Wayne Otto OBE

Born on the 18th May 1966 in London, and schooled in Hackney, Wayne began training in Karate at the age of fourteen, at the Bow Uechi-Ryu Karate club under the instruction of Terry Daly.

In 1982 Wayne entered his first Karate competition, where he gained a Silver medal. After competing in a several more tournaments within a relatively short period of time, it was clear to see that Wayne was very special. Wayne rapidly developed a relationship between himself, and winning.

In 1988 Wayne left London to study in Kent for a degree in Communications Engineering. Within this time Wayne co-established the University of Kent Karate club, and also became coach for the British Universities Students Federation Karate squad. In 1992 Wayne graduated from the University of Kent with honours, and after his gold medal success at the 1992 World Karate Championships in Spain, he was appointed assistant coach to the British, and English National Karate squad until 1996.

Wayne Otto had emerged into the 90’s as one of the most prominent and key figures in the Great Britain and England National team line up, and has been described by Ticky Donovan OBE the national coach as “being the back bone of the British, and English Karate Teams”.

Waynes’ arsenal of techniques, various combinations and an unmistakable style and presence on the matted arena, gave rise to such names as “The Black Shark” by the Italian’s for his predator style, and more recently “La Perle Noir” by the French, made him probably the most exciting, and entertaining fighter to watch in the World today.

Britain definitely has a history for great Karate fighters, and Wayne Otto is no exception to this tradition. To date, Wayne Otto has nine World Championship Gold medals to his name. He also has to his title list the World Games, and has won the World Cup Championship title three times in succession, plus nine European Championship Gold medals, and a vast listing of International and National titles. Wayne Otto is therefore without doubt, ranked the, most successful, Athlete, and Karate competitor Britain has ever produced.

Wayne Otto OBE is now retired from competition Karate and is currently the National Coach for the England National Karate squad. In addition he is now the co-organizer of the British future champion’s tournament.

For Wayne Otto’s achievements in Karate he was recognized in the 2001 edition of the World Guinness Book of Records and, in addition, has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with the award of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

British Karate Federation


What is Karate?

The art of Karate is a system of combat developed on the island of Okinawa. Karate may allow you to defeat an opponent by the use of striking and kicking. The students practice hard physical training to develop fighting skills.This training requires strenuous physical and mental discipline. Karate helps with the development of a strong character and builds a feeling of respect toward our fellow man. The study of Karate, therefore, may be valuable to all people, male and female, young and old alike.

The literal meaning of the two Japanese characters which make up the word Karate is “empty hands.” This, of course, refers simply to the fact that Karate originated as a system of self-defense which relied on the effective use of the unarmed body of the practitioner. This system consisted of techniques of blocking or thwarting an attack and counter-attacking the opponent by punching, striking or kicking. The modern art of Karate has developed out of a thorough organization of these techniques.

Karate as a means of self-defense has the oldest history, going back hundreds of years. It is only in recent years that the techniques which have been handed down were scientifically studied and the principles evolved for making the most effective use of the various moves of the body. Training based on these principles and knowledge of the working of the muscles and the joints and the vital relation between movement and balance enable the modern student of Karate to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, to defend himself successfully against any would-be assailant.

As a physical art, Karate is almost without equal. Since it is highly dynamic and makes balanced use of a large number of body muscles, it provides excellent all-around exercise and develops coordination and agility.

Many girls and women in Japan have taken up Karate because, in addition to its usefulness as self-defense, it is especially good for the figure. It is widely practiced by both children and older people as a means of keeping in top physical condition, and many schools are promoting it as a physical art among their students.

As a sport, Karate has a relatively short history. Contest rules have been devised, however, and it is now possible to hold actual matches as in other competitive sports. because of the speed, the variety of techniques, and the split-second timing it calls for, many athletic-minded people have come to show an interest in competitive Karate and there is every indication that it will continue to grow in popularity.

Western (non-Japanese) students may be interested to know that the Japan Karate Association emphasizes Karate’s character-building aspects, in which respect for one’s opponent (sportsmanship) is the cardinal principle. The maxims which are taught to the students can be summarized in the following five words:






How The Word “Karate” Developed


Prior to the 20th Century, many terms were used to describe certain forms existing in Okinawa. These forms were not found in Japan nor in China but many similarities were found in these countries.

