Monday, 20 March 2017

JKA Syllabus Update (Part II - Commentary)


 The JKA (Japan Karate Association) has just officially updated its grading requirements. This syllabus will be implemented from April 1st of next month (2017). You can click here to access my translation: http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2017/03/new-jka-exam-requirements-from-april.html. Before I begin, I’d like to say that I really like the changes: especially in regards to kihon, and hence this 'commentary' post. OK, So lets have a brief look into the update…


KIHON

Kihon will now be tested up to and including the Nanadan/7th Dan examination. For the Rokudan and Nanadan tests, like several years back, the kihon will be randomly requested on the day by the head examiner.



From Nidan to Godan the techniques required will be pretty much the same; that being said,  the omission of kizami-zuki followed by sanbon renzuki stands out. Instead, the more classical sanbon ren-zuki is demonstrated. One exception to this—is the sandan exam—which has the examinee demonstrate ‘kizami-zuki kara jodan jun-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki’. Great to see a punching attack which is practical and reflecting of sanbon ren-zuki.



Nidan to Godan all have the following three pre-existing renzokuwaza, which I believe really stresses their value for technical development and in the context of assessment: (1) Jodan age-uke kara chudan soto-uke soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (blocking twice with the same wrist); (2) Chudan uchi-uke kara kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (switching from kokutsu-dachi to zenkutsu-dachi); and (3) Shuto chudan-uke kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite.



The historically long featured combination of ‘ippo sagatte jodan age-uke kara mawashi-geri, yoko uraken soshite chudan jun-zuki’ will now be tested at both Nidan and Sandan level. This has replaced the previous Nidan combination, which utilized ippo-sagatte gedan-barai followed by two chudan jun-zuki attacks.


Another technique no longer being tested is gyaku-zuki (idomokuhyo); however, the classic JKA 'kicking mae-geri keage to the front, yoko-geri kekomi to the side and ushiro-geri kekomi to the rear—balancing on one leg' remains for the Yondan and Godan examinations.



Lastly, an interesting point is that the ‘Mae-geri keage kara jun-zuki’ combination previously tested at Nidan shinsa is now featured at Yondan; furthermore, gyaku-zuki is added to this renwaza for Godan examinees.

In sum, there are indeed less techniques; however, there are more exams featuring kihon: this is great!!  It seems to me that this is elucidating "...what techniques are deemed the most important and beneficial to lift everyone's technical levels"; furthermore, there seems to be an emphasis on stronger, more robust, combinations. In many ways, this is “...drawing a line in the sand between budo karate, and karate that lacks true ‘kime’”.



KATA

There are some pretty interesting changes insofar as kata is concerned. I will outline the main two. The first is the fact that those taking the ikkyu/1st kyu examination can once again select from any of the four sentei-gata: Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Enpi or Jion. The last syllabus (implemented in 2014) required either Bassai Dai or Kanku Dai (disallowing the selection of Enpi and Jion).



The next and even more positive standout is that from now "...Tekki Nidan and Tekki Sandan are required for those taking the Yondan and Godan examinations". For Yondan, the grading panel will randomly call a kata from Heian Shodan to Tekki Nidan; and for Godan, Tekki Sandan will be added to this list. This change is again reflective of a focus on budo karate and, again, is reminiscent of Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei’s era.



KUMITE

The most obvious change is the removal of Kihon Ippon Kumite (Kiri kaeshi) and a return to standard Kihon Ippon Kumite and Jiyu Ippon Kumite for the Sankyu/3rd Kyu and Nikyu/2nd Kyu examinations. In the case of mawashi-geri, in jiyu ippon kumite, it is now optional to kick either jodan or chudan (the last syllabus made chudan compulsory). It is also worth mentioning that for those—over 60—jiyu kumite can be exchanged with Jiyu Ippon kumite. While this is not new, the updated syllabus document strongly points this out as its conclusive remarks.


