Wado-Ryu Karate is a Japanese martial art founded by Hironori Ohtsuka Sensei in 1934. Ohtsuka Sensei developed Wado-Ryu after studying the Samurai martial art of Jiu-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.


Chatan Yara - (1668 - 1756) Master of Okinawan Weapons, studied in China at age 12 and was considered one of the famous Masters of the early 1700's.
Takahara Pechin - (1683 - 1762)
Responsible for the early training
of Karate Sakugawa, studied in China and under Master Chatan Yara.
Satunuku « Tode » Sakugawa -
(1733 - 181 5) Developed the Kata Ku Shan Ku, studied under both
Takahara Pechin and the Chinese Master Ku Shan ku.
Sokon  “Bushi” Matsumura - (1796 - 1893) Created the Kata Shinto and Seisan. Studied in China
and under Karate Sakugawa for ten years.
Yasutsune "Ankoh" Itosu - (1830 - 1915) Itosu created the Pinan series of kata and introduced Karate to public in 1903.
Gichin Funakoshi (10th Nov 1868 to 26th April 1957)

Choki Motobu - (1871 - 1944) Founded the Motobu-Ha Shito-Ryu Karate Do. Went to Japan in 1923 to teach karate.
Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982)

Chatan Yara is a legendary figure in the Okinawan Martial Arts legacy. He travelled to Fukien\China in order to learn Chinese Kempo and weaponry and stayed there for 20 years. His teacher was Wong Chung-Yoh.
He created the kata: "Chatan Yara No Sai," "Chatan Yara Sho No Tonfa," and "Chatan Yara No Kon" & are widely practiced today.

Takahara was a monk, mapmaker and astronomer. Takahara Peichin was born in the village of Akata Cho in Southern Shuri. Takahara who 67 at the time and was a famous warrior of the Okinawan fighting arts. Sakugawa respectfully asked Takahara to become his student, and was accepted. He studied under him diligently.
He belonged to an upper class family of Okinawan society. The term "Peichin" stands for "senior". Some sources claim that he was a Buddhist monk from Shaolin and Martial Art expert. He was well educated person. His expertises were astronomy and mapping and he indeed mapped Okinawa. Takahara traveled a lot during his lifetime. He was well known as a great fighter who emphasized ethical principals as "Ijo" (compassion, humility and modesty), "Fo" (seriousness, devotion and dedication) and "Katsu" (deep understanding and essence of techniques). Takahara regarded Martial arts as way of life and he is considered as "father of Okinawan Karate".
Takahara attributed a major importance to Kata and it's significances. He saw Kata as an efficient instrument to understand and improvement fighting techniques.
He was a student of Chatan Yara and his most famous student was "Tode" Sakugawa.

"Tode" Satunuku Sakugawa
(first Teacher of Okinawan Karate)
One of the first great masters of Okinawa was Tode Sakugawa. Tode Sakugawa was born in Shuri in 1733 and died in 1815. At the age of 17, Tode Sakugawa began his martial arts training under an Okinawan monk named Peichin Takahara. At age 23, Sakugawa was advised by Takahara to go and train under Kusanku, a Chinese master in Kung Fu. For the next six years, Sakugawa learned all that he could. Sakugawa learned valuable lessons from karate and became a great master. Tode Sakugawa was an important factor in the development of TE on the Okinawan Islands. Tode Sakugawa was credited with forming several Bo katas which are still practiced today. In addition, Sakugawa also created Dojo Kun which has become a tradition with many styles, including our Shito-Ryu Karate-Do Genbu-Kai!

Sokon Bushi Matsurmuras - (1796 - 1893) first teacher was seventy eight years old and a past student of both the great Takahara Pechin (Pechin is a title of status) (1683-1760) and Kusanku (Chinese official). His name was "Tode" (Chinese hand way) Sakugawa (1733-1815). Matsumura was the last of many students of Sakugawa but became the most famous. Many years later "Bushi" Matsumura studied with a Chinese trader named Chinto. It is believed Bushi Matsumura created the kata Chinto after his teacher from the movements he had taught him. The Royal family of Sho acquired "Bushi" Matsumura for their service. There he became Chief Tode Instructor and a bodyguard of the King. Some time later around 1830 he traveled to China to study Shaolin Gong-fu (Kempo or Fist method). Most secret of what Bushi Matsumura learned was the White Crane method. This system he taught only to his son, Nabi Matsumura (1860-1930). As part as an envoy of the King he had the opportunity to travel into the Chinese province of Fukien. It is believed while there he studied under Ason and Iwah, both military attaches. The title "Bushi" was given to him by King Sho for his great accomplishments. Many times Bushi Matsumura had to prove his ability against foe, though never was he defeated.

