Hironori Ohtsuka (1892 - 1982) was the founder of the Wado-ryu style, and studied Shotokan under Gichin Funakoshi. Wado Ryu karate was founded by Hironori Ohtsuka during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ohtsuka was born on 1st June 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. At the age of 6 years he began to study jiu Jutsu with his Grand Uncle. At the age of 13 he started to study Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jiu Jutsu under a teacher named Tatsusabaro Nakayama. Ohtsuka continued his studies whilst at Waseda University. He received the award of Menkyo-Kaiden in 1921 (successor as master of this style)

Ohtsuka heard about a new style of unarmed combat from Okinawa that had been introduced by Gichin Funakoshi. That art was known as Karate. In 1922, Ohtsuka went to visit Funakoshi in Tokyo to study karate. He also trained with other great Karate masters such as Kenwa Mabuni and Choki Motobu.

His prowess in the Martial Arts had led him to be the Chief Instructor of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu and an assistant instructor at Funakoshi Sensei's dojo. By the year 1929 Ohtsuka was a registered member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation

Hironori Ohtsuka

During his time training, Ohtsuka developed the concept of pre-arranged sparring in which both participants know in advance what attacks and defences are to be carried out. The exercise could be considered to be a small two person kata for developing skills and learning certain concepts - it is half way between basics and applications.

At this time Ohtsuka experimented with incorporating all his martial art skills into a new form of Karate. Part of this experimentation was the introduction of free-fighting practice. This conflicted with Funakoshi's view of Karate and they parted company.

Hironori Ohtsuka with his son Jiro

In 1938, Ohtsuka's new style was accepted by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai under the name of Wado Ryu. Ohtsuka was also awarded the title of "Renshi-go".

Development of Wado Ryu continued after the Second World War, and in 1966 Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded 'Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-jutsu-Sho' (similar to the OBE in Great Britain) from Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to Karate. In 1972 he was awarded the title of Meijin from Higashino-Kunino-Miya (a member of the Japanese royal family) President of the International Martial-arts Federation the 'Kokusai-Budo-Renmei'. Ohtsuka Sensei was the first man in history to receive this the highest honour in martial-arts. For his services to Martial-arts, and to honour his new position as the highest Karate Authority in Japan, he was awarded the Shiju-Hoosho medal from the Japanese Government, the only man in the history of Karate to be so honoured.

On the 29th of January 1982 Ohtsuka-Hironori Meijin died shortly before his 90th birthday, he had practiced martial-arts for 85 years. "Buno-michi-wa Tada-aragoto-na-to-omohiso Wa-no-michi-kiwa-me Wa-o-motomu-michi; The way to practise martial-arts is not for fighting. Always look for your own inner peace and harmony, search for it." Ohtsuka-Hironori.

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