Tradition is not about blindly following in the footsteps of the old masters, or even preserving their ashes in a box, but rather in keeping the flame of their spirit alive, by continuing to seek out, understand and improve what they originally sought.Patrick McCarthy
Known for his detailed historical research into Karate and its kata applications, Patrick McCarthy is one of the most knowledgeable people on Karate and Kobudo history. His research led to the first English translation of the Bubishi, sometimes known as the ‘Bible of Karate‘.
Patrick McCarthy was born on 4 December 1954, in St John, New Brunswick, Canada.
As a 9-year-old McCarthy became interested in learning Judo. He had seen a film about Canadian judoka, Doug Rogers. The film ‘Road to the Olympics‘ showed Rogers’ journey to an Olympic Silver medal in Judo, at the 1964 Olympic Games. To generate interest in Judo, the film was shown throughout Canada.
With no Judo club local to him, McCarthy joined a Karate club at the local YMCA in 1965. He trained under Adrian Gomes, who taught Okinawan Te.
Gomes, who was Venezuelan, was a student at the University of New Brunswick. He had been taught Karate by an Okinawan teacher who had immigrated to South America.
At the Karate club, Gomes taught basic techniques to students. He would also teach them kata and associated techniques found in them. He later included Judo into his curriculum.
McCarthy eventually found a local Judo club. While still training in Karate with Gomes, he joined the St John Judo Club. Wally Jay, a Judo and Jujitsu expert, would sometimes visit the club to teach. In time he and McCarthy become good friends. He eventually became like a father to McCarthy, especially as McCarthy had a difficult relationship with his alcoholic father.
By 1969, McCarthy and his family had moved from small-town St John to the big city of Toronto. Being a big city, Toronto had many martial arts schools. McCarthy was spoilt for choice. Toronto was a mecca for martial arts in Canada. He signed up to several schools.
McCarthy joined a Kung Fu school run by the Chinese Benevolent Society. He was one of the few white students, alongside twins Mick and Mart McNamara learning Chinese Kung Fu. On different nights of the week, he had the opportunity to learn Tai Chi, Bagua, Hung Gar, Do Pai, Choy Lee Fut, Hsing-I.
For the next couple of years, Kung Fu became an important part McCarthy’s life. Competition became his main focus. He competed in Canada and the United States.
In 1970 McCarthy was awarded his black sash in Kung Fu. That year, he also became a student of Mas Tsuroka learning Chito-ryu Karate.
McCarthy became a member of the Canadian Karate Kung Fu Association in 1972. That same year he opened his own dojo, which he operated for five years. Always keen to learn, he had the opportunity to cross-train with various instructors. This included Dave Huston, Ron Forrester, Wally Jay, Bob Dalglish, and Wally Slocki.
In 1973 McCarthy visited Hong Kong, with the aim of getting into the film business. He stayed for around four months. However, he could break into the movie industry. To supplement his stay, he worked in various nightclubs.
Back home in Toronto, McCarthy bought his first copy of the Bubishi. He found a copy of the book in a Chinatown bookshop.
McCarthy loved competing. In 1974 he won the North American Karate Championships. He repeated the feat four years later.
After several years competing on the tournament scene, McCarthy became interested in wanting to learn a more traditional approach to Karate.
McCarthy’s friend and Kumite coach, Wally Slocki suggested he attended a seminar being given by Richard Kim and hosted by Don Warrener in the city of Hamilton, Ontario.
In October 1977, McCarthy attended Kim’s course. He was so impressed by him, that he applied to be his student. His application was successful and he became a part of Kim’s Zen Bei Butokukai Organisation, learning Shorinji Ryu Karate.
Apart from being a brilliant martial artist, Kim was a deep thinker on the historical, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of Karate. He had a profound influence on McCarthy, who started to see Karate in a very different way.
After spending several years in Toronto, McCarthy relocated to Vancouver in 1979. You open a dojo at the Vancouver Karate Centre.
By 1985, McCarthy has become disillusioned with the tournament scene in North America. It had become increasingly political. He had begun to question what was the true essence of competition in relation to Budo.
To answer many questions he had, McCarthy decided to move to Japan. His intention was to do his own personal research into Karate and Kobudo, with the hope of finding answers to his questions. It was also around this time that he started making frequent visits around China, Japan, Okinawa, to conduct research into the origins of Karate.
McCarthy relocated to Japan in 1985. He spent the summer in Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate. During his visit, he had the opportunity to meet and train with many of the top of known masters, including:
- Shimpo Matayoshi
- Eiichi Miyazato
- Shoshine Nagamine
- Joen Nakazato
- Kanei Uechi
- Choki Kishaba
- Katsuhiko Shinzato
- Tetsuhiro Hokama
- Seikichi Uehara
- Shian Toma
- Masahiro Nakamoto
- Eisuke Akamine
Through his personal research into the Budo aspects of Karate, McCarthy had been looking into how to deal with the realistic acts of physical violence that would be typically encountered by a normal person. He began looking for someone who could teach him the relevant applications to handle these physical encounters.
