"There is no first strike in Karate." One of the precepts of Karate-do. One must never attack first, mentally or physically. If you attack, never be angry. If you are angry, never attack.
The Japanese writing stands for 'Karate Ni Sentenashi', a basic and very essential part of karate training. It means that the Karateka must never attack first - mentally or physically. To understand this fully, years of hard, correct training are needed. As the Karateka grows in stature so also will grow their good manners and etiquette, both outwardly and, more importantly, inwardly.
Included in the concept of 'Karate Ni Sentenashi' are intense, purposeful Karate training and correct dojo etiquette.
History: Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) was born in Tomari village, on Okinawa Island. At the age of 15, when in those days boys began to be treated as adults, he started to learn karate from Master Teruya of Tomari. The young Matsumora became one of Master Teruya's main students, even though he had many followers.
Master Teruya taught Kata, which were only practiced in Tomari, namely "Rohai", "Wanshu", etc. He also placed a great deal of emphasis on good behaviour, citing "Karate-ni-Sente-Nashi" ("there is no first attack in karate").
In those days, karate was usually practiced in the garden or at the cemetery of the master's family, as it was the most convenient place. One evening, when Master Matsumora and others were practicing at Master Teruya's family cemetery he noticed an outcast watching his moves intently. Master Matsumora approached him. The man apologised for disturbing Matsumora's training and commended him on his level of skills. He handed Matsumora a piece of paper but, before Matsumora could finish reading the inscription, the recluse had disappeared. Matsumora showed the note to Master Teruya, to which he responded "exactly!" Some time later, Kosaku Matsumora had a flash of inspiration and, in a moment, understood the deeper meaning of the message; "The essence of Bu (do) is to denounce immoral consideration, understand humanity, follow a virtuous path, and devote your life to cultivating peace in Okinawa."
The Samurai Maxims, highlighting the three weaknesses. The three Samurai Maxims now still being utilised in today's Japanese martial-arts and even in many aspects of modern society. The three Maxims are; Kikioji, Mikuzure, and Futanren. These are considered the three main weaknesses that could lose a battle due to an insufficiently trained mind and body.
KIKIOJI; Being afraid before fighting because of the enemy's reputation.
MI-KUZU-RE; Being afraid because the enemy looks fierce and strong.
FU-TAN-REN; 'Inadequate training'. Training must never be neglected, train with purpose and intensity.
MOKUTEKI. 'Purpose'. One of the precepts of Karate-do. You must have a positive and enthusiastic approach to what you have committed yourself in doing. Without purpose, there is no direction.
SONKEI. 'Reverence'. One of the precepts used in a Japanese and Okinawan Dojo. Revere what is holy; respect all things.
KANSHA. 'Thankfulness'. One of the precepts of Karate-do. Be grateful and give thanks for all things that you receive. Life, learning, and general 'being'.
SHYUO. 'Discipline'. One of the precepts of Karate-do. You must first attain a disciplined mind. With discipline there is focus, which leads us all to clarity.
MAKOTA. 'Sincerity'. One of the precepts of Karate-do. Also encompasses the ideals of honesty and devotion. Be sincere in all things; attain a pure heart.
TOITSU. 'Unity'. One of the precepts of Karate-do. Unity, brotherhood, all helps us to achieve the same directions and goals. Be at one with yourself, then with others.
Reisetsu O Mamori - Stick to the rules of the Dojo. Shingi O Omanji - Be loyal to your instructor. Jojitsu Ni Oberesu - Students and instructors are not all one (never take advantage of his friendship). Shinkenmi Ni Tesseyo - Be serious in your efforts.
DOJO KUN - These Maxims are motto's, the spirit of which serious students of Karate should try to follow if they wish to gain the maximum from their training. The Maxims are like the English saying 'Service not self', 'Deeds not words', 'Be prepared' and exemplify an attitude which dictates a way of life.
REISETSU O MAMORI - Stick to the rules of the dojo. Good etiquette must be observed at all times by following the club's rules.
SHINGI O OMANJI - A student must have loyalty to his instructor. This is the most important thing in Martial Arts. It is not possible for someone to change his style in Japanese Martial Arts - people who do so cannot learn the correct etiquette and spirit of Martial Arts.