“Chan Fa and Ken Fat”

The meaning of “Kempo” in Japanese is “The Law Of The Fist” or “The Way Of Fist”. “Kempo” is read as “Chan Fa” in Mandarin and “Ken Fat” in Cantonese in China.


The great mighty Tang Dynasty influenced Japan in many ways. Government representatives had been exchanged during the Sui period but it was during the Tang period that the Japanese learned Chinese culture very deeply. There were many buildings built imitating Chinese design. So great was the influence by T’ang that the character “To” (also known as “Kara”) was used as an adjective meaning “T’ang=China.” For example, Kara Ningyo=China doll and To Jin=Chinese people. It is understandable that either Japanese or Okinawans named the fighting forms developed in Okinawa as “Tode” (then also read as “Karate”), not because these forms came from China but because of unknown factors. As a custom, when there was something unknown to Japanese people, they were pleased to believe that it must have come from China.


In 1905 Karate was included in the physical education curriculum of Okinawa’s intermediate schools (junior high). The ideographs (Tode) were standard in Okinawa at this time. In 1905 the Okinawa Master Chomo Hanagi first used the other (Karate) ideograph for his book Karate Soshu Hen.

Meeting in 1936

In 1936 Ryukyu Shimpo, an Okinawan newspaper, sponsored a meeting of Okinawan Karate masters to discuss the status of Karate in Okinawa. Yabu, Kiyamu, Motobu, Miyagi, and Hanagi were invited to Naha, the capital city of Okinawa and also the “Mecca” of the Karate world. In this meeting, the unification of writing was discussed and it was decided to change the name of the art to “Karate” meaning “empty hand”.

Reasons For This Change

1. They would establish the new origin. They believed Okinawan fighting arts could be independent from China even though they recognized that great influence by China that existed.

2. The new ideograph also represented the meaning of “Mu” “Ku” which has a stronger association with Zen philosophy than the old.

3. This was the art of fighting methods using no weapons but only the “empty hand”.


After the meeting, the letter was standardized and has remained unchanged to the present day. The ideograph was used occasionally by people who were reluctant to use changes even in the early 1960’s.

The Beginnings In India

According to legend, in the sixth century A.D., the Indian monk Daruma journeyed from India to China to teach the Liang dynasty monarch the tenets of Zen Buddhism. To endure this arduous journey, Daruma developed the physical and mental powers for which he was later renowned. After delivering the tenets of Buddhism, Daruma remained in China, staying in Shaolin Sze where he taught Buddhism to the Chinese monks. Here he became famous for teaching standards of Buddhism that were very strict physically as well as spiritually.

Although there are many stylistic similarities in the fighting arts of India and China, there is no solid evidence that the Chinese fighting arts came from India as is told in legends. There are Chinese texts documenting the existence of several Chinese martial art forms prior to Daruma’s journey in the 6th century.

I merely wish to affirm that the organized origins of Karate came into being during this time period, and that no known record either verifies or denies this contention.

The Chinese Influence

“Although the goal of Buddhism is the salvation of the soul, the body and soul cannot be separated. In weak physical condition one will never be able to perform the rigorous training necessary to attain true enlightenment.” So Daruma taught student monks Icchin which is regarded as the tool through which is necessary rigorous physical and mental training may be endured.

As a corollary of Daruma’s training, the monks at the Shaolin Temple won the reputation of being the best fighters in China.

Ch’Uen Yuan

Most Chan Fa systems are descendants of the one hundred-seventy hand and foot positions of Ch’ Uen Yuan and they can be traced back to Bodhidharma’s influence.

Branching Out

The Shaolin Chan Fa is listed as one of nine Wai Cha (external schools) of fighting systems and is regarded to be the first established system in China.

1. Shaolin Chan Fa…..Sui period or before

2. Hung Chuan……….Sung period (1127-1279)

3. Tau Tei Yu Tan Tui..Sung period

4. Hon Chaun………..Ming period (1368-1644)

5. Erh-Lang Men……..Ming period

6. Fan Chuan………..Ming period

7. Cha Chuan………..Ming period

8. Mi Tsung Yum……..Ching period(1699-1911)

9. Pa Chuan…………Ching period

In comparison there were the Nei Cha (internal schools), all from the Sung or post Sung Dynasties.

