The origins of empty hand combat can be traced from thousands of years back in time.
Ancient civilizations had systems for armed and unarmed combat for their warriors.
Fighting Systems can be trace to Egypt’s Beny Hassan tombs, 2000 BC. For example the Greeks pankration became an Olympic sport in 648 BC.
The Asian Martial Arts can be traced even more years back in time. Some authors indicate registers of fighting arts in China about seven thousand years ago, on the coast along the yellow river. The Martial Arts were in essence the training means of the ancient warriors that began with an empty hand combat to learn how to move the body and strengthen it in order to use weapons.
In Asia the power shifted from one Emperor to another by means of wars.
Each Dynasty ruled for hundreds of years, keeping their enemies under control with their well trained warriors. The stronger and better trained, the longer they ruled. The Chinese Ming Dynasty was the most prolific in the growth of what we know today as Karate do (THE WAY OF THE EMPTY HAND). During the Ming Dynasty, General Qi Jiwang wrote the military treaty Jixiaou Xin Shu or the treaty of military efficiency, to prepare a special army to fight the pirates, that invaded the coast of south China, Korea, Okinawa and Japan. Chapter 14 of this military treaty is dedicated to empty hand combat.
This treaty was used and copied by all the countries fighting the pirates. Japanese, Okinawan, and Korean forces were trained under this treaty. This war against pirates and the Chinese internal struggles for power produced migration of refugees. Amongst them were martial arts experts and military officers looking for a safe haven from their enemies. From those migrations originated adaptations of the Martial Arts in each country for their own needs.
Chinese expert Chen Gen Pin, a Buddhist monk, traveled to Satsuma Domain in south Japan, and trained three notorious samurai of that Clan. The secret art of fighting with the arms, grappling, punching, and kicking, gave birth to the jujutsu style of Shinto Ryu wajitsu kito ryu and others. There were also some Japanese that traveled to China in the Ming Dynasty. Akiyama Shirobe went to China to study Medicine, became an expert in the Chinese fighting arts, and the 28th Ryu (or the 28th ways of reviving). On his return to Japan he created Yosing Ryu, a style that is a predecessor of Wado Ryu.
Hironori Otsuka was the founder of Wado Ryu. He was born in January 29th 1892. He started martial arts with his great uncle Shojiro Ebashi, a former samurai. At the age of thirteen he joined the shindoyoshin ryu of jujutsu, under professor Shinza buro Nakayama, in his university where he studied this art for many years. In 1922 he attended a gymnastic and physical education exhibition where Gishin Funakoshi, native from Okinawa, demonstrated the native martial art called Tote (Chinese Hands) which later became Karate. Otsuka enrolled immediately and assisted Funakoshi for ten years in demonstrations throughout Tokyo, especially at Universities. Meanwhile he trained with Kenwa Mabuni, a famous Okinawan expert in Kata, and Choki Motobu, a famous Okinawan fighter. He also trained in other jujutsu schools.
In 1964 the All Japan Karate Federation was formed and martial arts became a sport. Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei was the assistant of the founder of Wado Ryu. He was born April 27th, 1928 in Yokohama, Japan. He was also a resident instructor of the Homebu Dojo, and graduated in Economics from Nihon University. In 1963 he was sent in a World Tour to introduce Wado Ryu in Europe.
He opened a base in London and spread Wado Ryu all over Europe while bringing instructors from Japan. Suzuki Sensei founded Wado Ryu in Latin America with the help of William Millerson. He opened Dojos in Curazao, Venezuela, and Panama. From Venezuela the Wado Ryu spread to Colombia and Ecuador. Sensei also taught in USA, Brazil, and Chile. Eleny Labiri, Suzuki Sensei’s wife, is associated with us. She is a part the Technical Committee with several senior instructors, to make sure the techniques are kept unchanged, as Suzuki Sensei wanted.
The late William Millerson was founder and President of PUKO, Panamerican Union of Karate Organization, and was the most influential person in spreading Suzuki Sensei’s Wado Ryu in Latin America.