Wado Karate from Japan to Arizona

The full “Wado” story began when Hironori Otsuka was born on June 1, 1892. Otsuka was first introduced to the martial arts by his great uncle, Chojiro Ebashi, who began teaching him Jujutsu. This marked the starting point of his long-life fascination and obsession with the martial arts.

On April 1, 1897, Otsuka started school where he studied Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu, under the supervision of Sensei Shinzaburo Nakayama, the third Grand Master of this style. The study of natural movement impressed the young Otsuka and played a major role in today’s Wado Karate. Between 1910 and 1917, Otsuka continued his studies of Jujutsu from his style and others. He developed and improved certain techniques of the existing arts, combining them with other innovative techniques. On June 1, 1920, Otsuka was awarded the highest degree of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu which allowed him to succeed his Master’s position as Fourth Grand Master.

In 1922 Otsuka attended a demonstration by Gichin Funakoshi on karate. Funakoshi was very impressed by Otsuka’s enthusiasm and determination to understand karate, so he agreed to teach Otsuka all he knew about karate. Otsuka studied all the Kata with Funakoshi and also studied with Sensei Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu Karate. In 1929, Otsuka thought that the full spirit of budo, which concentrates both upon defense and attack was missing. Otsuka had been developing Yakusoko Kumite to compensate for the lack of attacking techniques. He thought there was a need for a more fluid type of karate and decided to leave Funakoshi to concentrate on developing his own style of karate, “Wado.” In 1934 Wado began as a recognized style of karate and was registered with the other major Japanese styles in 1939.

In 1969 Shihan T’oshio Osaka began teaching karate in Salt Lake City, Utah. Shihan Osaka had been a very famous karate-ka in Japan. He was a World Champion Kick Boxer and the captain of the karate team at Nyhon University. This is the top Wado Karate College in all of Japan. Shihan Osaka is currently an 8th degree black belt. One of Shihan Osaka’s first students was Rick Hobusch. Rick was a brown belt in another style. He was very impressed with Shihan Osaka’s abilities so he changed styles. Sensei Hobusch went on to compete and won most local tournaments and many national. He is the only person to win 9 out of 10 Utah Grand Championships. Sensei Hobusch is currently a 6th degree black belt and is considered to be on of the best and most knowledgeable karate instructors in the world.

In 1971 Marlon Moore began training with Sensei Hobusch. They had been friends since their early childhood. In 1973 Sensei Marlon and Shihan Osaka became business partners and opened up 3 martial arts centers; one in Salt Lake City; Boise, Idaho and Phoenix, Arizona. Sensei Marlon was so impressed with Phoenix that in 1975, as a new black belt, he moved to Mesa, Arizona. In 1976, Sensei Marlon opened his first dojo on Main Street in Mesa. One of his first students was Ray Hughes. In 1979 Sensei Marlon was named to the United States Team to compete in Tokyo, Japan. The US Team competed in several tournaments and won a gold medal in the World Friendship Tournament. Sensei Marlon was personally undefeated in this tournament. In 1983 Sensei Marlon was again named to the US Team to compete against the Canadian National Team. The US Team again won the gold medal. Sensei Marlon has competed in many local and national tournaments and has placed in or won many.

In 1984 disaster struck Sensei Marlon. He became very sick with a rare muscle disease. Sensei Marlon’s whole life changed. He was virtually crippled. During this time he could not train in karate, he lost his business and turned his dojo over to Ray Hughes. In 1989, Sensei Marlon had recovered enough to resume his teaching and training on a limited basis. To this day, Sensei Marlon still has some physical limitations due to this disease.

Sensei Marlon has taught in many locations to many different groups. He is currently a 8th degree black belt and teaches karate full time. Several of Sensei Marlon’s students have also done very well. Sensei Ray Hughes is a 7th degree black belt, has a very successful dojo in Scottsdale and has won many tournaments around the country and internationally. He’s been on 3 US Teams in Japan, England and Canada. Sensei Ray was also a Utah Grand Champion. There have been many great karate students come out of this organization, to many to mention them all.

Needless to say, Arizona Wado Karate Association is one of the largest and most respected karate organizations in the US and is known internationally as well. 


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