History of Wado Ryu


Was born June 1st 1892 in Shimodate, Ibaragi Prefecture, Japan, and began his training at the age of 5 on advice form his grandmother. His first lessons in the martial arts had been in Ju-Jitsu and were given by his Grandfather, Chojiro Ehashi. Here he learnt the basics of Kicking, punching and throwing.

This training continued until H Ohtsuka was 13, when he joined the Shinto-Yoshin-Ryu school of Ju-Jitsu. At the time under its 3rd Grand Master Shizaburo Nakayama. He trained dilegently and after his entrance to Waseda University he continued to train in the Shito-Yoshin-Ryu style but also he began training in other styles of Ju-Jitsu.

He would travel to other Dojos and such was his skill accepted many challenges of Hom-Gumite (real fighting bouts), the experience gained from this helped further his Ju-Jitsu and at the age of 29 in 1920 he completed all the lessons in Shito-Yoshin-Ryu and was awarded the highest licence of training. Giving him the right to proceed Shizaburo Nakayama as the 4th Grand Master of the Shinto-Yoshin-Ryu. He then received the award Menkyu Kaiden.

Still interested in learning and expanding his knowledge of the Martial Arts, Ohtsuka went to a demonstration of Okinawan Tode (Karate) in July 1922, at the Meisei Juku in Tokyo. This was performed by Gichin Funokoshi. Ohtsuka then took up training with Funokoshi, and after only one year of training was awarded the title Shihan Dia (Vice Chief instructor) by Funokoshi. Still thirsty for knowledge he travelled again and spent time studying under other Okinawan Sensei. Two of the more notable being Choki Motobu (Motobu-Ryu) and Kenei Mabuni (Shinto Ryu).

By the year 1924 Ohtsuka had added many things to training, Yakusoko Kumite (pre-arranged sparing) being one of them, and Idori-No-Kata (kneeling defence) a technique not before seen in karate. Defences against Long sword also appeared in the syllabus.

By 1929 Ohtsuka had been training in the martial arts for 28 years and had developed his own style, which he would name Wado Ryu Karate Jutsu and Wado Ryu JuJutsu Kenpo he was 37 years of age.

5 years after he had developed this style he registered it with the Dai Nippon Buto Kukai (an association set up to over look all the martial arts of Japan. Est. 1885) Shortly after they awarded him the Title Renshi.

About the same time as the award Ohtsuka Renshi had started to learn Kenjitsu (The art of the Japanese long Sword) at the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. This he learnt from Gihachiro Kubo, the 9th Grand Master of the Tosa Clan.

In 1940 the Butokai held a Budo (All the martial arts of Japan) festival, where every Ryu had to register its name, and the name of its founder. Originally Ohtsuka was going to call his school "Shinshu Wado-Ryu" but was advised by Gihachiro Kubo to drop the Shinshu (An Overly patriotic Name given to Japan) and to just call it Wado-Ryu. The Wa meaning Peace and Harmony; but also used to mean Japan. He was after that awared the title Tasshi (Kyoshi-Go – leader of the group).

By 1944 the Butokai had asked Ohtsuka to be the chief instructor for Karate for Japan. He decided then that as with Judo developing from JuJitsu and Kendo from Kenjitsu, that Karate should change from just an art form it should also be a way of life. Thus from Karate Jutsu was Born Karate-Do: The way of Karate.

In the 1960 being a visionary Ohtsuka sent many of his top Sensei to other countries to teach Wado-Ryu to others. This is what made Wado-Ryu the world wide art it is today. Many of those instructors are still teaching in the countries they where sent to.

Later in 1966 Ohtsuka received "Kun Goto Soukuo Kyoujujiso" from Emperor Hirohito; and in 1972 a member of the royal family awarded Ohtsuka with the Tiltle of "Menjin" the ultimate title in the martial arts. He was 80 of age and the first KarateKa ever to receive such an honour .

In 1981 Ohtsuka resigned as Grandmaster and pasted the title on to his eldest son Jiro Ohtsuka the second Grandmaster (Hironori Ohtsuka II).

On the 29th January 1982 just four months short of his 90th Birthday, Hironori Ohtsuka I Saiko Shihan passed away

HIRONORI OHTSUKA 1st 1892-1982.

Senior Advisor to the Japan Karate Federation (J.K.F).
Director and Consultant of the International Martial Arts Federation (I.M.A.F).
Advisor to the Society of Judo Black Belts.
Director of the Society of Judo Orthopaedists and Nihon Kobudo Shinko Kai.
Technical Advisor at Shisei Kan Dojo (Meiji Shrine).
Lecturer at the Nihon University (Nichidai).
4th Grand Master of Shinto-Yoshin-Ryu Jujitsu.


On April 29th 1966 the Emperor gave Hironori Ohtsuka the Rank of KUN GO TO and decorated him with the SOKO KYOKUJITSU SHO Medal, for his effort in the wide spread of Karate-Do.

On October 9th 1972 the International Martial Arts Federation (I.M.A.F), headed by HIGASHIKUNI NO MIYA (the cousin of the Emperor), certified Hironori Ohtsuka as the first excellent Martial Artist of 10th Dan Meijin in Karate-Do. This was the same status as awarded to K. MIFUME in Judo and H. NAKAYAMA in Kendo.

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