Welcome to the Reading Wado Sei Shin Kan resources page. The page is designed as a resource location for students learning the basics of Wado and a reference point for advanced students who wish to improve their technique and deepen their understanding of the Wado Ryu Karate system of martial arts. Here you will find explanations for the fundamental principle taught in the Wado method. There are links to a series of film clips showing Grandmaster Tatsuo Suzuki 8th Dan and Sensei Hiroji Fukazawa 7th Dan demonstrating Wado Katas (Forms) and Grandmaster Tatsuo Suzuki 8th Dan demonstrating the basic to advanced partner drill work as taught in the syllabus for his Wado international group. This is an evolving section and more information, articles and film will be added in due course.
Sensei Takaatsu Nishimura of the Japan Karate Association demonstrates and explains how to tie your karate belt correctly and how to fold and store your karate gi here.
Karate students behavior in the Dojo
- All jewelry should be removed before training.
- Long hair should be tied back from the face.
- The karate Gi should be kept clean and in good condition.
- Shoes should be removed before walking onto the dojo training floor.
- Finger nails and toe nails should be kept clean and short.
- Hands and feet should be clean.
- There should be no talking during a karate class. The students should concentrate on the lesson and on their own training.
- The karate instructor should be referred to as 'Sensei' whilst in the dojo.
- The karate student should never intentionally try to hurt another student during training. Emphasis is always on control and respect.
- When the Sensei is speaking, correct etiquette is to stand in Yoi or with your feet together and hands by your side in Heisoku-Dachi or in Musubi Dachi.
All karate lessons should begin with a bow, Rei. The bow conducted in the dojo is a demonstration of respect to all students and teachers in the training hall. The bow should always be performed with the correct mental approach and attitude.
When a student enters or leaves the dojo, a bow should be performed at the doorway, heels together hands by your side in Musubi Dachi (informal attention stance). This demonstrates respect for the dojo, the teacher and other students training at the dojo. Students must bow in this same manner to their partner at the beginning and at the end of training with that person. This is a sign of courtesy and respect.
If a student arrives late for a karate class, they should kneel in Seiza (formal sitting position) inside the doorway at the edge of the training area and bow. The instructor will then invite the student to join the class.
Each karate class starts with a formal bow in which all students are lined up in order of grade with the highest graded students on the right hand side of the dojo facing the front (Shomen) of the dojo.
Sensei Ni Rei - this command asks the class to bow to the instructor and the instructor returns the courtesy by bowing to the class. It is a sign of respect and reinforces the fact that the instructor in charge of the class. At the end of the karate class this bow formally thanks the instructor for their teaching and efforts.
Otaga Ni Rei – this command requests that all the students bow to each other as a sign of respect. This bow is to thank training partners and all students who trained in the class for being there and assisted with each individuals learning.
The Dojo Kun are maxims or motto's which are repeated at the start of every karate lesson or practice session. They are expressed to verbally and mentally commit to training and learning in a special environment. Serious karate students should work to internalise the spirit of the Dojo Kun if they wish to gain the maximum physical and mental benefit from their training. The Dojo Maxims, if properly understood and put into practice exemplify an attitude that dictates a way of life. Wado Ryu Karate has four key Dojo Kun.
Reisetsu O Mamori – Protect the Rules - Respect and follow the rules in the dojo. Proper and good etiquette must be observed at all times by all students. The rules have been handed down by generations of martial artists and are in place for an historical reason.
Shingi O Omanji – Faith in the Training - This is very important in Martial Arts training. It is not possible for a student to train for a few years in one style of martial arts, then change to another style and expect to gain any level of martial competence or understanding. A martial arts student must develop faith and respect for the training method and syllabus which is being taught and which they are studying. The training method is a tried and tested process that has developed many expert martial arts practioners. A student should not question this method, rather they should think carefully about the material which is taught to them, improve their physical ability and their mental approach.
Jojitsu Ni Oberezu – Mutual Respect The karate teacher and the karate student are not one. Inside the dojo it is important to develop your respect for your teacher and for your fellow karate students. The dojo is for serious training and serious learning.
Shinkenmi Ni Tesseyo – Train Like Iron Develop an attitude of seriousness and commitment to your training. The dojo is not a place for talking, eating, drinking or general flippancy. The dojo is a special place where you are asked to concentrate solely on karate and your karate training. A student should and train hard in mental and physical aspects of the art. The dojo is not a social gathering hall and visitors as well as students should respect the rules and the Dojo Kun.
