I had practised Judo in my teenage years but when I started University I changed to Wado-ryu Karate. Because I was a bit short but a fighter and challenger, I wanted to become stronger. Although Karate was a relatively new martial art at that time, it seemed the ideal sport for me to achieve my goals.
All the junior Karate students were taught by Sempai (senior colleagues) and OB (old boys) in the Meiji University Kenren (student’s union) Karate-do Club. Every training session lasted about 3 hours and we trained almost everyday, and they used a military style of discipline. The aim of the Karate training was to improve skill, speed, strength, stamina and self-discipline (the 5 S’s). The training was often repetition of a few thousand kicks and punches with full speed and power (Kihon). Then Kata, Yakusoku-gumite and finally Jiyu-gumite at each session. We often found a small pool of sweat on the floor around our feet when we were allowed to have a standing short break in summer season.
However the training methods were not always scientifically correct, we had to hit makiwara board with seiken many times with full power…the skin on my knuckles peeled off and they bled all over, but I was forced to continue hitting the board. The worst part was when I had to hit the bloody makiwara again 2 days later when the skin on the knuckles had just started to heal. However, after 2 years of hitting the makiwara, my fist became so strong I used to be able to hit a large concrete lamppost with full power without damaging my hand.
We also often had to bunny-hop up and down approximately 150 steep stone stairs. One day when one of our Sempai saw me smiling when I had completed it, he ordered me to repeat the exercise. Many years of Judo training had made my legs quite strong, but that evening, people at the train station watched us with strange looks on their faces when many of us wobbled down the stairs holding onto the railings.
We often went away for one week long Gasshuku (training camp) for intensive training. The day’s training began at 6am sharp with a morning run in bare feet for about an hour and plenty of press-ups, sit-ups, etc.. Apart from breakfast and lunch breaks we continued to practice Karate all day until we were completely exhausted. One day after the training, a Sempai heard us talking, complaining about the hard training and tiredness; he said that we were not really tired, because we were still able to speak!
I remember one occasion, well after midnight our sleep was abruptly interrupted by colleagues because a junior colleague was missing. We were really worried because he was not a tough character and his belongings were still in the dormitory which meant he hadn’t run away at night … there was also a fast flowing river next to our Ryokan (inn). Fortunately, we found him later in the middle of the back stairs, poor boy was so exhausted and had fallen asleep and couldn’t make it to his bed!
I remember the 2nd year above Sempai were a hard lot, they used to take us to free fight with them after the formal session at the club and beat us black and blue. One of them in particular was pertinacious brute … he would force us to fight for at least 20 minutes despite our injuries and exhaustion. One day when I had suffered enough and felt I couldn’t continue any more with him but didn’t want to be defeated by him, he was very good at sunegeri and kingeri to torment us, I was determined I would take a chance and use my Judo techniques to strangle him into unconsciousness and quit the Karate club for good. After all I was a 2nd Dan in Judo and had confidence to beat him with the knowledge of Judo if I could get a hold on him. Strangely, the Sempai was not cruel to me that evening or ever again.
Competition was not popular at that time, fighting was not as sophisticated as nowadays, we did not wear any protection, mitts etc. … we just aimed to knockdown our opponents…therefore, competitors often received injuries at the tournaments. I remember one incident at one of the early Wado-kai Championships. One of my colleagues received a serous injury, he kicked his opponent so hard but his leg crushed opponents knee and his leg was broken in half … white shinbone was protruding through the skin!
Ohtsuka Shihan visited our club once a month to teach. We were all glad to see him because although his lessons provided us with much information, the sessions were physically easy. There were 96 boys when we joined the Karate club but just 9 of us survived through the 4 punishing years training and this number was a club record; normally only a few students were successful enough to complete the course and sometimes none!
Anyway we were young students, enthusiastic with lots of energy and ambition. We tried everything to toughen ourselves up and challenge our limitations. The training sessions were sometimes unreasonably hard but after the session we all enjoyed a drink together and forgot all the aches and pains and were happy, the beer tasted great. We surely learned the value of truth, integrity, courage, perseverance and an indomitable spirit with pride and honour.
When I graduated from the university in 1970, minus a graduation ceremony, because of university disputes (Gakuen-Funso), we just had to leave the teargas filled university (whose motto was Liberty and Right), which had become a battlefield between Zengakuren (united student’s union) and Kido-tai (police combat units). I had now completed my education and I was now free and independent and confident of looking after myself, I wanted to leave Japan to see the world and learn new languages.
After 2 years of hard work as one of Tokyo’s notorious kamikaze taxi drivers (very fast, skilful, special licensed drivers, but not suicidal), I had saved enough money to travel. I boarded a ship in Yokohama Harbour in 1972, but my first voyage was a disaster because almost immediately the ship had left the harbour a huge typhoon struck, with gushing winds and huge waves. All passengers on the ship were seasick and I was unable to leave my bed or eat for 3 days and nights. It took me 2 weeks to get to England through Russia, Austria, Germany and Belgium (now it takes just 12 hours from Japan to England by non-stop flight) and I settled in an Oxford boarding school for languages to study the Queen’s English.
My original plan was to study English for 2 years in England then go to Madrid to study Spanish for another 2 years … but have lived in England now for 29 years. Unfortunately my English is still not good enough to move onto Spanish!