Taken as a whole, the updated JKA grading syllabus is an excellent overhaul. While the syllabus was already excellent, the latest changes have lifted the bar further by further simplification and even greater emphasis on kihon at the higher echelons. Osu, André

 © André Bertel. Oita-City, Japan (2017).

Monday, 13 March 2017

RENSHUSEI FROM GERMANY: Oliver Schoemburg


Over the weekend Oliver Schoemburg, from Ahrensburg (Northern Germany) trained at my private dojo here in Oita City. I will not detail the time outside of the dojo with him and his lovely family, but I will briefly give an overview of the training.

Kihon was a large part of the practice, however, the overarching theme was 'technical moderation' and, at the heart of this, simplification. The three core techniques of Karate-Do: jun-zuki (oi-zuki), gyaku-zuki, and chudan mae-geri keage were given the greatest attention. Furthermore, zenkutsu-dachi and its various aspects (transitions from shomen, hanmi, gyaku-hanmi and unsoku/ashi-hakobi) in sonoba-kihon, ido-kihon and kumite were thoroughly addressed.

Supporting this training was a couple of imperative points in Kihon Ippon Kumite and the base understanding of the freestyle kamae in Jiyu Kumite; also, advanced practice of kata: Heian Shodan, Tekki Shodan and Hangetsu. Another theme trained, via kata, was "...waza no kankyu to achieve kime in every technique; in particular, during the execution of renzokuwaza". Indeed, all of these aspects were combined to work towards the physical aim of Budo Karate: Ichigeki-hissatsu.
In sum, Oliver did extremely well and has plenty of homework to take back to Germany for himself (and his students). おめでとうございます, 押忍! André.
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Foreign Renshusei (Trainees)

The following list includes the non-Japanese karateka who have come to Japan and had private lessons with me. Others have come to train, but the following karateka have: (1) officially applied to be renshusei; (2) have been accepted; and (3) completed training as renshusei. To those on this list, "Omedetto gozaimasu!!!"

1.
SCHOEMBURG, Oliver (GERMANY) 2017


2. LAMBEIN, Kathleen (BELGIUM) 2017

3. ANG, Eden (SINGAPORE) 2016

4. BARR, Michae(ENGLAND) 2016

5. MINEGHISHI, Natsuko (AUSTRALIA) 2016

6. ROBERT, Yann (FRANCE) 2015

7. ROBERT, Phinh  (FRANCE) 2015

8. BAINBRIDGE, Ken (AUSTRALIA) 2015

9. BAINBRIDGE, Helen (AUSTRALIA) 2015

10. MORALDE, Noel (AUSTRALIA) 2015

11. MORALDE, Heidi (AUSTRALIA) 2015   

12. GOTO, Ryu (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) 2015

13. LAMPE, Peter (GERMANY) 2015

14. KÖHLER, Frank (GERMANY) 2015

15. SCHÖNE, Rainer (GERMANY) 2015

16. PINTOS, Leo (AUSTRALIA) 2014

17. JORDAN, Pietro (ITALY/CANADA) 2014

18. LEHMANN, Christa (SWITZERLAND) 2014

19. DILKS, Morgan (NEW ZEALAND) 2014

20. RIVAS, Sergio (SPAIN) 2013

21. DUKAS, Bryan (SOUTH AFRICA) 2010

22. KALLENDAR, Paul (ENGLAND/JAPAN) 2010

23. JEHU, Lyn (WALES/JAPAN) 2009

24. DILKS, Morgan (NEW ZEALAND) 2008

25. LEHMANN, Christa (SWITZERLAND) 2008

26. KELLY, Ben (IRELAND) 2007 




PLEASE NOTE: This list will be periodically updated and re-published when foreign karateka come and complete training at my dojo.
_____________________________
Application to be a renshusei: To apply please email me directly at: andrebertelono@gmail.com. In your email include the following: i. your proposed dates to train; ii. full details: if other karateka will be coming with you; iii. dan rank(s); iv. age(s)—please note, those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/caregiver; and (v) any questions/inquiries that you may have.
 © André Bertel. Japan (2017).