1. Wu Tang Pai

2. Tai Chi Chuan

3. Pa Kua Chaun

4. Hsin Yi Chua

5. Tzu Fan Men

6. Liu He Pa Fa


Sumo is perhaps the oldest known form or system of weaponless fighting in Japan and dates back beyond the mythological era (before 500 A.D.). The earliest legends tell of two god figures, Takeminakata No Kami and Takemikazuchi No Kami, who engaged in power contests. Another story relates the wrestling contests between Nomino Sikune No Mikoto and Taima NoKehaya. These contests are known to be the first between demi-gods and similar mythological beings.

In 607, during the Sui Dynasty, the first official Japanese ambassador was sent to China, and this exchange was maintained through the T’ang Dynasty. During this time Chinese influence flourished in Japan, and it is believed that Chan Fa was introduced along with many other things of Chinese origin.

Many forms of martial arts already existed in Japan during this time period which might carry the influence of Chan Fa in their fighting styles. However, these Chan Fa systems were never developed by the Japanese martial artists of the day. This lack of development was due to the structure of Japanese society. At that time, there was a very strong status system in Japan much like the caste system in India, and only the members of the samurai class were allowed to use weapons for fighting or train in the martial arts.

The samurai were respected because they protected the commoners. They were expected to behave in a respectful and courageous manner.. Through strong government control, the role of the samurai became a sacred trust, carrying “this burden of pride.” Being a member of the samurai class meant lifelong employment unless a samurai was found guilty of wrong doing. In that case, he and his family would lose their jobs permanently.

Samurai constantly practiced weaponry to better themselves and had time for little else. It is easy to see how weaponless fighting systems developed at that time would never gain enough popularity to be properly recognized. Even so, some forms of martial arts were developed like Torite and Ashikeri, and later Yawara and Jujitsu did exist among the lower class police forces. An interesting note is the similarities in the weapons (kobudo) developed in Japan and in Okinawa during this time period.

Early Stages

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, many Japanese and Chinese representatives traveled with relative freedom between the two countries. This is also when Buddhism came to Japan and gained popularity. Interestingly, during the Heian period between 794-1184, many Buddhist monks were well trained in fighting methods and were used to maintain local law and order. Many became security guards for wealthy individuals in Kyoto. The popularity of Buddism made some temples so powerful that they became involved in many political upheavals. And because of the popularity of Buddism, the monks were untouchable by either the samurai or the government. Many temples became independent and secretive in their administration of religious matters due to the political intrigues.

This is believed to be the time when many martial arts developed in Japan. Wars and battles were still decided by the samurai, but the art of fighting systems was practiced and developed by the Buddhist monks.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

In 1592, this great general decided to fulfill his dream of conquering the world. He had conquered Japan and sought to continue his quest by marching on to China. Many of his generals were against this plan, and it soon proved to be a disaster as the Japanese faced too many disadvantages. Ships were not powerful enough, the climate was against them, the generals in Korea were not familiar enough with the terrain to plan strategic advances, and resistance was much stronger than expected. The dream was ended with the death of Hideyoshi in 1598 without a single Japanese soldier ever setting foot on Chinese soil.

The failure of this conquest cost Toyotomi not only his life and his fortune, but also his dynasty. Once again the peace of the entire nation was in shambles. The conflict between the remainder of the Toyotomi clan and the rival clan of Tokugawa Dynasty began and was to last for the next three hundred years.

It is oral history that many warriors came back from the failed conquest of China with some kind of hand-to-hand combat system. But as history has revealed, the warriors reached only Korea and not China.


The basic form of self-defense are perhaps as old as mankind. The art of Karate as it is widely practiced today can be traced back to Okinawan martial arts systems called “Te”, meaning “hand”. Te later was renamed Tode, the name it held before it became known as Karate. the Japanese used the name “kempo”, which means “fist way”, and the similar term in Chinese is Chan Fa.