I met a few Japanese Karate instructors at a college when I moved to London in 1973 and it led me into teaching Karate. I opened Essex Wado-kai Karate Club in 1975 with branches in Romford, Chelmsford and Harlow after 6 months of travel in a camper van around Europe and North Africa. I established BWKS in 1987 with senior students of mine.
Nowadays I get invited to attend weekend courses and teach Karate at other Karate clubs very often, and it’s a pleasure to meet and practice Karate with different people in different places. In return, we invite all the associate members to our BWKS Championships every year, which is the biggest event in the BWKS calendar.
I am also a qualified Japanese language teacher and I used to teach at colleges and am currently teaching in the City of London, so I’m able to help anyone who needs to learn Japanese.
It’s important to be
fit physically in the early stages then you can enjoy going out to open fields for jogging, general exercise and Karate training whenever you have time. Exercise is good for me and makes me feel stable and happy. I will continue training as long as I can.
PS – I had a chance to visit the Meiju University Kenren Karate-do Club last year (2000), 30 years after I left and encountered a total change. The old familiar university buildings had been demolished and re-built and are now huge shining new buildings. Half of the 30 students who were training in the new dojo were young women, one of them told me later that most of the women there were (at the club) for health and beauty reasons!
Original letter written by Sensei Shinohara.
Ohgami Sensei was born in Japan in 1941. He started training karate in 1960 when he entered Tokyo University (Todai) where Ohtsuka Meijin was the instructor of the karate club.
His interest in karate overwhelmed the idea of becoming a medical doctor so that he changed his major to chemistry. He worked for a company as a chemical researcher between 1965 and 1969, where he also instructed karate.
In 1969 he went to Sweden as a guest researcher at Chalmers Technical University in Gothenburg. Shortly arriving in Sweden, he started a karate club. The club grew to such a proportion that he decided to give up a career in chemistry and engaged himself in teaching karate full-time since 1972.
He was graded to 5th Dan black belt by Ohtsuka Meijin in 1974. Other than karate his interests spreads to Iaido (Japanese sword art, 5th Dan Musoshindenryu), Jodo (Shintomusoryu), Aikido, Ryuku Kobudo (Bo,Sai, Tonfa, etc.), Tai Chi Chuan (Chinese Soft System), Ton Loon Chuan (Chinese Praying Mantis), etc. He was also a member of the Japanese Budo Academy.
Takagi Sensei was born in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province in China, in 1942.
His early childhood was spent in China. After the end of World War II in 1945, as his father was an army surgeon, it appears he spent time in an internment camp.
When he was a 4th grade student in elementary school, his family returned to Japan, with his father staying in China.
Takagi Sensei began studying karate in earnest after he enrolled in dental college in Japan. Studying under Tomihide Arimoto Sensei, he also received guidance, and was recognised by, Wadoryu founder Hironori Ohtsuka Sensei. He visited various locations with Ohtsuka Sensei, acting as his partner in demonstrations.
Takagi Sensei was invited to coach not only in Japan, but overseas as well.
Students of Takagi Sensei from all over the world attended his funeral, and even more emails expressing condolences were received as well.
⟨Continuing to teach while attached to an IV⟩
Takagi Sensei’s health deteriorated two and a half years ago. Even after this, he continued to come and instruct at Wado-kai technical seminars held at various locations, while still being hospitalised and attached to an IV drip 7 days of the month.
He taught strictly in the hope that Wado techniques would be inherited correctly, particularly by 1st Grade instructors. Takagi Sensei would always say that “the person who has learned something has a duty to hand it down properly”.
He would also talk of his memories with Wadoryu founder Hironori Ohtsuka Sensei in classes. Takagi Sensei endeavoured throughout his life in order to pass on the techniques and spirit of Wado. Here we will refer to the words that Takagi Sensei left behind.
Words from Takagi Sensei:
“It was said by Ohtsuka Sensei that ‘learning carries a duty to pass on what you have learned’. Wado contains many of Otsuka sensei’s ideas. This idea is not understood just by hearing it. I would like for it to be understood through training.”
“Otsuka Sensei’s final words were ‘Keep a hungry spirit, anytime’. For example, if you failed Dan examination time and time again, do you give up or still believe ‘I can do this thing that other people can do’? Being able to carry on because it isn’t easy, because it’s difficult. This sort of thing is what we call culture.”
“I would like us not only to conserve Wado, but to develop with the intention of advancing it further. Please work hard so that Wado is even better in future.”
Hideho Takagi Sensei (Dan/Title)
· 8th Dan, Wadokai
· 8th Dan and Hanshi, Japan Karatedo Federation
· Chairman, Wadokai Technical Committee
· 1st grade qualified examiner, Japan Karatedo Federation
· Saiko-Shihan, Guseikai Takagi Dojo
· Instructor, Budo Gakuen (Budo School), Nippon Budokan
· President, Toshima-ward Karatedo Federation
Jiro Ohtsuka was born on February 24th, 1934 in Tokyo, Japan. He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan, receiving a degree in Economics. Ohtsuka and his wife, Aiko have three children: Kazutaka, born in 1965, a daughter Riki, born in 1967 and younger son Michi, born in 1968. Kazutaka has trained in Iaido, Judo and Wado and is presently the chief instructor at the main dojo in Tokyo, Riki has trained in Iaido and Wado. Jiro began his training in Wado Ryu karate at the age of fifteen. He has trained in Iaido, Kendo, Judo, Aikido, Kenpo, Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu and Wado. A unique feature of Wado Ryu is that the position of Grand Master is still handed down from the current Master to the next generation family member who is most deserving of the title. This hereditary system was once prevalent in ancient Japan but is not seen today.
