A style of Karate developed by Ohtsuka-Hironori 10th Dan Meijin (AD1892-1982). Wado combines traditional Japanese Budo, Okinawan Shuri-te (To-de) and Shinto-Yoshin-ryu Jujutsu, and was recognised as an independent style in 1934.
Wado-ryu is reputed to be one of the fastest and most efficient forms of Karate in the world; emphasis includes the fundamental principles and concepts of 'Nagasu, Inasu, Noru, and Irimi'. The founder was responsible for introducing partner-work routines to Karate. Wado-ryu was also the first style of Karate to practise Jiyu-gumite (free-fighting) as part of the training.
There are estimated to be over 350,000 Wado-ryu members practising in Europe alone.
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-iai, 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."
Ohtsuka Hironori (10th Dan) Meijin.