JOJITSU NI OBERESU - Teachers and students are not all one. Outside the Dojo you can be friendly with your Sensei but do not take advantage of this friendship.
SHINKENMI NI TESSEYO - Be serious in your efforts. No flippancy, chattering, smoking, gum chewing, eating or drinking in the Dojo. Concentrate solely on Karate and train hard in everything you do. The dojo is not a social gathering hall and visitors as well as students shall respect the rules and Maxims.
The name Wadō-ryū has three parts: Wa, dō, and ryū.
Wa means "harmony," dō means "way," and ryū means "style." Harmony should not be interpreted as pacifism; it is simply the acknowledgement that yielding is sometimes more effective than brute strength.
From one point of view, Wadō-ryū might be considered a style of jūjutsu rather than karate. It should be noted that Hironori Ohtsuka embraced Shotokan and was its chief instructor for a time. When Ohtsuka first registered his school with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in 1938, the style was called "Shinshu Wadō-ryū Karate-Jūjutsu," a name that reflects its hybrid character.
Ohtsuka was a licensed Shindō Yōshin-ryū practitioner and a student of Yōshin-ryū when he first met the Okinawan karate master Gichin Funakoshi. After having learned from Funakoshi, and after their split, with Okinawan masters such as Kenwa Mabuni and Motobu Chōki, Ohtsuka merged Shindō Yōshin-ryū with Okinawan karate. The result of Ohtsuka's efforts is Wadō-ryū Karate.
To the untrained observer, Wadō-ryū might look similar to other styles of karate, such as Shōtōkan, etc. The underlying principles, however, were derived from Shindō Yōshin-ryū an atemi waza focused style of Ju-Jutsu. A block in Wadō may look much like a block in Shōtōkan, but they are executed from different perspectives.
A key principle in Wadō-ryū is that of tai sabaki (often incorrectly referred to as 'evasion'). The Japanese term can be translated as "body-management," and refers to body movement and manipulation so as to move the defender as well as the attacker out of harm's way. The way to achieve this is to 'move along' rather than to 'move against' - or harmony rather than physical strength.
Modern karate competition tends to transform Wadō-ryū away from its roots towards a new generic karate that appeals more to the demands of both spectators and competitors.
Wadō-ryū moves from the balls of the foot rather than the heel, which affects the delivery of almost every technique, the stances and the kata. It works well with the jūjutsu applications that Wadō retains and improves the tai sabaki that is a core of Wadō training and application in comparison to the "low stances and long attacks, linear chained techniques", that typify the way Shōtōkan developed after the split.
The old Japanese martial-arts word that explains the student's learning and progression.
Traditionally, we are taught that Su-Ha-Ri is reflected within the progression of 1st Dan, 2nd Dan and 3rd Dan development, as there should be no tests for 4th Dan and above; due to the principles previously explained of Su-Ha-Ri. 4th Dan and above are traditionally ‘awarded’ grades for loyalty, plus the contributed years in dedicated service, etc. There are numerous interpretations to Suhari and each synonymous to the relevant art or activity being practised. For example, the interpretation of Suhari within Wado Karate.
Su - Indicates that a beginner must correctly copy all karate techniques from his instructor.
Ha - Means that after a number of years of training, when the Karate-ka has attained a sufficient level black belt, he is allowed to develop new techniques provided they are improvements to his 'own' Wado. This applies to all movements, however, a student’s own development must not violate, or effect, the fundamental principles OR development of other students; as they must discover and travel the path of Suhari for themselves.
Ri - Is the highest form. It means that after an even longer period of training than for HA, the Karateka must be able to perform all forms of karate automatically, not stopping to think about his movement/s.
SU-HA-RI - 守破離
Article: Su Ha Ri ...and this will bring us back to ‘Do’, ‘Rei’ and ‘Mi’!
“Su Ha Ri”. Master Ohtsuka tells us that the term has been around for a long time, and also exists in many other forms within Japanese culture, including the Japanese Tea Ceremony, etc. For example, in the military, we see Suhari being implemented with new forms of weapons, arms and tactics, etc. Each system (or social criteria) has its own version of Suhari, but all follow a similar pattern. With ‘traditional’ arts, however, which wish to maintain traditional values and techniques, such as Karate, etc., the ‘individual’ attains self-awareness to his skill through Suhari; which allows him to develop as an individual, rather than changing the whole traditional system to suit the single practitioner.
