The last blog post about Matsubayashi ryu founder Nagamine Shoshin seemed to be popular among readers. So today I thought I would present a short newspaper article on Wado-ryu founder Otsuka Hironori and his students doing a public demonstration in the early 1950s. There’s nothing incredibly insightful about this article, but it’s still provides a glimpse of how Karate was being portrayed after WWII. Of note was the fact that foreigners were among the spectators.
One of our two nation’s Karate-jutsu, Wado ryu, held the first post-war public demonstration on the 12th at the Yomiuri Hall. It featured Shihan Otsuka Hironori (62 years old) and over 50 students from twelve universities including Tokyo, Meiji, and Nippon who demonstrated basic movements such as punches and kicks as well as kata and competitive sparring along with commentary. Students also demonstrated breaking four 1.5 cm boards with their fingers, elbows and feet in addition to knife disarming techniques which were shown in public for the first time (1). Half-way through the event was a demonstration of women’s self-defence by Ms. Nakanishi (17 years old) and Ms. Doi (19 years old). With a loud shout (kiai) they also broke boards on the first try with their elbows thrilling the ladies, foreigners and audience members with the strength of the ‘hiji te’ (2).
Originally published in the March 23, 1953 edition of the Yomimuri Newspaper
(1) If I was to make an educated guess, these disarming techniques may have been the same ones demonstrated by Otsuka in the book ‘Karate-do Taikan’ (1938).
(2) The writer uses the kanji ヒジ鉄 which is an abbreviation for ヒジ鉄砲 meaning literally ‘elbow gun’.