Friday 2 February 2024

義理 (Giri)

 Continuing on from my last article brief article on Japanese culture, relevant to the practice of Karate,  ‘On’, today I’ll explain 義理 ‘Giri’ (Social Obligation). Once again, I’ll begin in 日本語 (Japanese language) followed by English.


義理 (Giri)

「義理」とは、自分がある特別な関係にある人々に対して果たさなければならない義務のようなものです。人間関係において義理は、恩に報いることを必要とします。たとえば、援助してくれた人や恩恵を施してくれた人に、その返礼をしなければならないのです。


封建時代には、武士にとっての義理とは、主君から与えられる領地や家禄といった恩恵に対し、自分の命を捨てても主君に仕えるということでした。現在でも、義理固いということは、その人の人間性が頼に値することを示します。


義理を欠けば、他人の信用や支持が得られなくなるのです。

 

The term ‘Giri refers to the obligation to act in relation with other people, with whom has some particular social relations. It is a duty that obliges one to observe reciprocal relations. For example, to help those who have helped us; or, to do favors, for those who’ve done favors for us.

 In feudal Japan, the obligation of Bushi (Warriors) was to serve their respective lord, even at the cost of their own lives, and repay the favor received from the lord, such as land or stipend.

 

Even now, in contemporary Japan, the observance of Giri is an indication of high moral worth in society; furthermore, and more importantly, to neglect Giri obligation results in the loss of trust and support of other people.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Thursday 1 February 2024

花より団子 (Hana yori dango)

Today, being the first day of February, rather than write an article I thought to simply post some images from my daily self-training. Today's practice comprised of the IKS Shodan Ido-Kihon; Tekki Shodan, Hangetsu, Raiko and Maizuru Kata; and Kumite (Uchikomi): Jodan kizami-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki.


The Japanese kotowaza (proverb) I used to title this post: 花より団子 (Hana yori dango) literally means "Dumplings rather than flowers".

Its meaning is "TO PREFER FUNCTION OVER FORM" as in to prefer to be given functional, useful items (such as dumplings) instead of merely decorative items (such as flowers). This is the difference between sports and budo/bujutsu karate/shotokan.


I hope that this post finds everyone training well and in good spirits. Greetings from Oita City, Japan.

OSU, 
André








 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Current Self-Training Regime


Here is my current self-training regime, which began on January 1st. I have not included my stationary kihon nor conditioning work, as it has been inconsistent/random each day. Greetings and best wishes from Oita City, Japan. OSU!!! - AB.


移動基本  (IDO-KIHON) 

 

  The stance is 前屈立ち (Zenkutsu-dachi) unless otherwise stated in brackets; likewise, the unsoku is 踏み出し (fumidashi).

 

  飛び込んで三本連突き。Tobi-konde sanbon ren-zuki

 

  上段揚げ受けから中段前蹴り蹴上げそして中段逆突き。Jodan age-uke kara chudan mae-geri keage soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

  中段外受けから寄り足(騎馬立ち)横猿臂そして裏拳横回し打ち。Chudan soto-uke kara yori-ashi (kiba-dachi) yoko-enpi soshite uraken yokomawashi uchi.

 

  (後屈立ち) 手刀中段受けから中段刻み前蹴りそして中段縦四本中段貫手。(Kokutsu-dachi) Shuto chudan-uke kara chudan kizami mae-geri soshite chudan tateshihon-nukite.

 

  (後屈立ち) 中段内受けから上段刻み、そして中段逆突き。(Kokutsu-dachi) Chudan uchi-uke kara jodan kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

  回転しながら下段払いから中段逆突き。 Kaiten shinagara gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

  連蹴り: 中段前蹴り蹴上げから上段前蹴り蹴上げ。 Ren-geri: Chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage.

 

   中段前蹴り蹴上げから中段追い突き。Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan oi-zuki.

 

   回し蹴りから中段逆突き。 Mawashi-geri kara chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

  中段後ろ蹴り蹴込み。Chudan ushiro-geri kekomi.

 

十一(騎馬立ち)横蹴り蹴上げ足を変えて横蹴り蹴込み。(Kiba-dachi) Yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete yoko-geri kekomi.

 

十二  手刀上段外回し打ち、手同じで手刀上段内回し打ちShuto jodan sotomawashi uchi te onaji de  shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi

 

 型  (KATA) 


    平安初段 (Heian Shodan)

 

    鉄騎初段 (Tekki Shodan)

 

    半月 (Hangetsu)

 

    燕飛 (Enpi)

 

    舞鶴 (Maizuru)

 

組手  (KUMITE) 

 

 自由一本組手  (型の応用)  Jiyu Ippon Kumite (Kata no Oyo).

