Thursday, 19 November 2020

竹田市 (TAKETA CITY)

Training in nature is an important aspect of 'extra practice' for me - outside of the standard work in the dojo. Initially in my youth it was simply to be in a nice environment and for the fresh air. Later, I started learning from practicing on different surfaces, rocks, sand, inclines, declines, etc... While these advantages of training outside still apply, I acquired much more important gains from this practice. That is, to see how small and insignificant I am in comparison to nature; furthermore, to attempt to expand my energy into the environment.

Indeed, power can be expressed much-much easier in a confined place, and the bigger the space gets, this becomes more of a challenge. This is why it is harder to express power in say, the Nippon Budokan, than it is in your dojo. In this regard, being in nature is the ultimate test as it far transcends any human-made gymnasium.

 

November 18th, 2020... 27 years after my first 'Japan park training experience'.

As I have stated in the past, I was shocked when I first came to Japan in the early 1990s. In New Zealand, if I trained outside, for the most part, I’d practice at the local park. And, indeed in summer, at the beach. Immediately when I attempted to do that in Japan (to train at a park or leisure space), I was surrounded by kids and parents. My practice ended up becoming like a demonstration. People were of course really nice, but it was difficult to train seriously and keep myself on target.

This was only my first attempt at training in a Japanese park. So, I thought it was probably just a one-off… But to my surprise, when I tried again, the same thing occurred. I decided to not give up! So, I went to another park, which was smaller and more hidden. Still the kids and parents seemed to come out of nowhere.

 

As it was my first time here in Japan, I was doing a lot of sightseeing. It suddenly occurred to me, many of the places I was exploring were empty… The traditional places such as the more obscure Jinja (Shrines) and Tera (Temples). At best I’d see just a handful of people, if there were no special events being held.

 While I have no belief, nor interest, in the religious activities of these places, I recognize the architectural beauty of the buildings—especially when set in lush nature. In particular, such traditional Japanese structures ‘based in thick forests and the mountains’ provide an excellent practice environment, which minimizes disturbances and most importantly: ‘challenges the expansion of one’s energy’. 


To conclude, I hope you enjoy the attached pictures from yesterdays training in beautiful Taketa City, Oita Ken.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Thursday, 12 November 2020

THE MAIN WEAPONS


One thing many karateka fail to do is to focus on developing ‘really destructive’ punches, kicks and strikes, which are our ‘the main weapons’ in our art. Indeed, the sweeps, takedowns, and grappling techniques are absolutely imperative in Budo/Bujutsu Karate; however, the percussive blows are—as I said already—THE MAIN WEAPONS. 
Even if we finish with a shimewaza (choking technique) or likewise, with a nagewaza (throwing technique)—a percussive blow is what gets us there. Furthermore, in the case of a very serious situation, an impact (or series of impacts) may follow “…to ensure the opponent is not only down, but stays down.”

 

Put another way “PERCUSSIVE BLOWS are ALWAYS a part of the equation”; whereas, the other waza, when employed, are used in combination with them (as opposed to being used in isolation, like they are in Judo).

 

If you have trained with me here in Japan, or at a seminar, you will know that while, I don’t advocate going to the ground, I train a lot in Newaza (Ground Fighting) to supplement my karate. 20 years ago, in my mid-20s that wasn’t the case, but working in security I found that my standup locks, holds and chokes just weren’t enough. I felt that against a competent grappler it would be like someone who can’t swim well falling off a boat into the ocean.

However, a decade later, in my mid-30s, I felt just as competent grappling on the ground (as I did when fighting on my feet). Finally, I knew I could ‘swim’ well! In fact, in jiyu-kumite, I sometimes enjoy taking my opponents down as most karateka are not very skillful on the ground.

Still, punching and striking, and kicking have always been my main focus… Therefore, returning to the opening statement in this article, PERCUSSIVE ATTACKS MUST BE DESTRUCTIVE, which means: (a) Effective; and (b) reliable. From now, left me define both of these:

(a) EFFECTIVE: This is easy to understand… Yet, so many karateka don’t seek this enough. You have to seek effectiveness by directing adapting/evolving your training to achieve more and more explosive speed and power. Impact training must always be done—it is imperative ‘kihon’ training. In the case of strength and power, most people need to follow a strength training routine with ‘functional exercises’ like squatting, bench pressing etc… In the case of smaller built people and those with strength deficits, this must be done (if effective karate is to be achieved—please remember this, in the next point), as they will need to make up for their lack of mass or lack of fast twitch muscles. And indeed, any strength gain is also good, for those with a lot of mass: as this can only help them to use it better!


