Wado-ryu - Technical Details

Fundamental Concepts and Foundations of Wado

The following are the fundamental concepts & foundations of Wado-ryu Karate-do.

  • Inasu - Block and counter in same motion.
  • Irimi - Entering techniques.
  • Ma Ai - Distancing.
  • Nagasu - Side shifting to avoid an attack.
  • Noru - Riding, absorption and suppression of the attack whilst countering.
  • Nage Waza - Throwing techniques from Shindo Yoshin-ryu Jujitsu.
  • Ni (Wa) Sentenashi - No first strike.
  • Go No Sen - Block then counter after attack.
  • Sen No Sen - Block and counter at the same time after attack.
  • Sen Sen No Sen - Counter before the opponent can initiate his attack.
  • Yasume - Being relaxed at all times, except for the instant prior to delivering a technique.
  • Tai Sabaki - Body shifting/moving.
  • Zanshin - Constant awareness of your surroundings.
  • Mudana no Chikara - Do not use unnecessary strength and power.
  • Mudana no Iroki - Do not use unnecessary movement.
  • Mudana no Waza - Do not use unnecessary technique.
  • Karate ni (wa) sentenashi - Never attack first, mentally or physically. If you attack never be angry if you are angry never attack.
  • Karate-do wa rei ni hajimara, rei ni owaru koto wo wasuruna - Karate begins and ends with courtesy.

Kata
In Wado-ryu there are nine principal Kata that are performed. These are, in practicing order, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Shodan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan, Pinan Godan, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan and Chinto. Master Ohtsuka limited the teaching to these nine Kata. The five Pinan Kata join together to promote Kushanku. Naihanchi and Seishan come together to form Chinto. Bassai, Wanshu, Niseishi, Rohai, Ji'tte, Ji’han, Ji'in and also Suparinpei are additional Kata that are also practiced.
The Pinan Kata series also demonstrates aspects of individual concepts that many may not be aware of. If we take Ku-Shanku and break it down we can then identify these elements and recognise and understand them into the Kata of their own. Although all Kata generally demonstrate a 'dropping movement' at the start, we can also take each Pinan and dissect certain elements from them and form individual concepts from each of them. The more advanced the Pinan, the closer to Ku-Shanku we get with the more advanced principles of motion and technique. For example:
Pinan Shodan: This Kata introduces the practitioner to Gyakuzuki. However, a more important, and very often overlooked principle, are the concepts of 'contradicting forces' of the striking/blocking movements. These principles are apparent in our Kihon gumite where the body shifts one way and the contradicting energy is used in the technique.
Pinan Nidan: This demonstrates the fundamentals of Junzuki, where the same hand is being used with the leading foot. All fundamental Karate movement derives from Junzuki and is delivered from these initial principles.
Pinan Sandan: This Kata forms the basis of the 'complimentary forces', where the body twists and the striking/blocking technique follows the flow of the body movement.
Pinan Yodan: This Kata utilises forward 'double movement', whereby the double blocks are used in harmony in an up and down (ten-chi) motion. Additionally, we can also see the demonstration of motion as demonstrated in Pinan Shodan and Pinan Sandan.
Pinan Godan: The Kata utilises double handed techniques demonstrating both 'complimentary forces' and 'contradicting forces'. Additionally, we also see demonstration of other two handed tactics and elements not already obvious in the previous Pinan Kata but are contained in the Ku-Shanku Kata. For example, jumping, rising and dropping movements, etc. Pinan Godan could also be considered an introduction to some of the elements and principles contained within Chinto Kata.

Pinan Kata
'Peace', 'peaceful period', 'tranquillity'.
The five Kata developed by Itosu-Yasutsune in 1903. The five Pinan Kata are Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan and Pinan Godan. Pinan Kata are the fundamental Kata significant to the Shuri-te Karate styles as Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shorin-ryu and Shoto-ryu. Pinan forms were developed by Itosu-Yasutsune (AD 1830-1914) in 1903 and were the first Kata ever taught and incorporated into Okinawan public schools. His ideas for these Kata are said to have stemmed from either Chiang-nan or Ku-shanku (there is some debate as which). Known also as Ping-an or Heian (during the Heian 'peace & prosperity' period). In Wado-ryu Pinan Nidan is taught prior to Pinan Shodan, as a general rule, due to (so it is said) Pinan Nidan is easier to learn as a 'first' Kata. In Shotokan, Funikoshi-Gichin changed the names around, so his students would not be confused by the 'practising' order. In traditional Wado, however, the name has remained the same, and Pinan Nidan is still generally taught first. Also known as Ping-an, Ping-yan, and Hei-an.