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

2017 SEMINAR in KREFELD, GERMANY

Due to an extremely busy schedule here in Japan, I will only be giving one Technical Seminar abroad in 2017. This event will be held in KREFELD, central GERMANY on October 7th and 8th.




For those wishing to ensure that they get a place on the course, you should contact the organizers—Dojo Nakayama Krefeld e.V.—by email: alex@karate-Krefeld.de. As in all of my other open seminars, I advise people to book early to avoid disappointment.
Here is a link to the homepage of the host dojo: www.karate-Krefeld.de For those who will be attending, see you in Germany. 押忍, André

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Sunday, 5 March 2017

New JKA Exam Requirements (from April 1st, 2017)




Here is the latest grading syllabus of the JAPAN KARATE ASSOCIATION, which will come into effect on April 1st, 2017. It was announced on March 3rd, here in Japan. The last update of the JKA exam requirements was in 2014, which at the time I felt was very slick, this was published here (if you wish to 'compare and contrast' for yourself): http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2014/10/the-new-jka-grading-syllabus.html; however, the new syllabus—in my opinion—is a significant improvement. I'll try to write a follow up post (on why I think this is the case) in the coming weeks. Until then, here is an outline of the new JKA grading syllabus in English with some supplementary notes. Best wishes from Oita City, André.



10 KYU

Kihon (Sonoba-kihon)
1.      Chudan choku-zuki (Hachiji-dachi, tateshuto).
2.      Jodan age-uke (Hachiji-dachi).
3.      Chudan soto-uke (Hachiji-dachi).
4.      Gedan-barai (Hachiji-dachi).
5.      Chudan mae-geri keage (Heisoku-dachi, gedan-kakiwake).

* 'Gorei': Techniques follow a command count starting with the right side (four repetitions in total).



9 KYU

Kihon (Sonoba-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (Hachiji-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi, tateshuto).
2.      Jodan age-uke (Hachiji-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).
3.      Chudan soto-uke (Hachiji-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).
4.      Gedan-barai (Hachiji-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).
5.      Chudan mae-geri keage (Zenkutsu-dachi, gedan-kakiwake).

* 'Gorei': Techniques follow a command count starting with the right side (four repetitions in total).



8 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke (F).
3.      Chudan soto-uke (F).
4.      Gedan-barai (F).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
(Sonoba-kihon)
7.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Heisoku-dachi, gedan-kakiwake). (R x2/L x2)

Kata: Taikyoku-Shodan


7 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Heian-Shodan

Gohon Kumite
i.    “Jodan”: the designated attacker advances five times with jodan jun-zuki.
       The designated defender retreats five times with jodan age-uke and on the fifth and final step      
       counters with gyaku-zuki.
  • The roles of attacker are then reversed.

ii.   “Chudan”: the designated attacker advances five times with chudan jun-zuki.
       The designated defender retreats five times with chudan soto-uke and on the fifth and final      
        step counters with gyaku-zuki.
  • The roles of attacker are then reversed.


6 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
8.      Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Heian-Nidan

Kihon Ippon Kumite
i.       “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R,L).                             Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
ii.     “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R, L).                       Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.





5 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke  kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
8.      Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Heian-Sandan

Kihon Ippon Kumite
i.       “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R,L).                             Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
ii.     “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R, L).                       Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
iii.    “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R, L)           Gedan-barai kara gyaku-zuki.

•       Please note: use of tai-sabaki is not permitted.



4 KYU

Kihon
(Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke  kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
8.      Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Heian-Yondan

Kihon Ippon Kumite
i.      “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R,L).                                   Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
ii.     “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R, L).                            Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
iii.    “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R, L)                Gedan-barai kara gyaku-zuki.
iv.     “Yoko-kekomi” (chudan yoko-geri kekomi) (R, L).   Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.