(b) RELIABLE: This is what I emphasize, as a coach, that is the really hard part… Why? Because it requires discipline. This is due to the need for lots of repetitions, and more specifically “…the constant repetition of effective techniques”. Many people have this one wrong! Really wrong!! Just to be able to do something really well ‘sometimes’, ‘half the time’ or even ‘three quarters of the time’ isn’t enough. Sorry, this doesn’t produce reliability. Reliability, is when you do something ‘really well’ 95—100% of the time.

 

But this too is not enough… We have to also be able to do this in a ‘freestyle context’. This is a key to Asai Sensei’s karate and, accordingly, the karate way I follow. Obviously, full contact sparring is not possible for everyone; however, freestyle effectiveness with attacks can still be achieved via adequate impact training. You need to regularly be hitting things with your best techniques and will full power, furthermore, the target (or targets) need to  be non-compliant in movement.

 

These points are on my high agenda as an instructor and, indeed, in my self-training. Now many instructors demonstrate nice techniques, but these are meaningless unless they can be reproduced at nearly 100% under maximum physical and mental pressure. Before I end this article I would like to apologize as it fails to neglect 'getting hurt' and still being able to function reliably. To expand on this point, I will give a personal experience. I once got into a street fight with much more technically talented karateka. However, once I hit him in the face it was over. He still managed to escape the full force of my blow, nonetheless, he had clearly never been hit before. He was terrorized, and after that I elbowed him just once and it was all over. Actually, lots of fights are like this. The first hit wipes out people's 'technique' and confidence; then they are in both shock and fear. The fact is that in karate, unless you train full contact, you will not be used to being hit. More importantly, in this case, you will not know how you respond in a violent altercation on the street. Thankfully, there are highly effective methodologies that you can assimilate, which overcome this issue without engaging in full contact kumite. 

I will leave it there today. Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Light training

Here's some images from my training today, which was a light one (as I’ve pushed myself particularly hard this week). I only did kata and had breaks between each. Also, I only spent just over an hour and 45 minutes in the dojo. Usually my daily self-training sessions are two hours in duration.

Movement 22 of Unsu Kata.

The kata I practiced were especially 平安初段 (Heian Shodan) and 平安四段(Heian Yondan),but also briefly on Heian Nidan, Sandan and Godan, 壮鎮 (Sochin), 雲手 (Unsu), 五十四歩小 (Gojushiho Sho) and 雷光 (Raiko).

Movement 25 of Heian Yondan.

In the fundamental sense, my technical focus was the jiku-ashi, sasae-ashi and use of the hips optimally coordinates to generate power in my techniques. In addition to this, I concentrate on ‘moving my center’ via rotation, thrust, ascension descension and diagonally. A key aspect of this by being use and move your hips like a ball, which I outlined thoroughly in the past.

Overall, it was both a fun and technical session. I personally believe that it is imperative to intermittently train with less intensity as it allows one to focus on different areas of skill development; furthermore, allows the body to stretch, rest and recover. What’s more, it can a be psychologically motivating, which results in more doing those extra sessions in the week even though one is feeling tired.

Osu and greetings from central Oita City, Japan.

アンドレ

© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Saturday, 7 November 2020

TRAIN and PUSH FORWARD. YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU WANT TO!!!

 My training regime was updated from the start of this month. I decided to make November very hard on myself at the end of October. My reasoning, is consistent throughout my time as a karateka. This year, in addition to my other training, I have run 500km up mountains. Yes, people who know me very well have been laughing at my insane 'additional' training. Why I've been doing that is because I needed to replace not teaching here in Japan and very occasionally around the world.


I'm not so fast like in my 20s as I'm now in my mid 40s, but I can still sprint 100 meters in under 12 seconds, and still bench press over 300lbs.


While this might sound like bragging, it isn't, it is just what I do. Bragging is folly. It is stupidity and only creates disdain for an individual. Why I am saying this IS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOU, who is reading this. You can do much better than me if you want to. Probably much better than me. 


As I have already said, I am just doing MY THING... Of course I could do more. But EVERYONE can. The point is TO DO SOMETHING, invest in your training to make yourself better: healthier, stronger, more flexible, and more efficient if someone attacks you. In addition to these points, one can increase their artistry in our beautiful art of Shotokan-Ryu, which exceeds the plastic commercialism of mainstream contemporary sports karate.