  打ち込み   Uchikomi: special focus on 突き技 (tsukiwaza).

My kumite specialty is DEAI, which I learned from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei. This skill is imperative for smaller karateka, but also for all seeking to maximize their karate ability.

 

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Monday 29 January 2024

恩 (“On”)

 Many have noted the kanji—for my name—on my dogi and obi is: 恩道礼 (“On-dou-rei”) So today, let’s briefly examine 恩 (“On”). In doing this I can also briefly explain an aspect of Japanese culture. 

I will begin writing in 日本語 (Japanese) followed by 英語 (English).


""

「恩」とは、何らかの好意を受けたときに人が感じる深い感謝の気持ちで、 それにいくらか負い目のような気持ちも混っています。人は、自分をいつくし み育ててくれた親に恩を感じます。いろいろ世話になり目をかけてくれた雇い 主に恩を感じます。また、やさしく指導してくれた先生にも恩を感じるでしょ う。


日本では、恩を感じたら、何らかの形で恩人に尊敬の念とか忠誠心を示さな ければならないとされています。世話になった人々に贈り物をする習慣も、こ のような事情から生まれてきたのです。 

 

"ON"

“On” is the deep feeling of gratitude that people feel when they receive some kind of favor, and it is also mixed with a feeling of some sense of indebtedness. For example, people feel indebted to parents who cared for them and raised them well. Likewise, someone might feel grateful to their employer who takes care of them. Another example is that a student may feel indebted to a sensei who has taught them well. Here in Japan, it is believed that if you feel indebted to someone, you must show respect or loyalty to the benefactor in some way. Hence, the custom of giving gifts to 'seniors', 'teachers', etcetera (which is often very odd to non-Japanese) came from this situation.


"Ondorei" is my name in kanji (from my mentor, Asai Tetsuhiko Shuseki Shihan). It has a nice meaning in Japanese, from a direct Sensei/Deshi relationship. But it is not that simple. It is also steeped in 義理 (Giri), which means ‘Obligation’. This has especially guided my mission as an instructor, in addition to my daily self-training. To conclude, if there is interest, I will address 'Giri' in a future article.

 

恩道礼 (ONDOREI)

(c) Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Saturday 20 January 2024

舞鶴型 (Maizuru Kata)


I dedicated today’s practice to the kata 舞鶴 (Maizuru) and its oyo/practical applications in jissen-kumite. This kata focuses on sharp ‘karada no buki’ attacking various anatomical weak points; furthermore, doing so with distinct 白鶴拳  (Hakutsuruken/white crane fist) techniques and strategies. Much use is made of 不動立ち (Fudo-dachi) and 三戦立ち (Sanchin-dachi) to execute koryu karate-jutsu waza.

 

Maizuru is an extremely elegant kata with its biggest technical challenge being all of the sudden and fluid changes in 力の強弱 (Chikara no kyoujaku). That being said, like the other Koten-gata, as technical as it is, it’s also natural and not hard on the body. This means that more explosive power can be produced.

 

In my own training I utilize kata to enhance my jissen-kumite/goshin-jutsu capacity and, accordingly, this results in the extraction of kihon (single and renzokuwaza) from kata. In IKS, kihon is not only making waza into thin air for ‘form’ practice, but also extensive impact training and partner drills.

 

Kata therefore, while still being an art form, functions as pragmatic training tool.

 

舞鶴 is a kata I really enjoy practicing, and, at the same time I find very challenging. Accordingly, like the other koten-gata, it motivates my training and enhances the base ‘standard Shotokan’ kata.

押忍

André Bertel

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Sunday 14 January 2024

Renshusei from Wales: Jon and Misty

Jonathan Jones, and his partner Misty, from Wales came for private training on January 14th. They were the first non-Japanese Renshusei of 2024.

They got in touch with me via my friend Lyn Jehu Sensei who came for training back in 2009. It’s hard to believe that’s nearly 15 years ago! Here’s a link: André Bertel's Karate-Do: Trainee from Kitakyushu (andrebertel.blogspot.com)

 

Both Jon and Misty are currently brown belts with KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain) and came with the objective refining their 基本 (kihon). Based on this request, I focused on the foundational body mechanics of Shotokan as budo/bujutsu: especially focusing on Brown belt/Shodan level 腰の回転 (Koshi no kaiten). In this process, I had them do a lot of work on 前屈立ち (Zenkutsu-dachi): shomen and hanmi. A key aspect was ‘stance moderation’ for optimal functionality, which is largely based on each individual’s physique and flexibility. 

