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Chapter 3  Rising Sun ~ Floating Moon

As his skills increased, Ohtsuka Sensei began to incorporate more and more of the practical concepts of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu, Aikido's spiritual principle of blending of Ki, along with the influences of Kenwa Mabuni, Choki Motobu and other eminent karate sensei he had trained with, into the karate classes Funakoshi-san had placed under his instruction. Moreover, he did not limit his introduction of these new ideas into basic techniques alone, but began to weave them into the very fabric of Funakoshi's karate -- his kata. While many of the students under Ohtsuka Sensei immediately saw the advantages, others saw something altogether different; a dilution of their master's art. The most vocal of those was Funakoshi's son, Yoshitaka, who wasted no time in informing his father of what he believed was tantamount to an act of betrayal.

Although there are varying reports of the factual sequence of events that occurred over the next period of time, it is undisputed that Funakoshi viewed Ohtsuka Sensei's introduction of these new ideas as intrinsically contrary to the core of his teachings, and publicly criticized him for doing so. For Yoshitaka, however, his father's rebuke was not nearly sufficient, calling for Ohtsuka's public expulsion, "...for the good of the Shotokan movement."* While many martial arts historians write that the two men's mutual admiration for each other remained intact, it had become evident that Ohtsuka Sensei's reputation and style of instruction had grown to not only rival that of Funakoshi's, but in the eyes of many -- had surpassed the aging master's. For both, it was clear that the road they had mutually traveled was diverging, and in 1930, Ohtsuka Sensei bid farewell to Funakoshi-san's Dojo for the last time.

Over the next four years, strengthened in spirit by the number of students who followed him from Funakoshi-san's Shotokan Ryu, Ohtsuka Sensei continued to teach; establishing the primary techniques and kata of his newly-evolving style, and registering as an independent member of the Nippon Kobudo Shinko Kai - the Japan Martial Arts Research Association. Constantly honing and refining the concepts that lay at the heart of the new Budo he had envisioned years earlier, he focused much of his attention on applying practical defense from formal art. It was during this period that the seeds of his greatest contribution to the martial arts began to grow -- the Kihon Kumite Katas. Originally 36 in number, the Kihon Kumite Katas were wholly and completely Ohtsuka Sensei's -- in concept, development and application. In blending the purest principles of Jujutsu, Aiki, and Karatedo, history would show that he had created much more than simply 36 new kata. He had truly created a new form of Budo -- a new karate -- that was greater than the sum of its parts.

As word of his new style spread throughout the martial arts community, so did Ohtsuka Sensei's reputation. In 1934, encouraged by the number of young men seeking his instruction, he formed the Dai Nippon Karatedo Shinko Kai (the All Japan Karatedo Research Organization), the parent organization of today's Wado Ryu Karatedo Renmei. It was auspicious beginning in an important year -- for Ohtsuka Sensei the karateka and Ohtsuka Hironori the man -- for 1934 was also the year of the birth of his son, Jiro, his pride and heir apparent; the man who would one day wear his father's Black Obi. Ironically, though, the Karatedo that had come to life through him that same year, was nameless. But true to the old Zen proverb, that too would change.

Late in the 1938, the Dai Nippon Kobudo Tai Kai (the All Japan Classical Martial Arts Festival) invited Ohtsuka Sensei to its Fall Festival, to demonstrate the style of karate that had become the subject of so much discussion and controversy. When asked to name his style prior to his demonstration, Ohtsuka was initially taken aback, never having formally given a name to this new style. As legend has it, mere minutes before his performance, he registered the name, "ShinShu Wado Ryu", or, 'New Style Way of Harmony School". The following year, when the Dai Nippon Butokukai requested that all martial arts in Japan formally register their styles and chief instructors' names, Ohtsuka Sensei formally registered the name Wado Ryu ~ Way of Peace and Harmony.

As the years passed, Wado Ryu, like Ohtsuka Sensei himself, grew in prominence, becoming one of the most highly regarded traditional martial arts in Japanese culture. In 1966, that high regard was made manifest when Emperor Hirohito himself awarded Ohtsuka Sensei with his homeland's highest honor -- The Kyuokujitsusho, The  Grand Order Of The Rising Sun -- presented for his dedication to the introduction and teaching of Karatedo. In 1978, the Royal Family's Higashi No Kuni no Miya, President of the prestigious Kokusai Budo Renmei (International Martial Arts Federation) awarded Ohtsuka Sensei the title of "Meijin", or 'Master'; the first such honor ever bestowed upon a Karateka in Japan.

The contributions made by Hironori Ohtsuka cannot be limited to the world of Karatedo, or even the larger world of martial arts. More than one-hundred years after his birth, and nearly twenty years since his passing, tens of thousands of people -- people from all walks of life, of every faith and creed, and in every corner of the world, have, in some way been affected by the simple, but powerful message that lay within the core of his karate. A message that continues to be reflected in karateka everywhere -- like the reflection of the moon, floating on the water.

"The Way is not meant as a way of fighting. It is a path on which you travel to find your own inner peace and harmony. It is yours to seek and find."  Hironori Ohtsuka. 6.1.1892 ~ 1.29.1982

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