The point of this post is not to be competitive with you, THE READER, but rather insinuate that you push yourself more. BECAUSE WE ALL CAN! Of course, we must work in incremental steps to avoid injury and so forth.

My point is this, YOU CAN! As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker "Try, there is no try, do or do not". I hope this post motivates anyone who reads it. Osu and motivation from Japan. International Karate Shotokan pushes forward with this mantra, that is, to optimally boost the potential of every individual.


POWER TO YOU... TRAIN and PUSH FORWARD. YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU WANT TO!!!







                               © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Monday, 2 November 2020

Bonus video...

 

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

先生 (SENSEI)

 

Basic Definition of 先生 (Sensei):

“Sensei is a honorific term that is translated as “person born before another” or “one who comes before”. Generally speaking, it is used in its propre form, after a person’s name and means ‘teacher’. The word is also used a title to address other professionals or persons of authority”.

 

I’m often asked, “what should I call you?” My answer is that this is up to each individual person. In my daily life I’m usually called by my first name ‘André’, and this is also fine in the dojo as well. However, if someone seriously wishes to learn from me, ‘André Sensei’ or just ‘Sensei’ is correct. This is because wishing to learn from someone and merely calling them by their name (in Budo) is actually condescending, uneducated or both. While I personally do not take it offensively, if someone is learning from me and simply calls me ‘André, there is naturally going to be barrier between me and the respective trainee(s). This is a natural etiquette-based outcome that transcends Budo and Japanese culture. It is commonsense. The exception to this rule is for those who teach children… Needless to say, it must be demanded that children call their karate teacher ‘Sensei’; that being said, this article is about adult practitioners of Karate-Do. 

My SENSEI: Asai Tetsuhiko.

So, it is important to know that no one can never refer to themselves as ‘Sensei’. That is for others to decide to call them if they wish to learn from the person in question. This is because ‘Sensei’ is not an automatic title (a right) but, rather, an honorific title which we use to respect someone and their knowledge; furthermore, the title of ‘Sensei’ functions as a catalyst to open the door to accessing deeper levels of knowledge—based on the will of respective teacher.

 

On the other side of this, is that “…one who is called Sensei should be mindful of the person honoring them with this title and should act accordingly”. This is hard to see in Japan, especially amongst the older generation, but is something that I personally believe is essential if we wish to take the Dojo Kun seriously.

 

How about the titles of Shihan, Fuku-Shuseki Shihan, Shuseki Shihan, Soke and so on? Well, usually such titles are for paper only; that is, they are organizational titles. For example, on a paper document such as diplomas or on websites. Those of 5th Dan or 6th Dan and above often have the title of Shihan. Nevertheless, in the dojo the title of ‘Sensei’ is typically utilized for all levels of instructors. Indeed, some groups use these terms verbally—and it is fine, but this is not the case in mainstream Shotokan style karate. The exception might be in a major event such as an international seminar or competition.

My Sensei's SENSEI... Nakayama Masatoshi.

For example, Funakoshi Sensei (note I’m using ‘Sensei’ even for the father of modern day Karate-Do) was the first Shuseki-Shihan of the JKA and Shotokai. Likewise, Asai Sensei was the Shuseki-Shihan and founder of the IJKA and JKS. Again, note, I am still referring to him as ‘Sensei’.

 

How about the term ‘master’? In television, radio and newspaper interviews over the years I have been referred to as a ‘karate master’. I have never liked this term, as I find it to be opposite of what we do in ‘the empty hand way’. Instead, I prefer to think that we are all seeking to master our karate, which is an unattainable goal. This motivates me. So, being called a ‘master’—whatever that might be—is something that I believe is actually inappropriate for our art. That being said, there is still nothing wrong referring to someone as karate master. Especially those who have been experts since youth and continued teaching and training into their old age. I consider several of the greats ‘karate masters’, but the term ‘Sensei’ still applies in person.

 

Wider use of the title ‘Sensei’… Here in Japan the obvious examples of using ‘Sensei’ is the school system from yochien (kindergarten/pre-school) right through to daigaku (university). However, there are other fields, as stated in the opening of this article. For example, dentists and doctors are also called ‘Sensei’.

