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. However, some creative Wado-Ryu 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. 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.
Your First Day
As I mentioned, Wado Karate can be a very traditional martial art, so your first class will probably cover some of the traditions of Karate. For example, you will learn that you need to bow at the dojo (training) floor before entering or leaving, as well as bow to other Black Belts that enter or leave the dojo floor because this shows respect.
More than likely you will be in a class that includes other beginners of the same age. In these classes they will teach you how to punch, kick, and block correctly, and demonstrate which part of the body you want to use when executing these techniques. They may also teach you some very basic stances so you understand how to perform them later in your katas.
The only real equipment you will need is a Gi and Obi (uniform and belt). Anything else is simply considered additional curriculum to a Wado Karate schools program. Many schools teach controlled free-style sparring, therefore will require you to purchase protective gear such as a helmet, hand and feet pads, chest protector, mouth piece, and groin protector for guys. Other schools may also teach you how to use a weapon. Traditionally, Wado-Ryu does not have a weapon in their art, as it is an empty hand style, however the instructor may have learned it somewhere else and decided to include this in their curriculum.
The cost of training in Wado-Ryu can vary, so there is no definitive answer. And, it depends on the school’s curriculum, since some studios may have mandatory purchases such as sparring equipment or training videos. I suggest you ask the instructor what are the required purchases in order to train at their school so you can budget accordingly.
About The Author
Javier Lozano, Jr. is a 3rd degree Black Belt in Wado-Ryu Karate, and has been training for over 17 years, with nearly 12 years of teaching experience. He will be opening a new school, called The Dojo of Karate, in the Westminster / Broomfield area of Colorado. If you have more questions, please feel free to email him at: [email protected]