Wednesday, 17 March 2021


 What is the purpose of IKS 国際空手道松濤館 (International Karate Shotokan) having SO MANY KATA?

 Have I mastered all this content? Of course not, no one could do that!

 The point is to preserve these kata and the respective budo knowledge within them and, most importantly, GIVE MORE OPTIONS FOR KARATEKA TO SPECIALIZE! Specialization is determined by one's personal strengths and weaknesses, respective physiques, health, injuries, age, likes and dislikes, and so on. Everyone is different therefore, once attaining a strong foundation, ideally everyone must follow different karate paths (that is, paths best suited for them to reach their peak skill level in the art).

 This aspect of MORE OPTIONS is very important in IKS as SPECIALIZATION is utterly imperative for MAXIMIZATION OF EACH INDVIDUALS SKILL. Yes, again, let me repeat: "if you want to reach your maximum potential in karate you must specialize!"


So, while we have A LOT MORE KATA than other Shotokan groups, our syllabus encourages (actually requires) ‘specialization in a small number of kata’.


Yes, it’s true I go through all of the kata as ‘general practice’ (and I recommend others do this as well); however, my personal training really focuses on just a handful of them. One kihon-gata, one sentei-gata, one or two jiyu-gata (standard Shotokan-Ryu) and one or two ‘Asai-ha’ kata. 

What’s great about this is the 'broad general practice' often steers what I end up doing in my specialized training (you discover things as you develop and evolve); furthermore, this changes over time. In this way, one’s skill is not only lifted, but training is far more interesting and motivational. In sum, International Karate Shotokan’s training creates a combination of getting better and enjoying training; hence, produces strong motivation to practice. Karate is hard, but done in this way is also a joy to do.

 This is one of the reasons why many senior karateka, especially those seeking budo karate have come to the IKS.

Let's face it, unless you are a competitor under a certain system of rules or in a group that demands certain kata for your next examination, "...the Shotokan kata examination (and competition requirements) developed in the middle of 20th Century are not only outdated, they are literally lessening people's technical potential".


Lastly, I want to stress the issue of health and age. One of the reasons Asai Sensei brought in the additional kata was not only to ‘add bujutsu karate (techniques, applications and principles) missing from mainstream Shotokan’ but also to promote more natural karate. Needless to say, the standard Shotokan kata (for the most part) tend to be quite hard on the body, whereas the Asai-ha kata have more natural movements. In particular, they become more suitable as one’s body ages. In this way, karateka can continue ‘within the Shotokan style’ as a base and bolster their skills irrespective of injuries, age and overall condition.


This extension of Shotokan, therefore, is not only good for specialization, motivation, and health… It is also an exciting, new, and more advanced journey on the Shotokan path.

 I wish you all the absolute best on your respective karate journeys. Osu, André

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

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