Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Six Month Anniversary in Japan

It is hard to believe that exactly six months ago today, we arrived back here!
I'll therefore leave you with a picture, of beautiful Fuji San, before I depart for the appropriate celebrations.

© André Bertel, Japan 2007

Monday, 24 September 2007

Fake karate certificates: how to distinguish fradulent karate diplomas

The fake certificate sent to me (compare to Asai Sensei's writing below).
I've republished this article, which I originally posted in 2007, as in 2013 I joined the JKA (Japan Karate Association). Accordingly, I’ve done this to avoid confusing my readers (via adding this introduction). It is important to note that in 2007 I’d already been out of the Japan Karate Shotorenmei (JKS) for a year. You will notice that I’ve also reposted the article on the same date—as it was originally posted—to avoid any possibility of confusion. Furthermore, I have cropped the photo down, of me holding the false certificate, to avoid people from using the image in a negative manner.
Lastly, I have added the image of my `second Godan certificate’ from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei… I have done this because he gave me two 5th Dan diplomas. One being the standard one with the gold seal (this was not in the original article), and the second certificate, which is in his own handwriting. This better serves the purpose of the original article; that is, “…to show what authentic certification of Asai Sensei looks like in comparison to a fake”. Moreover, to emphasise that karate, and the martial arts world in general, is full of false qualifications; nonetheless, there is a comprehensive means to identify fraudulent diplomas, and fraudulent instructors. – André Bertel (August 4th, 2014).
Here is an authentic diploma from Asai Sensei. It is blatantly clear that the certificate shown above this one is fake.


Last year I formally resigned from the JKS (Japan Karate Shotorenmei); however, not long after my resignation I was sent a dodgy certificate from an individual who is planning to start their own Asai Karate organisation (and wishes me to be involved). Needless to say, in the context of karate, I immediately lost all respect for this person.

The certificate is obviously fraudulent—by a quick glance—when one looks at the writing and signature (when comparing the writing to my JKS 5th Dan certificate handwritten by Asai Shihan).

My informal experiment: For interest sake, as a fun experiment (prior to moving back to Japan), I decided to check if my senior students in New Zealand would immediately detect that the certificate was indeed fake. My notion was that, as senior karateka—who have personally acquired grades from Asai Sensei—they would easily recognise that the certificate was bogus. I framed the cert nicely and put it next to one of my authentic diplomas, which as you can see has Asai Sensei’s calligraphy. However, to my shock, my senior students all failed to notice that the certificate was fake!!! When I told them they were very surprised…

I’d like to use this point to elucidate that false certification is rampant in the karate world, and martial arts world in general; moreover, even highly experienced dan graded karateka outside of Japan, are tricked by such certification.

Remember, never trust at piece of paper, especially when it comes to the martial arts: irrespective of how much you respect a person or `think' they are good.  

Here’s two simple of ways to verify the authenticity of karate qualifications:

1.      The certificate is issued by either of Japan’s two official organisations (not the NPO groups, which can be formed by anyone who pays and has a few supporters). To confirm, Japan’s two OFFICIAL KARATE ORGANISATIONS are: (1) the JKA (Japan Karate Association)—Budo Karate; and (2) the JKF (Japan Karate Federation)—which is primarily sports karate but, unlike the majority of WKF affiliated national federations, also supports budo groups (who access official status through them).

2.      The technical ability of the person concerned. Along with the above mentioned certification, the instructor must reflect their grade in technical skill, knowledge, experience, the capacity to use their karate in the real world, and teaching ability.

 In sum, fake certificates are prevalent in karate and the martial arts, it is sad but a reality. If a certificate is presented to you, or you can see it, the chances are that you wont be able to establish its authenticity (as based on my little experiment even my senior students, who knew Asai Sensei personally, couldn’t). Therefore, rather than rely on paper, use the above two points to verify peoples qualifications/authenticity. Indeed, this can also be verified by contacting either the JKA or JKF. Osu, André Bertel.
I have added this diploma to supplement the original article. Please note Sensei's signature (in Kanji) in comparison to the fake certificate. 
© André Bertel, Japan 2007.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Jikan ga tobuyoni sugiru...

'Jikan ga tobuyoni sugiru' literally translates into English as 'time goes so fast'. Amazingly, this coming Wednesday, September 26th, we have already been living in Japan for six months! Finally, here is my current training regime as promised (I was unable to change my routine any sooner, as I uncovered several faults I was compelled to address, before moving on):

This month I'm having a break from my typical static work and focusing exclusively on ido-kihon. My routine is as follows: (1) Oi zuki or sanbon zuki; (2) Mae geri kara chudan oi zuki; (3) Dentotekina mawashi geri; (4) Ushiro geri; (5) Yoko keage ashi o kaete yoko kekomi; (6) Gedan barai kara chudan gyaku zuki; (7) Jodan age uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; (8) Chudan soto uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; (9) Chudan uchi uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; and (10) Chudan shuto uke. SELF-CHECK POINTS: Wind ups for all uke-waza and uchi-waza; hiki-te and tight elbows in punches; and hiki-ashi/large scale chambering in keriwaza; Also the two major variations of chudan shuto uke (experimentation). REPETITIONS: With the exception of shuto uke/kokutsu dachi (which I am spending ample time on), my repetitions of techniques in ido-kihon are relatively low this month. I'm typically doing 8-10 repetitions with each technique as a warm up (self-check with the 'big eye' magnifying glass) then blasting out approximately around the same number with snap.

