Wado Ryu originated officially when Hironori Ohtsuka registered this new Karate style in May 1934. The new style was a result and combination of various martial arts trainings he had throughout his life.
There are three organizations currently teaching and promoting the Wado-Ryu style of Karate, named:
- Wado-Ryu Karate-Do Renmei (or Zen Nihon Karate-do Renmei Wadokai)
- Japan Karate-do Federation Wadokai
- Wado Kokusai Karatedo Renmei (or Wado International Karatedo Federation)
History of Wado Ryu and its founder
Hironori Otsuka was born in Japan in June 1892. He began learning Koryu Jujutsu at the age of 6 from his uncle. Later, he studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu. In 1922, he started learning Karate and became the first student of Funakoshi to achieve black belt.
Hironori Otsuka also studied various other styles to broaden his skills, knowledge and horizon for martial arts. He started teaching in 1929, when he established the first Karate club at Tokyo University in 1929.
Hironori Otsuka named this style as “Shinshu Wadoryu Karate-Jujutsu”, however the name shortened to Wado-Ryu later on.
In 1950’s, his second son, Jiro Otsuka, began teaching Wado-Ryu. Wado-Ryu headquarter was established in Meiji University in Tokyo, which later got named as Zen Nippon Karate Renmei (All Japan Karate Federation) in 1954. In 1963, he dispatched his skilled students to spread the style around the world and since then the style has spread to many countries all over the world!
Philosophy of Wado-Ryu
Wado-Ryu means the style of peace and harmony. The style believes more in yielding instead of using sheer brute force against the opponent. It is a style for self-defense.
Wado-Ryu isn’t strictly an art of Karate, instead it comprises of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu and modern day Karate techniques. Hironori also taught Shotokan for some time too during his journey of martial arts, ultimately, the style became the hybrid of various arts and styles that Hironori practiced since his childhood.
To an untrained eye, Wado-Ryu techniques may appear similar to Karate or Shotokan, however the underlying principles focus more on the philosophy of Jujutsu. The technique may appear similar to Karate one, but its execution and implementation is based on Jujutsu principles.
Ranking system in Wado-Ryu
Ranking system in Wado-Ryu is similar to the typical Karate belt order. The beginner attains white belt or 10th kyu (or 9th kyu in some schools) and progresses to the 1st kyu (brown belt). The first level of black belt is Shodan, with the highest level ever attained was 9th Dan (degree).