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If you’re interested in the development of our style of karate then you should find this video interesting. It is about an hour long.

It features the founder of Wado Ryu karate, Sensei Hironori Ohtsuka, and provides a brief history of the development of karate in general and how he changed the way people train in karate.

About half of the video shows him performing our main katas (filmed in 1965 when he was in his early 70’s!) followed by a more recent “application” segment.

You’ll notice some differences between his movements and ours. This is not surprising. Ohtsuka Sensei said – “It is obvious that these kata must be trained and practised sufficiently, but one must not be ‘stuck’ in them. One must withdraw from the kata to produce forms with no limits or else it becomes useless. It is important to alter the form of the trained kata without hesitation to produce countless other forms of training.

If you have seen the kata DVDs produced by our Federation, you also know that Sensei Shintani said that each time he visited Ohtsuka the katas would have changed slightly. It is only normal that, as one practices and learns more about human physiology, some techniques also evolve to be even more effective.

What is also interesting is that Gichin Funakoshi, the “father of modern karate”, refused to allow what we know as Kumite in his dojo training. He firmly believed that, if taught correctly, this type of karate practice could be fatal. This is what caused Funakoshi and Ohtsuka to part ways.

In a way, we could view Ohtsuka Sensei as the first “Mixed Martial Artist”! At the time of his death, he was the appointed master of shindo yoshinryu jujutsu, a traditional Japanese martial art from which modern judo was derived, and in 1972, he received the Shodai Karate-do Meijin Judan or “First Generation Karate-do Master of the Tenth Dan” and was designated the head of all martial arts systems within the All Japan Karate-do Federation.

Ohtsuka was a deeply respected master. His athletic and skilled fighting style, the development of Wado Ryu Karate (a combination of traditional karate, jujutsu, bushido techniques – Way of the Warrior/Samurai – and Tai Sabaki body movements) combined with his intense desire for a peaceful, non-aggressive society has been a model for all modern masters to follow.