by Shingo Ohgami – January 2011
I was asked by Wadokai Luxembourg to write the history of Federation of European Wadokai (FEW). As a karate historian I accepted it with pleasure. I could trace the following history through books, programs published at competitions, my personal diary and some other information. The word ’Karate’ is not very old ( ’Karate’ as empty hand was used probably for the first time in 1929.), but hitting and kicking is nothing new in the human history, not to mention about the ancient Olympic games in Greece. In their games they had not only boxing and wrestling, but also pancration in which even kicking was allowed.
The system of our modern karate has been inherited on the tiny island in southern Japan, Okinawa. This Okinawan karate was introduced to Tokyo in 1922 by a retired school teacher Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957). The system karate was accepted and adapted quite easily there, because the system karate was not so unfamiliar to the Japanese who had a long tradition of martial arts. Later in the history karate has spread all over the world probably by the same reason. The idea of karate is nothing new to the human being.
Hironori Ohtsuka (1892-1982) had trained jujutsu before he started training karate under Gichin Funakoshi in 1922. Jujutsu and karate were principally not different from each other in techniques. From the view point of organization he started his own group in 1934 as Dai Nippon Karate Shinko Club (Japanese Karate Promoting Club). This is the background why in 1994 Wadokai in Japan organized her 60 years anniversary World Cup in Tokyo. We have to remember that in those days karate was not as popular as today. In 1938 the name Dai Nippon Karatedo Shinbukai (Japanese Karate Martial Promoting Federation) was used. In 1940 for the first time the name Wadoryu was used as Wadoryu karate-jutsu when it was registered at Butokukai demonstration in Kyoto together with Shotokan, Shitoryu and Gojuryu. In 1945 when the Second World War was over the name became only Wadoryu. In 1954 it was changed to Zen Nippon Karate Renmei (All Japan Karate Federation) though it was a Wadoryu private organization. In 1964 the name Wadokai was established under Japan Karate Federation (JKF). Today Wadokai in Japan is called JKF-Wadokai, which functions as the official Wado organization in Japan and in the world.
History in Europe
The first footstep of Wadoryu Karate ever made in Europe, at least which I could trace, was the trip made by the three Karatekas in 1964. Those three were Tatsuo Suzuki (5th dan), Hajimu Takashima (4th dan) and Toru Arakawa (5th dan). Those three made a two months trip throughout the US and Europe to present karate at various places. You can read how their trip went in the book written by Takashima 1965.
Tatsuo Suzuki decided to come to Europe after the trip which he made with Arakawa and Takashima in 1964. He came to London to teach karate in 1965. Tatsuo Suzuki was followed by quite a few Japanese karate practitioners: such as Hiroo Mochizuki (France), Tetsuya Kojima (Belgium), Teruo Kono (England-Holland-Germany), Yutaka Toyama (England-Germany-Italy), Masafumi Shiomitsu (England – France – Madagascar – England), Yoshihiko Iwasaki (Ireland), Toru Takamizawa (England), Kuniaki Sakagami (Germany – England), Katsuichi Kamigaito (Belgium) and some others. Some may have had an intention to stay in Europe for a longer period and some for a shorter period. Personally I came to Sweden as a guest researcher in chemistry in 1969. I was supposed to stay in Sweden for one year. But I started a karate club at my arrival and ended up to stay in Sweden for 30 years. Hironori Ohtsuka (1892-1982, the founder of Wadoryu) made a trip to Europe in 1968, 1970, 1974 and even 1976 to promote Wadoryu karate. In 1970 (27 February) a competition was held in London under the name of The First European Championships, (sponsored by Karate Association of Europe) though the participants were only Wado-people. In 1972 (28th October) a competition was held in Holland under the name of The first European Championships , sponsored by Wadokai Nederland. As I could trace, this is the first European Wado Cup. We should not forget that European Karate Union (EKU – the official all style federation) had her first European Championships already in 1966. The first All Japan Karate Championships (all style) were held the year after 1967. Despite all these facts this period should be regarded as the beginning of Wado karate in Europe, though FEW was not quite as established as an organization.
European Cup has been arranged annually since 1974. Wadoryu karate has been expanding in Europe. The number of participating countries to the European Cups has been increasing. This period should be regarded as a developing period of FEW.
|1974||Amsterdam, Holland (2 February)|
|Teesside, England (9 February)|
|1975||Rome, Italy (12 April)|
|1976||London (Sobell), England (13 March)|
|1977||Hamburg, Germany (14 May)|
|1979||Dublin, Ireland (12 May)|
|1980||Stockholm, Sweden (20 September)|
|1981||Rome, Italy (24 October)|
|1981||Wadoryu Renmei splitted from Wadokai in Japan|
There were some aspects about the split. But in short Wadokai has remained to be a federation – as Japan Karate Federation Wadokai, representing Wadoryu karate in the official federation. While Wadoryu Renmei has chosen to be in practice a private organization, run by Hironori Ohtsuka’s son Jiro. The split was quite unfortunate, because everybody had to make a choice which one to follow without having enough information, very often depending on what kind of human relations a person had. It seems like even in Europe federation-type people stayed in Wadokai while private-type people went to Wadoryu as a result. But FEW has not felt a strong influence at this moment yet.
|1982||London, England (25 September)|
|1983||Amsterdam, Holland (29 October)|
1984 – 1988
The constitution of FEW was revised. There was a need to establish an acceptable regulation for a democratic organization. But FEW was not covering the whole Wado world in Europe. It was still quite limited to the personal contacts.