In 1982, upon the death of his father, he took over as head master and president of the International Wado Ryu Karate Do organisation. He also assumed his father’s name. His commitment is “To strive to achieve his father’s greatness.” His number one concern for the future of the martial arts, is that, we need to develop more students of character. Under his supervision there are presently over 1,000 dojo, with a membership of 40,000, throughout the world.
Principle Sensei of the European Wado-ryu and the Chief Instructor for the United Kingdom Karate-do Wado-Kai. Suzuki-Tatsuo was born in Yokohama, Japan on the 27th April 1928. At 10 years old the family moved to Ushigome, Tokyo. At 13 they moved to Hamamatsu, his father’s original hometown. His first style of Karate was Shito-ryu, at his high school. He started training at the Yokohama YMCA Wado-ryu Karate Club at the age of 17 under a student of Hironori-Ohtsuka, known as Kimura Sensei. Kimura was reputed to be the best student of Ohtsuka Sensei at that time. Suzuki Sensei trained regularly with Ohtsuka Sensei, as Ohtsuka Sensei visited the YMCA regularly. Suzuki Sensei was awarded 5th Dan in 1951 for outstanding courage and ability. Suzuki Sensei held the title of ‘Hanshi’, which was awarded to him by a member of the Emperor Higashikuni family. In 1963, with the assistance of Arakawa Sensei and Takashima Sensei, Suzuki Sensei introduced Wado-ryu Karate to the UK, Europe and the USA. In 1965 he returned to England where he set up his European Headquarters. Amongst his titles he held 2nd Dan in Tenshin-Koryu Bo-jutsu and 1st Dan in Judo. He has also studied Zen doctrine with the high priests, Genpo-Yamamoto and Soyen-Nakagawa.
I was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1928. My father was a fun loving man who enjoyed life to the full. He loved to cook, and owned a large restaurant. It was often hired by businessmen and local dignitaries for private parties where they could eat, drink and be entertained by Geisha.
This all came to and end when we were forced to move to the country to avoid American bombers during the war. School life was hard, and senior students would often beat the younger children for no reason. It was very militaristic, we looked upon our teachers as gods; I suppose it was just like the Samurai and his Lord.
I desperately wanted to become a soldier but was too young. I tried to join a naval academy but was rejected due to an eye problem. In hindsight I was actually quite lucky as they were all training to be Kamikaze pilots, but at the time I was devastated. I was raised with the Bushido code, to die for my emperor and country would have been a great honour.
It was while at school that I had my first taste of martial arts. We practiced Kendo every day. When I was 14 years old I met one of my school friend’s older brothers. He had studied Wado Ryu Karate while at university; from then on whenever he came home I would ask him to teach me. Eventually he agreed; it was all fighting – nothing technical.
After the war my family moved back to Yokohama. The Americans were occupying Japan and despite my hatred of them I ended up working at one of their army bases as a cleaner. Government propaganda had turned Americans into demons that killed our men and raped our women. Through working at the base I came to realise that this was a lie. At that time food was scarce, we were living off insects and rice. The Americans gave us food, chocolate and of course Coca Cola. I loved it; it was all I ever wanted to drink; now I hate the stuff!
I decided to learn English and went to the local YMCA where they held classes. Once there I discovered that they also taught Karate. I knew that it was Karate that I wanted to do and soon forgot about learning English. The instructor there was a man called Mr. Kimura. He was one of Professor Ohtsuka’s best students. Professor Ohtsuka was the founder of Wado Ryu Karate.
The Americans had banned all martial arts so we had to call Karate, Japanese boxing. I trained at the YMCA for about 6 months before we had to move on. We would train wherever we could, in gardens or fields, in the rain and snow, anywhere the American’s could not find us. Kimura was a very intelligent man with a very sharp technique. He was a 5th Dan at the time the highest grade in Japan.
I was fascinated by the way of the warrior and the samurai code. I read books on Budo, Bushido and Hagkure. As a boy I dreamt of being a samurai hero. After the war we were not allowed swords, so I looked for a martial art without weapons. In Judo it was always the big guy who won, but Karate was different. With speed, timing and good spirit I could defeat any opponent large or small.
Post-war Japan saw the Japanese people embrace everything American, baseball, coke, Elvis. I wanted to give the world something Japanese. I decided to become a great martial artist so I could teach the world about the Japanese spirit.
When I first started I was only training four hours a day that eventually increased to 10. Everyone thought I was crazy but I believed that to be the best I had to work longer and harder than anyone else. I would train in a shrine garden near my home until well into the early hours of the morning. By wearing my gi (the white Karate outfit) I inadvertently started a rumour of a ghost who stalked the shrine at night.
