Wado-ryu, "way of peace and harmony", founded by by Hironori Ohtsuka, a student of Gichin Funakoshi, in 1939. This style of karate combines basic movements of jujitsu with techniques of evasion, putting a strong emphasis on softness and the way of harmony or spiritual discipline. Wado kai or ryu is one of the four major styles of karate in Japan. Trained in classical bujutsu (the techniques of the samurai), Sensei Ohtsuka applied this outlook and experience to his teachings. Some of the harsher resistive or hard contact elements of sparring technique, typical of many karate styles, are not present in Wado. Sensei Ohtsuka rejected hardening certain parts of the body, such as hand conditioning, as useless preparation. The current head of Wado Kai karate for North America is one of Ohtsuka Sensei's senior students, Sensei Masaru Shintani.
The aim of Wado karate is not merely perfection of the physical techniques of self-defence, but, the development of a mind that is tranquil yet alive, able to react intuitively to any situation. In Wado, as skill and knowledge are acquired through training and concentrated effort, the student is expected to develop inner strength and calmness of character, as well as the virtues of self-control, respect for others, and true humility. Karate-do for Sensei Ohtsuka is primarily a spiritual discipline.
Basic techniques - punching, kicking, blocking, striking with open hand, joint twisting, and trapping techniques - kata and prearranged and free style sparring comprise the training foundation of this style. Equally fundamental to Wado is taisabaki, body shifting to avoid the full brunt of an attack, a technique derived from Japanese swordsmanship. Kumite (sparring) is usually judged on a point system; one referee and four corner judges determine which techniques are given a point. In free sparring, there is no contact allowed to the head, below the waist except for foot sweeps, or to the spine; only light to medium contact is allowed to the torso. Attacks to the head and torso can all score points in a tournament, therefore, Wado karate-ka tend to fight with explosive, close movements with an emphasis on well-controlled techniques.
Updated: Tuesday, 07 September 2010