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Hanshi Patrick McCarthy promotion to 9th Dan

Patrick McCarthy, Director of the IRKRS and founder of Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo-jutsu recently received his 9th Dan for the okinawan Grandmaster Kinjo Hiroshi. Congratulations to Hanshi Patrick McCarthy on receipt of his 9th Dan promotion.

Kudan Menjo Hanshi McCarthy has received.

On speaking with Hanshi McCarthy he had the following to say.

‘ It was a great honour to receive this award from my Okinawan teacher, Grandmaster Kinjo Hiroshi. I’m not sure it would have been made possible without the help and support of my wife Yuriko, my students and the IRKRS and for this I am very grateful to all. I had always dreamed about something like this but had no idea it could make you feel so humble.
My understanding is that very few foreigners have ever received the coveted 9th dan and or a Hanshi accreditation from a recognized Okinawan authority. I hope I can use this opportunity to inspire others and bring more attention to the traditional art of Karate as a pathway towards understanding oneself, life and the world in which we dwell. The further down its path we travel the deeper inside ourselves we reach, until it becomes evident that it’s not really about a destination…but rather, a journey! ‘

Kinjo Hiroshi (b. 1919) learned karatedo directly under the tutelage of the legendary Hanashiro Chomo (1869-1945) and Oshiro Chojo (1888-1935).

The article below illuminates the fantastic journey Kinjo Hiroshi has undertaken.

Kinjo Hiroshi
“Unknown but not Unknowing” 1997-2011
Copyright by Patrick McCarthy

Never having entered a tournament, wrestled a bear, made a movie, set a record for knocking people out, breaking bricks, boards or even ice for that matter, Kinjo Hiroshi (President of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society) remains one of Japan’s most revered masters of karatedo.  At nighty two years old, the master has been immersed with the study of karatedo for more than seven decades. And yet, commanding such respect in Japan, this man remains one of karate’s most unpretentious authorities, virtually unknown in the Western world. Having appeared on the cover of one of the very first magazines to ever promote karate in Japan, revered as a historian and a prolific writer, Kinjo’s unrelenting quest to master this art brought him into contact with some of the most prominent & early Okinawan pioneers during his youth such as Motobu Choki, Funakoshi Gichin, Miyagi Chojun, Gusukuma Shinpan, Mabuni Kenwa and Chibana Choshin.

The late pioneer of modern Shorinryu karate, Chibana Choshin, once referred to Kinjo as a “walking dictionary of karate history, philosophy and application.” Echoing his words was Richard Kim, the man first responsible for introducing the Dai Nippon Butokukai to the West, who said that “few possess Kinjo’s encyclopaedic knowledge.” Although an entire volume might better describe the life of this remarkable man, the purpose of this presentation is to introduce a teacher whose made a significant impact upon understanding of this tradition while examining some of those convictions most central to his lifetime of experience.

Introduction

Born on St. Valentine’s day 1919 in Okinawa’s old castle district of Shuri, Kinjo (Kanagushiku) Hiroshi learned his art directly under the tutelage of two legendary Uchinadi masters: Hanashiro Chomo (1869-1945) and Oshiro Chojo (1888-1935). Taking his first lessons in 1926 from his grandfather Kanagushiku Okina, Kinjo began his formal karatejutsu training while in the second grade of Okinawa’s Men’s Teachers College `Elementary School.’

That was a wonderful time in my life’, recalled master Kinjo. “We vigorously embraced a set of standards and kind of austerity no longer valued in this generation,” he often says. In retrospect, Masters Hanashiro and Oshiro are both remembered for teaching that inner-discovery through karate enhanced the value of life, and of the world in which one dwelt. They maintained that by transcending egorelated distractions, one could easily get beyond the immediate results of physical training and discover the world within. The Old Ways Pursuing karate under the guidance of teachers like that I came to learn more than just how to defend myself. I ultimately came to find immeasurable happiness and inner-peace through my training. I have always remained faithful to such immutable precepts and have enjoyed a modest but fruitful life. While the jutsu element defines the defensive parameters of our tradition, the inner-peace is what the do aspect of the the art represents.