At the end of every year I would go up to a temple in the mountains for two weeks. There I would train every day from morning until night, only stopping for one small meal. To eat any more would make me sick. My day would start with a run, followed by Zen meditation. After that I would practice my punching by extinguishing a candle flame with just the force of my punch. Next I would work on my kicks by wearing iron boots. This built strength and speed. My favourite technique was the sokuto (side kick), Ohtsuka Sensei would tell students, if you wish to practice sokuto go see Mr. Suzuki.
That would be followed by three hours of fighting with my fellow students. By the end we would be physically exhausted. To end the day I would practice kata (set moves against imaginary attackers). I would perform each kata three times. When finished my body would feel great all the days aches and pains gone.
I would travel to Tokyo several times a week to train with Ohtsuka Sensei. He was a truly great man. Away from Karate he was a gentleman but inside the dojo he was like a true samurai. He would train with us as well as teach us. Many of his senior black belts had returned from the war, they were tough both physically and mentally. The fighting in those lessons was extremely hard.
In the old days fighting was different than it is today. There were no rules, any technique was allowed; kicks to the groin, strikes to the eyes or throat. Contests would be organised between the various universities. We would visit with a team of 10 fighters – to us they were the enemy, especially if they practiced a different style. Nowadays most styles fight pretty much the same way, but back then I could tell a person’s style of Karate from the way he fought. Shotokan fighters were very stiff and liked lots of room, whereas Goju Ryu liked to get in close – Wado Ryu would be somewhere in between.
The home crowd would be crying for blood and would often try to hit us with sticks or whatever they could lay their hands on. The senior students would referee but would rarely stop a fight unless it looked as if one of us was about to be killed. We would end up fighting on blood-soaked floors. No pads or guards were worn, it was all bare fists. Many people lost teeth or broke noses or other bones. Eventually the heads of all the styles got together to devise competition rules. They were concerned that potential students were being put off.
In 1963 I and two other students traveled the world demonstrating Wado Ryu Karate. This resulted in offers from several countries to come and teach. I narrowed it down to either Britain or America, as English was the only other language that I could speak. I was offered a sponsorship deal by some American businessmen, but a leading Shotokan instructor, Ohshima, was already teaching there so I declined.
I moved to England in January 1965. It was hard to settle at first. My English was very basic; I had to take a Japanese/English phrase book to lessons to try to explain my teaching. As I was the only Japanese instructor in England eve
ryone wanted me to teach them. Demands on my time were so great that I had no time to do any other work.
At first I thought that it would be difficult to teach westerners an oriental martial art. Back in Japan I had been told that Westerners could not move as we did because they sat on chairs as opposed to the floor, as a result they had no hip power obviously this was wrong.
I missed Japan; I was living in a bed-sit that would get so cold that it would be impossible to sleep. I would have to train to warm-up before going to bed. There were no Japanese shops and I longed to eat some Japanese food.
The whole profile of martial arts in the west took a great leap forward during the so-called ‘Bruce Lee boom’. I found myself on TV and in the papers all of the time. This kind of attention always attracts people out to prove themselves. None of them were any good. There was once a Hungarian man who claimed to be one of Bruce Lee’s top students, after one month’s training with him, a student would be able to beat any opponent. I was outraged by this claim so I contacted the paper that ran the article and challenged him to a fight under any rules that he cared to set. I waited but heard nothing, so eventually I rang them back. He had told them that he had already beaten me and saw no reason to fight me again. I laughed; he was obviously scared to face me man-to-man. Over the years I have proved myself and gained people’s respect. I still like a good fight though. Most days I spar with Kevin, an instructor at my London dojo, it helps to keep me sharp.
I had several jobs while I lived in Japan, which sometimes required me to use Karate, including nightclub bouncer and bodyguard. There was often friction with the yakuza (Japanese gangsters). I once found myself up against a local yakuza gang. I was alone but there were about 20 of them. I backed up to a wall and picked up a large rock. If I stepped forward they would move back, if I moved back then they would move forward. Luckily one of my friends was passing by on his way to buy some sake and saw what was happening. He run back to our house and returned with help. Even though there were only 5 us of against 20 of them, the yakuza were terrified. One of their gang had recently lost an eye in a fight with a Karate man. I dropped the leader with a blow to the groin and knocked out another one who came at me with a knife. The rest of them eventually managed to run off. I realised that I had lost my university cap – I would be in serious trouble if it were to be found by the police. I searched everywhere for it and eventually found it under the body of a yakuza. The next day I scoured the papers for reports of a dead body but found nothing – I guess no one was seriously hurt.
Fear with regards to fighting can be overcome by mental training. It’s a vital aspect of Karate training. It is important when fighting to have a strong spirit and a brave heart. When attacked you must never be scared or startled. You must believe in yourself this is difficult to achieve. A famous samurai was once asked what he would do if he were attacked in the street. He replied that he would move towards his attacker so that he could not strike down with his sword. To back off or freeze would mean death. I would often go to monasteries to learn Zen meditation from the monks. A samurai would not fear death before battle; this was the state of mind that I aimed to reach. I am always careful though, and will never change in believing that I am invincible. You must be wise and careful.
These days too many people stop training once they pass 2nd or 3rd Dan, they don’t realise that belts are not important. Grades mean nothing; all that matters is to train hard. Many people call themselves 10th or even 12th Dan, but most of them are rubbish.