Mokuso is a form of meditation and part of the training of the mind for Japanese martial arts. The state of ‘Empty Mind’ or ‘Mushin’ is a fundamental aspect of Zen Buddhism. The meditator attempts to train the mind to reach a state of relaxation, calmness, and sharp awareness. In this state the mind does not anticipate fear, stress, pain, cold or an opponents attack.
During combat, if one’s mind concentrates on a block or an evasion technique, the mind is restricted to this single movement or activity and is unable to react with speed to the next requirement. However, if the mind is empty, Mushin, the body instinctively has the ability to perform the next movement and react immediately to the developing situation.
If the body is tense then energy is wasted, power diminished and speed restricted. It is essential to develop the ability to move instinctively and without deliberate conscious direction. Serious and committed training of the body and associated karate techniques are obviously required for the body to react in combat situations but the practice of Mokuso and control of the mind is also a vital element. With an empty mind, all body movements can become natural and instinctive.
The student should kneel in Seiza and ensure that the back is straight, the shoulders are relaxed, the chin tucked in and the eyes half closed with a relaxed gaze.
The student should gently look at a spot on the floor around 2 meters directly in front.
Practice Susosu-Kan, control of the mind, can now begin. The student should slowly and repeatedly count from one through to ten. Breathe in on the count of one, and breathe out on the count of two. Try to focus solely on counting and breathing. If your mind does wander, then gently bring your attention back to counting and breathing. This is not an easy skill to master, many hours of regular practice are required over many months.
Once you can control your mind, Susosu-Kan, then you can begin to practice Mokuso.
Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei regularly referred to six principles of importance when training and executing kata. According Suzuki Sensei many students of karate separate the practice of Kata and Kumite, especially those students who train solely for success in the competition arena. However he emphasised that Kata and Kumite training are not different and should be trained with the same intention and purpose for a traditional martial artist. Kata can be seen as a combat scenario in which the student visualises the adversaries; this ‘imagining of the opponents’ brings an intense and realistic energy to Kata training. Such an approach assists in the understanding of each individual technique and the interpretation of the combination techniques contained in each Kata. These are the Six Principles of Kata according Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei 8th Dan Hanshi.
Iki Ta kata – Living Kata
I Nen – Awareness
Chikara No Kyoujyaku – Strength and Subtlety ?
Waza No Kankyuu – Fast and Slow techniques
Kisoku No Donto – Deep Breathing
Baransu – Balance
- Iki Ta Kata - Kata has to be ‘alive’. With the execution of kata one has to imagine that the movements are practiced against adversaries. Only when training kata using correct mental images will the student develop real purpose and kumite value. If this approach is not adopted then kata will be ‘empty’ nothing more than a choreography of moves.
- I Nen - I Nen means’ kime or energy or force’. Suzuki Sensei explained this concept as a 'power from inside'which originates from the energy point below the navel called the Seika Tanden (hara). Kata practice should aim to develop internal power and develop the execution of moves with mental and physical spirit.
- Chikara No Kyojaku – Kata training and performance should seek to demonstrate both hard and soft moves. Kyojaku suggests hard and sioft while chikara represents energy. The execution of the kata techniques should be undertaken with the correct exchange of tension and relaxation.
- Waza No Kanku – This principle focuses attention on the timing of fast and slow movements within the kata. All katas contain an alternation in speed, some moves are fast, some moves are slow and deliberate. There should be an exchange of action and no-action (sei to do), sections of looking and watching and a variation of combination techniques throughout the kata. Practicing kata in this manner demonstrates the rhythm and the character of each individual kata.
- Kisoku No Donto – This principle focuses on the rhythm and motion of breathing. Breathing should be natural and not forced, it should follow and compliment the movements being performed. Deep natural breathing which engages the abdomen, rather than simply the upper chest muscles, will gradually develop as the student learns to relax the body and their body understands the rhythm and combination of the kata techniques.
- Baransu - Balance is fundamental to the practice and demonstration of all katas. It is also a fundamental aspect of kumite. In Wado Ryu, the katas, when practiced from beginner level to advanced level, gradually develop balance in all its aspects – physical and mental.