Kushanku
A Karate Kata created by Sakugawa-Kanga and named after the famous Chinese Shaolin martial-artist, Kung-Hsiang-Chung (Kung-Shian-Chun, Kun-Shang-Kwan), who visited Okinawa in 1762. Later developed by the Shorin-ryu school of Okinawa. Known also as Kosokun, Ku-sanku, Ku-sankun, and Kanku. Kusan (or Kushu, sometimes Kosho) translates as "foreign attaché" or similar Government Official. In many historical references, Kusanku is said to be the name of a Chinese sailor who taught tote in Okinawan in 1756. It is likely that the Kata is based on his teachings, or perhaps a Kata that he taught while in Okinawa. Many Shorin lineage styles include a version of Kusanku and most are fairly similar. Funakoshi Gichin renamed this Kata and Shotokan lineages call the Kata ‘Kanku’, which translates as "To View the Sky" (this name is in reference to the opening move in Kusanku). Chito-ryu Kusanku looks very similar to many other versions of Kusanku at the beginning (opening the arms wide followed by 2 open handed blocks), but otherwise is very different from other versions.

Naihanchi
'Stealth stepping', 'inside moving'.
A Kata practised within the Wado school of Karate, based on the original movements of Naifanchi, which was developed by Motobu-Choki. The original version of this Kata has links with the White Crane system of Fukien, China. The Kata was created to practise techniques designed to protect from frontal attack. Known as Tekki in some styles of Karate, namely Shotokan. The Itosu-Yasutsune series of Naifanchi include Naifanchi-shodan, Naifanchi-nidan, and Naifanchi-sandan. Also known as Naifanchin, Naifuanchin, and Naihanji.

Seishan
'Thirteen'. Refers to thirteen techniques.
Also known as 'Formal position', 'correct posture', by some schools of Okinawan Karate, depending on the interpretation of the kanji. An Okinawan Kata that was generally taught as the first Karate Kata in the 1900's, during the period of time Itosu-Yasutsune taught at the public school system. Seishan is still practiced in China, in one form or another, by numerous schools of Kungfu. Nowadays Pinan Kata are generally considered to be the 'introductory' Kata. Also known as Seisan. Known as Hangetsu in Shotokan. Not only is it practiced in multiple Okinawan styles of Karate (both Naha-te and Shuri-te lineages), it continues to be practiced in China by several schools of martial arts (Arhat or Monk Fist boxing, Lion Fist boxing and Tiger Fist boxing). The kanji that represent Seisan, also translates as "correct arrangement" or as is traditionally understood, "correct posture". The kanji was changed, in some styles, to reflect the requirement for correct posture in order to perform the Kata properly. The second character is 'correctly' pronounced as "sei" in Japanese, not "san" as in Okinawan, so the two kanji together would normally be pronounced as "sei-sei".

Chinto
'Quell the east', 'fighting to the east', 'winning sword'.
A Kata named after the shipwrecked Chinese martial artist who was responsible for bringing the form to Okinawa. Further developed by Itosu-Yasutsune in the Shorin-ryu school of Okinawa. Renamed Gankaku by Funikoshi-Gichin in 1922. The Kata is characterised by one leg stances included with one leg kicking techniques. Traditionally, "Chinto" translates as "fighting to the east", which could be interpreted from these characters, i.e. quelling a disturbance to the east. Chinto is a Shuri-te and Tomari-te lineage Kata and found in many current styles, including Shotokan (they call it "Gankaku", or "crane on a rock"), as well as many Shorin Ryu schools. According to Karate historians, the oldest forms of Chinto were performed to the right and left, unlike the current version performed forward and back. Chinto Kata, being performed in Shuri-te time, had the techniques performed forward and back (as in Gankaku).