When I was awarded my 5th Dan no university student had ever been graded so high. I did not want this and asked Ohtsuka Sensei not to give it to me but he insisted. It was the same for my 8th Dan. Over the years I have been offered 10th Dan but refused it. It would mean nothing to me, the only man worthy of giving me a grade was Ohtsuka Sensei and he is dead.
It is still important for me to train regularly. It can be difficult though, demands on my time have increased tremendously over the past few years. As well as my own training I teach twice a week at my London dojo. I am also the head of a very large Karate federation, the Wado International Karate-Do Federation (W.I.K.F); I travel extensively both here and abroad holding courses for my members.
I have sensed a definite shift towards the more traditional aspects of Karate recently. There has been an increased attendance from non-W.I.K.F students at my courses. This pleases me because I feel very strongly that all clubs should have a thorough grounding in the traditional aspects of their style, even if their bias is towards sport Karate.
As a response to this I have re-organised my federation in the UK. Large clubs and organisations can now affiliate with the W.I.K.F and enjoy all the benefits of our courses, competition (both in the UK and abroad) and our guidance, but still keep much of their financial independence. I feel now that it’s time for all Wado groups to work closer together whether it is through courses or competition. The fact that we all practice Wado Ryu Karate means that we are all brothers and sisters.
It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we must inform you of the passing of Suzuki Sensei in the early hours of Tuesday 12th July 2011. Let us remember his life and not his passing. Article written by Eleni Labiri Suzuki.
International Technical Advisor. Started martial arts at a young age, beginning first with Kendo then moving on to Judo. At the age of 14 years he began training in the art of Karate-do.
For the first 18 months he trained in a Dojo in Inoue before moving on to Sensei Minoru Mochizuki Dojo, he trained there for several years. Sensei Fukazawa was also privileged to study Aiki Jutsu, Aikido and Katori Chinto Ryu.
In 1974 he travelled to France to help Sensei Mochizuki’s son, Hiro, to spread Karate-do. He soon moved to the north of Italy where he lived for two years and established numerous Wado Karate Dojo whilst there.
Sensei Fukazawa then lived in France where he was the Chief Instructor of the French Wado International Karate Federation. He became an active member of the French Karate Federation, holding several positions such as Federal Expert and a member of the French Grading Panel.
He was well known for his expertise of Wado Kata and his explanation of the moves within these Kata (Kaisetsu). This can be seen on his CD Rom, which was commissioned by the FFK, the French All Styles Federation.
He was a founder member of the WIKF and in 2008 appointed International Technical Advisor to the Wado International Karate-do Federation Technical Committee by Professor Tatsuo Suzuki Hanshi.
Sensei Fukazawa passed away on 11th June 2010 after a long illness, he will be deeply missed by all his friends and family.
Naoki Ishikawa 石川直樹 Born 4 April 1942, in Karafto, Japan (Karafto is in the north of the Japanese island Hokkaido. The island Hokkaido is one of the most northern islands of Japan. Karafto lies nearly on the same level as Stockholm, Sweden.)
1 son, Hiroki, born in 1981.
Hobby: dogs, golf
Ishikawa Sensei lived in Sapporo (+-1 million residents) (level of Muchen, Germany) till he was 12 years old. After that Ishikawa Sensei lived in the big city Nagoya (+-3 million people) (level: Lyon, France). Nagoya lies on the main island of Japan, named Honshu.
Ishikawa Sensei studied economics at the Chukyo university in Nagoya from 1960 to 1964 and has a bachelor degree. After this, Ishikawa sensei studied a year human anatomy at the same university.
karate history: Japan.
Ishikawa Sensei started karate when he was 14 years old. At this age Ishikawa Sensei was busy with sports like athletics and baseball. His father practised Kendo, but Ishikawa Sensei didn’t like this at all and was more interested in Judo and Karate. Ishikawa sensei started with Judo, but because he was so skinny, it didn’t fit him. Coincidentally next to the Judo dojo was a Karate dojo where they practised Wado Karate. Ishikawa sensei was very interested so he started Karate in this dojo.
At the age of 18 (1960) Ishikawa Sensei received his 1st Dan (black belt) in Wado Karate. Back then it was a very good, because the highest graded Wado karateka in Japan was a 5th Dan. (in Judo the highest graded was a 10th Dan.) At the age of 21 he received his 2nd Dan and at 24 years (1966) his 3rd Dan. After this Ishikawa Sensei went to Europe by request of Kono Sensei to promote Wado Karate and give lessons in Holland.
karate history: Europe 1966-1978.
In December 1966 Ishikawa Sensei came to Europe as an assistant of Kono Sensei. Ishikawa Sensei assisted Kono Sensei in teaching Wado Karate to Judo teachers. Back then the highest Dutch Wado Karateka was a blue belt!
Ishikawa Sensei teaught karate for a few years in Holland (1967). After that he spend several months in England to teach. France was next -requested by Mochizuki Sensei- to teach Wado Karate. Ishikawa Sensei taught not only in Paris, but throughout whole of France. Ishikawa Sensei also gave seminars in Belgium and Germany. Around 1971 Holland seeked a Japanese karate teacher, since Kono Sensei left to Germany. in 1971 Ishikawa Sensei returned to Holland (Amsterdam) to teach Wado Karate.
In the beginning Ishikawa Sensei only taught Karate teachers. Later, Ishikawa Sensei went to other sport-schools and teachers of sport-schools invited Ishikawa Sensei to give seminars.
