Wednesday, 15 August 2018


On March 16th and 17th of 2019 I will be in Dresden, Germany, to conduct Technical Seminars.

For all information please click on the following link

Alternatively, you can visit the corresponding Facebook event page: 

See you  in Dresden. Osu!!

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


Ryu (Tatsu—Dragon), Ko (Tora—Tiger) and Kaku (Tsuru—Crane) are the three most important animals in karate’s early origins from China and Okinawa. In Asai style Shotokan karate, there are other animals referenced for different techniques and their applications (such as the Hebi/Snake, Saru/Monkey, Kuma/Bear and Hyo/Leopard; however, these all originate from RYU KO KAKU.

Today let’s look at RYU KO KAKU in isolation.


Dragon’s, needless to say, are mythological creatures; that being said, they are well known as representatives of the physical power and intelligence. In martial arts karate ‘RYU’ represents tornados. Two or three tornados combined creates a dragon like image. This underpins the unpredictable rising and falling tenshin (rotation) found in Asai Karate. Kata reference: the three advanced ‘tenshin’ forms: Hachimon, Senka and Rakuyo. We also see this in Kaze no te (Hushu), Unsu and Kaminariarashi, amongst others.


The tiger is for relaxation and flexibility so one can target something instantly. Martial arts karate’s `KO` is therefore best explained as agility and explosiveness, which is based on the combination of ground-power and junansei. In sum, it produces the rapid reaction techniques’, which are typical in standard Shotokan-Ryu karate (and all of the other Ryuha/Kaiha, for that matter). Kata reference: Bassai Dai, Jitte Sochin, Kashu, etc.


The crane is refined technique for impacting with precise weapons to weak targets, trapping, hooking and so forth. It is typical to use various open hand karada no buki (weapons of the body), which can be speedily applied with little or limited physical strength. Such movements were important to Asai Sensei purely based on his small stature and, indeed, limits of brute strength. Kata reference: Seiryu, Gankaku, Kakuyoku Shodan, Nidan and Sandan, and so on.

Lastly it is important to point out that in traditional Japanese karate, unlike the Chinese martial arts, THE REPRESENTATION OF THESE ANIMALS IS USUALLY NOT SO OVERT; moreover, we mix them more subtly (I am by no means suggesting 'better'; merely, again, not so overtly). Hence, the overall collective concept of ‘RYU-KO-KAKU’ in traditional karate, when perfected, is seamlessly expressed in jissen-kumite. 

Furthermore, there are a couple of others points, which I will only briefly touch on today... Firstly, many karada no buki specifically correspond with the type of animal. For example, the boshiken is `RYU`, the hitosashiyubi-ipponken is `KO` and the kakushiken is `KAKU`. Secondly, two of these weapons of the body are not in post-war Shotokan—largely due to the `sportification` of karate; nevertheless, Asai Sensei brought them back.

Taken as a whole, this approach to karate is for survival in the face of a brutal and sudden assault. In sum, this IS 'THE TRADITIONAL WAY'; that is, it fulfils the original external purpose of Tode/Karate. While this ‘Way of Karate’ is not the mainstream, those of us who follow it must preserve it for future generations: this includes the Shotokan styles take on ‘RYU-KO-KAKU’.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Kita Kyushu Training

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Kita-Kyushu dojo of my friend, and karate senior, Konishi Yasuko Sensei

 Konishi Sensei is a world-class karate technician, furthermore, a really wonderful person—whom I like and respect very much.

For the children’s training she kindly allowed me to teach whatever I wanted. So, I focused on shisei (posture) using tai no shinshuku (compression and expansion) and tenshin (rotation).

For the adults training she asked me to teach Jiyu-Kumite. I primarily focused on 'oi-komi gyaku-zuki'. In particular, we covered maai (meeting distance) and 'the mix of body power and snap'. We also briefly touched on ashi-barai as a follow-up from ren-zuki.

Overall, I would like to thank Konishi Sensei and her students for their very kind hospitality. It was a great honor and a lot of fun times. Until next time!!! ありがとうございました先生!!

