Hironori Ohtsuka I
was born on 1st June 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaragi, Japan. He was the
first son, and the second of four children, of Dr. Tokujuro Ohtsuka, a
Doctor of Medicine. Ohtsuka Sensei was first introduced to martial arts by
his great uncle, Chojiro Ebashi, a samurai warrior, who began teaching him
Jujitsu. This marked the starting point of his life-long fascination with
the martial arts.
On the 1st April, 1897, Ohtsuka Sensei
started school where he studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu,
under the supervision of his father. Later, when he was 13, he
studied the style under Shinzaburo Nakayama Sensei, the third Grand Master
of this style of Jujutsu. Unlike the other schools of jujutsu at the time,
Shindo Yoshin Ryu specialized in kicking and punching techniques in addition to
throwing, twisting and locking techniques.
Ohtsuka Sensei continued to study the style
while at Waseda University from 1910 to 1917. He also studied different
styles of Jujitsu, concentrating on their positive aspects. In doing so,
Ohtsuka Sensei learned a great deal about the body's vital points for both
attacking and healing purposes.
In 1922, Ohtsuka Sensei attended the sports
festival in Tokyo, where he encountered Karate taught by Gichin
Funakoshi, a Karate instructor from Okinawa, and a man
held as the "Father of Modern Karate". Ohtsuka
Sensei was so impressed with this that he visited Funakoshi Sensei on
numerous occasions during his stay. Funakoshi Sensei was, in turn,
impressed by Ohtsuka's enthusiasm and determination to understand Karate
and agreed to teach him all he knew about it. In the following years,
Ohtsuka Sensei set up a medical practice dealing with martial arts
injuries. His prowess in martial arts had led him to be the Chief
Instructor of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu at the age of just 30, and an
assistant instructor at Funakoshi Sensei's dojo.
By 1929, Ohtsuka Sensei was a registered
member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation. At this time, Okinawan Karate
only concentrated on Kata, which is a set sequence of movements against an
imaginary opponent (or group of opponents). Ohtsuka Sensei thought that
the full spirit of Budo, which concentrates on defense and attack, was
missing, and that kata techniques did not work in realistic fighting
situations. He experimented with other, more combative styles such as
Judo, Kendo and Aikido. He blended the practical and useful elements
of Okinawan karate with traditional Japanese martial-arts techniques from
jujitsu and kendo, which lead to the birth of Kumite, or
fighting, in Karate. Ohtsuka Sensei thought that there was a need for this
more dynamic and fluid type of Karate to be taught, so he decided to leave
Funakoshi Sensei to concentrate on developing his own style of Karate - Wado.
1934 proved to be a pivotal year for both
Ohtsuka Sensei and Wado Karate. On February 28th, Jiro - Ohtsuka's eldest
son who would one day succeed his father - was born. During the same
year, Wado-Ryu Karate was also officially recognized as an independent
style of Karate. This recognition meant a departure for Ohtsuka Sensei
from his medical practice and the fulfillment of a life's ambition - to
become a full-time martial artist.
Ohtsuka Sensei's personalized style
of Karate was officially registered in 1938 after he was awarded the rank
of "Renshi-go". He presented a magnificent demonstration of Wado
Karate for the Japan Martial Arts Federation. They were so impressed with
his style and commitment that they acknowledged him as a high-ranking
instructor. The next year the Japan Martial Arts Federation asked all the
different styles to register their names. Ohtsuka Sensei registered the
name Wado-Ryu. The next few years witnessed Wado-Ryu Karate going from
strength to strength. New dojos were opening and Karate was being taught
at universities. Ohtsuka Sensei himself was becoming a recognized figure
within the world of martial arts.
1944, Ohtsuka Sensei was appointed Japans Chief Karate Instructor.
In 1945 Ohtsuka the second began to receive expert tuition from his father
in Wado-Ryu Karate.
From this point until the 1960s, Wado-Ryu
Karate remained on the three small islands of Japan. It was hardly recognized
outside of the east. However, in 1963, a three man team left Japan to
demonstrate Wado-Ryu Karate to America and Europe.
The team was composed of Arakama Sensei, Takashima Sensei and Suzuki
Sensei. The impressions they left wherever they went were tremendous, and
Wado-Ryu Karate soon became recognized world-wide.
During this time, Ohtsuka Sensei
continued to train and instruct Wado-Ryu Karate in Japan. He was awarded
the title "Kun Goto Suokuo Kyoku jujitsu Shuo" in 1966 by the
late Emperor Horohito. It was presented by the Emperor for his dedication
to the introduction and teaching of karate. This dedication led to the
further, historic, award of "Meijin", or The
First Excellent Martial Artist in Karate 10th Dan, in 1972. This was the
first time that this award has been given to a practitioner of karate, and
was the same status as that of Kyuzo Mifune in Judo and Hakuko Nakayama in
Ohtsuka Sensei continued
to teach and lead the world of Wado-Ryu karate into the 1980s. Ohtsuka the
Second became the second Grand Master of Wado-Ryu in 1982, taking his
father's name, Hironori. Ohtsuka Sensei passed away peacefully on January
29th, 1982. Throughout the world where martial arts are practiced, he
will continue to be remembered for his enormous contribution and
individual devotion to Wado Karate.
Adapted With Permission
to the Biographies Page
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