By 1987 McCarthy had met and married a Japanese woman named Yuriko. The couple had settled in Fujisawa, a city 90 minutes away from Tokyo. He taught English at a local school. He still continued training and also doing his research into Karate. His wife sometimes helped him with the translation of documents he came across during this research.
In 1987 McCarthy came direct student of Hiroshi Kinjo, studying Koryu Uchinadi. Koryu Uchinadi is not a style of Karate. Rather, it is a system of practices that sit under any traditional practice of Karate.
McCarthy’s former teacher, Richard Kim, had been a student of Kinjo. A well-respected master, he was widely regarded as a walking encyclopedia on the history, philosophy, and application of Karate. In Kinjo, McCarthy had found a teacher he had been looking for.
McCarthy was awarded his 6th Dan by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in 1988. This had been at the recommendation of Kinjo.
On 29 April 1988 McCarthy was invited to give a demonstration of kata and bunkai at the Kyoto Butokuden, which was an annual event. It was at this event that he met the esteemed swordmaster, Yoshio Suguino. He became Suguino’s student, learning Tenshin Shoden Ketori Shinto Ryu.
During the 1980s McCarthy has started giving seminars. One of his first seminars was in the UK. He had been invited by Terry O’Neill to conduct the seminar. McCarthy had written several articles for O’Neill’s magazine, Fighting Arts International. It was also around this time that he started teaching Koryu Uchinadi and practical ways of dealing with Habitual Acts of Violence (HAOV).
The 1980s also saw McCarthy become involved in Japan’s early mixed martial arts (MMA) movement. He met Jean Pelc, an American businessman, who introduced him to Satori Sayama. Sayama had helped establish MMA in Japan.
McCarthy became involved with the Union of Wrestling Forces International (UWFI), which was a pre–cursor to the Pride Fighting Championship promotion.
In 1989 McCarthy established the Ryuku Karate Kokusai Kenkyu Kai (the International Ryuku Karate Research Society (IRKRS)). The aim of the society was to promote and improve the ‘old ways‘ of traditional Karate.
The IRKRS focused on Karate and Ryuku martial arts. Its aim was to bring like-minded karateka, from any style together, to foster cooperation rather than conflict.
November 1990 saw McCarthy travel to Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. The journey was in relation to his research into the historical links between Japanese and Chinese martial arts. His research led to the self-publication of the 1st edition of his book ‘The Bubishi‘. He self-published the 2nd edition in 1992. The third edition of ‘The Bubishi‘ was self-published in 1994.
Away from Karate, McCarthy also practised Iaido. In 1991 he was awarded his 3rd Dan in Muso Shinden-ryu by Takehiko Izawa.
In 1994 McCarthy was awarded his 7th Dan by the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Again, this was at the recommendation of Hiroshi Kinjo.
On 10 June 1995 McCarthy and his family emigrated to Australia, at the invitation of John Halpin. Halpin was the President of the Australian Karate Federation (AKF). He liked McCarthy’s attitude and ideas to Karate and wanted him to introduce it into the AKF.
However, within months of working for the AKF, McCarthy faced hostility from some members who didn’t appreciate his new ideas and preferred doing things the old way.
However, there were some people who liked McCarthy’s ideas. This was the case with the Australian College of Natural Medicine. He relocated to Brisbane where he accepted the position to be the principal of an international martial arts college, Based at the Australian College of Natural Medicine.
In 1995, Tuttle, a publisher of martial arts books, picked up the publishing of the ‘The Bubishi‘. The book was renamed ‘The Bubishi: the Bible of Karate‘.
1997 saw the publication of McCarthy’s second book, ‘The Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate‘. Two years later his book ‘Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts, Volume 2: Koryu Uchinadi‘, co-authored with his wife Yuriko, was published.
In 1999 Australian College of Natural Medicine, launched a two-year course, The Diploma of Martial Arts Instruction.
The 1st Uchinadi North American Gasshuku was organised by Brian and Helen Sakamoto, the summer of 2002. The event was held in Toronto. Apart from McCarthy, guest instructors included Mas Tsuroka, Wally Slocki, and Monty Guest.
McCarthy was awarded his 8th Dan by the Dai Nippon Butokukai, at the recommendation of Hiroshi Kinjo.
In 2012 McCarthy was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame.
On 10 October 2013, McCarthy’s friend and mental, Hiroshi Kinjo died.
In the last few years, McCarthy and his wife Yuriko have relocated to Los Angeles, California. It makes it easier for him to travel the world to conduct seminars.
Patrick McCarthy has had the opportunity to train with some of the world’s best masters in a variety of Karate and martial art styles. He has always looked to train with authentic masters. However, he has never been one to blindly follow anyone, just because they had a title. His study of Koryu Uchinadi has made him one of the foremost Karate masters in the West.
However, it is as a researcher that McCarthy has had the biggest influence. His research has enabled him to study, preserve and perpetuate Karate history, application and philosophy around the world.
Excellent choice on a great guy to profile. By the way, and Patrick might smile at this. – it is Saint John not St John’s.