The Meaning of Wado
Although the word wado is generally taken as meaning the way of peace/harmony, its precise meaning is open to debate. The various meanings of Wa are softness or gentleness, the state of being mixed together, to soften, to calm, to harmonize, to add, or even Japanese. Baring in mind that the symbols for karate can also mean Chinese hand (as opposed to empty hand), Sensei Ohgami suggests that the idea of being Japanese as opposed to Okinawan or Chinese was an important one for early wado stylists.
The Essence of Wado
The wado style of karate can be thought of as the progeny of Okinawan karate and Japanese ju-jutsu and kendo. From Okinawan karate comes the hard punches and kicks, and from ju-jutsu and kendo the use of body movement and joint locks and pins.
Master Otsuka viewed the hardness of other styles of karate as an uneconomical use of ones energy, therefore he developed a relaxed-arm thrust punch coupled with a snap withdrawal of the punching fist to create a highly focused technique with all the energy being concentrated solely in the strike.
The following is a quote from the program for the 25th Anniversary Wa no Kizuna Tournament:
"Ju-jutsu brings two attributes to the practice of Wado: shimeru and atemi. The principle of ju signifies flexibility through yielding. A characteristic of ju known as riding (noru) is a major contributor to Wados powerful, snapping punches. Through complete relaxation, a rapid flexing strike can be applied and withdrawn in a single movement, resulting in astounding force with a minimal expenditure of energy. By employment of such a punch, the practitioner is in constant readiness to strike again.
A relaxed stance suggests a second principle of ju called flowing - an adaptability similar to water which naturally takes the form of any container. Wado is exemplified by its gentleness and flexibility. Gentleness implies attention to accuracy of footwork, timing and use of hands.
The fixed forms of Wado teach numerous seemingly delicate, but effective, hand and elbow strikes. Wados principle of flexibility through yielding can be applied to intellectual endeavours as well as self-defence."
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