Violent action may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony.
Meet our Board of Directors
Bill Hardyman, Godan
Chris Button, Yondan
David Button, Yondan
Bill Ireland, Yondan
Andy McCormick, Godan is also a member of the Board, but was not able to be present when the photo was taken.
Note: Most of the information on this page came from Mr. Chris Button, Yondan, head of Huntsville Wado Ryu. All US Eastern Wado Ryu Karate Federation students are required to know and are tested on the history of Ohtsuka Sensei, Patterson Sensei, and that of their state heads; in addition, students must know Japanese terms listed in the Glossary.
Karate is a Japanese word meaning "empty hands" indicating that karate is a martial art that does not require weapons other than the natural weapons of the body. The word “empty” also refers to the concept of the practitioner of karate being void of aggressive thought.
Karate was a method of unarmed self-defense developed in the Ryukyu Islands, primarily on the island of Okinawa. Okinawa is roughly the same distance from the southern Japanese Island of Kyushu and the coastal Chinese province of Fujian. Due to this location, Okinawa was a major stopping point on the trade route between China and Japan. Travelers often brought back, mainly from China, fighting ideas and strategies and taught them to the locals on Okinawa. This interaction of Chinese and Japanese ideas, along with the local Okinawan art of “te”, formed the foundation of modern karate.
WADO Ryu is a style of Japanese karate founded in 1939 by Hironori Ohtsuka (also spelled Hironori Otsuka). Wado means “way of peace” and is one of the four major styles of Japanese karate along with Shotokan, Goju Ryu and Shito Ryu.
Ohtsuka Sensei originally began his study of martial arts at the age of 6, learning jujitsu from his father. At 13 years of age, he became a student of Shindo Yoshin Ryu jujitsu, a style which utilized atemi striking more than other styles of jujitsu. Ohtsuka Sensei studied under Master Nakayama, 3rd head master of the style. In 1921, on his 29th birthday, Hironori Ohtsuka (Otsuka) was appointed as the 4th headmaster of Shindo Yoshin Ryu jujitsu. Along with other martial arts, Shindo Yoshin Ryu was one of the building blocks used by Ohtsuka Sensei to form Wado Ryu.
In 1922, Ohtsuka Sensei began studying karate under Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate. In 1924, along with 6 others, Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded his black belt (dan) ranking by Funakoshi, the first such rankings in karate. After many years of study, Hironori Ohtsuka (Otsuka) was considered by many to be Funakoshi Sensei’s top student.
While still a student of Funakoshi, Ohtsuka Sensei began to experiment with various sparring ideas and jujitsu techniques. Ohtsuka Sensei wanted to incorporate Shindo Yoshin’s jujitsu techniques with Funakoshi’s karate techniques to create what he felt was a more complete system and left Funakoshi to create what is now known as Wado Ryu. Ohtsuka Sensei also studied with and borrowed ideas from other karate notables such as Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito Ryu, and Choki Motobu, famous for his Naihanchi kata and street fighting skills.
Wado Ryu is different from many karate styles in that Ohtsuka Sensei did not believe in the use of the makiwara to toughen the parts of the body used for striking. Also missing from Wado are the hard contact elements of sparring. Wado students learn to use taisabaki (body shifting) to avoid the full force of an attack while at the same time positioning the body for an effective counterattack.
The ultimate goal of Wado Ryu is to develop a peaceful yet fully aware mind that is able to react to any situation. The study and perfection of Wado Ryu takes a lifetime of effort and leads to an inner peace within the student. As Ohtsuka Sensei once said, “Violent action may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony”.
After the death of Master Hironori Ohtsuka (Otsuka), his son, Jiro Ohtsuka became the master of Wado Ryu.
The current head of Wado Ryu karate for the Eastern United States is John V. Patterson. He is the son of Cecil T. Patterson, the founder and first President of the USEWF.
With permission from the original Patterson Sensei, the Alabama Wado Ryu Karate Association authorized the creation of this website as a means of preserving the history, traditions and teachings of Master Hironori Ohtsuka (Otsuka). Patterson Sensei was our direct link to the original Master Ohtsuka.
Mr. Tom Stevenson has studied Wado Ryu for
over 20 years, primarily under the former Patterson Sensei as well as the
current Master Ohtsuka.
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