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HIRONORI OTSUKA

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Hironori Ōtsuka (大塚博紀, Ōtsuka Hironori) (18921982) created the Wadō-ryū style of karate. He was the first Grand Master of Wadō-ryū karate.

Ōtsuka was born on 1 June 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaraki, Japan. He was the second of four children to Tokujiro Ōtsuka. He began training in the martial art of jujutsu under the tutelage of his great-uncle, Chojiro Ebashi. Ōtsuka's father took over his martial arts education in 1897, and he began studying Shindō Yōshin-ryū jujutsu. At age 13, Ōtsuka became the student of Shinzaburo Nakayama in Shindō Yōshin-ryū.[1]

In 1922, Ōtsuka began karate training under Gichin Funakoshi. At this time, Ōtsuka held the license menkyo kaiden in Shindō Yōshin-ryū. He also established a medical practice and specialized in treating martial arts training injuries. From 19221929, Ōtsuka became an assistant instructor in Funakoshi's school, and also became a registered member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation. Ōtsuka began to have philosophical disagreements with Funakoshi.[citation needed] This may have come, in part, from his decision to train with Chōki Motobu. Funakoshi's karate emphasized kata, a series of movements and techniques linked by the fighting principles. Funakoshi did not believe that sparring was necessary for realistic training. Motobu, however, emphasized the necessity of free application, and created a series of two-person kumite called yakusoku kumite.

Ōtsuka continued to gain recognition as he expanded the teaching of Wadō-ryū karate throughout Japan. In 1964, three of his students (Tatsuo Suzuki, Toru Arakawa, and Hajime Takashima) from the Nihon University Karate Club undertook a two-month tour of Europe and the USA. They performed 49 demonstrations in this period and, as a result, Suzuki was invited back to London as a resident instructor.[citation needed]

In 1972, Ōtsuka received the title of Meijin and the rank of 10th dan by the Japanese royal family's Higashi No Kuni no Miya, President of the Kokusai Budo Renmei (International Martial Arts Federation). It was the first such honor ever bestowed upon a karate teacher in Japan.[citation needed] Ōtsuka continued to teach and lead Wadō-ryū karate into the 1980s, and died on 29 January 1982. His son became the second Grand Master of Wadō-ryū karate and honored his father by taking the name "Hironori Ōtsuka II."

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