Saturday 19 October 2013


I am now reviewing the five Heian kata with special focus on fine points of fundamental technique (kihonwaza) and, in particular, the removal of superfluous actions. For example, wind ups for ukewaza such as morote-uke, seiken juji-uke etcetera; and completion of techniques within the correct range of action, such as kihon tsukiwaza (namely, jun-zuki and gyaku-zuki). This approach is also being taken in my kihon training and includes a tighter control over nukite and gyaku-zuki following keriwaza (i.e. – shuto-uke kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite, mae-geri kara yoko-kekomi, mawashi-geri soshite gyaku-zuki and so forth).

Yet again, repeating the maxim I constantly stress on this site, “kihon is everything”. Accordingly, this is because it offers the ultimate challenge, as via its complete and utter `rawness’. Kihon, the fundamental kata, and yaksuoku-kumite show us how little we “really know”: and “know” in karate (and all other physical disciplines for that matter) is determined by what we have “programmed into our bodies”. Where do YOU come unstuck in this regard…? There are certainly plenty of places in my case: especially when I am fatigued during a taxing class. Needless to say, this is the ultimate challenge of karate—it gives us the necessary taste of `humble flavoured pie’; moreover, it elucidates how physical training can benefit us mentally and spiritually.

My understanding is that many people eventually quit training because of this point—the feeling of never getting the fundamental techniques to the level that they have in their minds/aspirations. This is definitely the wrong reason to quit and it misses what karate-do is… Karate-do is not a destination of perfection; rather, it is a road towards it—a road towards an `unattainable yet motivational goal’. Striving to get the most basic techniques right is a lesson that never ends, and I am very thankful for this point.

Pushing through this challenge is a POWERFUL MECHANISM FOR DEVELOPING RESIILIENCE: that is, the ability to bounce back in life. Resilience is a quality that everyone should have and need to maximise their lives. We shouldn’t be vain and think that we want to be the best—this is a dangerous trap, which leads to self-defeat… Instead, just think that we want to better ourselves and humbly strive towards this goal. By following this `way’ one will become the best they can be.

All the best from Nippon, André.
© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2013).

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