Okinawa is the main island of the Ryukyu Islands, located in the East China Sea between Kyushu, Japan and Taiwan. Okinawa has maintained cultural contact for centuries with both China and Japan. Through a constant influence of Chinese sailors and merchants, the indigenous Okinawan fighting forms were heavily influenced by Chan Fa. Because of its strategic location, Okinawa was invaded several times by both China and Japan. Each country sought to use okinawa as a military and diplomatic base. With these two powerful countries vying for control, it is not surprising that the Okinawan people developed high levels of proficiency in self-defense.

Okinawans have long been known as fierce fighters, and the tragic battles of World War II proved to the world that the Okinawans would rather die than live in disgrace. The spirit of the samurai was well developed in the hearts of these people.

The Legendary Sakugawa

In 1724, a man named Sakugawa journeyed to China from his home in Shuri, Okinawa. He was gone for many years, and his friends and relatives thought him lost or dead. One day to everyone’s surprise, Sakugawa returned home a much changed man. He possessed a mysterious physical strength and a complex form of Chan Fa.Soon many people wanted to become his students. This was the start of the Sakugawa style of Karate.

Thirty Six Families

The emperor of China sent Okinawa an imperial gift of skilled artisans and merchants. These people soon formed into a community known as the Thirty-Six Families. This community was responsible for the rapid spread of Chan Fa throughout Okinawa. It should be noted that “thirty-six” often means “a great many” and may not mean thirty-six numerically.

Chinese Numbering

One Whole, absolute, first

Two Pair, comparison, front and back,

top and bottom, etc.

Three Sanchin, top-middle-bottom, fate,

Mother Nature

Four Directions, square, objects

Eight Multiple directions, many, plenty

Thirty-Six Great many

Sho Hassi

In 1429, Sho Hassi united the kingdom of Okinawa under his rule and renamed North and South. During the era of his grandson Sho Shin, the policy of “Bunji-Kokka”, or government by culture not military force, was put into effect. At this time all weapons were banned except for those used by military forces. The objective was to restore peace and to disarm rival clans.

Civil War In Japan And The Satsuma

After Toyotomi died, Japan was split into two massive forces. One force was the remainder of the Toyotomi clan from the West and the other was controlled by the new leader Tokugawa from the East. In 1600, these two powers met head-to-head at Sekigahara Field to decide the control of Japan. Although most of the Western generals and the Satsuma clan controlled most of Kyushu joined the Toyotomi, the Tokugawa forces won.

Tokugawa allowed the Satsuma-Shimazu family to retain their territories under the edict of unconditional loyalty to Tokugawa. The reason he allowed the Shimazu family to keep their lands was that they were so powerful that trying to destroy them might have proven self-defeating and was not in the best interest of Tokugawa. So instead Tokugawa took the Shimazu family as his allies and sent them to punish Okinawa for refusing to send supplies during the Japan-China war of 1592. It was also a useful way to smooth the honor of the frustrated Satsuma warriors by giving them a new target while keeping them too busy to make any further plays against Tokugawa.

A Ban On All Weapons

Upon seizing control of Okinawa, the Shimazu clan instituted numerous rules of martial law, one of which was a ban on all weapons. This time, however, the ban was on a much larger scale than that instituted by Sho-Shin. Only the Satsuma samurai, who were the invaders and conquerors of Okinawa, were allowed to have weapons.

The methods used by the Satsuma for enforcing the weapons ban were ruthless. Any weapons found in an Okinawan’s possession were immediately confiscated and the owner was severely punished. As part of the ban, the Shimazu also prohibited the Okinawans from participating in the study or practice of the martial arts.

This ban had a number of serious effects on the Okinawan martial arts. All study and participation was forced underground, and all teaching was done by word of mouth only.No written records exist which would allow us to trace the development of the Okinawan arts during this time period. This has led to the creation of many false legends due to the inability to document facts.

Secrecy became such an obsession that instructors hid true techniques from rival schools, as in the changing or hiding of moves in kata. this eventually led to the development of new and unique fighting techniques and systems including the modification of farming and work tools into weapons for combat use. The fighting attitudes in the martial arts schools became very violent due to the suppression of civil liberties and the general sentiment of the times.

