Karate (空手, Empty Hand) is a discipline of Budō (武道, The Way to Martial Arts), the complex of the Japanese combat systems. Karate originally developed in Okinawa, a small island located between Japan and southern China, centuries before falling under the rule of the Japanese empire. Thanks to the constant trade relations and cultural exchanges with China, the warriors from Okinawa learned Kung Fu (功夫, personal ability), in particular the Hequan style (鹤拳, crane boxing), and merged it with the ancient Okinawan traditional combat styles (Kobudo), thus giving birth to Karate, which – like Kung Fu – was practiced by different schools with a different style. Wado (和道, Way to Peace/Harmony) is one of the most recent styles and is the natural evolution of karate, after being introduced in Japan at the beginning of last century. The founder of the style, Hironori Otsuka, already Grand Master of Shindo Yoshin-ryu, an ancient Jujutsu style (the Japanese martial art Judo and Aikido originate from), was impressed by Okinawa’s karate. Otsuka observed that karate used techniques that Jujutsu did not, and viceversa. So, in 1922, he started studying it with the idea to merge both technical methods and to apply the principles of Jujutsu to Karate. Wado-ryu is the result of that merging.
Thanks to the influence of jujutsu the Wado is focused on the principle of softness (ju): while other styles try to stop the opponent’s blows arresting his energy, the wadoka uses the opponent’s strength to his own advantage. Furthermore, a wadoka expresses power through speed and precision, eliminating unnecessary movements (mudana dosa). This style develops elasticity, speed and ability, minimizing the use of brute force in favor of a real dynamic intelligence.
There is no strictly established age, because it varies from child to child. Usually, around the age of four it is possible to have a soft karate start, while around 8/9 years we can have a deeper martial start.
You can start practicing at any age, even without previous experience. Wado-ryu is a soft, fluid and progressive style that favors the body’s natural stances and movements. Therefore it is highly recommended in all seasons of life and for people with the most disparate conditions.
Yes, and it is proven by scientific studies. Wado-ryu is therapeutic for hyperactive children and for the ones having behavioral disorders. According to a 2007 American study published on the International Journal of Offender Therapy, children practicing Wado-ryu have a significant improvement in intensity and adaptability of their emotional states, and they also improve the ability to regulate them. Therefore it can be a valuable therapeutic resource during the age of development and adolescence for behavioral disorders, aggression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, social phobia and anxious-depressive syndromes .
Naturalness and fluidity of its techniques make the Wado a valid fitness tool in adulthood, developing joint mobility, flexibility and muscle reactivity, improving reaction times and practically all ability’s levels. It is also a powerful mind training, for the benefit of attention. All elements very useful in daily life (such as, for example, when driving). Furthermore, by practicing barefoot, the plantar pump is strengthened, to the advantage of the cardiovascular system, and the natural approach to stances offers, actually, similar results to postural gymnastics. All this, by learning a martial art.
No, far from it. In fact, it is one of the safest disciplines for both children and adults. The attention that is placed in each activity, the increasing joint mobility, motor ability, balance, concentration and self-mastery make it an ideal sport and martial art for everyone.
Okinawa’s karate was born as a combat system and self defense. Japanese jujustu was the martial art core training of samurai warriors. Wado-ryu comes from karate and jujutsu, so the right answer is yes. The traditional Wado-ryu focus on the techniques’ effectiveness and the progressive and constant training of body and mind to enhance individual responsiveness in every circumstance of life.
Yes, and not only for the benefit of those who are the victims. Traditional karate strengthens children in body and spirit, infusing them with greater awareness and self-confidence and thanks to the adoption of the Budō traditions – steeped in Zen spirit and discipline – it is particularly effective in harmonizing relationships.
Practitioners wear the dogi, a white cotton uniform that symbolizes the purity to which they tend and the irrelevance of socio-economic differences.
The colors of the belts reward each other’s commitment and gradually assign more responsibility. The ritual greetings to the dojo and the companions train the boys to respect the common places and the people they interact with. The ritual cleansing of the tatami teaches to take care of the spaces in which one lives.
The discipline that regulates every training favors a silent and collaborative environment, in which learning and improving becomes a shared goal.
In addition, scientific studies have shown that traditional karate reduces the level of aggressiveness in children, making them more self-confident and more likely to intervene in aid of others (read this article).
In a context like this it is possible to counter the phenomenon of bullying by providing the victim with the tools to break the victim-executioner dynamic without demonizing the “executioner”, who usually, let us remember, is still a child. In the dojo we activate targeted programs that include both the emancipation and redemption of those who are bullied and the recovery and evolution of those who puts it in place that hateful behavior.
Yes. Karate can enormously benefit people with disabilities. The WKSI – the association to which the Wado Waza dojo adheres – through the permanent project Abili al Karate, has long welcomed in its dojo people with all kinds of disabilities, physical or mental. We are members of the international IKF – IKKAIDO, an association for sports and the inclusive martial arts and we participate in some European projects (European Inclusive Deportation, PRIME – Participation, Recreation and Inclusion through Martial Arts Education, Erasmus +) which aim to develop adapted teaching methods aimed at the most complete and harmonious inclusion of people with disabilities. Matter on which the WKSI is at the forefront.