Tode was the system of Te practiced among the upper class. The art of Te (hand) as it was known in Okinawa had three names. Each representing the township it was taught in. They were Tomari-te, Naha-te and Shuri-te. Bushi Matsumura being in the township of Shuri taught Shuri-te. After many years the name Shuri-te was replaced with Shorin-Ryu. Bushi Matsumura retired and moved to Sakiyama village in Shuri. He had many students, among them were Yasutsune Azato, Yasutsune Itosu, Choshin Chibana, Choki Motobu, and Chotoku Kyan. It would be his son who would pass on his purest teachings known as Shorin-Ryu. Later this system was passed onto Nabe Matsumura's nephew, Sokon Kohan (1889-1920).

Yasutsune Itosu
Perhaps the greatest teacher in the history of Karate, Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu simplified many of the ancient katas, created several new ones of his own, and pioneered teaching methods that would revolutionize the art by making its study easier and less dangerous for future generations. For this, he is recognized as the father of modern Karate.
Born in Shuri, Itosu began his Karate training at an early age under Sokon Matsumura and subsequently trained under several other teachers, possibly including Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. Well-educated in Chinese and Japanese literature, Itosu served as a translator to Sho Tai, the last of the Ryukyuan kings, until Sho Tai's fall from power in 1879.
In 1901, Itosu first introduced Karate into the physical education curriculum of the Okinawan public school system. This was a crucial step in transforming the public --Perception of Karate as a feudalistic killing art to one in which the emphasis was -in health and spiritual well-being.
Itosu created the original Pinan (peaceful mind) katas, shodan through godan, practiced today in various forms by virtually all Shorin-ryu styles.
A list of Itosu's students reads like a who's who of famous Karate masters and includes: Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Chosin Chibana, Kentsu Yabu, Choki Motobu, Kenwa Mabuni, and Shigeru Nakamura.

Gichin Funakoshi
Gichin Funakoshi, known as the founder of modern karate, was a professor at the okinawan teacher’s college and president of the okinawan association of martial arts. In 1922, he was invited to lecture and demonstrated the art of karate at the first national athletic exhibition in Tokyo. The demonstration turned out to be a great success due to the
inspiring personality of master Funakoshi. He was flooded with requests until he was able to establish the style of Shotokan in 1936, a great landmark in history of karate. When funakoshi Sensei was not only a Guinness in martial arts but also a literary talent and signed his work “shoto,” hi pen name. Hence, the school where he taught came to be known as shoto’s school of shotokan. He combined the techniques and katas of the two major okinawan styles to form his own style of karate As a result, modern day shotokan includes the powerful techniques of the Shorei School and the lighter, more flexible movements of the shorin school. When the Japan karate association was established in 1949, gichin funakoshi was appointed as the chief instructor due to his advanced skills and leadership abilities. Although funakoshi sensei was famous as a great karate master, he always emphasized the most important benefit from karate training is the development of spiritual values and the perfection of character of its participants. After training and teaching karate for more than 75 years, master funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of 88 years old.
Karate-Do is a combination of three words: kara (empty). Te (hand) and do (way). Grand master Funakoshi formalized shotokan into a system, developing set techniques (kihon) that have to be perfected, and structured fighting forms (kata) from several styles of empty hand (kara-te) fighting, primarily Chinese and okinawan. These train the body and
the mind for the next phase: fighting techniques (kumite). The fully trained student of karate (karate-ka) must be adapting at all three. Proficiency takes years of consistent practice through exercise of patience and perseverance.
In 1935, master Funikoshi published his third book: a master text titled karate-do kyohan. For the book, a famous artist drew a symbolic tiger that has become associated with shotokan. The tiger is a play on words from the term used to describe the master text of Japanese martial arts, tora no maki (tiger scroll). It implies that karate-do kyohan is the master text for shotokan karate. Karate-
do is an art of self-defense, an exercise, and a sport. According to shihan (grand master) Gichin Funakoshi, “the ultimate aim of karate-do lies not neither in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of character of its participants.” This is the first of his twenty precepts, or guiding principles, for the student of karate (karate-ka). Developing and perfecting character is accomplished through the perfection of techniques and applications. Character development lies in patient repetition of techniques. The essence of karate techniques is kime, which begins with correct execution and ends with imparting maximum power in the shortest possible time. It requires patients and regular practice, intense concentration, and effort in performance.