And above all, the ban made Karate one of the most practical and effective hand-to-hand combat systems ever developed. The need for practical application kept Karate from degenerating to a mostly theoretical art or a simple or obscure form of exercise.

The Secret Revealed

It is impossible to pinpoint when the secrets of Karate began to be revealed long after rules were changed. However, there was a gradual but steady unveiling and interaction of this magnificent art. Luckily, some schools were not as attached to secrecy as others, and slowly the major schools of Karate became less suspicious and more open. Officially, the Satsuma’s control ended in 1875, but Karate did not become popular or even well known as being an Okinawan art until around 1903.

Intense rivalry within Karate schools did not help to promote the discovery of the art. Karate, primarily developed to maim or kill opponents, was no longer needed in actual combat as conquering Satsuma samurai had departed for Japan.

History of the Samurai

The Origin of the Samurai:

The samurai, a class of highly skilled warriors, gradually developed in Japan after the Taika reforms of 646 A.D. The reforms included land redistribution and heavy new taxes, meant to support an elaborate Chinese-style empire. As a result, many small farmers had to sell their land and work as tenant farmers.

Meanwhile, a few large landholders amassed power and wealth, creating a feudal system similar to medieval Europe’s. This top-heavy system proved unwieldy, and crumbled within a few centuries.

As in Europe, the new feudal lords needed warriors to defend their riches. Thus, the samurai warrior (or “bushi”) was born.

Early Feudal Era Samurai:

Some samurai were relatives of the landowners, while others were simply hired swords. The samurai code emphasized loyalty to one’s master, even over family loyalty. History shows that the most loyal samurai were usually family members or financial dependents of their lords.

In the 900s, the weak emperors of the Heian Dynasty (794-1185) lost control of rural Japan. The country was riven by revolt; the emperor soon wielded power only within the capital. Across the country, the warrior class moved in to fill the power vacuum.

By 1100, the samurai effectively held both military and political power over much of Japan.

End of the Heian Era / Rise of Samurai Rule:

The weak imperial line received a fatal blow to its power in 1156, when Emperor Toba died without a clear successor. His sons, Sutoku and Go-Shirakawa, fought for control in a civil war called the Hogen Rebellion.

In the end, both would-be emperors lost; the imperial office lost all its remaining power.

During this civil war, the Minamoto and Taira samurai clans rose to prominence. They fought one another in the Heiji Rebellion of 1160. After their victory, the Taira established the first samurai-led government, or shogunate, with the emperor as a figurehead.

The defeated Minamoto were banished from the capital at Kyoto.

Kamakura Period :

The two clans fought once more in the Genpei War (1180-1185), which ended in victory for the Minamoto.

Minamoto no Yoritomo established the Kamakura Shogunate, which ruled much of Japan until 1333. While the Kamakura were powerful, they never conquered northern and western areas of the country. The shoguns also faced periodic resistance from other samurai clans.

In 1268, an external threat appeared. Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler of Yuan China, demanded tribute from Japan. Kyoto refused. The Mongolsinvaded in 1274 with 600 ships, but a typhoon destroyed their armada. A second invasion fleet in 1281 met the same fate.

Fall of the Kamakura / Early Muromachi (Ashikaga) Period:

Despite such incredible help from nature, the Mongol attacks cost the Kamakura dearly.

Unable to offer land or riches to the samurai leaders who rallied to Japan’s defense, the weakened shogun faced a challenge from Emperor Go-Daigo in 1318. The emperor was exiled in 1331, but returned and overthrew the Shogunate in 1333.

This Kemmu Restoration of imperial power lasted only three years.

In 1336, the Ashikaga Shogunate under Ashikaga Takauji reasserted samurai rule, but it was weaker than the Kamakura had been. Regional constables called “daimyo” developed considerable power, meddling in the shogunate’s succession.

Later Muromachi Period:

By 1460, the daimyo were ignoring orders from the shogun, and backing different successors to the imperial throne. When the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, resigned in 1464, a dispute between backers of his younger brother and his son ignited even more intense bickering among the daimyo.

In 1467, this squabbling erupted into the decade-long Onin War. Thousands died, and Kyoto was burned to the ground.