•       Please note: use of tai-sabaki is not permitted.



3 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke  kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Ren-geri: chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage (F).
8.      Mawashi-geri (F)
9.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
10.     Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Heian-Godan

Kihon Ippon Kumite
i.      “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R,L).                                     Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
ii.     “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R, L).                              Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
iii.    “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R, L).                Gedan-barai kara gyaku-zuki.
iv.     “Yoko-kekomi” (chudan yoko-geri kekomi) (R, L).    Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.

•       Please note: use of tai-sabaki is not permitted.



2 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
3.      Chudan soto-uke  kara yoko enpi-uchi soshite yoko uraken-uchi (F).
4.      Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
5.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
7.      Ren-geri: chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage (F).
8.      Mawashi-geri (F)
9.      Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
10.     Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata: Tekki-Shodan

Jiyu Ippon Kumite
i.      “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R).                                    Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
ii.     “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R).                              Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.
iii.    “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R).                Gedan-barai kara gyaku-zuki.
iv.     “Yoko-kekomi” (chudan yoko-geri kekomi) (R).    Chudan soto-uke kara gyaku-zuki.



1 KYU

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Sanbon ren-zuki (F).
3.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
4.      Chudan soto-uke  kara yoko enpi-uchi soshite yoko uraken-uchi (F).
5.      Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
6.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite (F).
7.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
8.      Ren-geri: chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage (F).
9.      Mawashi-geri (F)
10.     Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
11.     Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata (Examinees ‘free-choice’ senteigata): Bassai-Dai, Kanku-Dai, Enpi or Jion.

Jiyu Ippon Kumite
i.  “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R).                         
ii. “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R).                  
iii. “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R).     
iv.“Yoko-kekomi” (chudan yoko-geri kekomi) (R).
 v. “Mawashi-geri” (mawashi-geri *) (R).                     

•       Please note: mawashi-geri is either chudan or jodan (to be decided and announced by the     
        attacker as either “chudan mawashi-geri” or “jodan mawashi-geri”); furthermore, ukewaza and   
        hangeki are free-choice, however, the `core ukewaza' and gyaku-zuki are highly recommended.



SHODAN

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun-zuki (F).
2.      Sanbon ren-zuki (F).
3.      Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
4.      Chudan soto-uke  kara yoko enpi-uchi, yoko uraken-uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
5.      Chudan uchi-uke kara kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (B).
6.      Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite (F).
7.      Chudan mae-geri keage (F).
8.      Ren-geri: chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage (F).
9.      Mawashi-geri (F)
10.     Chudan yoko-geri keage (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).
11.     Chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi) (R/L).

Kata (Examinees ‘free-choice’ senteigata): Bassai-Dai, Kanku-Dai, Enpi or Jion.

Jiyu Ippon Kumite
i.  “Jodan” (jodan jun-zuki) (R).                         
ii. “Chudan” (chudan jun-zuki) (R).                  
iii. “Mae-geri” (chudan mae-geri keage) (R).     
iv.“Yoko-kekomi” (chudan yoko-geri kekomi) (R).
 v. “Mawashi-geri” (mawashi-geri *) (R).             

•       Please note: mawashi-geri is either chudan or jodan (to be decided and announced by the     
        attacker as either “chudan mawashi-geri” or “jodan mawashi-geri”); furthermore, ukewaza and   
        hangeki are free-choice, however, the `core ukewaza' and gyaku-zuki are highly recommended.



NIDAN

Minimum of one (1) year at 1st Dan rank.

Kihon
(Ido-kihon)
1.      Chudan jun zuki (F).
2.      Sanbon ren zuki (F).
3.      Jodan age uke kara chudan soto uke soshite gyaku zuki (B).
4.      Chudan uchi uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami zuki soshite chudan gyaku zuki (F).
5.      Shuto chudan uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite (B).
6.      Ren-geri: Chudan mae geri keage kara jodan mae geri keage (F).
7.      Yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete yoko geri kekomi (F).
8.      Yoko-geri kekomi (zenkutsu dachi) (F).
9.      Mawashi geri (F).
10.     Ippo sagatte jodan age uke kara mawashi geri, yoko uraken soshite chudan jun zuki (F).