Choki Motobu
Master Choki Motobu was born the third son to the Motobu famiIy in Okinawa. The Motobu family was of Samurai class, which meant that the first son of the family was taught the family fighting methods. Choki Motobu, being frustrated by this, tried to sneak in and watch his older brothets training. Master Motobu soon found that this was too slow and fiustrating for him, so he began to lift heavy rocks and punch the punching post or Makiwara. After a while, he became so strong that he earned the name "Monkey King" because of his tremendous leaping ability and general agility. In his youth, Master Motobu became known as a brawler and a trouble maker, so when he became the student of Master Itosu, this added to his difficulties about being accepted as a student of one of the foremost Masters in Okinawa. Master Motobu challenged many men in Japan. However, the defeat of a Russian boxer may have made him the most famous. In 1922, Master Motobu helped Master Funakoshi start the teaching of Karate to the Japanese. Filled with a new outlook on his life, Master Motobu returned to Okinawa in 1936 and began training with Master Kentsu Yabu. Master Yabu was the only man to have ever defeated Master Motobu. Master Motobu instructed many noted Masters, among them are Shoshin Nagamine , Tatsuo Shimabuku, and Kosei Kuniba.

Motobu-Ha Shito-Ryu literally means Shito-Ryu of Motobu. Master Choki Motobu lived from 1871 to 1944 and trained many Shito-Ryu Karate people, among those people was Master Kuniba, Kosei of the Seishinkai Karate dojo in Osaka, Japan. After moving to Japan in 1926 Master Motobu began teaching in Osaka, at the Seishinkai, and in Tokyo. Master Motobu left a strong fighting legacy to the Shito-ryu of the Seishinkai. Master Motobu's Kata knowledge was limited and he believed mainly in makiwara training and Kumite. He stated in his book, about Okinawan training techniques, that Naihanshi Kata was all one needed to be a strong fighter.

The Seishinkai Karate dojo named the Karate that it taught Motobu ha Shito-ryu, in honor of Master Motobu. Master Itosu (1813-1915) taught the following people in Okinawa: Gichin Funakoshi (considered the father of modem karate; Chosin Chibana (Founder of Kobayashi Shorin-ryu); Shinpan Gusukuma; Kentsu Yabu (defeated Motobu in match and eventually became Motobu's third instructor); Kenwa Mabuni (Mabuni trained under Itosu and Higaonna, and fiom that training formulated the Mabuni system of Shito-Ryu); (also taught at the Seishinkai) and Kanken Toyama. Master Motobu studied under Itosu, Anko; Matsumora, Kosaku; and Yabu, Kentsu. Both Motobu and Mabuni taught at the Seishinkai Dojo, this is perhaps why the Shito-ryu Karate system is a combination of Shurite, Nahate, and Tomarite.

Shito-Ryu had a variety of influences fiom many different masters in the middle 1800's. This diverse influence gave rise to a very complex system of Karate.

The headquarters of Motobu ha Shito- ryu karate is the Seishin Kai, in Osaka, Japan. The Seishinkai Karate Dojo was founded in the early 1 900ts, when Kosei Kuniba moved to Japan fiom Okinawa.

After studying with Soke Richard Baillargeon and Shihan Ruiz fiom 1979 to 1987, and with Shihan Ruiz fiom 1987 to 1991 Shihan, Kelley formed the Kita Kaze Bujutsu Kai in 1991. The KKBK is an organiztltion for the preservation of Traditonal Karate, Kobudo, Iaido, and Tai Jutsu.

Hironori Otsuka
Hironori Ohtsuka was born on 1st June 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaragi, Japan. He was the first son, and the second of four children, of Dr. Tokujuro Ohtsuka, a Doctor of Medicine. Ohtsuka Sensei was first introduced to martial arts by his great uncle, Chojiro Ebashi, a samurai warrior, who began teaching him Jujitsu. 

This marked the starting point of his life-long fascination with the martial arts.
On the 1st April, 1897, Ohtsuka Sensei started school where he studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu, under the supervision of  his father. Later, when he was 13, he studied the style under Shinzaburo Nakayama Sensei, the third Grand Master of this style of Jujitsu. Unlike the other schools of jujitsu at the time, Yoshin Ryu specialised in kicking and punching techniques in addition to  throwing, twisting and locking techniques. Ohtsuka Sensei continued to study the style whilst at Waseda University from 1910 to 1917. He also studied different styles of Jujitsu, concentrating on their positive aspects. In doing so, Ohtsuka Sensei learned a great deal about the body's vital points for both attacking and healing purposes.

