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Wado Kai Karate

Wado Kai Karate is a Japanese Karate style founded in 1939 by Hironori Otsuka. It is an amalgamation of Funakoshi's Shotokan Karate, jujutsu and kempo. Wado Kai, means the ‘Way of Peace & Harmony”. It is one of the four major styles of Karate in Japan and remains one of the purest form of Karate-do.

Similar to most other Karate styles, Wado Kai includes

  1. Basic techniques (waza), which include punching, kicking, blocking, open and closed hand strikes, and study of grappling and joint-twisting maneuvers.

  2. Kata (sequences of techniques done against imagined attackers).

  3. Kumite (prearranged and free-style sparring) are equally emphasized training foundations. Equally fundamental to Wado is taisabaki, bodyshifting to avoid the full brunt of an attack, this technique was derived from Japanese swordsmanship.

There are many other facets to Wado Kai Karate that make it a unique and valuable interpretation of Karate-do.

In Wado Kai Karate, as skill and knowledge are acquired through training and concentrated effort, the student is expected to develop inner strength and calmness of character, in addition to the virtues of self-control, respect for others, and humility.

"Violent action may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony" - Sensei Otsuka

Hanshi Masaru Shintani

10th Dan (1927 - 2000)

"Wado, way to harmony and peace the finest quality of human race, a total goal to peace on earth.  We the Wado students of Karate must be the leaders of unity and happiness through the universe.  And guide our students to an ultimate human alliance with understanding." - Hanshi Shintani

Hanshi Shintani was born February 3, 1928 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the child of Japanese immigrants. His mother was a member of the Matsumoto clan, a respected samurai clan whose history goes back hundreds of years. Like virtually all West Coast Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, his family was uprooted and moved to the rugged interior of British Columbia for the duration of the war. The Shintani family, mother & six children, was interned in New Denver, an abandoned mining town that was used to house hundreds of Japanese Canadians. While growing up in the camp, he learned the ways of two cultures. On school mornings he attended Canadian classes in English, history, and mathematics. In the afternoon, he studied Japanese language and heritage, along with Kendo and Judo, the standard physical education for all Japanese students.

One day in 1940-41, while looking for frozen ponds by the river to play hockey, a group of youths, including Hanshi Shintani, came across an older man standing barefoot in the snow, punching a tree and shouting. This was his initial contact with the person who would introduce him to Karate.


Hanshi Shintani's family moved to Beamsville, near Hamilton, Ontario where he began teaching Karate and Judo locally as well as at the Japanese Cultural Center in Hamilton. Sadly enough, being Japanese in North America during the post-war period was to be a target of racism and violence. Hanshi Shintani credits his harsh training under Kitagawa and the humility he learned from his mother and Master Otsuka with his survival during this time: “I've learned a lesson in the war-time camps - under Kitagawa Sensei, I've protected my life, and under Otsuka Sensei I've preserved it”. In 1979, Master Otsuka graded Hanshi Shintani to hachidan (8th dan). At the same time Master Otsuka presented him with a kudan (9th dan) certificate, to be revealed by Shintani after a suitable period of time had passed (he declared his kudan rank in 1995). 


In 1979, Master Otsuka graded Hanshi Shintani to hachidan (8th dan). At the same time Master Otsuka presented him with a kudan (9th dan) certificate, to be revealed by Shintani after a suitable period of time had passed (he declared his kudan rank in 1995). 

Hanshi Shintani's devotion to and mastery of Karate is remarkable. Stories of his feats of skill and acts of humility confound those who have not met him. He has constantly refined and improved on the most basic of Karate techniques & concepts to advance the Way of Karate. He refused to allow the vital and dynamic nature of Karate to become stagnant and ritualized, to deteriorate into a stylized dance of impractical techniques and no longer comprise a ‘real’ martial art. He has said that there are no symbolic moves in Kata, every technique must be performed as if ‘real’.

In the last years before his death, Hanshi Shintani spent much of his time developing Karate and Shindo concepts and traveled to various regions of North America and overseas to conduct seminars in Wado Kai and Shindo. As the leader of a large martial arts organization in North America, he could be a very wealthy man. Instead, Hanshi Shintani lived a humble life of quiet modesty, continuing to live by three ideals: Humility, Integrity, and Honor.


Those of us in Wado Kai who had the honor of meeting Hanshi Shintani recognize what a rare treasure it is to have worked with him in both training and living the Way of Peace and Harmony.

On December 2017 The Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation Senate was pleased to announce its founder Hanshi Masaru Shintani as Jūdan (10th dan) posthumously.

Hanshi Shintani has been and always will be the Grand Master and founder of the SWKKF.  His students and all members of the SWKKF will forever honour and recognize his title and rank unequivocally.

– Written by Dudley Driscoll, edited by Heather Fidyk

To read more about our history, please see the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation.

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