 

For all of you around the world reading this, I ask you to read it knowing it is NOT AN ATTACK what I'm about to say next. But an update of knowledge from my wish to teach you about Japanese. Finally, I feel it must be explained here on this site, as hundreds of people have innocently referred to me in this way. Often people call me ‘André San’. Again, please do not worry as I understand that these people are just trying to be nice (and certainly mean no offense to me or others). But to be honest, it is actually not good. Please do not use ‘San’ after someone’s name unless you live in Japan and are dealing with clients. Think of it like this, in English… “Hello Mr. André. Could you teach me this kumite technique Mr. André. Thank you very much Mr. André”. “Mr.—Mr.—Mr. Andre”. It sounds sarcastic doesn’t it. Lastly, if this is your habit, NO PROBLEM! You can blame it on Mr. Miyagi. In sum, drop the ‘San’ and stick to ‘Sensei’ if you want to be polite or just stick to people’s preferred name.

 

So, in the context of karate (Shotokan style), if you wish to show respect to an instructor, use the term ‘Sensei’. And, if you have a personal relationship outside of training (and/or are not learning from them), just call them by the name they go by. For example, I have a friend, who is very senior, who simply likes to be called ‘Yoshi’ outside the dojo. Still, however, I can’t help but call him Sensei. This is also fine and indeed, ‘safe and respectful’.

The Sensei of my Sensei's Sensei!!! Funakoshi Gichin SENSEI...
 

So, I hope that this article informs you about the title of SENSEI and how to use it. To recapitulate: (1) Never refer to yourself as Sensei—it is an honorific title from others (the only exception is dealing with children); (2) If you respect someone, who you wish to learn from and you desire a fully open relationship—especially in Japan—call them ‘Sensei’. In the cases of learning a Japanese art/discipline, not using ‘Sensei’—in this context—is actually unimaginable; (3) Avoid calling people ‘San’ and ‘Sama’ unless you are working in Japan in some form of service-based occupation, salesmanship or government department; and (4) There are many other titles which denote positions in various organizations but, in the end, ‘Sensei’ is still the ultimate. This is because calling someone ‘Sensei’ is not merely a title: it establishes a personal and respectful ‘teacher-learner’ relationship. Really speaking, the simplicity of the title 'Sensei' surmounts all of the other titles and, dare I call it, 'bling'.

 

To conclude, one practice I have always done is to call all instructors ‘Sensei’ when I’m in the dojo: irrespective of tenure, age and Dan. Outside of the dojo I tend to still call my seniors ‘Sensei’ and juniors by their first name. However, if the students of my juniors are with them, to be polite in this context, I also call them Sensei. This is not necessary, but I believe that reflects the courtesy that is imperative in Karate-Do; that is, being mindful of thinking of others first. As Funakoshi Sensei said: “Karate-Do begins and ends with courtesy”. 

Lastly, when I am called SENSEI by serious budo karateka, it's a real honor, also a responsibility: both of which must never be taken-for-granted. Again, this is the essence of Karate. Osu! – André

 

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Thursday, 22 October 2020

順路 (PART 2): Deeper Aspects of the Junro kata


I was encouraged to write this article after receiving a few good questions, which pondered about the deeper aspects of the five Junro Kata. Also, rather than doing it at a later date, I thought I’d get on to it this morning. Why? Well firstly, I’m currently going through Junro kata in my daily training and, secondly, my last post (which stimulated the questions) was on Junro, so writing this will flow well. The images in this article were from first of my two trainings yesterday, which was all kihon and kata. Greetings from rainy Oita City, André.

 

順路初段

Junro Shodan’s well known theme is ‘push and pull’. However, this is not merely forward and backward, but also using gravity to drop and ground power. Furthermore, this kata master’s different forms of tsuki: the counterpunch and the attacking tsuki. Namely, this is to do with timing, which even here in Japan is mostly practiced incorrectly.

Taken as a whole, this is about using hand speed and fully utilizing the weight in your tsukiwaza; that is, the combination of relaxation for snap and the transfer of weight into the target to achieve maximum impact. In the contact of defense, Junro Shodan is all about the fundamental fluctuation of distance via the active use of tachikata. Junro Shodan elucidates that stances are not positions in themselves but, rather, as Asai Sensei said “…exaggerated positions found within dynamic and freestyle motion”.

