The Founder of Wado-ryu

Ohtsuka-Hironori 10th Dan Meijin (1892 - 1982) The founder of Wado-ryu Karate. Hironori-Ohtsuka was born in Shimodate City, Ibiragi, Japan on the 1st June 1892. He was the first son of Tokujiro-Ohtsuka, who was a doctor of medicine. 1892 was also the year that the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai was established. He started training under Chojiro-Ebashi, an uncle of his mother, in April 1897 at the age of four, a style of training he would continue with, even at Waseda University in Tokyo. In 1905 Ohtsuka Sensei entered the Shimozuma middle school, where he started Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu under Tatsusaburo-Nakayama. In 1910 Ohtsuka Sensei entered Waseda University to learn commerce. In 1917 he started work at the Kawasaki bank, at this stage he was learning numerous styles of Ju-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met, and became good friends, with the founder of Aikido, Morihei-Ueshiba. In May 1919 he became master of 'bone-setting technique'. On the 1st of July 1921 he received his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu licence from Tatsusaburo-Nakayama, and so became the Highest Authority.

He started his Karate training with the famous Gichin-Funikoshi in July 1922, a style known as Karate-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met Funikoshi Sensei during a martial-arts demonstration at the Sports Festival organised by the Japanese Educational Department. Funikoshi Sensei agreed to teach Ohtsuka Sensei all he knew about Okinawan Karate-jutsu, the lessons started that same day. Within one year Ohtsuka Sensei had studied all the Kata within the system. Even after this time Ohtsuka Sensei could see the 'shortfall' in the Kata-only system. It was explained to him that all of the concepts of 'Budo' was within Kata, and that was the only aspect to train. In 1924 Ohtsuka Sensei introduced Yakusoku-gumite to the system, this concept of 'partner-work' revolutionised Karate-jutsu. He also developed Idori-no-kata, Tachiai-no-kata, and Shirahatori-no-kata. In 1928 he was 'Shindo-Yoshin-ryu-Shihan', the Chief Instructor of his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu, he also set up a 'bone-setting' practice at this time.

In 1929 he registered with the 'Nippon-Kobudo-Shinko-Kai', the Japanese Martial-arts Federation. In 1934 Ohtsuka Sensei was recognised as an independent style, and started teaching full-time. Due to his dedication to Karate he had to close his 'bone-setting' business. In 1938 Ohtsuka Sensei registered his new style as Shin-Shu-Wado-ryu. In 1939 all Karate styles were asked to register their systems with the 'Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai', Ohtsuka Sensei named his style Wado-ryu. Other styles who registered were; Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Shoto-ryu (Shotokan-ryu). In 1940 on May the 5th the 'All Styles Karate Demonstrations' took place at Butoku-Den in Kyoto. All the major styles took part, these included; Goju-ryu, Keishi-Kempo, Nippon-Kempo-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shoto-ryu, and Wado-ryu. In 1944 Ohtsuka Sensei was promoted to Chief Instructor of all Karate under the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-kai.In 1945 all martial-arts were disbanded by the Americans, at the end of the Second World War.

In 1951 all martial-arts were reinstated, after the signing of the American peace treaty with Japan. In 1955 the first Karate tournament took place, organised by Ohtsuka Sensei, it was called the 'First All Japan Wado-ryu Karate Championships'. In 1964 'The All Japan Karate-do Federation' (JKF) was established. This same year Tatsuo-Suzuki Sensei, Toru-Awakawa Sensei, and Hajime-Takashima Sensei introduced Wado-ryu to Great Britain, Europe, and the United States of America. In 1966 Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded 'Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-jutsu-Sho' (similar to the OBE in Great Britain) from Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to Karate. In 1972 he was awarded the title of Meijin from Higashino-Kunino-Miya (a member of the Japanese royal family) President of the International Martial-arts Federation the 'Kokusai-Budo-Renmei'. Ohtsuka Sensei was the first man in history to receive this the highest honour in martial-arts. For his services to Martial-arts, and to honour his new position as the highest Karate Authority in Japan, he was awarded the Shiju-Hoosho medal from the Japanese Government, the only man in the history of Karate to be so honoured.

On the 29th of January 1982 Ohtsuka-Hironori Meijin died at the age 89, he had practised martial-arts for 85 years. "Buno-michi-wa Tada-aragoto-na-to-omohiso Wa-no-michi-kiwa-me Wa-o-motomu-michi; The way to practise martial-arts is not for fighting. Always look for your own inner peace and harmony, search for it." Ohtsuka-Hironori.

WADO-RYU = Japan

'Harmony/Peace way school'. A style of Karate developed by Ohtsuka-Hironori 10th Dan Meijin (1892 - 1982). Wado-ryu Karate is a compound of Ju-jutsu and Shuri-te Karate, and was recognised as an independent style in 1934. Wado-ryu is reputed to be one of the fastest forms of Karate in the world, emphasis includes the fundamental principles and concepts of 'Nagashi and Irimi'. The founder was responsible for introducing partner-work routines to Karate. Wado-ryu was also the first style of Karate to practise Jiyu-gumite as part of the training. There are estimated to be over 350,000 Wado-ryu members practising in Europe alone.