Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Saxophones and Habitual Acts of Physical Violence

Habitual Acts of Physical Violence (HAPV) was all the rage a few years ago.  I haven't heard much about it recently, or at least that particular acronym, which got me to thinking. Why do you need to know 36 HAPV? How do you come up with the number 36 in the first place? It reminds me of Sanseiru, another 36 whose cryptic meaning has spawned all manner of strange interpretations. So is there something inherently magical about 36? I suppose someone is going to say that it's just a way to organize or wrap your head around different scenarios. That makes some sort of sense. But still, acts of aggression happen very quickly. Should I be thinking of which act of violence a particular technique is a response to when I need a quick response? Should I necessarily be thinking at all?

This is where the saxophone part comes in. My son, who has just started sax lessons, had an interesting admonition from his sax teacher the other day. He told him to try to just play the notes he sees on the scale--he said, "try not to say the name of the note in your head when you play it." This sort of by-passing the need to consciously verbalize (or think about) what you are doing made a lot of sense to me.

Back to the Habitual Acts of Violence thing....So you have 36 of these HAPV, and on that list are such things as #32 garment pulled over the head, #24 both hands grabbed from the front, #28 front arm-bar.... Now one would certainly need to respond to these aggressive acts. But aside from the rather obvious--for any number of them can't I just punch or kick the other guy?--my real question hinges on how you got yourself into this fix in the first place. Most of these acts of violence occur when you are attacked by an opponent, and that unarmed attack, I assume, means he comes at me with one or both hands, a foot, or charges me like a bull with his head. So putting the kicks and tackles aside for the moment, how many ways do I need to know to respond to his hands? He can attack with the left or the right, and on the inside or the outside. So I can block (or "receive") each attack with one of four blocks; that is, my left arm to his right arm on the inside or the outside, and my right arm to his right arm on the inside or the outside, and the same on the other side.

This would seem to me to be a much simpler way of looking at HAPVs or the multiplicity of ways one might be attacked. And if we can simplify our perception of the attack, perhaps the initial response may also be simplified and more reactive, spontaneous, or reflexive. It would, it seems to me, facilitate quick responses instead of having to think about, if you will, which "note" is being played. And lastly, each receiving
technique would lead to a limited, but still somewhat open-ended, number of bridging techniques and finishing techniques taken from other kata--thus encouraging a familiarity with variations that are useful in volatile and quick-changing encounters. So rather than expanding the list of Habitual Acts of Physical Violence--and there actually would seem to be more than 36 since the list includes variations of single-handed and two-handed attacks and the same attack from the front and the back--we should perhaps look to reduce them as much as possible. Goju-ryu classical subjects do show responses to attacks from the rear--such as the Shisochin response to #17 rear over-arm bear hug--but for the most part even a #31 single-hand shove is really the same as a #3 straight punch or a #30 single lapel grab or for that matter a #11 single-hand hair pull from the front, etc., etc., etc.  But whatever you do, "try not to say the name of the note in your head when you play it."


  1. Yes, but to even refute it, you had to mention it by name. The result being a validation of the classification attempt within the ongoing (re)writing of karate/martial arts history.

    What's the old saying, 'There's no such thing as bad press.'

  2. Sophistry, sophistry, all is sophistry. Ooops, but to respond to your comment I had to name it.

  3. Anonymous4:21 AM

    You forgot to mention the source of the HAPV: Hanshi Patrick McCarthy.

    Kindest Regards M. Lilja

  4. You're right, my mistake.