 

順路二段

Immediately when thinking of Junro Nidan one will think of two hand attacks and simultaneous ukewaza with tsukiwaza. While this is correct it does not highlight the importance of mastering these techniques, which is fully utilizing the backbone and pelvis. There are actions in this kata which are quite subtle but must be done precisely if its core theme and purpose is to be achieved through practice.

One important point is the use of ground power and ‘sinking’ ones weight in addition to moving the center. In all cases to maximize the use of the hips and backbone one must fully utilize the drive of the rear leg via proper tai no shinshuku. With these points in mind and practiced correctly, Junro Nidan will be of great benefit to ones karate as it will improve one shomen/zenmi in relation to technical delivery.

 

順路三段

Junro Sandan was designed by Sensei to have karateka practice more striking techniques which, due to their illegality in competitions (in the case of most of them), tend to be the least practiced in kihon. Nonetheless, there is more to Sandan than this. Asai Sensei was concerned about the trajectory of strikes which in the last few decades have changed, not for efficiency but for aesthetics. Accordingly, the purpose of Junro Sandan is to use wide arcing strikes which ‘go through’ the respective target.

Another aspect that Junro Sandan works on is using different strikes for different distances. This mixture of long-range and close-range attacks is a feature throughout this kata and strongly encourages one to coordinate kata practice with time on the makiwara, sand bag and so forth.

 

順路四段

You will know that the theme of Junro Yondan is to perfect fundamental hip rotation; nevertheless, this broad statement is rather obscure. Firstly, one must know what hip rotation is. In Japanese, the hip or hips are not what we often call ‘hips’ in English. The term ‘hips’ in English usually relates to the hip joints, which are located on both sides essentially linking your legs and torso; whereas, in Japanese it means your backside. That’s right, your butt! Needless to say, by rotating by using the backside, and therefore being centralized and functioning as a unit, one can generate far more speed and power. What’s more, then we can secondarily focus on the hip joints, which become the frontal and rear axis and, with further practice have many other subtle variables.

Certainly, this is not the whole picture with Junro Yondan. The kata also forces one to master the timing and positioning of the feet, toes and ankles—in addition to "being harmonious with the technique being applied". This coordination, in relation to hip action, defines this kata.



順路五段

Junro Godan is the most technically difficult in the Junro series. At face value, many do not see nor understand this. One the main reasons for this is that Junro Yondan is externally more technical; however, the underpinning transitions make Godan harder.

In particular, the ukewaza whilst turning into nekoashi-dachi are challenging (in the use of power in the arm actions as one transfers into the respective 'cat leg stances'). This example is still too obvious and fails to fully verify the overarching technical point. The real challenge is the correct transition of weight and precise moving from the center. In the case of Junro Godan, the center-line changes backwards and forwards requiring a full understanding of the seichusen; furthermore, full expression of each fundamental tachikata.

When this is understood, and practiced extensively, the theme of Godan, (Unsoku/Ashi-hakobi), can be fully appreciated, worked, and capitalized on. Thinking back to what I explained about Junro Shodan (earlier in this brief article) you will see a full circle that connects this important series of Kata.

 

Ok! I hope that this better helped you to understand the Junro series. Please keep in mind that their objective is to improve people’s karate: kihon, kata and kumite (self-defense) capacity. They are therefore best understood and practiced as ‘training tool’s’. In this way, one will maximize their practice-times and see immense advancements in their tokui-gata and the practical application of their karate from a budo/bujutsu standpoint.

Last, but not least, I have yet to teach beyond these points and applications—to any of my students—both here in Japan and around the world. However, there is a deeper level (to these and other kata) which I will begin sharing once they demonstrate sufficient technical ability to me. This is the ‘old way’; that is, one must earn the right (be ready) before higher skills/deeper levels are taught. There is so much to come in the future and I hope to fully pass on this knowledge, which came directly to me under the personal guidance of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei. I also hope that this does not intimidate anyone but, rather, motivates people to train intently and with vigilance. This was the ‘Karate Way’ impressed on me from Asai Sensei, and what still really inspires me to this day. Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

Saturday, 17 October 2020

How to get the most from the 順路 (JUNRO) Kata

While I have written a lot about 順路 (JUNRO) in the past I’d like to expand a little more on them today. I would like to do this by explaining where I place them in my routine—for my own training—and certainly, more important for you (who are now reading this): HOW THIS INFORMATION WILL HELP YOU GET THE MOST FROM PRACTICING THE JUNRO KATA (plural).

