Saturday 8 October 2022



This week I spent most of my time working on kihon, much of which was practicing techniques from 自由な構え (jiyu na kamae). The link and bidirectional reciprocation—between the classical and freestyle waza—is an utterly imperative aspect of training for senior kyu grades and above. Before I outline my two-hour practice, from today, I thought I’d talk a little about classical and freestyle training.


Okay! So, on one hand, if jiyu kumite is the total focus, “karate” itself is lost and metamorphoses into something indistinguishable. We see this in ‘freestyle karate’ which—without the classical kata, kihon and yakusoku-kumite—I would strongly argue is no longer karate. Rather, such ‘styles’ simply uses the name ‘karate’ as a sales pitch or means of somehow connecting to the oriental fighting arts.


However—at the same time—without the various forms of freestyle/jiyu kumite, effective karate cannot be tested and developed. Keep in mind Funakoshi Gichin Sensei’s precept: 形は正しく実戦は別物  (Kata wa tadashiku jissen wa betsumono) which primarily points to the fact that, ‘while kata is important, real fighting is different from it’. To summarize, “…true karate cannot separate classical and freestyle”. They literally need each other.


In saying that, freestyle/jiyu kumite should primarily be practiced in the Budo manner, that is “…controlled but with kime at all times”; that is, not disintegrating into a tag match. Put another way, in any given moment, if the offensive (or counteroffensive) technique is not controlled it must have the potential to cause serious damage.


Thus (to complete this training), full contact techniques must constantly be practiced and tested on the heavy bag, impact, shields, focus mitts, the makiwara etcetera. In this way, one will develop their karate fully and, needless to say, freestyle/jiyu-kumite training will not result in constant injuries.


In sum, (a) we must train for brutal effectiveness; (b) we must train to preserve the classical art of karate; and (c) we must train for the morrow by mitigating the risks of injuries to ourselves and our respective training partners.


Last but not least I wish everyone the very best in their training and excellent health. 

押忍!!  Andre



Outline of my kihon training since: 令和410月5日()



The first eight renzokuwaza are self-explainable (From Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei and Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei). All of these are 移動基本 (Ido-Kihon). The final practice is その場基本 (Sonoba Kihon). In all cases I had no set number of reps; instead, I trained until failure. That is, until I needed a short interval. The complete session, excluding the warm-up and cool down, was 120 minutes in duration.


1. (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Kizami-zuki kara sanbon ren-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi).


2. (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan oi-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi).


3. (Zenkutsu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Ippo-sagatte jodan age-uke kara chudan mawashi-geri, uraken yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan oi-zuki.


4. (Zenkutsu-dachi, gedan barai no kamae) Jodan sotomawashi uchi kara shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi.


5. (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Kizami-zuki kara jodan oi-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi), chudan gyaku-zuki, uraken yokomawashi uchi (kiba-dachi), shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi soshite shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi (zenkutsu-dachi). Some of you will recognize this renzokuwaza from Nakayama Sensei's 'Dynamic Karate'.


6. (Zenkutsu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan oi-zuki, mawashi-geri, chudan gyaku-zuki, ushiro-geri kekomi, uraken yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


7. (Kiba-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete yoko-geri kekomi.


8. (Zenkutsu-dachi, gedan barai no kamae) Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki, chudan soto-uke, chudan gyaku-zuki, gedan-barai soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


9. Sonoba-kihon: (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi); (jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) chudan soto-uke, gyaku-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi); (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) gedan-barai soshite gyaku-zuki (zenkutsu-dachi). The focus of this training is to compress into jiyu-dachi with each uke then expand into zenkutsu-dachi for each tsuki; in sum, the practical maximization of tai no shinshuku (the contraction and expansion of the body).



自由一本組手 (Jiyu Ippon Kumite): Like in the final practice of kihon the focus is on fully applying tai no shinshuku for evasion and defense, then to counterattack; furthermore, in the loading for the attacking techniques. In both attack and counterattack from the compressed position, the emphasis is on “…compression without allowing any power to be lost upwards but, rather, focusing power horizontally through the target”.

'Axing' the chudan mawashi-geri to achieve a 'heavy' kick.
Kakato-otoshi... The unpredictable 'heel drop' more commonly known in English as an axe-kick.

I did not practice kata, as such, in this session, but concluded by cooling down by going through 拔塞小 (Bassai Sho) a few times.


© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

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