Kata, translated as ‘Form’ in karate is the art of combining sequences of defensive and attacking moves in a skilled manner. As well as imparting the basic principles of martial arts, Kata practice is an excellent way to keep your body healthy and active for people of all ages and fitness levels. Kata practice affords the opportunity to build your own core strength, cardio-vascular fitness, mental alertness and you’re your mind. Each Kata ensures that all major muscle groups in the body are exercised including both legs and both arms on the right and left sides of the body, in the majority of sports either the lower or upper body is exercised and either the left or right side of the body is focused upon. Kata practice offers equal exercise for all parts of the body. Intrinsic to Kata practice is a development of balance (of particular interest to older people) and the mental development of concentration and focus which is of value to all ages but often of special interest for parents when they introduce their children to karate.
Wado Katas are generally viewed as being divided into two groups of Forms; the Pinan Katas which introduce the basic building blocks of punching, kicking and blocking techniques and the more advanced Katas which tend to have a greater number of moves with more complex and detailed technical requirements. The Pinan series which means ‘peaceful and calm’, compromise five empty hand forms that originated in Okinawa and are taught in many traditional karate styles. It is thought that the Pinan Katas were developed from the older and longer Channan Kata by Yasutsune Itosu (1830-1914), although another history of the Pinan Katas suggests that Ginchin Funankoshi (1868-1957) developed the five short Forms from the longer Kushanku Kata as a method of teaching beginners and larger groups of students. The Pinan Kata series introduce different aspects of body movement, different stance positions, basic technical requirements, breathing requirements and combination moves. When studied deeply and as a whole, the Pinan Katas form a fundamental core of Wado and karate training.
There are ten advanced Wado Ryu Katas. Kushanku is one of the oldest Kata and it is thought that its roots can be traced to a Chinese official based in Okinawa in 1762 named Kung Hsiang-Chun who introduced the Kata to the islands martial arts practioners including Tode Sakugawa. It contains similarities to Chinese systems of martial arts especially White Crane Kung Fu with many flowing movements and open hand techniques. It is physically challenging to perform, excellent to improve stamina and includes a flying kick at the end of the Kata when the karateka is most tired from the exertions of execution over 90 different movements. Kushanku is a fundamental Kata across many styles of karate, it is often said that it takes ten years of dedicated practice to master this Kata. Kushanku includes many of the movements which have been introduced in the Pinan series and incorporates quick changes of technique, slow movement, fast movement, the application and withdrawal of power, the maintenance of balance, the stretching and bending of the body, the development or correct breathing techniques and body shifting movements.
Naihanchi Kata is performed in one stance, Naihanchi dachi (Horse Riding stance) which is a basic inner circular stance with the toes turned inwards, the knees gently pressed outwards and the hips slightly raised. It is said to have been Hironori Otsuka’s favourite Kata which he studied in depth with Choki Motobu. One legend of Naihanchi Kata states that the Kata teaches the practioner to defend oneself while riding a horse. Another legend states that it teaches the practioner to defend oneself while balancing in a boat. Whether these legends are true or not, the mental image of being on horseback or standing in a boat on water teaches the student to focus on the stability of the Naihanchi stance and work to perfect this position while simultaneously learning to twist the hips sharply and develop acceleration in punching and blocking techniques.
Seishan Kata has similarities to the classic Goju-Ryu tension Kata, Sanchin. It introduces stepping and movement in Yoko Seishan dachi and Tate Seishan dachi, these are stances which build on the basic Naihanchi dachi stance and require greater power and balance. In the first part of the Kata the arm movements are performed with tension and a quick relaxation of the core body in order to step and turn with speed. The second part of the Kata is performed in a sharp, fast and explosive manner. This training method teaches the student to control muscles of the body and the breathe of the body at a more advanced level.
Chinto, according to legend, was the name of a Chinese sailor who landed in Okinawa and taught his martial art to Bushi Matsumura, who in turn created Chinto kata. Ginchin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate changed the name of Chinto Kata to Gankaku which translates as Rock Crane. The difficult one legged stance practiced in Chinto can remind students of the crane standing on a rock. The crane is a widespread bird across East Asia and is often represented in Asian culture, in music, art and poetry. The crane stance challenges the student to increase their control of their own balance, especially as fast movements are required to enter and to exit the crane posture. This is a light moving, fast and sharp Kata which contrasts with power and strength of Seishan Kata.
Rohai Kata is another advanced Kata which has a long history of practice and study in Okinawa. Practiced and possibly created by Kosaku Matsumora, the name translates as ‘vision of a crane’ or ‘vision of a heron’. Again a one legged stance is introduced, similar to the stance encountered in Chinto but with a twisting motion of the spine and hips both in the static posture and in the movement to exit from the stance.
