Wado Ryu / Wado Kai

Wado Ryu is the style of Japanese karate founded in 1934 by Hironori Ohtsuka. Wado is one of the four major styles of Japanese karate. The other three are Shotokan, Goju Ryu and Shito Ryu. "Wa" means peace or to harmonise and "Do" means way and "Ryu" means school.

A young Ohtsuka sensei practising on the Makiwara (punching board)Wado Ryu differs from other styles because Ohtsuka sensei taught students to use Taisabaki (body shifting) and Nagashi (evasive technique) which evade the full force of an attack. At the same time they position the body for a instantaneous counterattack and if you can anticipate when your opponent is just about to attack, then you can react instinctively.

Ohtsuka sensei had originally begun his study of martial arts at the age of 6, learning jujutsu from his father. At 13 years of age, he became a student of Shindo Yoshin Ryu jujutsu, a style that utilises Atemi (vital point) striking more than other styles of jujitsu. Ohtsuka Sensei studied under master Nakayama, 3rd head master of the style. In 1921, on his 29th birthday, Hironori Ohtsuka was appointed as the 4th headmaster of Shindo Yoshin Ryu jujutsu. Wado Ryu therefore also encompasses various throws and arm locks, and the takedowns practiced at the advanced levels are pure jujutsu.

In 1922, Ohtsuka sensei began studying karate under Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan and modern karate. In 1924, along with 6 others, Ohtsuka sensei was awarded his black belt (Dan) ranking by Funakoshi, the first such rankings in karate. After many years of study, Hironori Ohtsuka was considered by many to be Funakoshi sensei's top student. In 1929 he started the first karate club at Tokyo University and the next five years would see him establish clubs in many other universities, as one of Funakoshi's most senior students.

While still a student of Funakoshi, Ohtsuka sensei began to experiment with various sparring ideas and jujutsu techniques. Ohtsuka sensei wanted to incorporate Shindo Yoshin jujutsu techniques with Funakoshi's karate techniques to create what he felt was a more complete system. Ohtsuka sensei also studied with and borrowed ideas from other karate notables such as Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito Ryu, and Choki Motobu, famous for his Naihanchi kata and street fighting skills.

A well known picture of the 1st Grandmaster, Hironori Ohtsuka, throwing his son, Jiro Ohtsuka, the 2nd GrandmasterBy the early 1930's Ohtsuka sensei had parted company with Funakoshi. It was his belief that Funakoshi had perhaps over-simplified and modified several karate techniques and kata in the interests of teaching large groups of beginners. He had also wanted to incorporate what is now known as Jiyu kumite (free fighting), as Funakoshi was against this form of training. Ohtsuka sensei combined knowledge of Funakoshi's karate with his new knowledge of Okinawan karate, and added several of his own adaptations from the samurai martial art of jujutsu, to form Wado karate. It was also the first karate style that encouraged competition fighting.

Master Ohtsuka included in his new syllabus Jiyu kumite, (free fighting techniques), he also developed Idori-no-kata, (kneeling defence), Tanto-dori (knife defence) and Tachi-Dori (sword defence). There were originally 9 Wado Ryu kata (the 5 Pinan, Naihanchi, Seishan, Kushanku and Chinto). Ohtsuka stated in his book from 1970 that Wado had these 9 katas because if you study a kata deeply and carefully then these were already too many if studied properly.

When the style was first registered, it was known as "Wado Ryu Jutsu karate". In 1940 for the first time the name Wado Ryu was used. The first all Japan Wado Ryu championships were held in 1955. Until the 1960s Wado Ryu karate remained essentially in Japan. This was soon to change.

Hirnori Ohtsuka showing the first 2 moves of Pinan Shodan.In 1965 a three-man team left Japan for America and Europe to introduce Wado Ryu. Those three were Tatsuo Suzuki (5th Dan), Toru Arakawa (5th Dan) and Hajimu Takashima (4th Dan). They made a two-month trip throughout the US and Europe to give many demonstrations of the art. The impressions they left upon America and Europe were tremendous and by the early 1970s Wado Ryu karate has become established worldwide.

Ohtsuka sensei continued to train and instruct in Japan, whilst his team of highly qualified Japanese sensei's continued to spread knowledge of Wado Ryu karate across the planet. Grandmaster Hironori Ohtsuka personally made trips to Europe in 1968, 1970, 1974 and 1976 to promote and teach his martial art.

On January 29th in 1982, Hironori Ohtsuka passed away. He had practiced karate up until his death, and at the age of 89, he was still actively training the day before he died. His son, Jiro, took his father's name Hironori, along with the title of grandmaster of Wado upon his father's death.

In summary, Master Ohtsuka formed one of the most complete systems of self defence ever devised. His ideals were that the ultimate goal of Wado Ryu was to "develop a peaceful, yet fully aware mind and character that is able to react to any situation".

News Headlines

Wado Academy Winter Course 2017
The bookings forms will be available soon. The dates are Sat Feb 18th to Weds Feb 22nd at the Guildford Spectrum.

Xmas closing dates 2016
Farnham - Last class Sunday 18th Dec. Reopens Sunday 8th Jan

Haslemere - Last class 14th Dec. Reopens Weds 4th Jan.

Aldershot - Last class Weds 21st. Reopens Weds 4th Jan.

We often get asked about beginners courses. We don't run them specifically, but beginners are welcome at any time at any lesson. Call us if you want to chat first, all serious students welcome.

New Dan Grade syllabus
The Dan Grade syllabus for 2015-2017 is now available at this link. http://wado.karateforum.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Dan-Grade-Syllabus-2015-2017.pdf