Wado-ryu Karate was founded in 1934 by Grand Master Hironori Ohtsuka (1893-1982). Ohtsuka Sensei combined aspects of Shindo Yoshin-ryu Jujutsu and Okinawan Karate to create his own unique style of Japanese Martial Art, Wado-ryu Karate-do. Wado means “way of peace.” Wado-ryu is one of the four major styles of Japanese karate along with Shotokan, Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.
Ohtsuka Sensei studied with some of the Grand Masters who are known today for playing a crucial role in the widespread influence of the martial arts throughout Japan. Ohtsuka Sensei was already a master in Jujutsu by the time he started practicing Karate with Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi,the founder of Shotokan Karate. He also studied Karate from Grand Master Choki Motobu and from Grand Master Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu Karate.
In 1922, Karate was presented for the first time in the mainland of Japan during a sports festival held in Tokyo. Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi was invited by the Japanese Education Department to perform demonstrations of his own style of Okinawan Karate in the martial arts portion of the festival. Ohtsuka Sensei was impressed with this newly promoted martial art style.
After watching Master Funakoshi’s demonstrations, Ohtsuka Sensei visited him on numerous occasions during his stay in Tokyo to discuss Karate’s techniques and its other aspects. Funakoshi Sensei prolonged his visit to Tokyo because of his commitment to further the growth of the martial arts throughout Japan. He opened the country’s first Shotokan Dojo in 1936.
Funakoshi was so impressed by Ohtsuka Sensei’s enthusiastic determination to understand Karate that he agreed to teach him everything he knew about Karate.
In a short period of time, Ohtsuka Sensei mastered all the Katas (choreographed patterns of movements) that Funakoshi Sensei taught. Ohtsuka Sensei found that certain movements and techniques were difficult to implement and understand. This motivated Sensei Ohtsuka further in his quest for obtaining a deeper understanding of Karate. His increased ambition led him to practice Katas with Master Kenwa Mabuni.