their unique supporting practices, are the central focus of the IRKRS

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What RU Learning?


Many styles of Karate today call themselves "Okinawan" when, in fact, they are actually Japanese. While historical lineage and genealogical pedigree make little difference when it comes to combative functionality, resolving such historical issues does help put things in proper perspective.


What is Okinawan Karate?

Knowing the answer to this question may be best understood by first identifying what Japanese Karate is. When a handful of Uchinanchu [see endnote] first introduced the empty-hand Okinawan fighting art [then referred to as Karate-jutsu 唐手術] to the mainland of Japan it was, at best, rudimentary and individualistic.


Moreover, it had no established training uniform nor common standard through which to learn, practice, and teach, or evaluate the varying competencies of learners. It took the best part of a decade for Japanese Budo authorities [see endnote] to identify and set forth the criteria necessary to transform the rudimentary and individualistic practices into an accepted Japanese-like discipline. Borrowing liberally from both Judo [柔道] and Kendo [剣道], standards authorized by the pre-war Dai Nippon Butokukai [大日本武德會] included the dogi [道着], the obi [], the Dan/Kyu [/] system, and the ippon shobu [一本勝負] method of sport fighting used in Kendo and Judo. More than mere cosmetic alterations the entire fabric of its practice underwent a cultural metamorphosis thereby eliminating what if any remaining threads of Ryukyu heritage. Conforming to Japan's inflexible shikata-based [仕方] cultural ideology not only eliminated its original Okinawan identity it also produced yet another homogeneous microcosm epitomizing every aspect of accepted social etiquette and decorum. Formalities from bowing and blindly revering ones Sensei [先生] as all-knowing, to all other accepted ways of doing things, both in and out of the dojo [道場], became the benchmark of the new tradition. Lingering anti-Chinese sentiment amidst an unrelenting backdrop of military escalation, reformation and modernization, provided reason enough to find a new name with which to describe the now Japanized combative-like discipline.


In December of 1933 the Dai Nippon Butokukai ratified Japanese Karatedo [日本空手道 --- The Japanese Way of the Empty Hand] as a new martial art, arguably with the same status as Judo and Kendo. However, unlike the hands-on combative premise common in Judo & Kendo, the potential risk of serious injury from the sheer force of blows delivered in Karate reduced its application-based practices to theory as full contact fighting without protective equipment was deemed far too dangerous. To resolve this issue enthusiasts drew upon the combative theory of Ikken Hisatsu [一拳必殺], to kill with a single blow. Architects like Konishi Yasuhiro 小西康裕, and Ohtsuka Hironori 大塚博紀 [and later Funakoshi Yoshitaka 船越義豪, and Nakayama Masatoshi 中山正敏] of modern Karate reasoned that if a strike was delivered perfectly to an anatomically vulnerable structure, but without making actual contact, it could be recognized the same as scoring an ippon in Judo or Kendo. From this [untenable] theory followed the development of incongruous "self-defense" drills, [called ippon kumite 一本組手] against a multitude of implausible attack scenarios [i.e. reverse-punches, etc.] which, to this day, identifies the practice as a discipline uniquely Japanese.


If you're learning, practicing and or teaching what has just been described, irrespective of the many names under which it is presented, you're part of a Japanese Karatedo [日本空手道] tradition ---even if it's based in Okinawa [沖縄]. This is to publicly acknowledge the rarely addressed issue of Japanese Karate reverse influencing the growth and direction of local Okinawan Karate practices in post-war Japan. Excerpted from "Legend of the Fist," by Patrick McCarthy


Karatedo is a modern and rule-bound Japanese interpretation of much older and foreign fighting practices. More precisely, it's actually based upon two remnants of five older fighting arts practiced during Okinawa's Old Ryukyu Kingdom Period. A wonderful cultural recreation and a challenging sport, often referred to as 3K-Karate, after its three principal training features---Kihon, Kata, Kumite, this new and rule-bound tradition was developed by the Japanese about seventy-five years ago. [See endnote]


 * Endnote: During the years between 1921 and 1933 eight individual Uchinanchu [Gima Shinken 儀間真謹, Motobu Choki 本部 朝基, Funakoshi Gichin 船越 義珍, Chitose Tsuyoshi 千歳剛直, Miyagi Chojun 宮城 長順, Mabuni Kenwa 摩文仁賢和, Uechi Kambun 上地完文, and Toyama Kanken 遠山寬賢] traveled from Okinawa to the mainland of Japan and introduced abstract interpretations of their fighting arts principally through the practice of Kata /. The subsequent influence of the Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武德會 [1895-1945] upon their individualistic practices resulted in the wearing of a [Judo 柔道] gi and obi , adopting the Dan/Kyu / system [as used in Judo/Kendo] to acknowledge progress, eliminating the both Chinese prefix and feudal-based suffix ideograms, which revealed both its foreign and less than modern origins, and establishing a rule-bound competitive format [based upon the pre-existing Ikken Hisatsu 一拳必殺  theory---to kill with a single blow---prevalent in Kendo 剣道] through which to test one's technique and fighting spirit. Such conformity not only laid the foundation upon which a common standard emerged  the inflexible social mindset and omnipotent cultural landscape, through which it was vigorously embraced and delivered, lent to assimilating the unique characteristics of Japanese Budo 日本武道. In December of 1933 the Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武德會 ratified Karatedo 空手道 one of Japan's new/modern martial art  現代武道. - Patrick McCarthy


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Classical Tradition/Contemporary Insights  

How often have you heard someone claim, "Our style, my sensei, and or I, learn, teach and or practice Karate exactly the way [insert any pioneer's name you like here] handed down?" Of course, the inference is not that this is exactly the way it's supposed to be done, it's actually "the best way." Such propaganda is politically orientated and aimed at promoting pedigree and a sense of loyalty ahead of functionality. 


With physical violence more readily available on internet [i.e. here, here & here, etc.] and the popularity trend of BJJ and MMA many students/teachers of Karate are abruptly discovering the shortcomings of its rule-bound practices. It's now becoming commonplace to look outside one's schools, style and or organization, not only to just improve one's knowledge of fighting in general, with a special emphasis upon better understanding the functional application of kata, but also to strengthen one's position in a far more demanding marketplace. Dictatorial associations, cult-like mentalities, inflexible learning policies, and the fear of being ostracized [for training outside one's style/organization], are all too common in our industry and reinforce the idea of becoming independent of such organizations. 


If these are amongst your concerns, and you're looking to improve your understanding of fighting in general and knowledge of kata specifically, with special emphasis upon its defensive application practices while strengthening your position in this highly competitive industry, then an IRKRS membership will be of great value to you.     

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The True Legacy of our Tradition

Respecting the traditional heritage of this art, and the cultural legacy of its Okinawan pioneers, the IRKRS proudly carries forth a timeless message, not by following in the footsteps of the old masters, but rather by seeking what they sought. I am absolutely certain that this challenge is far more in line with the spirit and aims of the original pioneers then it is with the conceit associated with one's "style" being the ONE & ONLY CORRECT WAY!" Truth does not conform to style --- style is an interpretation of truth, and so many styles are incomplete, ineffective or just plain impractical!  Overcoming the ambiguity which has shrouded the inner-most meaning of this art requires a level of thinking different from that which created it. If you're not depending upon critical thinking as the tool to investigate and eliminate this ambiguity it is possible you're unknowingly part of a sub-culture empowering others who might not have your best interest at heart, and perpetuating ignorance as, "A Way." Satisfied IRKRS members maintain that it is not in the learning of new styles, more kata, or even achieving higher rank that brings about empowerment but rather in seeing with new eyes.


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