What is taught as karate today and what I learned as a youth are two completely different practices,” says Master Kinjo. Karate in Okinawa’s pre-war public school system emphasized physical fitness & character development through embracing kata as daily group practice. However, some of us who excelled in our training often sought out and received instruction in the old-ways from men like Oshiro, Gusukuma, Tokuda & Hanashiro etc.

Even though the nature and content of our training may have varied from one teacher to the next, practice was application-based and emphasized body contact. During those days we always observed a custom of learning one-on-one with our teachers either late at night or early in the morning because of our studies and the work obligations of the individual teacher. It was because the heat & humidity during the day was simply too intense to train hard and not so much because of secrecy. Most people in my neighborhood knew who taught karate and where. What they taught however was another question. Moreover, there was no charge to learn like there is today, students were selected or recommended by other teachers and often brought food, clothing or drink.

“The Japanese reorganized our native practice into a budo during the early part of this century, after which the practice reflected a different culture, language and values from whence it had originally evolved,” said Kinjo. It is true that Grandmaster Itosu revolutionized our art when he took it out from behind the closed doors of obscurity and into the public eye, however, it still  maintained its unique Okinawan flavor.

After it was introduced to the mainland  Karate adopted a common Japanese-style practice uniform, the belt and dan/kyu grading standard, became systematized into various signature practices, took on a different name and evolved as a rule-bound competitive recreation with new & innovative training methods not previously known in Okinawan karate circles.

Form vs Function

While it may be true that the modern competitive phenomenon and its subsequent commercial exploitation has revolutionized the practice & purpose of karate, we must not overlook the imbalance it has also brought about.

The fact that I am and have always been a big supporter of sport karate is besides the point. Anyone who understands the unabridged history of this practice can attest to how influential the competitive element truly is and what it has done internationally to popularize our native art. However, such popularity also has its drawbacks and has necessitated a myriad of eclectic interpretations so great that the older practices are on the verge of vanishing altogether.

The old kata, and those training methods which link them to their corresponding defensive themes and application principles, the unabridged history of karate, its moral precepts and introspective practice have all been overshadowed by modern competitive interests and utilitarian outcomes unlike those originally known. I fear that too few understand what karate actually represents, mused Kinjo.  Even when I talk to young Okinawan instructors today few seem to have any idea what the original defensive themes represent or that modern “Okinawa” karate is nothing like the training once embraced in Okinawa’s old Ryukyu Kingdom.

I cannot honestly say that the karate athletes of today are inferior to those of my day, in fact, quite the opposite is true: Today’s athletes are incredibly superior to say the very least. However, in the same breath I must also confess that such modern methods never existed in my youth and no where on our tiny island was there ever the kind of fighting contests which exists today. Actually, old-school training methods are defensive by nature and our teachers historically intended to prepare us to be able to respond effectively against the acts of violence that we could not avoid. By virtue of its defensive nature, karate training was never meant to address mutual confrontation. If and when two stalwarts felt the need to settle an issue they arranged to meet each other and tested their skill & spirit through kake-damashi: (A practice not unlike sticky hands where two opponents cross arms and try to best each other.)

Up until the war generation Okinawan culture was unlike it is today. Despite our laid back ways, there existed an island placidity which is unknown in the thriving metropolis of modern Okinawa. Being born and brought up in Shuri, no where did I never experience the kind of violence that is so common today. It’s no wonder that karate has changed so radically understanding that the character of our culture is diametrically different. Today people seem too self-centered and stressed out ready to fight at the drop of a hat.

If you are interested in the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society in Ireland please contact info@irkrs-ireland.com , or 086-8764249, website www.irkrs-ireland.com .

Alternatively you can contact Hanshi Patrick McCarthy directly at bujin@koryu-uchinadi.com.