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata (The sentei-gata are highly recommended at this level).

Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).



SANDAN

Minimum of two (2) years at 2nd Dan rank.

Kihon (Ido-kihon)

1.      Jodan kizami-zuki kara jodan jun zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (Jiyu kamae) (F).
2.      Jodan age uke kara chudan soto uke soshite gyaku zuki (B).
3.      Chudan uchi uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami zuki soshite chudan gyaku zuki (F).
4.      Shuto chudan uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite (B).
5.      Ippo sagatte jodan age uke kara mawashi geri, yoko uraken soshite chudan jun zuki (F).
6.      Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan yoko geri kekomi, gyaku-zuki, mawashi-geri soshite gyaku-zuki (F).

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata.

Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).



YONDAN

Minimum of three (3) years at 3rd Dan rank.

Kihon (Ido-kihon)
1.      Sanbon ren-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age uke kara chudan soto uke soshite gyaku zuki (B).
3.      Chudan uchi uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami zuki soshite chudan gyaku zuki (F).
4.      Shuto chudan uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite (B).
5.      Chudan mae geri keage kara jun-zuki (F)
6.      Chudan mae geri keage kara chudan gyaku-zuki(F).
7.      Yoko geri kekomi kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
8.      Mawashi geri kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
(Sonoba-kihon)
9.      Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan yoko-geri kekomi soshite ushiro-geri kekomi (kicking to the front side and rear balanced on one leg)(R/L).

Kata: examiners random choice from Heian Shodan—Tekki Nidan.

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata.

Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).



GODAN

Minimum of four (4) years at 4th Dan rank.

Kihon
(Ido-kihon)
1.      Sanbon ren-zuki (F).
2.      Jodan age uke kara chudan soto uke soshite gyaku zuki (B).
3.      Chudan uchi uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami zuki soshite chudan gyaku zuki (F).
4.      Shuto chudan uke (kokutsu dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite (B).
5.      Chudan mae geri keage kara jodan jun-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (F)
6.      Yoko geri kekomi kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
7.      Mawashi geri kara chudan gyaku-zuki (F).
8.      Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan yoko-geri kekomi, mawashi-geri soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.
(Sonoba-kihon)
9.      Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan yoko-geri kekomi soshite ushiro-geri kekomi (kicking to the front side and rear balanced on one leg)(R/L).

Kata: examiners random choice from Heian Shodan—Tekki Sandan.

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata; furthermore, ‘Question and Answer Session’.

Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).



ROKUDAN

Minimum of six (6) years at 5th Dan rank.

Kihon
-       Specified by the senior examiner.

Kata: examiners random choice from Bassai-Dai, Kanku-Dai, Enpi and Jion.

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata; furthermore, ‘Question and Answer Session’.

Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).

-       ‘Question and Answer Session’ on technique.
-       Submit a Written Report on technique on the day of the exam.



NANADAN

Minimum of seven (7) years at 6th Dan rank.


Kihon
-       Specified by the senior examiner.

Tokuigata: examinees favorite kata; furthermore, ‘Question and Answer Session’.


Jiyu-Kumite (Please note: examinees of 60 years of age and older may opt to demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite as opposed to engaging in Jiyu Kumite).

-       ‘Question and Answer Session’ on technique.
-       Submit a Written Report on technique on the day of the exam.



HACHIDAN, KUDAN and  JUDAN

-       Recommendation by the JKA SHIHANKAI.

