Karate Wado Ryu
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Wado-Ryu Karate is a Japanese martial art founded by Hironori Ohtsuka Sensei in in 1934. Ohtsuka Sensei developed Wado-Ryu after studying the Samurai martial art of Ju-jitsu, and Shotokan (another style of Karate). This combination, according to Ohstuka Sensei, is a softer, more natural means of self-protection. The full name of the style is Wado-Ryu Karate-Do.
The term Wado-Ryu means “way of peace” or “way of harmony”, indicating Ohtsuka Sensei’s original intention to use training in Wado-Ryu as a means of solving problems in a non-violent way. Karate-Do means “way of the empty hand”, as Karate is, for the most part, studied without the use of weapons.
Wado-Ryu Karate was developed by Otsuka Hironori and is one of the four main styles of Japanese karate. Hironori used his knowledge of Shotokan karate, Jujutsu, grappling and Tai Sabaki (Body Movement) to form his own style. Wado-ryu karate does not practice many of the body toughening exercises common to other styles of karate, preferring rather to use Tai Sabaki to evade attacks.
Wado-ryu (å’Œé“æµ, WadÅ-ryÅ«) is a school of karate founded by Hironori ÅŒtsuka. Wado-ryu is one of four traditional karate styles (the others being ShÅtÅkan-ryÅ«, ShitÅ-ryÅ«, and GÅjÅ«-ryÅ«).
Originally a unified school, three organizations now teach the WadÅ-ryÅ« style: the Japan Karatedo Federation WadÅkai (abbreviated to WadÅkai; “Zen Nihon Karatedo Renmei Wadokai” in Japan), the WadÅryÅ« KaratedÅ Renmei, and the WadÅ Kokusai KaratedÅ Renmei (abbreviated to WadÅ Kokusai; also known as the WadÅ International KaratedÅ Federation [WIKF]).
Philosophy: The name WadÅ-ryÅ« has three parts: Wa, dÅ, and ryÅ«. Wa means “harmony,” dÅ means “way,” and ryÅ« means “style.”
Harmony should not be interpreted as pacifism; it is simply the acknowledgment that yielding is sometimes more effective than brute strength.
From one point of view, WadÅ-ryÅ« might be considered a style of jujutsu rather than Okinawan karate. When Hironori ÅŒtsuka first registered his school with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in 1938, the style was called “Shinshu Wadoryu Karate-Jujutsu,” a name that reflects its hybrid character.
ÅŒtsuka was a licensed ShindÅ YÅshin-ryÅ« practitioner and a student of Yoshin Koryu Jujutsu when he first met the Okinawan karate master Funakoshi. After having learned from Funakoshi, and later also Okinawan masters Mabuni and Motobu, ÅŒtsuka merged ShindÅ YÅshin-ryÅ« with Okinawan karate. The result of ÅŒtsuka’s efforts is WadÅ-ryÅ«.
To the untrained observer, WadÅ-ryÅ« might look similar to other styles of karate, such as ShÅtÅkan-ryÅ«. Most of the underlying principles, however, were derived from ShindÅ YÅshin-ryÅ«. A block in Wado may look much like a block in Shotokan, but they are executed from different perspectives.
While a Shotokan practitioner is likely to force an incoming fist out of the line of attack, a Wado practitioner is likely to move out of the line of attack while taking up a position that will gain an advantage over the attacker. A key principle in WadÅ-ryÅ« is that of tai sabaki (often incorrectly referred to as ‘evasion’). The Japanese term can be translated as “body-management,” and refers to body manipulation so as to move the defender as well as the attacker out of harm’s way.
The way to achieve this is to ‘move along’ rather than to ‘move against’â€”or harmony rather than physical strength. Modern karate competition tends to transform WadÅ-ryÅ« away from its roots towards a new generic karate that appeals more to the demands of both spectators and competitors.
Ranks: WadÅ-ryÅ« uses a typical karate belt order to denote rank. The beginner commences and 10th kyÅ« and progresses to 1st kyÅ«, then from 1stâ€“5th dan for technical grades. The ranks of 6thâ€“10th dan are honorary ranks. Although some other karate styles add stripes for the dan ranks, Wado practitioners tend not to follow that practice.
- 10th kyÅ«: White belt
- 9th kyÅ«: Red belt
- 8th kyÅ«: Yellow belt
- 7th kyÅ«: Orange belt
- 6th kyÅ«: Blue belt
- 5th kyÅ«: Green belt
- 4th kyÅ«: Purple belt
- 3rdâ€“1st kyÅ«: Brown belt
- 1stâ€“7th dan: Black belt
The rank at which Wado practitioners are first able to teach is usually 3rd dan, but this depends on the organization. Some Wado organizations require completion of a special course in addition to attaining a certain dan rank.
