Joseph Rippy Sensei | Wado Ryu karate-do instructor and direct student of Ohtsuka Hironori Sensei

Joseph Rippy Sensei

Wado Ryu karate-do instructor and direct student of Ohtsuka Hironori Sensei

Joseph Rippy Sensei was born in 1946 in San Mateo, California. He has, however, lived most of his adult life in Tennessee. Married with three sons, aged 32, 29, and 24, Rippy Sensei received a University of Tennessee degree in Asian Studies (Japanese) in 1980. His interests include Chinese metaphysics and the art of Wado Ryu karate-do, which he teaches privately to a select group of children and adults.

The name Wado Ryu is composed of three characters: Wa means "harmony," do means "way," and ryu means "system." From one viewpoint, Wado Ryu might be considered jujutsu rather than karate-do. When the founder Ohtsuka Hironori Sensei first registered his art with the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in 1938, it was called Shinshu Wado Ryu Karate-Jujutsu, which reflects its hybrid nature. To the untrained observer, Wado Ryu might look similar to other styles of karate-do; many underlying principles, however, are derived from jujutsu.

Rippy Sensei began karate-do training in 1964, when he was invited to join the Wado Ryu system by Cecil T. Patterson Sensei (1930-2002). Wado Ryu is one of the most widely recognized karate-do systems in Japan, and it is known as one of the four major styles of Japanese karate-do (as opposed to original Okinawan systems).

In 1968, Rippy Sensei met and trained under Ohtsuka Hironori Sensei. He later studied directly with Ohtsuka Sensei (1892-1982), who tested Rippy Sensei for his third dan in 1976. Ohtsuka Sensei was a licensed Shindo Yoshin Ryu jujutsu expert when he met the famed Okinawan karate-do exponent Funakoshi Gichin Sensei (1868-1957), founder of Shotokan karate-do. After learning karate-do from Funakoshi Sensei, Ohtsuka Sensei merged Shindo Yoshin Ryu with karate-do to create Wado Ryu.

In 1979, Rippy Sensei began practicing with Suzuki Tatsuo Sensei (Wado Ryu eighth dan). He continued to study with Suzuki Sensei from 1979 to 1988, primarily when this teacher visited Tennessee and Florida each year. In 1984, Rippy Sensei successfully represented the USA at the 50th Anniversary Wado Ryu Invitational Tournament in Tokyo, Japan. While there, he trained at Sakai Kazuo Sensei's dojo in Yokohama. Sakai Sensei (now tenth dan) was then Wado Ryu Chief Technical Director, and he further practiced with Sakai Sensei whenever he visited the USA.

In 1988, Rippy Sensei received his sixth dan certificate from Ohtsuka Hironori II (the current Saiko Shihan, or Grandmaster, of Wado Ryu). In 1989, he also trained with Osaka Toshio Sensei (seventh dan) of Salt Lake City, Utah. Rippy Sensei currently receives direction from Ohtsuka Kazutaka Sensei , the son of the current grandmaster and grandson of the art's founder, via the U.S. Eastern Wado -Ryu Karate-Do Federation.

At present, Rippy Sensei is nearing the completion of a book on teaching karate-do to children. He returned to Japan in 2008, where he continued his lifelong study with the Ohtsuka family.


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