My current focus includes Sochin, Nijushiho, Jion and the Joko series. I am utilizing Sochin and Jion to develop 'insertion of power' and smooth transitions. Nijushiho, I'm using for kumite training (oyo/application work). And I am using the Joko series to enhance my junansei (softness) in general.

In addition to Nijushiho kumite no bunkai, my aim is to 'hopefully' apply the principles I am working on in my kihon and kata. Perhaps this is commonsense, however all too often my physical training (kihon, kata and kumite) does not co-ordinate in the way I plan. So this is a target in my next few weeks of kumite training.

Keizoku wa chikara nari!
OSU, Andre

© André Bertel, Japan 2007

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Blog name change

Naturally there are a lot of references to Asai sensei on this website, including private lessons, interviews, and other experiences I had with him (and much more to come!). In saying that, the core objective of this blog is MY ONGOING SELF-TRAINING. This blog is not an ‘Asai Tetsuhiko worship site’, but rather a means of sharing my karate experiences with you (past and present). Obviously the biggest external influence, on my advanced development; was from Asai Sensei, which is naturally of interest, to many people around the world. These training experiences continue to help me, as I technically evolve through my daily practice. To clarify the blogs emphasis on my own karate training, (namely my own perception and physical understanding) I’ve changed its name to as opposed to calling it "asaikarate", as this better represents this site, and establishes proactivity, as opposed to stagnation. Regardless of who you are, who you have studied under, and your 'percieved' achievements, YOUR KARATE is your own, therefore, all that matters is the quality, and intensity, of your own training.

The purpose of my blog

The nucleus of this blog is threefold, but best summed up by one word... “Training” (Training = blood, sweat, physical pain, the satisfaction of improvement, and the ability to apply ones karate, under extreme pressure - that is, in a dangerous altercation)... Here are the three main objectives of this site:

(1) Sharing my 25+ years of karate, namely the foundational ‘JKA Shotokan style’. That is, my 'physical training', and the discoveries I make (or have made) via my daily practice, here in Kyushu, Japan.

Sharing my training experiences under the direct guidance of the Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei, and the seamless incorporation of Asai-ryuha, into ones Shotokan training. Essentially this is my physical translation of what Sensei taught me. As Asai Sensei sadly passed away, this blog is appropriately dedicated to his memory (hence the original name of the blog).

(3) The incorporation of other training methods, ideas etc.., from other sources, which help me to improve my skills as a karateka/budoka. This was the constant advice of Asai Sensei. He didn’t want people to become ‘clones of himself’. Asai Sensei hated to copy others, therefore he stole from all sources, then created his own way, which best suited his physique and unique attributes. This is the only means, by which individuals can achieve greatness, in any field, karate included. Sadly, as many organisations aim to control their members and keep their wallets fat, this is usually not encouraged.


(4) Seperate from my core objectives, but crucial to mention: I have a non-political stance, therefore, this blog is for anyone interested in my karate experiences, regardless of style, organization, martial art etc. Even if you are not a practising martial artist, welcome! Hopefully my blog is an OK read for you!


Here's official letter, to those on my blogs mail list: (PS - If you want to become a member of the email list -it's 100% free, please drop me a line at and your address will be added).



Firstly, thanks you very much! The hundreds of emails, letters, and even some phone calls I have recieved, have been nothing less than fantastic. It's wonderful to know that people all around the world have been enjoying, and learning, from this little room on the web. I want people to steal my ideas, even better, improve them, or alter them, to more efficiently achieve their own training targets. Whether one is a complete beginner or senior instructor, I'd like to share what I have learned, and what I'm currently working on, with you. Likewise, I would like to hear your positive and negative feedback! As you all know, karate is a daily 'work-in-process' for me.

The address of my blog has been changed to wrestle an issue, which has been out of my control. I originally named the site "Asai Karate", however, many people have seemingly taken the site, as a 'worship alter', for Asai Sensei. Of course, the site is dedicated to the memory of my late teacher, Asai Tetsuhiko, and the preservation of what he taught me. However, it is also dedicated to the foundation (the karate of the unified JKA), which forms the base of what we now refer to as Shotokan. Without this solid base, Asai Sensei's karate is impossible to 'effectively' learn from, and likewise, self-innovation is clearly counterproductive. This base can only come from the 'large repetitions' of precise traditional kihon. This training never ends, regardless of age, dan rank, and position.

The concrete base of my karate, is that of the JKA; the advanced training I recieved from Asai Sensei is the marble floors, perhaps with a little bit of 'gold mix'; and the house is "what I'm building by myself". Just being a member of an organisation, or student of famous instructor, can not build your house for you! Only by proactively using the material they have provided, can you begin to build your house, and even then, you still need to source materials from elsewhere. Only through your own blood, sweat, and hardship in general, can you achieve a high technical level in karate. That is the ongoing target of my training, and all others who are true karateka.

Therefore the new address of my site is as follows:

Again, thanks to all of you for your kind support. I don't claim to be 100% right, but are trying my best via my strict physical training. Where my knowledge and ability fails me, I attempt to make up for it, on the dojo floor. If I maintain this physical commitment to my karate, I know I will continue to improve. This 'seeking of technical perfection' to me, is what completely defines karate-do. Without training fiercely, with this determined mentality, we have nothing more than an image.
I wish you the very best on your karate journey, OSU!
© André Bertel, Japan 2007