Hachidan: Minimum of seven (7) years at 7th Dan rank.
Kudan: Minimum of eight (8) years at 8th Dan rank.
Judan: Posthumous gradeMinimum of nine (9) years at 9th Dan rank.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Thursday, 23 February 2017

SUSTAINED MOTIVATION


One of the biggest factors of success in any field is MOTIVATION. As everyone knows, “motivation is not something that is hard to attain; rather, it is very hard to sustain”. It is this point, SUSTAINED MOTIVATION, which is the base of high-level achievement in any field. However, this foundation is merely the springboard of potentiality; alternatively, the barrier to success if not attained or nurtured.

Without sustained motivation, irrespective of natural ability, one can never reach an elite level in any endeavour; likewise, for those lacking significant natural ability—with sustained motivation—it literally becomes possible to reach the highest of levels. In sum, talent is extremely overrated.

Interestingly and very importantly, sustained motivation is underpinned by one imperative psychological skill… RESILIENCE. If you are—or train yourself to be—a truly resilient human being, you will be in a superior state to achieve your goals. To read more on this topic, click here: http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2013/10/karate-do-powerful-mechanism-for.html; furthermore and better, read this interview with Hanshi Renzie Hanham: http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2012/01/interview-hanshi-renzie-hanham-8th-dan.html  

This was the result of after my final semester at university. Less than top marks was not good enough. I am not bragging nor claiming I`m smart. What I am saying is that with sustained motivation you can literally do anything.

People often ask me, how is that you have practised karate since your early childhood? My karate journey began in my pre-teens, then continued through my teens, 20s, 30s and now, I still practise daily in my 40s. I guess this is also an example of sustained motivation.


These are key points that I constantly emphasise to my students as they never lose their power; moreover, they empower individuals to achieve their goals. All the very best in your endeavours:whatever they may be. Osu, André Bertel.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Monday, 20 February 2017

Heel, toes or middle of the foot?

Migi sokuto tobi yoko-geri kekomi.
One of the ‘technical must do’s’ of standard Shotokan style is to keep the entire foot flat on the floor in kihon and kata training (and, indeed yakusoku-kumite). In particular, keeping sokuto/the sword edge of the foot grounded—as opposed to `rolling them upwards`; and kakato-chushin (heel centre-line) are emphatically stressed.

The issue of sokuto is widespread; however, kakato-chushin is a characteristic of budo/traditional Shotokan. Actually, kakato-chushin is one of the bedrock ‘fundamental technicalities’ of Shotokan as a karate style; that being said, the majority of people “…who practise the Shotokan-ryu kata 'primarily for sports-type competition', for the most part, omit kakato chushin from their kihon”. This is because their focus is merely upon superficial aesthetics: as opposed to executing effective kata with potent effectiveness in the real world. This practise has long been deeply ingrained internationally. However, “...here in Japan this didn't begin coming commonplace until late 1999”.

Kihon gyaku-zuki: Kakato-chushin with the vertical axis running down from the lead shoulder through the lead leg.

Anyway, as a result (due to what happened at that time), many stopped focusing on kakato-chushin; and consequently, increasing numbers of Japanese Shotokan-style karateka (like their Western counterparts) “…now no longer understand what part of the foot is the focal point for techniques in relation to transitions and movements”. Interestingly, they keep the foot beautifully flat, yet merely do so for appearance sake.

Overall, this skill vitally relates to the use of the hips, COG (center of gravity), and where the axis is located: centre, right or left-side. It is at this point where one folds the body in harmony with the driving leg. Needless to say, all of this comes back to the soles of the feet; hence, kakato-chushin and its variations (when the point of focus moves to tsumasaki and the centre of the foot) must be 'physically understood' and trained daily.