 

In addition, and in support of this, we also covered 五本組手Gohon Kumite, and (kata): especially 平安初段 (Heian Shodan) and 鉄騎初段 (Tekki Shodan). In particular, the focus in my teaching was ‘how kihon, kata and kumite’ are one in the same’ and reinforce each other’ for greater effectiveness.

 

Overall, Jon and Misty were great to work with and I really enjoyed having them here in the dojo. I really hope the training will result in immediate and long-term technical gains as experienced by other Renshusei. 


Lastly, I want to wish Jon and Misty the very best in your respective karate journeys and a wonderful time here in Japan.

 

押忍

André

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Friday 12 January 2024

IKS SHODAN EXAM KIHON (IDO-KIHON)

Here is the official 移動基本 (Ido-Kihon) for the SHODAN EXAMINATION of 国際空手道松濤館 (IKS—International Karate Shotokan).

 

The essence of this kihon is not complexity but, rather, precise and effective Shotokan-Ryu fundamentals.  Accordingly, just doing the movements is insufficient. Rather, each element must be ‘classical old-school’ Shodan level.

 

Techniques checked in this exam precisely check all base elements of the core Shotokan kihon. The five base uke, five keriwaza (also kizami-geri), oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki, kizami-zuki, shihon-nukite, yoko-uraken, yoko-empi,  and both basic forms of shuto strikes. Two kicking combinations are covered, front and side. Also ‘legs followed by hands’ in two forms. The only single waza in the test is ushiro-geri, which in base form, must be mastered to achieve this rank. It must be noted that besides ‘tenshin’ for ushiro-geri, the exam also features a 360 degree turn with gedan-barai followed by gyaku-zuki. It is also important to mention the unsoku and transitions. Fumidashi, yoriashi/yoseashi, tobi-konde, moving through kosa-dachi, and stance switches from zenkutsu-dachi to kiba-dachi, and kokutsu-dachi to zenkutsu-dachi. Note - a missing element is the 'double kick with one leg'. While this ren-geri is practiced, IKS focuses on power power kicks and, accordingly, this was phased out of the Shodan Exam.

 

It must be noted that 初段 (Shodan) is not 一段 (Ichidan); that is, while it is the ‘First Dan’, the name literally translates as ‘Beginners level’. Thus, this is where one’s karate journey truly begins. At the heart of this beginning is having the sufficient kihon in order to ‘truly begin’. 

 

In addition to all these points, to change from a brown to a black belt, one must demonstrate strong spirit, courage and determination; moreover, foster resilience. Without the aforementioned physical points, and these psychological strengths, Shodan has no meaning. Sadly, nowadays, Shodan in most cases, literally has no meaning.

 

IKS has been working hard to restore “Dan” to their proper standards. Accordingly, anyone who receives Dan from our organization is truly worth their rank. You can see this in the mass failures at our examinations. This not only benefits IKS, but karate as a whole. Restoration of "true DAN".

 

押忍

André

 

—————————————

André Bertel

7th Dan

International Karate Shotokan

Oita City, JAPAN 

—————————————



移動基本

   The stance is 前屈立ち (Zenkutsu-dachi) unless otherwise stated in brackets; likewise, the unsoku is 踏み出し (fumidashi). Each waza is demonstrated between three and five times. Each stance, hip action, leg movement, and waza must be completed and clear. Not rushed nor blurred for the mere appearance of speed. A kiai is applied only on the last waza of each set.

 

   飛び込んで三本連突き。

  Tobi-konde sanbon ren-zuki.


二  上段揚げ受けから中段前蹴り蹴上げそして中段逆突き。

Jodan age-uke kara chudan mae-geri keage soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

  中段外受けから寄り足(騎馬立ち)横猿臂そして裏拳横回し打 ち。

Chudan soto-uke kara yori-ashi (kiba-dachi) yoko-enpi soshite uraken yokomawashi uchi.

 

四  (後屈立ち) 手刀中段受けから中段刻み前蹴りそして中段縦四本中段貫手。

(Kokutsu-dachi) Shuto chudan-uke kara chudan kizami mae-geri soshite chudan tateshihon-nukite.

  

  (後屈立ち)  中段内受けから上段刻みそして中段逆突き。

(Kokutsu-dachi) Chudan uchi-uke kara jodan kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

   回転しながら下段払いから中段逆突き。

Kaiten shinagara gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

   連蹴り: 中段前蹴り蹴上げから上段前蹴り蹴上げ。

 Ren-geri: Chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage.

 

    中段前蹴り蹴上げから中段追い突き。

Chudan mae-geri keage kara chudan oi-zuki.

 

   回し蹴りから中段逆突き。

Mawashi-geri kara chudan gyaku-zuki.