Ohtsuka Sensei adds the postscript that these levels of attainment depend on the natural ability of the individual student/practitioner, as well as the circumstances and environment necessary for the student to flourish - something not easy to accomplish.
However, it must be remembered that these should be personal developments NOT teaching developments. For example - we would not teach our own short-cuts/habits to our students as our students have not attained the same knowledge or their own personal mechanical development. For a student to flourish he must develop within his own style of mechanics with his own expression and personality through personal awareness - 'He must become himself'. (MI-CHI)
When we teach someone to drive a car, for the first time, we teach the basics/fundamentals of driving that has been ‘tried & tested’ for a safe and educational development. Prior to pulling away from a junction we are taught to use ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’, as a precursor to joining the traffic. If we were to teach our own ‘shortcuts’ and (in some cases) bad/modified habits, which we ourselves have attained through many years of driving, then the student may very well miss out on the awareness of some very valuable lost information.
When we teach students Wado Karate we teach from scratch in the same way as our teachers showed us when we started on the path and through our development. After time our students will reach a point where they too will develop their own technique and movement through their own ability and progression. Although, as individuals, we may reach ‘Ha’ and ‘Ri’, we must still remain within ‘Su’ for our teachings.
British Wadokai has always taught the TRADITIONAL and ORIGINAL Wadoryu that was introduced into the UK from the JKF-Wadokai (Ohtsuka Meijin’s original organisation). Extra elements were introduced, by Suzuki Hanshi, such as the revamped Sanbon-gumite (Sanbon-gumite was dropped by the JKF-Wadokai Japan (as believed not being relevant within modern competition) although some JKF-Wadokai Dojo still teach versions of it - Even Ohtsuka Hironori Saiko-Shihan, of the Wadoryu Karate-do Renmei, still teaches variations of Sanbon-gumite), Ohyo-gumite (which was introduced to help in the development of Wadoryu sparring, again this was dropped in many ‘modern’ Wadoryu schools due to competition relevance) and Renraku-waza (a transition from Ido-Kihon and Kata to natural fluid/flowing ‘free-fighting’ movement). However, everything for us has remained intact from this time - NOTHING HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY or REPLACED.
The Wado created in Japan by Ohtsuka Meijin and introduced into the UK in 1963, and then permanently in 1964, by Suzuki Hanshi have, we feel, remained the same by British Wadokai.
There was a very valid reason why Ohtsuka Meijin originally chose Suzuki Hanshi as his original choice as technical successor.
Wa-Do or Wa-Don’t
British Wadokai instructors DO NOT teach their own ‘personalised version’ of Wadoryu karate (although they may teach techniques that they may have personally developed for educational purposes) but, as far as the syllabus is concerned, they impart the original that has been handed down to them from their previous instructors. When a student trains in one British Wadokai Dojo at one end of the country it should resemble that of another school elsewhere at the other end of the country (again, the importance of the Standardisation Courses).
We do not have ‘Fred-ryu’ versions of Wado in any British Wadokai dojo. If a student wants to create his own ‘style’ from Wadoryu, then that is his choice, he will then have to leave British Wadokai to do this. British Wadokai is Wado Ryu NOT Wado 'based'.
When a student creates and modifies his technique he should only be modifying HIS OWN technique to suit his own natural mechanical ability/development. He should not assume that this technique is ‘better’ for everyone else and teach this to his own students; that is a decision for his own students to make after they have attained many years of their own ’correct’ training through the path of Su-Ha-Ri.
“There is nothing wrong with adding to a repertoire of technique, but we do not change or replace our true historic Wado Karate.”
In 1982 British Wadokai introduced extra-curricular elements to enhance the student’s ability and performance, such as the Tanto-dori (knife-defences), later the I-dori (kneeling defences) and then the Muto-dori (sword defences). These are additions to British Wadokai not replacements. Our syllabus has remained and WILL remain the same as it's done since 1964.