In sum, without precise and ongoing practise of this ‘most based skill’ (please excuse the pun) the effectiveness of ones techniques will be innately compromised.
Hidari jodan mawashi-geri.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Sunday, 12 February 2017

抜塞大 & 慈恩

Movement one of Bassai Dai: Sasho soede migi chudan uchi-uke (migi ashi mae kosa-dachi).
Today included an excellent practice with Morooka Takafumi San (JKA 4th Dan). For two hours we worked on two of the Sentei-gata: BASSAI DAI and JION. The point of the training was to strip back another layer of these kata; in particular, via kihon, to improve application of techniques in Jiyu-kumite/Self-Defence. In sum, each of the sentei-gata are technically challenging (to the maximum). This is because they inherently demand "simplification and effectiveness of kihon". To answer my last post, physically speaking: this is BUDO KARATE.
The completion of movement 25 in Bassai Dai: Migi sokumen jodan uchi-uke doji ni hidari sokumen gedan-uke (Heisoku-dachi)
The opening kamae of Jion kata: Sasho uken shita ago mae (Heisoku-dachi)... A historically important posture.

Movement one of Jion: Migi chudan uchi-uke doji ni hidari gedan-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).




© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Saturday, 11 February 2017

武道空手とは?


WHAT IS BUDO KARATE?

武道空手とは?





Movment six of Bassai-Dai: Migi gedan sukui-uke kara migi chudan soto-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).
Movement  19 of Bassai Dai: Ryoshi-tsukamiyose doji ni migi sokuto gedan-kekomi (Hidari ashi dachi).
Movement 35 of Bassai Dai: Uken jodan saken gedan yama-zuki (Hidari ashi zenkutsu).

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

抜塞大: Bassai Dai


Bassai Dai (抜塞大) Kata is characterized by its advancing strength which essentially practices to suppress the opponents attack. This characteristic appears in the very first movement right through to the 42nd and final action. The name Bassai (‘Penetrate the fortress’ or ‘Storm the castle’) derives from this overarching theme. In this article I'd like to focus on some critical points of this kata and conclude with an overview.
Andre Bertel - Hidari seiken jodan kizami-zuki - February 6th, 2017.
Change from tateshuto to seiryuto: Recently, the current JKA (Japan Karate Association) Chief Instructor—Ueki Masaaki Sensei—stressed that movement nine of Bassai-Dai (previously Hidari tate shuto chudan uke in Hachiji dachi), unlike Kanku Dai, should now be applied as seiryuto instead of tateshuto; thereby, being consistent with the overarching theme of the kata.


Greater martial arts thematic consistency: Such a small variation may seem insignificant, nevertheless, I appreciate this change. Indeed, as kata are inherently martial arts templates—primarily existing to enhance ones unarmed self protection skills—any greater thematic consistency within them, in my opinion, is a very good thing.


Koshi no kaiten and chakugan: Probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Bassai Dai is koshi no kaiten (the rotation of the hips). Shomen, hanmi and gyaku-hanmi in Bassai Dai must be extreme. In doing this, one must keep the eyes, head and neck fixed to achieve proper chakugan. This is an essential skill but, for some including myself, very challenging.


Winding up: Another very important lesson from Bassai Dai, which I personally stress in my dojo, is the high emphasis on loading/chambering (or winding up) of techniques. This point is probably most obvious when executing the changing blocks. It is via theses switching actions, one learns to maximize tai no shinshuku (compression and expansion) from the core/centre; hence, avoiding “…rushing to the completion of techniques”, which merely results in ‘aesthetic strength’. I should add here that most people only focus on the chudan-uke switching actions, however, this lesson is found throughout the kata. For example, movements 38 and 39 (switching from migi to hidari gedan sukui whilst transferring from hidari to migi hiza kutsu) and movements 40-42 (the conclusive and unique shuto-uke sequence).



Moderation of tachikata: Moderation of tachikata (stances) is another aspect of Bassai Dai that one must face head on. In particular, stance width and length are primarily determined by: (a) hip and ankle flexibility (and joint health, and muscle strength); (b) the ability to maintain level hips and what I refer to as good 'three tier posture'; and (c) the optimization of the techniques being employed in regards to generating power from the entire body and, indeed, movements/transitions of COG (centre of gravity). Furthermore, just like techniques, not only incorrect positioning must be avoided but also superfluous positioning/actions must be eradicated.


