Part I

Bill Hillman ~ Sensei Shintani ~ Sue-On Hillman
The Hillmans pose with Sensei Shintani
~ Head of Wado Kai karate for North America ~
Following their Shodan Black Belt presentations

Wado Kai Black Belts: Sue-On and Bill Hillman

Shintani Wado-Kai Karate Federation Website 
The karateka should always hold true three vital
   elements - the heart, spirit and physical strength
WADO is a Japanese karate style founded in 1939 by Hironori Otsuka, which combines Otsuka Sensei's early experience with classical jujutsu with the shotokan karate he learned as a student of Gichin Funakoshi's. Wado, meaning the "way of peace/harmony", is one of the four major styles of karate in Japan and perhaps the purest form of karate-do (the way of the empty hands). Trained in classical bujutsu (the techniques of the samurai), Otsuka Sensei applied this outlook and experience to his teachings. Some of the harsher resistive or hard contact elements of sparring technique, typical of many karate styles, are not present in Wado. Otsuka Sensei rejected hardening certain parts of the body, such as hand conditioning, as useless preparation. The current head of Wado Kai karate for North America is one of Otsuka Sensei's senior students, Masaru Shintani Sensei.

The aim of Wado karate is not merely perfection of the physical techniques of  self-defense, but, the development of a mind that is tranquil yet alive, able to react intuitively to any situation. In Wado, as skill and knowledge are acquired through training and concentrated effort, the student is expected to develop inner strength and calmness of character, as well as the virtues of self-control, respect for others, and true humility. Karate-do for Otsuka Sensei is primarily a spiritual discipline.

Basic techniques - punching, kicking, blocking, striking with open hand, joint twisting, and trapping techniques - kata (a sequence of techniques done in certain order against imaginary opponents), and prearranged and free style sparring comprise the training foundation of this style. Equally fundamental to Wado is taisabaki, body shifting to avoid the full brunt of an attack, a technique derived from Japanese swordmanship. Kumite (sparring) is usually judged on a point system; one referee and four corner judges determine which techniques are given a point. In free sparring, there is no contact allowed to the head, below the waist except for foot sweeps, or to the spine; only light to medium contact is allowed to the torso. Attacks to the head and torso can all score points in a tournament, therefore, Wado karate-ka tend to fight with explosive, close movements with an emphasis on well-controlled techniques.

From the Official Wado-Kai Federation Website

Featuring the organization's 
History ~ Biographies ~ Photos ~ Grading ~ Events ~ Library ~ Newsletters ~ Contacts

Hillmans working toward the black belt level
Sue-On HillmanBill HillmanRobin Hillman

Bill Hillman's Telecaster Journals
Journal ramblings on the way to a Black Belt


What am I doing here? We have been on the dojo floor for three hours without a break - 80 aching, sweat-drenched bodies of ages ranging from six years to a "you'd think he'd know better and act his age and stay in his rocker on the front porch" 48. We have stretched, kicked, punched, blocked, leaped, run, rolled, and have driven our bodies to the limit. Now in a state of fatigue I realize that, as must my fellow karatekas, I have to dig a little deeper to pull out another spark of inner strength to keep going. Ahead lies two more hours - the most important two hours - in which we must drive our over-taxed bodies through kata and kumite. Three of my kin share this experience with me. Sons Ja-On and Robin are working at earning another stripe toward their Blue Belts, and my partner-in-life, Sue-On, is my partner in today's gauntlet run for this grading's top honour - a Brown Belt.

She has just returned after having disqualified herself - a week-long upset stomach let her down, forcing her to find a dark place to crawl into so that she could spew out this morning's light lunch. Rules state that if a contestant leaves the floor, s/he will be ineligible for grading that day. In such a weakened state, the temptation must have been overwhelming to stay on the sidelines - but she returns to my side - pale but back in the fight. 

*** Two more hours passed. *** 
The old guy got his belt.


It is a common belief, in our individualistic democracy, that submitting to a "master" or hierarchical discipline is a criminal abdication of the sovereign self. Horror stories about the Moonies, Jim Jones, Scientology, and television evangelists, have led us to conclude that all gurus are power-tripping con men, most religions dwell in some duping never-never land and all followers are cop-outs who let their personal power and judgement be taken from them. But one who has the courage to let his convictions be radically questioned, on the grounds that they might be part of his problems, can sometimes experience the thrill of seeing the world and oneself made new and seeing his old mind-set become laughingly irrelevant.

Karate has a long tradition as an art of self-defence, as a sport, and as a means of improving and maintaining health - but the underlying philosophy within all the oriental martial arts is Zen. Since a beginner in martial arts enters the place of training full of his own opinions and thoughts he must empty the mind to become a vehicle for new learning, to drink in knowledge, to become open-minded. This is where the power of Zen comes to the fore.

To the oriental, everything in life has its opposite, which unites in harmony to become the cosmos. A symbol of these two opposing forces flowing into one another in a continuous state of change are the yin and yang, the positive and negative aspect of the universe. Neither can exist without the other. These two apparent opposites are not permanent and irreconcilable but constantly change in a ceaseless rhythmic cycle.

Understanding this interchange of yin and yang is perhaps the single most important aspect in learning kung fu and karate, becoming an effective educator (and developing curriculum) or living life to its fullest.

The oriental martial arts are intended to take practitioners past the violent antagonism of hand-to-hand combat to a radical transformation of their very being - to a unique and inescapable trinity of fighting, philosophy, and religion. Serious devotees have found that, by channelling their energies through the martial arts, mind, body, and spirit are united, and it is possible to become one with nature and the universe. The martial artist, instead of channelling mental and spiritual energy into meditation, takes a path paved with great hardship and demanding physical effort. In time, and through total dedication to the task at hand, a very different person begins to emerge - a person freed of self-doubts and inadequacy. Pessimistic failures can be transformed into optimistic successes. Yet the martial arts also enable one to achieve a passive mental state while remaining capable, at all times, of springing into action with a deadly array of fighting skills to tackle any situation. Along this 'great way' of learning, the devotee transcends physical combat to enter the realms of philosophy in searching out the meaning of life.

The discipline of Wado-Kai - mental, spiritual and physical - is excellent for kids and adults. Karate is the only sport I can think of in which whole families can participate together - it has certainly been a unifying force in our family.

Gung Hei Fat Choy
Happy New Year

Contact Local Manitoba (Virden) Sensei
Virden Wado Kai Karate Club
Bruce Dunning, Yodan
Wado Karate eGroups Newsletter
Bill Hillman's Telecaster Journals


Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts: AEMMA
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It is a practise which incorporates
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These techniques are easy to learn and are designed to
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