Niseishi is a highly technical and demanding Wado Kata, the name translates as twenty four and could indicate that twenty four defence situations occur in the entirety of the Kata performance.
Bassai also called Passai in some karate styles is an ancient Okinawan Kata practiced in many cultures including China, Japan and Korea. The origins of the Kata are uncertain but some researchers have linked the Kata to Chinese Leopard and Lion boxing styles as the name Bassai can translate as Leopard-Lion in some Chinese dialects. Bassai movements focus on transforming disadvantage to advantage by implementing a strong and courageous response, the Kata contains a series of blocking techniques which switch at high speed to punching and kicking counter attacks using different degrees of power and using different entry angles. The feeling to be developed by practice of this Kata is one of great precision, sharp execution and advanced control of balance and power delivery.
Jion Kata is characterized by the kamae of the left hand covering the right hand, which it is thought has roots in ancient Chinese boxing arts, however Hirokazu Kanazawa suggests that the Jion Kata were devised in Jionji Jion Temple where martial arts were practiced and studied. Jion which translates as ‘mercy’ focuses on the perfection of many basic stances such as zenkutsu dachi and kiba dachi while developing the swift execution of powerful techniques with fast and numerous changes of direction.
Jitte Kata is related to Jion Kata and also includes the kamae of the left hand covering the right hand. The name translates as Ten Hands and suggests that mastery of this Kata should enable the karateka to defend and face ten opponents. There is a theory that the kamae hand position represents the Okinawan Sai, one version of this weapon is known as a Jutte. It is a short and precise Kata which includes applications that can be implemented against an attacker with a Bo.
Wanshu Kata in Mandarin means ‘Excellent Wrist’ which could refer to the use of the wrist in this Kata as a blocking and attacking body weapon. A different translation of Wanshu means ‘Wang’s Form’ which fits with a story that a Chinese diplomat visited Okinawa in 1683 and settled in the Tomari region of the island. Wang was a student of Shaolin White Crane Boxing and practiced martial arts with some of the local experts. This blending of different martial approaches influenced the creation of the Wanshu Kata that is practiced in many traditional styles of karate and which is notable for dramatic grabbing, throwing and withdrawing techniques. The final phase of the Kata contains a series of blocking and striking techniques with the wrist plus a significant leap and turn of the body. Wanshu Kata is often known as the ‘flight of the swallow’.
The Sanbon Gumite or three attack sparring drills were created by Tatsuo Suzuki 8th Dan Hanshi in the late 1960’s to develop opportunities to practice correct distance (Ma-ai), correct timing, good body movement, good balance, and technique for beginner karateka. The attacker should pay attention to executing a high quality attack at the correct target, to gradually increase the intensity of the attack as their own standard improves and to ensure that a second or third attack are not started until the defender has completed the first defence movement. The defender should develop a sharp mental focus and not move backwards until the attack is executing their attack. In two of the Sanbon Gumite sets the Zuki (punch) attacks are directed to the to the Chudan level, in four Sanbon Gumite the Zuki attack is to the Jodan level and six drills offer defensive options from Chudan Mageri kicks, some with an additional sliding step attack, Surikomi. For all of the Sanbon Gumite the timing is Go Sen No Te or reactive timing whilst for Maegeri Uke Yonhonme the timing is Sen No Te or simultaneous timing. Once the attacking technique has been avoided and blocked, the defender develops a fast counter attack technique to the solar plexis (Suigetsu), the kidneys (Ushro Denko) or the head (Jodan) level.
The Oyo Gumite or semi-free fighting attack and defence partner drills were created by Tatsuo Suzuki 8th Dan Hanshi in the mid 1960’s when he first moved to Europe to teach Wado Ryu karate. The pair work evolved from Sensei Suzuki’s experience in karate tournaments in Japan and they teach fundamental kumite principles which can be molded to use in contest fighting or in a self defence situation. The distance or Ma-ai between the attacker and defender is slightly greater than for Sanbon Gumite and drills allow for greater freedom of movement. The Oyo Gumite teach the karate student many aspects of kumite but at a more advanced level than the Sanbon Gumite. Blocks, punches, kicks and sweeps are practiced in the Oyo Gumite as well as the techniques of Shuto, Haito, Uraken, Hiji. Greater demands are placed on body movement and awareness as well as correct timing. The set of eight Oyo Gumite provide an opportunity for deep study and real progress can be made in martial arts from regular, detailed practice of these partner sets which are extensively practiced throughout the Wado world.