 

BACKGROUND:

So, to begin with, let me briefly recapitulate about Junro. Firstly, the name. The two characters to formulate the name of this series of kata are which means orderly, and which means path or road. If you come here to Japan when visiting say, a castle or famous temple, you will often see the combination of these two kanji. In these cases, Junro indicates the correct route you must follow when touring around the premises.

順路

It is worth noting a couple of points here. When Asai Sensei was developing these five basic training kata he was trying to provide an orderly path of study (hence the name), which incorporated nekoashi-dachi, kizami mae-geri, tenshin (rotation), increased smoothness, single arm combinations and other important aspects as ‘core kihon’; furthermore, he wanted to do this at an earlier stage in the training of Shotokan karateka.

 

Also, as I’ve said before, one of Sensei’s favorite sayings in English was “Step-by-step”; nevertheless, he always liked to add a humorous extension of this, usually “Step-by-step-by…”

 

Lastly, each Junro had a core theme… In this regard, if you are interested, I encourage you to do a search on this site as there is already a lot information on this. So, let’s move on to the main point of this post: TRAINING APPROACH/METHODOLOGY…

 

GETTING THE MOST FROM PRACTICING THE JUNRO KATA: THE CORRECT TRAINING APPROACH/METHODOLOGY

 

Firstly, while the five Junro are kata, more than kata I teach them as ‘training tools’. They are kihon ‘drills’ which, when done properly, boost people’s foundational skills in addition to extra kihonwaza and principles that they work on.

 

To use Asai Sensei’s words they are also ‘REPETITION VIA STEALTH’. With Junro practice, in addition to the extra aspects they bring to the table, they are making you practice more kihon than you otherwise would. This explains the phenomenon of how they have greatly raised the level of so many people.

In particular, I have found this to be the case in regards to UNSOKU/ASHI-HAKOBI (footwork/leg movements) especially pertaining to using the jiku-ashi and sasae-ashi; furthermore, the correct utilization and variability of the seichusen.

 

Based on this understanding, it is still imperative to understand and practice the five Heian and Tekki Shodan as THE ESSENTIAL KIHON KATA. Without these kata, Junro has no base. Accordingly, to acquire the best results, use the Junro to bolster the execution of the core fundamental techniques. Taken as a whole, use them as kihon training ‘as needed’ (or ‘thematically’ as a coach—based on a point you are trying to teach/refine when teaching your classes). In this way, each of the Junro do not merely function as ‘just another bunch of kata’ but, rather, as specified tools to develop/improve karate skill. This may sound odd in text but, over the last two decades, I’ve consistently proven this approach to be highly effective for boosting my karate skill and, indeed, increasing the karate skill of numerous trainees.

However, the Junro journey was not a perfect one… In 2002 Asai Sensei put the Junro for the Gokyu (5th Kyu) to Ikkyu (1st Kyu) Examinations. This, however, proved to be too much for the majority of karateka at these ranks. One of the reasons was that Asai Sensei was functioning at such a high level and naturally found it difficult to understand the general masses. What some would call ‘Genius Syndrome’. Interestingly, his creation and spreading of Junro actually helped him to see this and, consequently, he revised this to the aforementioned ‘training tool’ methodology. Asai Sensei recommended “…Junro Shodan for the Shodan test and a free choice of any Junro for Nidan” which is the system I have followed for the International Karate Shotokan syllabus. Indeed, this does not mean we do not teach Junro at Kyu level; rather, we focus on standard Shotokan kata for the Kyu Exams. That brings me to how I use the Junro Kata… 

 

Here are two concrete examples of using the Junro Kata in my training or teaching:

a.    Self-training or teaching KOSHI NO KAITEN in relation to the SASAE-ASHI (support) leg. In this case, I might utilize Junro Yondan kata; Junro Yondan Kumite No Oyo; and/or Kihon sequences from the kata to work on this point.

 

b.    Self-training or teaching utilization of the SENAKA (back bone) in counterattacks utilizing DEAI. In this scenario, Junro Nidan is ideal as it really isolates pelvic control and moving the center from the central spine to deliver ‘two arm techniques’.

 

Again, these are just two examples. Moreover, one doesn’t NEED the Junro kata to do such practices… Nonetheless, from my experience, I have found that karateka get more motivated and practice more due to Junro; hence, their undeniable value. This also allows us to see why kata were constructed from a contemporary standpoint.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020