History: The founder of WadÅ-ryÅ«, Hironori ÅŒtsuka, was born on 1 June 1892 in Shimodate, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. In 1898, ÅŒtsuka began practicing jujutsu. From 1905â€“1921, he studied ShindÅ YÅshin-ryÅ« jujutsu under Tatsusaburo Nakayama. In 1922, he met Gichin Funakoshi and began to train under him. In 1924, ÅŒtsuka became one of the first students promoted to black belt in karate by Funakoshi. In 1929, ÅŒtsuka organized the first school karate club at Tokyo University. Eiichi Eriguchi coined the term ‘WadÅ-ryÅ«’ in 1934.
In 1938, ÅŒtsuka registered his style of karate with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai under the name of “Shinshu Wadoryu Karate-Jujutsu.” Soon after, however, this was shortened to “WadÅ-ryÅ«” (å’Œé“æµ). In 1938, the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai awarded ÅŒtsuka the rank of Renshi-Go, followed in 1942 by the rank of Kyoshi-Go.
It was around this time that Tatsuo Suzuki, founder of the WIKF, began training in WadÅ-ryÅ«. In 1944, ÅŒtsuka was appointed Japan’s Chief Karate Instructor. In 1946, ÅŒtsuka awarded Tatsuo Suzuki the rank of 2nd dan.
Around 1950, Jiro ÅŒtsuka (the founder’s second son) began training in WadÅ-ryÅ« while in his adolescent years. In 1951, ÅŒtsuka awarded Suzuki the rank of 5th dan, the highest rank awarded in WadÅ-ryÅ« at that time. In 1952, the WadÅ-ryÅ« headquarters (honbu) was established at the Meiji University dojo in Tokyo.
In 1954, its name was changed to Zen Nippon Karate Renmei (All Japan Karate Federation). In 1955, ÅŒtsuka published “Karatejutsu no Kenkyu,” a book expounding his style of karate. In 1963, he dispatched Suzuki, along with Toru Arakawa and Hajimu Takashima, to spread WadÅ-ryÅ« around the world.
In 1964, the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF) was established as a general organization for all karate styles. WadÅ-ryÅ« joined this organization as a major group. In 1965, ÅŒtsuka and Yoshiaki Ajari recorded onto film (which is now still available on two video tapes) much of the legacy of WadÅ-ryÅ« karate.
The first video, “WadÅ-ryÅ« Karate Volume 1,” consists of: in-depth history and recollections; demonstrations of the eight Kihon No Tsuki body shifts; the first five Kihon-Kumite; and the kata Pinan 1-5, KÅ«sankÅ«, Jion, Naihanchi, and Seishan. The second video, “WadÅ-ryÅ« Karate Volume 2,” consists of: more history; the kata Chinto, Niseshi, RÅhai, Wanshu, and Jitte; as well as Kihon-Kumite 6-10, along with applicationd. In 1966, ÅŒtsuka was awarded Kun Goto Soukuo Kyokujujutsu (comparable to a knighthood) by Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to the introduction and teaching of karate. On 5 June 1967 , the WadÅ-ryÅ« organization changed its name to “WadÅkai.”
In 1972, the President of Kokusai Budo Renmei, a member of the Japanese royal family, awarded ÅŒtsuka the title of Meijin. In 1975, Suzuki received his 8th dan, the highest grade ever given (at the time) by the Federation of All Japan Karatedo Organizations, and was named Hanshi-Go by the uncle of Emperor Higashikuni.
In 1980, as the result of a conflict between ÅŒtsuka and the WadÅkai organization, he stepped down as head of the WadÅkai. Eiichi Eriguchi took over his place within that organization. On 1 April 1981, ÅŒtsuka founded the “WadÅryÅ« KaratedÅ Renmei.” (Renmei means “group” or “federation.”) After only a few months, he retired as head of this organization. His son, Jiro ÅŒtsuka, took his place.
On 29 January 1982, Hironori ÅŒtsuka passed away, and in 1983, Jiro ÅŒtsuka succeeded him as grandmaster of WadÅ-ryÅ«. The younger ÅŒtsuka changed his name to “Hironori Otsuka II” in honor of his late father. In 1989, Tatsuo Suzuki founded the third major WadÅ-ryÅ« organization, “WadÅ Kokusai” (WadÅ International KaratedÅ Federation; WIKF). (Kokusai means “international.”)You might also like: