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History of Wado Karate

In 1934 Master Hironori Ohtsuka founded the traditional Japanese Karate style called Wado-Ryu Karate – which translates to “way of peace” or “way of harmony”. Master Ohtsuka believed that “violent actions may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony.”

Considered as a pioneer of the martial arts due to his dedicated training and innovative ideas, Otsuka Sensei began his martial arts career in Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu, and than trained under the personal guidance of Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi – who is sometimes recognized as the Father of Karate.

After years of training and studying, Ohtsuka Sensei decided to create his own Karate style by combining the two arts and creating “Wado” – a fluid, yet powerful martial art.

By 1938 Wado-Ryu was officially registered and later recognized by the Japan Martial Arts Federation as “traditional” Karate – 1 of 4 styles in Japan that had been awarded this status.

What you will learn

Most Wado Karate schools are very traditional due to its roots and history. This is a great environment to learn in because the student will experience the true essence of Wado, which is respect, self-control, and self-discipline. However, some creative Wado Karate instructors have incorporated modern training and teaching techniques to accommodate a larger student base.

Classes will consist of Karate basics such as punches, kicks, blocks, and strikes – including several stances to build strength in the legs, develop coordination, and improve balance. Along with these basic techniques, students will learn how to refine their timing by performing reaction drills and combining them with kicks and punches. This teaches the student how to counter and/or evade an attacker.

In addition, another focus in Wado Karate classes are katas – detailed choreographed patterns of stances combined with basic Karate techniques, such as kicks, blocks, and punches. To some practitioners, this is considered as the foundation of Wado, since Otsuka Sensei spent countless hours perfecting katas.

Once you become a Black Belt in Wado, students will also learn Kihons – choreographed Karate techniques, however performed with a partner. The attacker has certain punches, kicks, and strikes to deliver, while the defender has to execute precise blocks, evasions, and counters. This is where Wado really differentiates itself from other styles because it uses the hips and body to evade attackers, along with their energy, and counter with strikes, throws and/or locks, as opposes to other styles that use brute force and strength to perform blocks.

Your First Day

As mentioned before, Wado Karate is a very traditional martial art, so your first class will probably cover some of the traditions and pre-class rituals of Karate. For example, you will learn that you need to bow at the dojo (training) floor before entering or leaving.  In addition, most Wado Karate schools perform various bows before and after Karate classes take place, in order to demonstrate respect.

More than likely you will be in a class that includes other beginners of the same age and experience level. In these classes they will teach you basic fundamentals such as how to punch, kick, and block correctly, and demonstrate how to use the body when executing these techniques. They may also teach you some very basic stances so you understand how to perform them later in your katas.

About The Author

Javier Lozano, Jr. is a 3rd degree Black Belt in Wado-Ryu Karate.  He has been training for over 20 years, with nearly 17 years of teaching experience.  Javier is also a former professional athlete, winning a NASKA World Championship in fighting and a CKA Colorado State Championship in fighting.  In addition, is holds certifications as a Self-Defense Instructor and Fitness Boot Camp Instructor from MASAI, under Michael D. Massie and a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) from AFAA.