Ishikawa Sensei also gave many demonstrations and special seminars such as summer-camps, weekend training, etc.. In 1970 the first union was created: Wado Kai Europe. Ishikawa Sensei was from 1970 to 1978 General Secretary. In the period of 1966 to 1978 (12 years) Ishikawa Sensei gave a major contribution to the popularity and professionalisation of Wado Karate in Holland.
karate history: Europe 1978 – 1989.
In this period karate was less popular and there were problems about the way how Wado Karate should develop itself. In this period Ishikawa Sensei was continuously busy to spread Wado Karate and promote it, by teaching, giving demonstrations and seminars.
karate history: Europe 1989 – 1999.
In 1989 a successful attempt to promote Wado Karate in Europe was created with the new union: WIKF. This Wado International Karate Federation (Wado Kokusai) was created to gave the popularity and further spread of WADO a boost.
This WIKF was under leadership of Hanshi T. Suzuki, 8th dan, who lead this organisation from his homebase London, England. By request of Hanshi T. Suzuki, Ishikawa Sensei became, during 1989-1999, Chief Instructor Europe of the WIKF.
karate history: Europe 1999 – 2008.
During the WIKF period Ishikawa Sensei felt more and more urge to follow the traditional Wado Karate according to the style and the rules from Grand-master Ohtsuka as it was and is promoted at the home-base in Japan. In 1998 Ishikawa Sensei contacted Hanshi Takashima (8th Dan) in Japan. Ishikawa Sensei knew Takashima Sensei from his student time, when Takashima Sensei taught to students from the university.
Ishikawa Sensei knew that Takashima Sensei was one of the few who still trained with Grand-master Ohtsuka the last period of Ohtsuka’s life. So, he was close to the founders teaching traditional Wado Karate and preserving such. Takashima Sensei has visited Holland on several occasions.
Ishikawa Sensei kept on promoting and teaching the traditional Wado Karate finally until his death, 21 August 2008.
Shihan Kengo Sugiura (8th Dan), former President of the all Japan Karate Federation Wado Kai (JKF-Wadokai).
Apologies. More information to follow. Article Under construction.
Born 28th of May 1929 in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture and died on the 28th of September 2002. Sensei Kazuo Sakura was one of the few direct students of Master Hironori Ōhtsuka, the founder of Wado-ryu Karate.
He is the third son of a family of four brothers. He started practising martial-arts at an early age and comes from a Budoka family.
He made an excellent record in the Kendo Championship of Yamaguchi Prefectural Primary School, winning 27 competitors.
He married on December 18th 1955.
On the 1st of March 1954 he received kaiden Menkyo from Hironori Ōhtsuka Meijin. He is one of only two people to have received this honour directly from the founder of the Wadō-ryū style.
He was also contemporary with Master Tatsuo Suzuki (1928-2011) and was his close friend until he died in 2002. Picture shows Sensei Kazuo Sakura (right) and Sensei Tatsuo Suzuki Hanshi (left).
1929 Shihan Kazuo Sakura was born in Iwakuni city, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan on May 28th, 1929. He is the third son of four brothers. He began Martial Arts training at an early age and comes from a family of Martial Artist. He made great record at Yamaguchi prefecture elementary school Kendo Championship winning to 27 competitors straight.
1943 Shihan Sakura attained Judo Sho-Dan rank at the age of 14 from Gensui Heihachiro Togo (General of the Navy). Shihan Sakura used Hanegoshi technique at examination winning to two adults.
Shihan Sakura entered Meiji University (Meidai). After the end of the Second War, Japanese people couldn’t train Kendo and Judo for a little while by the Americans order. He decided to enter Karate Club at that time Meijin Hironori Otsuka was teaching at Meiji University.
Shihan Sakura was Shusho (Captain) of Meiji University Karate Club. He won the University Karate Championship twice. Besides Shihan Sakura some of its members were Shihan Jun Motoyoshi and Sensei Yoshitaka Hada. During Shihan Sakura’s college days Meiji University was the strongest of University Karate Club in Japan. Hanshi Tatsuo Suzuki was always training at Meiji University Karate Club however, he was at Nihon University (Nichidai) Karate Club that time.
1954 On March 1st, 1954 Meijin Otsuka awarded Shihan Sakura his “Wado-Ryu Karate-Jutsu Shihan Menjyo (certificate)”. He is one of only two people known to have received a Shihan Menjyo (license) directly from the founder Meijin Ohtsuka.
Shihan Sakura was responsible for being one of the first Wado-Ryu instructors to teach Americans. Shihan Sakura began to teach American Serviceman (The Navy and The Marine Corps) in 1954 in Iwakuni city, Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan.
Shihan Sakura married on December 18th, 1955.
1963 With the approval of Meijin Otsuka, Shihan Sakura started Bushinkai on October 24th, 1963. Proper Name: Shukyo Hojin Shinto Bushinkai
Bushinkai is Shihan Sakura’s federation in which he is the first founder.
1982 On January 29th 1982, Meijin Otsuka died at the age of 90.
1996 Shihan Sakura awarded Yoshikazu Nakamura his “Bushinkai Karate-Do Shihan” on June 28th 1996.
2002 On September 28th 2002, The Legend of Wado-Ryu Karate, Shihan Sakura died at the age of 71.
President of the Federation of European Wado Kai.