The Onin War led directly to Japan’s “Warring States Period,” or Sengoku. Between 1467 and 1573, various daimyo led their clans in a fight for national dominance. Nearly all of the provinces were engulfed in the fighting.

Azuchi-Momoyama Period / Restoration of Order:

The Warring States Period began to draw to a close in 1568, when the warlord Oda Nobunaga defeated three other powerful daimyo, marched into Kyoto, and had his favorite, Yoshiaki, installed as shogun.

Nobunaga spent the next 14 years subduing other rival daimyo, and quelling rebellions by fractious Buddhist monks.

His grand Azuchi Castle, constructed between 1576 and 1579, became of symbol of Japanese reunification.

In 1582, Nobunaga was assassinated by one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide. Hideyoshi, another general, finished the unification and ruled as kampaku (regent).

Hideyoshi invaded Korea in 1592 and 1597.

Tokugawa Shogunate (Edo Period):

Hideyoshi had exiled the large Tokugawa clan from the area around Kyoto to the Kanto region in western Japan. The Taiko died in 1598, and by 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu had conquered the other western daimyo from his castle stronghold at Edo (the future Tokyo).

Ieyasu’s son, Hidetada, became shogun of the unified country in 1605, ushering in about 250 years of relative peace and stability for Japan.

The strong Tokugawa shoguns domesticated the samurai, forcing them to either serve their lords in the cities, or give up their swords and farm. This transformed the warriors into a hereditary class of cultured bureaucrats.

Meiji Restoration and the Decline of the Samurai:

In 1868, the Meiji Restoration signaled the beginning of the end for the samurai.

The Meiji system of constitutional monarchy included such democratic reforms as term limits for public office and popular balloting. With public support, the Meiji Emperor did away with the samurai, reduced the power of the daimyo, and moved the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo.

The new government created a conscripted army in 1873; many of the officers were drawn from the ranks of former samurai.

In 1877, angry ex-samurai revolted against the Meiji in the Satsuma Rebellion; they lost the Battle of Shiroyama, and the era of the samurai was over.

The Culture and Myth of the Samurai:

Samurai Culture

The culture of the samurai was grounded in the concept of bushido – “the way of the warrior.” The central tenets of bushido are honor and freedom from the fear of death. A samurai was legally entitled to cut down any commoner who failed to honor him (or her) properly. A warrior imbued with bushido spirit would fight fearlessly for his master, and die honorably rather than surrender in defeat.

Out of this disregard for death, the Japanese tradition of seppuku evolved: defeated warriors (and disgraced government officials) would commit suicide with honor by ritually disemboweling themselves with a short sword.

Samurai Weapons

Early samurai were archers, fighting on foot or horseback with extremely long bows (yumi). They used swords mainly for finishing off wounded enemies.

After the Mongol invasions of 1272 and 1281, the samurai began to make more use of swords, as well as poles topped by curved blades called naginata, and spears.

Samurai warriors wore two swords, together called daisho – “long and short.” The katana, a curved blade over 24 inches long, was suitable for slashing, while the wakizashi, at 12-24 inches, was used for stabbing. In the late 16th century, non-samurai were forbidden to wear the daisho.

Samurai wore full body-armor in battle, often including a horned helmet.

The Samurai Myth

Modern Japanese honor the memory of the samurai, and bushido still infuses the culture. Today, however, the samurai code is invoked in corporate boardrooms rather than on the battlefield.Even now, everyone knows the story of the 47 Ronin, Japan’s “national legend.”

In 1701, the daimyo Asano Naganori drew a dagger in the shogun’s palace and tried to kill Kira, a government official. Asano was arrested, and forced to commit seppuku. Two years later, forty-seven of his samurai hunted down Kira and killed him, without knowing Asano’s reasons for attacking the official. It was enough that he wanted Kira dead.

Since the ronin had followed bushido, the shogun allowed them to commit seppuku instead of being executed.

People still offer incense at the graves of the ronin, and the story has been made into a number of plays and films.


Ansart, Olivier (2007) “Loyalty in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Samurai Discourse,” Japanese Studies, 27:2, 139-154.

Collcutt, Martin (1996) “The ‘Emergence of the Samurai’ and The Military History of Early Japan,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 56:1, 151-164.n.”