Bassai
'Thrust asunder', 'penetrating a fortress'. Also translates as 'remove an obstruction'.
The Karate Kata developed by Karate Master Matsumura-Soken. Practised within the Shorin-ryu schools of Okinawan Karate. Some styles practice two versions of this Kata, within their syllabus, known as Bassai-dai and Bassai-sho. However, there is also a third lesser-known version of Bassai, known as Passai-Guwa, which was passed down to a very select amount of individuals by Motobu-Choki. Only two individuals are now known to teach this, Shimabukuro-Zenpo and Miyahira-Katsuya. So in conclusion there are numerous versions of the Kata Bassai, some having little differences from each other as they come from the similar
originating source. These variations include (as well as the differing terminologies) Bassai (including Bassai-sho & Bassai-dai), Batsai, Ishimine-no-Passai, Passai (including Passai-sho & Passai-dai), Patsai, Matsumora-no-Passai, Oyadomari-no-Passai, Passai-Guwa, and Tomarino-Passai. Possibly, the Kata means "uprooted fortress", as in a fortress that is uprooted and mobile like a phalanx, this would be in the spirit of the Kata, as it incorporates quick motions but then roots for solid attack and defence portions like a fortress. The oldest known version originated in the mid 1800's in Nishihara village on the east side of Shuri. The original kanji (and original meaning) could easily have been lost over the last 150 years.

Wanshu
'Wang Xiu'.
A Karate Kata that had its roots originating in Taiwan, China, and introduced into Okinawa in 1683 AD. Named after a Chinese emissary, Wang-Xiu, and developed as an Okinawan Tomari-te Karate Kata by Karate Master Matsumura-Soken. Practiced within numerous Okinawan and Japanese Karate schools. Later renamed Enpi (flying swallow), in some Japanese styles, due to translation difficulties. Also known as Empi, Enbi, and Enpi.

Niseishi
'Twenty four'.
Refers to the twenty-four acupoint contacts, within the Kata. A Karate Kata practised within numerous schools of Karate including Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, Sanku-kai, Ryuei-ryu, Kobayashi-ryu etc.. The name of the Kata was changed by Gichin-Funikoshi, and is now known as Ni-ju-shiho (twenty four steps/moves) in Shotokan and numerous other styles of Karate. Niseishi is Chinese for the number 24. In Japanese, it translates as Nijushi, the "ho" character (in this case) means "move" and hence Nijushiho translates as "24 moves". The Chinese and Japanese kanji are identical. Chito-ryu Niseishi is not the same Kata as Niseishi from Shuri-te lineage styles; even the embusen (stepping pattern) is different. The complete origin of Chito-ryu Niseishi is unknown, however some pieces of our Niseishi can be found in other Okinawan Kata. Some Goju-ryu schools, specifically those in the line of Higa Seiko (a student of Higashionna Kanryo and later Miyagi Chojun) practised a Kata they call "Hakutsuru" (some Japanese pronounce this Hakaku, in either case, it means "White Crane") which contains the "cut, front kick, slide forward, xblock, back to square stance, ridge hand strike, repeat" sequence. It seems that Seiko Higa obtained this Hakaku Kata from Gokenki (1886-1940), the Chinese tea merchant who taught White Crane Gungfu in Okinawa from 1912/13 until his death.

Rohai
'White heron', 'vision of a crane', 'crane sign', 'heron sign'.
A Kata of the Tomari-te and practised in many schools of Karate in Okinawa and Japan. Developed by Karate Master Matsumura-Soken. In the Matsumura-Shorin-ryu school of Okinawa the three versions taught are Rohai-ge, Rohai-chu, and Rohai-jo. Also known as Lo-hai or Gankaku. Rohai translates as "heron sign" or "heron mark". The name "Rohai", with identical kanji, is the name of a traditional Okinawan Kata. The traditional Okinawan Kata is not the same Kata as the Chito-ryu Rohai and includes the signature moves of standing on one leg to avoid leg attacks. The origins of Chito-ryu Rohai are unknown.

The Three 'Ji' (Temple) Kata of Wado-ryu
Jitte
'Temple hand/s'. A Tomari-te Kata named after a Buddhist temple and developed by the Shorei-ryu Karate Master Itosu-Yasutsune. This Kata is practised within numerous Karate schools of Okinawa. Also known, some say mistakenly, as Jutte; ten hands.

Jihan
'Temple sound'. A Kata named after the Buddhist temple Ji'han-ji and developed by the Karate Master Itosu-Yasutsune.

Jion
An Okinawan Shorei-ryu Kata named after the Buddhist temple Jihan-ji.

Jiin
'Temple ground'. A Kata of the Shuri-te school of Karate developed by Itosu-Yasutsune. Named after the Shaolin Temple, Ji'in-ji.

Seienchin
'Control, suppress, and pull', ‘calm within the storm’, 'war form'.
An Okinawan Kata, with roots from the Chinese Hsing-i system, practised within the Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu, and some Wado schools. Seienchin uses techniques to grasp, unbalance, sweep, and takedown.

Ø Back to top