Teruo Kono was born 1934 in Yokohama and studied architecture. After working in several building firms in Japan he went to England and later to Germany, where he became a managing director of several export firms.
Between 1956 and 1960 he was the top point fighter in Japan. Additionally, he was also Coach of the famous Nichidai University and various other university clubs in Japan and in Europe. Kono Sensei was the National Coach of Central Japan, England, Holland, Yugoslavia, Germany.
Kono Sensei came to England, then Holland, and finally Germany during the mid 1960s. He became the Head Instructor of Wado-ryu in Germany, as well as President of the Wado-ryu Instructor Organisation.
In 1986, Kono Sensei was named the Chairman of the Federation of European Wado Kai. Kono Sensei held the rank of 8th Dan (Hachidan) in both Wado-ryu Karate-do and Shinto Yoshinryu Jiujitsu.
- 1956 to 1960 – Best fighter of Japan.
- 1958 to 1964 – Coach of many University Karate Clubs in Japan.
- 1963 to 1964 – National Coach of Japan.
- 1965 – National Coach of England.
- 1966 to 1970 – National Coach of Holland.
- 1967 to 1975 – Coach of Karate Clubs and Universities in Belgium and Yugoslavia.
- 1970 to 1971 – National Coach in Yugoslavia.
- 1973 to 1983 – National Coach of Wado Germany.
- Until 1978 – Technical Advisor to the Coach of the National Team in the DKV.
- 1983 – Coach of the Wado-ryu group in the DKV as well as Advisor of the DKV.
- 1995 – Awarded the title of Hanshi by JKF-WadoKai.
Kono Sensei died on April the 22nd 2000 aged 66 from acute pneumonia.
Head of Wado Kai – North America. Shintani Sensei was born February 3, 1927 in Vancouver, BC CANADA to emigrated Japanese parents. Shintani Sensei’s mother, Tsuruye Shintani, was a daughter of the Matsumoto Samurai family. He gained early training in a number of Japanese martial arts, including eventual ranks in Judo (Sandan), Aikido (Shodan), and Kendo (Shodan). During the Second World War, Shintani Sensei and his family were placed in a west coast Japanese-Canadian internment camp. This is where he met one of his early karate influences Mr. Kitagawa, who had trained in Shuri-te style karate under Sokun Matsumura and Anko Itosu. After close to a decade of training with Mr. Kitagawa, Shintani Sensei was awarded Rokudan in Shorin style karate.
Shintani Sensei competed extensively in Japan in the 1950’s, and it was at this time that he first met Hironori Ohtsuka. Shintani Sensei began training with Shihan Ohtsuka, and did so for well over a decade, becoming a senior student. By 1968, Ohtsuka Sensei “…appointed Masaru Shintani as head of all Wado Karate-do in North America and conferred on him the title of Supreme Instructor”. In 1979, Ohtsuka Sensei graded Shintani Sensei to 8th degree, Hachidan, in Wado karate, and presented him with his 9th degree, Kudan certificate for future use.
Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation (SWKKF) centred in his home in Hamilton, Ontario, is presently one of the largest martial arts organization under a single style in North America.
Shintani Sensei was head of Wado Kai karate for North America, and was one of Ohtsuka Sensei’s senior students.
The late Takamizawa Sensei was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan in 1942. His first exposure to the martial arts was in Judo which he began at the age of fifteen, gaining his first Dan. In 1962 he entered the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies where he began to practise Wado Ryu under Jiro Ohtsuka and Hironori Ohtsuka the founder of the style. Within three years of training he had achieved the grade of second Dan. He also became captain of his university. In March 1966, at the grade of third Dan he left Japan to come to Britain to assist Tatsuo Suzuki Hanshi 8th Dan. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s Takamizawa Sensei travelled all over Britain teaching Wado Ryu, opening his famous Temple Karate Centre in Birmingham in 1970. In 1975 he applied for British Nationality and became a British citizen. Takamizawa Sensei was a great believer in applying modern science to traditional karate and he developed training methods which did not inflict damage to the body through incorrect practise.
Very sadly on the 7th June 1998, Sensei Takamizawa passed away, but his unique contribution to Karate-do will never be forgotten by those he taught.
