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The only difference between the possible and the impossible is one's will.
- Hironori Ohtsuka Sensei
Sensei Ohtsuka was born in Shimodate City, Ibaragi, Japan on 1st June 1892. He was the first son of Mr. Tokujiro Ohtsuka, a doctor of medicine. Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (All-Japan Martial Arts Federation) was founded the same year.
In April 1897 Ohtsuka Sensei started ju jitsu. His teacher was Chojiro Ebashi Sensei, his mother's uncle.
Ohtsuka Sensei entered Shimozuma Middle School, where he studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Ju Jitsu under Tatsuaburo Nakayama Sensei. Ohtsuka's sensei, Nakayama, was the most senior and highest-grade student of Dorin Matsuoka who, in turn, studied Yoshin Ryu Ju Jitsu under Hidetoshi Tozuka Sensei.
In this year Ohtsuka Sensei entered Waseda University to study commerce.
Ohtsuka Sensei started work at the Kawasaki Bank. This did not deter him from continuing his studies with different styles of ju jitsu; he visited many different dojos and exchanged techniques with those he met. During this time he met Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido, and they became good friends.
In May of this year, Ohtsuka Sensei mastered techniques of 'bone setting' which he had learned during his ju jitsu training. He decided that he wanted to become a full-time martial artist, but his mother was opposed to this. Out of respect for her, Ohtsuka Sensei postponed this plan of action.
Ohtsuka Sensei received his graduation certificate on 1st June, for Shindp Yoshin Ryu Ju Jitsu, from Nakayama Sensei.
In June the Japanese Education Department had their first Sports festival in Tokyo. Gichin Funakoshi Sensei was invited from Okinawa to demonstrate karate. Funakoshi Sensei performed the Kushanku kata. Mr. Gima, a student from Okinawa, happened to be at the University in Tokyo at this time, and he demonstrated Nai Fanchi. Following these demonstrations, Jigoro Kano Sensei, the founder of Kodokan Judo, invited both Funakoshi Sensei and Mr. Gima to his dojo. Kano Sensei perceived that karate jitsu had the same spirit as any Japanese martial art. And, since Kano Sensei was renowned as the best martial artist in Japan at that time, his opinions were held in the highest regard. Funakoshi Sensei was invited to extend his visit and stay at "Meisi Juku", the house for Okinawan students. In July, Funakoshi Sensei began teaching karate jitsu at the Meisi Juku in Tokyo. Ohtsuka Sensei heard about the demonstrations and became very interested in karate jitsu. He visited Funakoshi Sensei at the Meisi Juku and discussed various aspects of martial arts for many hours. Funakoshi Sensei agreed to teach Ohtsuka Sensei all he knew about karate jitsu the lessons began the very same day.
After one year of instruction Ohtsuka had studied all the katas that Funakoshi had brought from Okinawa, but he found some movements difficult to understand.
Kano Sensei told Funakoshi Sensei that the spirit of Budo included both defense and attack, and that it was not enough to practice only kata. Meanwhile, Ohtsuka Sensei was developing many new techniques, including Yakusoko Kumite (pre-arranged fighting techniques with a partner), idori-no kata, tachi ai-no kata and shirahatori-no kata. In May 1924 Ohtsuka Sensei and Funakoshi Sensei demonstrated yakusoko kumite in public for the first time. This brought recognition of Funakoshi Sensei as the first person to introduce ryu kyu karate jitsu — or Okinawan Karate — to Japan.
Three years after his mother's death, Ohtsuka Sensei resigned from the Kawasaki Bank and established a bone-setting clinic. At this time he was Shindo Yoshin Ryu Shihan, or Chief Instructor of Shindo Yoshin Ryu, as well as assistant instructor at Funakoshi Sensei's dojo.
By this time, Ohtsuka Sensei had established most of the Wado-Ryu karate schools he registered as a member of Nippon Kobudo Shinko Kai (Japanese Martial Arts Federation).
In May 1934 Wado-Ryu karate was recognized as an independent style. At that time it was called Dai Nippon Karate Do Do Shinko Club. Ohtsuka closed his clinic and became a full-time instructor and practitioner of Wado-Ryu karate, thus fulfilling the ambition he had had since 1919.
On Kano Sensei's recommendation, the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai Federation accepted Karate Jitsu as a martial art, but only as an extension of Judo.
In this year, the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai awarded Ohtsuka Sensei the rank of 'Renshi-Go', a high-rank instructor. Ohtsuka demonstrated techniques for the Dai Nippon Kobudo Tai Kai (All-Japan Traditional Martial Arts Festival), and his style was registered as Shin Shu Wado Ryu.
In March, the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai asked all karate styles to register their names officially. Ohtsuka Sensei registered the name Wado Ryu. Other styles that registered at this time were: Shotokan Ryu, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu and others.
On May 5th there was an All-Styles Karate Demonstration at Butoku Den in Kyoto. The styles represented included: Wado Ryu, Shotokan Ryu, GojuRyu, ShitoRyu, Keishi Kempo, and Nippon Kempo Ryu.
The Dai Nippon Butoku Kai awarded Ohtsuka Sensei the rank of Kyoshi-go.
Ohtsuka Sensei was asked by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to become the Chief Instructor of karate in Japan.
After the end of the Second World War, the Americans ordered the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to be disbanded. The practice of any martial art was forbidden.
After a peace treaty was signed between Japan and America, the practice of martial arts was reinstated, and the spirit of Budo was set free. This was celebrated at the first martial arts Demonstration to be held since the prohibition.
University Student Karate Championship first held at Kanto, Tokyo Area.
Three instructors from Nihon University came to Europe and America, to demonstrate WadoRyu karate. They were Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei, Toru Awakawa Sensei and Hajime Takashima Sensei. In this year the All-Japan Karate-Do Federation was established.
Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei, Teruo Kono Sensei, Atsuo Yamashima Sensei and Masafumi Shiomitsu Sensei all began to teach Wado Ryu karate in Europe.
Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded Kun Goto Soukuo Kyokujujitsu Sho (comparable to a knighthood) by Emperor Hirohito, for his dedication to the introduction and teaching of karate.
First All-Japan Karate Do Championship.
The World Union of Karate Do Organization (WUKO) was established, and the first World Karate Do Championships took place at the Budokan in Tokyo.
The President of Kokusai Budo Renmei, a member of the Royal Family, awarded Ohtsuka Sensei the title of Meijin, the highest possible title. Ohtsuka was the first ever to receive this great honor.
Ohtsuka Sensei's 90th Anniversary Championship was held; this was also the 17th All-Japan Wado Ryu championship.
On 29th January Saiko Shihan Hironori Ohtsuka died at the age of 90. Ohtsuka Sensei never stopped practicing Budo. He had practiced martial arts for 84 years; his whole life was dedicated to Budo and we should follow his fine example.
Otsuka Sensei built his style of karate around 9 basic kata, 5 of which are regarded as fundamental. The uniqueness of Wado-Ryu is characterized by 3 major concepts:
The ability to deflect an attack without using harsh blocks.
The ability to move the body as a target out of the line of attack using a simultaneous defense/offense technique.
The ability to judge your counterattack’s impact before your opponents attacking momentum has stopped.