|1984||Luton, England (24 November)|
|1985||Athens, Greece (2 November)|
|1986||Farnbourough, England ( 1 November)|
In 1986 the following persons were elected as committee members:
Chairman: Teruo Kono, Germany
Vice Chairman: Masafumi Shiomitsu, England
Do: Maurizio Gai, Italy
General Secretary: Shingo Ohgami, Sweden
Treasurer: Jim Booth, Ireland
|1987||Hamburg, Germany (24 October)|
|1988||Chambery, France (22 October)|
1989 – 1992
1989 World Cup, London, England (26, 27 August) FEW sponsored this World Cup in London, but this World Cup became an epoch for a change for FEW. Directly after the World Cup Masafumi Shiomitsu who had been representing Wadoryu (under the name of Wado Academy) resigned from his post, and Tatsuo Suzuki left Wadoryu Renmei and even FEW, and started his own private organization (International Wadoryu Federation). I must say that this was an unstable period of FEW, but it was quite important for new FEW for all Wadokai practitioners. European Cup 1990 was supposed to be arranged in Dublin, Ireland. But Ireland could not carry out. At the committee meeting ever held within FEW, it was decided that the competition would be held in Gothenburg. This caused a new era for FEW.
|1990||Gothenburg, Sweden (3 November)|
|1991||Amsterdam, Holland (5 October)|
|1992||Rome, Italy (29 November)|
1993 – 2001
As a result of 1990 reformation FEW has been splitted into two. Let us call our FEW, FEW-G (G for the president Mr. Gai) and the other FEW-K (K for Mr. Kono). In the past 10 years FEW were partly Wadokai and partly Wadoryu Renmei depending on what kind of relation they had. FEW-G has decided that FEW-G should consist only of Wadokai affiliated member countries. In the meantime FEW-K has some Wadokai members and some Wadoryu. This should be called a new era for FEW (FEW-G). It has become quite obvious that our FEW-G has chosen a right direction in cooperation with the official organizations JKF (Wadokai), EKU and WKF. FEW has increased its member countries and the range of activities.
Chairman: Maurizio Gai, Italy
Vice Chairman: Kim Hansen, Denmark
General Secretary: Shingo Ohgami, Sweden
Treasurer: Jim Booth, Ireland
|1993||Dublin, Irlande (23 Octobre)||Nurnberg, Allemagne (23 Octobre)|
|Tokyo, Japon (28 Août)|
|Gothenburg, Suède (10 Décembre)|
|1995||Londres, Angleterre (25 Novembre)||Belgrade, Yougoslavie|
|1996||Edimbourg, Ecosse (26 Octobre)||Budapest, Hongrie|
|1997||Paris, France (11 Octobre)||Switzerland|
|1998||Luxembourg (7 Novembre)||England|
According to the AGM dicision in 1994, start fee was introduced for the first time: 20 £ and 5 £ for an individual. FEW started Kata seminar and European Grading. FEW had an ambition to increase her activity not only the competition but something more. (Japanese Wadokai started grading the year after -1999.)
|1999||World Cup, Tokyo, Japan (27-29 August)|
|Gothenburg, Sweden (27 November)|
|2000||Rome, Italy (4 November)|
|2001||Mariehamn, Finland (10 November)|
2002 – 2005
This period should be called as the time of turbulance. Some people started ignoring the regulations of FEW and bringing non-members of FEW to the events. FEW has had a friendly atmosphere for a long time, but during this period the atmosphere became rather hostile than friendly.
|2002||Dublin, Irland (2 November)|
|2003||Reading, England (1 November)|
|2004||Wettingen, Switzerland (23 October)|
|2005||World Cup, Tokyo (27-28 August)|
|Skopie, Macedonia (29 October)|
A group from Wales who was not a member of FEW participated at the European Cup.
There were several non-members at the general meeting and at the competition. Turbulance was quite obvious.
24-25 September 2004
The committee meeting was held in Luxembourg in order to solve the problem. The rules of competitions such as categories and start fees and the rules of the general meeting were revised and confirmed.
Turbulance continued. Guests are always welcome, when they support the whole FEW, but not when they support certain people within FEW.
The turbulance reached its climax. Several non-members were present at the meeting. It seemed like they tried to take over FEW which we have built up under more than 30 years time.
On 11 February the main 12 countries of FEW had a meeting in Paris. It was decided to build a new organization Federation of Wadokai Europe (FWE) in order to keep Wadokai group in Europe together and avoid destruction. The following committee members were elected:
Chairman: Patrice Belrhiti (France)
Vice Chairman: Colin Clapperton (Scotland)
General Secretary: Jozsef Sztako (Hungary)
Treasurer: Claudine Leyers (Luxembourg)
Member: Barry Wilkinson (England)
Member: Sabino Frederico Da Luz Tavares (Romania)
We have built a new organization, but in practice we excluded those who ignored the regulations of FEW.
2006 – Today
We should call this period the New Era. The competions were run back again in a friendly atmosphere.
|2006||Budapest, Hungary (28 October)|
|2007||Paris, France (3 November)|
|2008||Kayl, Luxembourg (25 October)|
|2010||Bucharest , Romania|
8th Dan Wado Kai
Shingo Ohgami was a direct student of the founder of Wado Ryu Karate Sensei Hironori Otsuka between 1960 and 1981, today holder of Japan Karate Federation Wado Kai:
1st Class Instructor License
1st Class Examiner License
Find out more at www.wadokai.eu