In 1922, Ohtsuka Sensei attended the sports festival in Tokoyo, where he encountered Karate taught by Gichin Funakoshi, a Karate instructor from Okinawa, and a man widely held as the "Father of Modern Karate". Ohtsuka Sensei was so impressed with this that he visited Funakoshi Sensei on numerous occasions during his stay. Funakoshi Sensei was, in turn, impressed by Ohtsuka's enthusiasm and determination to understand Karate and agreed to teach him all he knew about it. In the following years, Ohtsuka Sensei set up a medical practice dealing with martial arts injuries. His prowess in martial arts had led him to be the Chief Instructor of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu at the age of just 30, and an assistant instructor at Funakoshi Sensei's dojo.

By 1929, Ohtsuka Sensei was a registered member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation. At this time, Okinawan Karate only concentrated on Kata, which is a set sequence of movements against an imaginary opponent (or group of opponents). Ohtsuka Sensei thought that the full spirit of Budo, which concentrates on defence and attack, was missing, and that kata techniques did not work in realistic fighting situations. He experimented with other, more combatative styles such as Judo,  Kendo and Aikido. He blended the practical and useful elements of Okinawan karate with traditional Japanese martial-arts techniques from jujitsu and kendo, which lead to the birth of Kumite, or fighting, in Karate. Ohtsuka Sensei thought that there was a need for this more dynamic and fluid type of Karate to be taught, so he decided to leave Funakoshi Sensei to concentrate on developing his own style of Karate - Wado.

1934 proved to be a pivotal year for both Ohtsuka Sensei and Wado Karate. On February 28th, Ohtsuka the Second was born. During this year, Wado-Ryu Karate was also officially recognised as an independent style of Karate. This recognition meant a departure for Ohtsuka Sensei  from his medical practice and the fulfilment of a life's ambition - to become a full-time martial artist.
Ohtsuka Sensei's personalised style of Karate was officially registered in 1938 after he was awarded the rank of "Renshi-go". He presented a magnificent demonstration of Wado Karate for the Japan Martial Arts Federation. They were so impressed with his style and commitment that they acknowledged him as a high-ranking instructor. The next year the Japan Martial Arts Federation asked all the different styles to register their names. Ohtsuka Sensei registered the name Wado-Ryu. The next few years witnessed Wado-Ryu Karate going from strength to strength. New dojos were opening and Karate was being taught at universities. Ohtsuka Sensei himself was becoming a recognised figure within the world of martial arts.

In 1944, Ohtsuka Sensei was appointed Japans Chief Karate Instructor. In 1945 Ohtsuka the second began to receive expert tuition from his father in Wado-Ryu Karate.

From this point until the 1960s, Wado-Ryu Karate remained on the three small islands of Japan. It was hardly recognised outside of the east. However, in 1963, a three man team left Japan to demonstrate Wado-Ryu Karate to America and Europe. The team was composed of Arakama Sensei, Takashima Sensei and Sukuzi Sensei. The impressions they left wherever they went were tremendous, and Wado-Ryu Karate soon became recognised world-wide.

During this time,  Ohtsuka Sensei continued to train and instruct Wado-Ryu Karate in Japan. He was awarded the title "Kun Goto Suokuo Kyoku jujitsu Shuo" in 1966 by the late Emperor Horohito. It was presented by the Emperor for his dedication to the introduction and teaching of karate. This dedication led to the further, historic, award of "Meijin", or The First Excellent Martial Artist in Karate 10th Dan, in 1972. This was the first time that this award has been given to a practitioner of karate, and was the same status as that of Kyuzo Mifune in Judo and Hakuko Nakayama in Kendo.

Ohtsuka Sensei continued to teach and lead the world of Wado-Ryu karate into the 1980s. Ohtsuka the Second became the second Grand Master of Wado-Ryu in 1982, taking his father's name, Hironori. Ohtsuka Sensei passed away peacefully on 19th January, 1982. Throughout the world where martial arts are practised, he will continue to be remembered for his enormous contribution and individual devotion to Wado Karate.


Wadō-ryū uses a typical karate belt order to denote rank. The beginner commences and 10th ''kyū'' and progresses to 1st ''kyū'', then from 1st–5th ''dan'' for technical grades. The ranks of 6th–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 ''kyū'': White belt

9th ''kyū'': Red belt

8th ''kyū'': Yellow belt

7th ''kyū'': Orange belt

6th ''kyū'': Blue belt

5th ''kyū'': Green belt

4th ''kyū'': Purple belt

3rd–1st ''kyū'': Brown belt

1st–5th ''dan'': Black belt

6th–8th ''dan'': Red and white blocked belt—optional, as many high-ranking teachers (''sensei'') still wear a black belt

9th–10th ''dan'': Wide red belt—again optional, as Hironori Ōhtsuka himself wore a 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.

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