Kakato chushin: Indeed on the subject of tachikata—for many karateka in Japan—Bassai Dai is seen as the kata where kakato chushin is taken to the next level. Turning with various ukewaza vividly elucidates this point. The heel-toe relationship in the various transitions found through Bassai Dai are extremely important and need to constantly be honed to develop, and maintain, optimum impact power. Needless to say, this brings to mind the importance of te-ashi onaji, which due to my time constraints, I will not specifically address today. However, if your interest is stimulated, please use the search function at the top left corner; moreover, you can reference my YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/user/andrebertel


Conclusive remarks: The late Chief Instructor of the JKA, Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, stated that “Bassai Dai is a bright jewel among the Shotokan kata”. I believe this is case largely due to the aforementioned points I’ve mentioned today: especially in regards to its applicative theme. Lastly, I will wrap with a complete outline of Bassai Dai Kata. All the best from chilly Oita City, Japan. — André




BASSAI DAI KATA
Overview

·         Rei (Musubi dachi)

·         Yoi (Sasho uken kafukabu mae, Heisoku dachi)




1.      Sasho soede migi chudan uchi uke (Migi ashi mae kosa dachi)

2.      Hidari chudan uchi uke (Hidari zenkutsu dachi)

3.      Migi chudan uchi uke (Hidari zenkutsu dachi)

4.      Hidari chudan soto uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

5.      Migi chudan uchi uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

6.      Migi gedan sukui uke kara migi chudan soto uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

7.      Hidari chudan uchi uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

8.      Ryoken migi koshi kamae (Hachiji dachi)

9.      Hidari tate seiryuto chudan uke (Hachiji dachi)

10.  Uken chudan choku zuki (Hachiji dachi)

11.  Migi chudan uchi uke (Hidari hiza kutsu)

12.  Saken chudan choku zuki (Hachiji dachi)

13.  Hidari chudan uchi uke (Migi hiza kutsu)

14.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

15.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

16.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

17.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

18.  Ryo sho chudan tsukami uke (Hidari ashi zenkutsu)

19.  Ryo sho tsukami yose/Migi sokuto gedan kekomi (Hidari ashi dachi): KIAI

20.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

21.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

22.  Morote jodan age uke (Heisoku dachi)

23.  Ryo kentsui chudan hasami uchi (Migi ashi mae fudo dachi)

24.    Uken chudan zuki (Yori ashi—Migi zenkutsu dachi)

25.  Sasho jodan nagashi uke/Migi shuto gedan uchikomi kara Migi sokumen jodan uchi uke/Hidari sokumen gedan barai (Heisoku dachi)

26.    Migi sokumen gedan barai (Kiba dachi)

27.  Hidari tekubi hidari sokumen kake uke (Kiba dachi)

28.  Sasho ni migi chudan mikazuki geri kara sasho ni migi mae enpi (Hidari ashi dachi kara Kiba dachi)

29.  Migi gedan uke/Hidari zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

30.  Hidari gedan uke/Migi zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

31.  Migi gedan uke/Hidari zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

32.  Ryo ken hidari koshi kamae (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

33.  Saken jodan uken gedan yama zuki (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

34.  Ryo ken migi koshi kamae (Heisoku dachi)

35.  Uken jodan  saken gedan yama zuki  (Hidari ashi zenkutsu)

36.  Ryo ken hidari koshi kamae (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

37.  Saken jodan uken gedan yama zuki (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

38.  Migi gedan sukui uke (Hidari hiza kutsu)

39.  Hidari gedan sukui uke (Migi hiza kutsu)

40.  Migi chudan shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

41.  Migi te migi ashi uho e

42.  Hidari chudan shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi): KIAI




·         Naore (Sasho uken kafukabu mae, Heisoku dachi)

·         Rei (Musubi dachi)



© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).