To contact Konishi Sensei here is her Facebook account: Needless to say, I highly recommend her Karate-Do.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

South Africa Seminar 2019

Six years after my first seminar in South Africa, I will return. For those wishing to attend, please click on the poster for details.

Greetings from Japan. OSU, Andre Bertel.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Halle GERMANY SEMINAR 2018 (Part II)

Last week I was in Halle/Westphalia, Germany, to conduct an international Budo Karate Seminar.
Irrespective of some intentionally trying to undermine this event it was attended by over 200 karateka from across Europe. Besides practitioners from Westfalen and all over Germany, some travelled from Spain, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland and Iceland.
This seminar, as promised, marked a new beginning in my karate teaching. From now on, the content of my seminars—kihon, kata and oyo (applications) will expand. I decided to take this approach to thoroughly spread the knowledge, which was passed down to me here in Japan. Accordingly, it is now onward and upward!

For reports in Deutsch, please following the following links: Andrea Haeusler Sensei's report -

Also, by Stefan Lebelt Sensei -

To those who made this seminar happen and looked after me so well... I will conclude by offering my warmest thanks to Peter Lampe Sensei (5th Dan) and Birte; also Rainer and Christiane; the Halle Dojo Committee and members:; furthermore, all of the karateka who attended. Lastly, congratulations to Axel. Great karate and lots of nice times in and outside of the trainings.


The big question, which everyone is asking, is "When and where next year???" 

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Halle GERMANY SEMINAR 2018 (Part I)

After last weekends seminar in Halle, Germany, Oliver Schömburg made a great post (in both German and English); photos; and videos on his really excellent blogsite.

Overall, I hope that all of  the footage released "...will help to remind the karateka, who attended, the key points of the seminar". As always, we have done this, in a subtle way, so that "only those who have attended can fully decipher the established learning objectives." Soon, I will also post the images (and video footage) I have from Peter. So, more to come!!

Before that, here is the aforementioned link:

A big thanks to Olli for this, which I recieved right after rerturning home to Japan. Osu, André

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Mae-geri keage

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

11th Anniversary of this blog

Today marks 11 years since I started this blog here in Japan... I cannot believe that... And soon I'll reach the mark of 40 years training in Karate-Do, and much of that full-time. Why is time so fleeting??? Too Fast!!!

Next week I will be teaching in Germany again, but this time, for the first time in Halle: organized by Peter Lampe Sensei (5th Dan).

The karate I will teach this time is a big step up from my past international seminars. It is part two from last year, and will reveal a deeper layer of karate from the past.

Earlier this month, on June 7th, Asai Sensei would have turned 83 years old. I'm sure he would be happy that I begin to release these techniques and their applications. This has begun here in Japan ーas a commemoration ― and also, soon, in Germany.

Osu, Andre Bertel
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Friday, 1 June 2018

Trainee from Switzerland: Christa Lehman

Christa Lehman, from Switzerland, once again visited for training. This time her request was to work on雲手 (Unsu) kata. Accordingly, that is what I taught for her for both days she was here in Oita City. 

To sum up what was covered, I retaught her the kata from start to finish, then we practiced each sequence as kihon—breaking everything down into its most important parts. Following that, I took her through the ‘fighting/self-defence applications (oyo)’ and principles, which constituted the entirety of the ‘kumite’ training. Lastly, I related all of the above points to other kata, which we also practiced (when relevant to do so). While I won’t go into detail, kata referenced included: the five Heian, Hangetsu, Jitte, Sochin, Nijushiho and Gojushiho Sho.
By the conclusion of the first day of practice Christa had greatly improved her Unsu and by the end of the second day, it was clear she had lifted her level even further. Undoubtedly, with practice (on what was covered here in Oita) she will not only have an excellent looking Unsu, but one with effective martial arts substance. Ganbatte Christa, 押忍!!

Christa studying karate under me, here in Oita, 10 years ago... How time flies...

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).