 

   中段後ろ蹴り蹴込み。

Chudan ushiro-geri kekomi.

 

十一(騎馬立ち)横蹴り蹴上げ足を変えて横蹴り蹴込み。

(Kiba-dachi) Yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete yoko-geri kekomi.

 

十二     手刀上段外回し打ち手同じで手刀上段内回し打ち。

Shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi te onaji de shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi. 

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Monday 8 January 2024

明けましておめでとうございます!!!

 On the afternoon of January 1st, I had my first training of 2024. Unlike the previous day, New Years Eve—which was all 基本 (Kihon), my New Years Day practice was focused on kata.  My first kata of the year was 五十四歩小 (Gojushiho Sho).

 

Many of you know that from the early 1990s, I was focused on 五十四歩大 (Gojushiho Dai) as it was, and still is, better for my physique; nevertheless, I still enjoy ‘Sho’ as a variation to my more ‘standard self-practice’. Needless to say, many of my Japanese trainees, and trainees around the world, specialize in this kata.

 

My focus in this practice was on smoothness of movements/transitions and sharp projection of waza; furthermore, stance moderation dictated by posture and alignment to optimize technical effectiveness.

 

In addition to this kata I also did 慈恩 (Jion), 鶴翼 (Kakuyoku), and

手 (Shote).


Overall, a solid start for 令和6年 (the sixth year of the Reiwa Emperor). Big things to come this year!!!

 

I want to wish everyone here in Japan and around the world happiness, good health and excellent training. In sum, "Happy New Year".

 明けましておめでとうございます!!!


© Andre Bertel. Oita City, New Zealand (2024).

Wednesday 27 December 2023

KIHON MUST DEVELOP FUNCTIONAL KARATE

Takushoku University 1939

You can’t only practice 基本 on the spot—Sonoba Kihon; and marching up and down the dojo—Ido Kihon. Yes, merely hitting the invisible enemy. Splitting the air. 


Yet so many fail to insufficiently go beyond these base methods. It's like a baseball player simply practicing their swing, yet never facing a pitcher trying to strike them out. Lots of karate instructors are like this now, only image, not combative practicality. 

 

It is utterly imperative to train kihon to be functional, which means ‘kumite training of kihon’ and full-contact impact work; moreover, doing this practice needs to be regular—especially for the higher kyu grades and beyond. Otherwise, it is not true karate: only an impression of karate: 'karate movement'.

 

The constant target of “…being able to hit more accurately, more strongly, and faster, are naturally high priorities amongst budo karateka (plural)”.

 

What I strongly advise, for those doing insufficient kihon, is to simply amp up uchikomi practice and bag work (also makiwara, focus mitts, impact shields, etcetera).

 

I also recommend doing reps and sets. Three sets of fifteen sets of a ‘one—two’ combination: for example, kizami-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki. Set one as uchikomi with a training partner. Sets two and three with maximum explosiveness on the sandbag, followed by moving focus mitts.

 

This is a super simple example, nevertheless, a 'start point' for many people. Reps and sets help: they motivate! I need to add here that many require strength training. Not only to maximize their karate and avoid injury, but also for daily life. The typically sedentary nature of people's lives now has resulted in the average person's muscles and bones to be weaker. Hojo-undo, weights, calisthenics, plyometrics, and so forth, are all excellent to maximize ourselves. However, it is imperative to take care to not overtrain and cause injuries: step-by-step... The key is to be systematic and build up slowly.



ALL OF THESE POINTS ARE 'KIHON'. Mix them in accordance with what you need to maximize yourself. Furthermore, do so safely so that you can avoid injuries. Simply punching the air on the spot and doing line-work is OK for beginners and intermediate level karateka; however, one cannot develop true BUDO/BUJUTSU (that is, REAL KARATE) if they only do this.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Tuesday 26 December 2023

New Hirota TAKUMI Dogi

 I recently go a new dogi from Hirota. My last one was a MH-11 and the latest is a new designed custom cut TAKUMI.

This time I’ve gone for a longer cut for more comfort.


There are several reasons I really like the Takumi. Firstly, it sits very well. Secondly, it is very thin and dries quickly. Thirdly, it’s strong! You can literally use it in hardcore grappling training. Fourthly, and in merely my opinion as a professional instructor, it’s the best karatedogi on the market; that is, "IT'S THE BEST" KARATE DOGI IN THE WORLD.


I literally go through two or three Dogi every year as I self-train every day, in addition to teaching. The Hirota Takumi 'more than fulfills' all my requirements.



Accordingly, while I still give the MH-11 five out of five stars (it is comparable with Shureido and Tokaido's best models), the Hirota Takumi simply has the edge over everything else.

押忍

© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).