The founder of Wado-ryu Karate. Hironori-Ohtsuka was born in Shimodate City, Ibiragi, Japan on the 1st June 1892. He was the first son of Tokujiro-Ohtsuka, who was a doctor of medicine. 1892 was also the year that the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai was established. He started training under Chojiro-Ebashi, an uncle of his mother, in April 1897 at the age of four, a style of training he would continue with, even at Waseda University in Tokyo. In 1905 Ohtsuka Sensei entered the Shimozuma middle school, where he started Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu under Tatsusaburo-Nakayama. In 1910 Ohtsuka Sensei entered Waseda University to learn commerce. In 1917 he started work at the Kawasaki bank; at this stage he was learning numerous styles of Ju-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met, and became good friends, with the founder of Aikido, Morihei-Ueshiba. In May 1919 he became master of ‘bone-setting technique’. On the 1st of July 1921 he received his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu licence from Tatsusaburo-Nakayama, and so became the Highest Authority. He started his Karate training with the famous Gichin-Funikoshi in July 1922, a style known as Karate-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met Funikoshi Sensei during a martial-arts demonstration at the Sports Festival organised by the Japanese Educational Department. Funikoshi Sensei agreed to teach Ohtsuka Sensei all he knew about Okinawan Karate-jutsu, the lessons started that same day. Within one year Ohtsuka Sensei had studied all the Kata within the system. Even after this time Ohtsuka Sensei could see the ‘shortfall’ in the Kata-only system. It was explained to him that all of the concepts of ‘Budo’ was within Kata, and that was the only aspect to train. In 1924 Ohtsuka Sensei introduced Yakusoku-gumite to the system, this concept of ‘partner-work’ revolutionised Karate-jutsu. At the time, Okinawan karate only concentrated on Kata. In 1928 he was ‘Shindo-Yoshin-ryu-Shihan’, the Chief Instructor of his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu; he also set up a ‘bone-setting’ practice at this time. Around 1929 Ohtsuka Sensei started the study of Jiyu-Gumite (free-fighting) for competitive purposes, teaching Ippon/Ohyo (one-step) and Sanbon (three-step) Gumite (sparring); laying the foundation for modern free style karate kumite tournaments. He also developed Idori-no-kata, Tachiai-no-kata, and Shirahatori-no-kata. In 1929 he registered with the ‘Nippon-Kobudo-Shinko-Kai’, the Japanese Martial-arts Federation. In 1934 Ohtsuka Sensei was recognised as an independent style, and started teaching full-time. Due to his dedication to Karate he had to close his ‘bone-setting’ business. In 1938 Ohtsuka Sensei registered his new style as Shin-Shu-Wado-ryu. In 1939 all Karate styles were asked to register their systems with the ‘Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai’, Ohtsuka Sensei named his style Wado-ryu. Other styles that registered were Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Shoto-ryu (Shotokan-ryu). In 1940 on May the 5th the ‘All Styles Karate Demonstrations’ took place at Butoku-Den in Kyoto. All the major styles took part, these included Goju-ryu, Keishi-Kempo, Nippon-Kempo-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shoto-ryu, and Wado-ryu. In 1944 Ohtsuka Sensei was promoted to Chief Instructor of all Karate under the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-kai. In 1945 the Americans, at the end of the Second World War, disbanded all martial-arts. In 1951 all martial-arts were reinstated, after the signing of the American peace treaty with Japan. In 1955 the first Karate tournament took place, organised by Ohtsuka Sensei, it was called the ‘First All Japan Wado-ryu Karate Championships’. In 1964 ‘The All Japan Karate-do Federation’ (JKF) was established. This same year Tatsuo-Suzuki Sensei, Toru-Arakawa Sensei, and Hajime-Takashima Sensei introduced Wado-ryu to Great Britain, Europe, and the United States of America. In 1966 Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded ‘Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-jutsu-Sho’ (similar to the O.B.E. 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 at the age 89, he had practised 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.
Below is an adaptation from an open letter written by Ohtsuka Hironori (10th Dan) Meijin to all Wado-Ryu students, sent out two-years prior to his death, explaining the origins of Wado-ryu.
“At the age of five years old, I was in very poor health. It was then that I began my training in Ju-jutsu at the school of my uncle, Sensei Chojiro-Ehashi, the official martial arts instructor of the Tsuchiura Clan. Since this time I have trained continuously until my present age of eighty-eight years. For this, I can heartily thank the traditional Samurai education, which was both gentle and strict. I also thank and pray for my dear mother without whom I could never have succeeded in my deepest aims; I thank her sincerely for always being near.
On my thirtieth birthday, Master Nakayama, the third Grandmaster of Shinto Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu, allowed me to learn the deepest and most secret doctrines of our school. It was then that I succeeded him as the fourth Grandmaster.
Karate was becoming increasingly popular around this time, and I began to study its techniques from several eminent Okinawan masters who had begun to teach in Tokyo. It occurred to me that there were many fine attributes in the Okinawan systems, and so decided to blend these with the finest elements of Shinto Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu to create a genuine and original Japanese martial-art. Through this process I developed Kumite, Gyaku-nage, I-dori, Tachi-ai, Tanken-dori, and Shinken-Shirai-dori.
Every year, for purposes of promoting the Japanese martial-arts, the Butokuden in Kyoto held a national festival. In 1938, the festival focused on the originators of each martial-art; however, no originator of Japanese Karate had been identified. I named the originator of the first true Japanese style of Karate-Do as Shiro-Yoshitoki-Akiyama (the founder of Shinto Yoshin-ryu Jujitsu) and named this new style of Karate-Do, ‘Wado-Ryu’ meaning: ‘Japanese-way school’ or also ‘Peaceful-way school’ since the Kanji lettering for ‘Wa’ can mean both.
The fundamental meaning and original aims of martial-arts is the promotion of Peace. To bring peace to society and to guard against its loss so that human beings can enjoy a happy life. We must strive for peace in a world where it is increasingly difficult to achieve. We must not simply rely on God’s mercy to achieve it but must strive as individuals, with all our will, to attain it. Immense spiritual and physical power is required so we will not surrender to the difficulties and barriers which lie before us on this journey. The hard training in martial-arts aims to foster this dauntless, indefatigable strength which is why the beauty of martial-arts training is beyond the vicissitudes of mundane affairs.”