Wado Ryu (和道流 - He Dao Liu) is probably the most ‘spiritual’ of te styles of Karate-do that spread from the island of Okinawa to Japan – and took-on a distinctly ‘Japanese’ genuine spirit that defied the right-wing politics of the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, the Founder of Wado Ryu - Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982) - chose characters from the older Chinese script to describe the purpose, objective and direction of the style of martial arts self-cultivation that evolved out of his experience in training. ‘He Dao Liu’ is expressed in the Japanese language as ‘Wa Do Ryu’ - or ‘Harmonious Way School’ As I have written elsewhere about ‘道’ (dao4) I shall focus primarily upon the ideogram ‘和’ (he2).
Etymology of Dao (ICBI) Article: https://icbi.weebly.com/etymology-of-the-ideogram-lsquodaorsquo.html
The character ‘和’ (he2) is comprised of the left-hand particle ‘禾’‘(he2) represents a growing plant-stalk, or a rice plant that is developing is a steady and perfect manner. As a distinct ideogram it can also be used to represent the concept of ‘cereal’ and ‘grain’. This ideogram is ancient and is found etched upon Shang Dynasty Bone Oracle inscriptions. The grow of the stalk and leaves emerge out of the ground in a timely manner and are healthy, strong and yet flexible and able to absorb all the often-dangerous changes evident in the external environment. It stretches from the ground and extends upward toward the divine sky! It extends from darkness into the light! The right-hand particle is ‘口’ (kou3) which represents an open-mouth. More specifically, this ideogram represents the anatomy of the inner mouth and dates back to the Shang Dynasty Oracle inscriptions. When the mouth is used to convey clear and concise instructions – its inner structure is clear for all to see. When instructions are ‘wise’ and in accordance with the conditions of the external environment – then ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ align and ‘balance’ is attained and preserved. When combined in the character ‘和’ (he2) - the concept of out and out ‘harmony’ is achieved where the inner world and outer environment are unified through purification and education! Profound harmony is a matter of ‘seeing’ what needs to be done – and then enacting this strategy precisely.
As regards ‘流’ (liu2) - this is comprised of the upper particle of ‘氵’ (shui3) which is a contracted version of ‘水.’ - this indicates ‘water’, ‘flow’ and ‘dispersal’. The right-hand particle is ‘𠫓’ (tu) which is an upside-down baby (as if waiting to born within the womb) - which is more usually found the other way up as ‘子’ (zi3). I can find no other pinyin designation for 𠫓’ other than ‘tu’ (with no accompanying number – such is its unusual nature). As the baby is upside-down – its head is pointing downward and there is ammoniac fluid (as the waters ‘break’ in preparation for birth into the outside world) with ‘hair’ being evident (which is a common phenomenon with children born to Chinese parents). The lower particle is comprised of ‘川’ (chuan1) - which represents a fast, strong and flowing river. This river is broad and carries objects far and wide! When taken together the character 流’ (liu2) refers to the successful beginning of life (perhaps a baby born into water) - and a river which on the material plain joins one geographical location to another as it flows from one place to another. On the historical plain – this type of ‘vehicle’ represents a ‘flow’ that joins one point in time to another. On the metaphysical level – this is the river of conscious expansion and physical longevity! In this case, ‘Wado Ryu’ Karate-Do is a boat that takes a specific direct on the river of life!