Thursday 17 July 2008

My latest training routine

Ido kihon: This month I have returned to ido-kihon practice with the following fundamental combinations: (1) Okiku tobi konde sanbon zuki; (2) Jodan age uke kara chudan mae geri soshite chudan gyaku zuki; (3) Chudan soto uke kara yori ashi yoko empi uchi, uraken yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku zuki; (4) Chudan shuto uke kara mae ashi mae geri soshite nukite; (5) Gedan barai kara chudan uchi uke (neko ashi dachi), ura uchi soshite yori ashi chudan gyaku zuki; (6) Yori ashi chudan gyaku zuki kara gedan barai, yori ashi chudan gyaku zuki soshite gedan barai; (7) Mae geri kara mawashi geri; (8) Mawashi geri kara chudan gyaku zuki; (9) Ushiro geri kara chudan gyaku zuki; (10) Kaiten shinagara uraken uchi kara chudan gyaku zuki; (11) Yoko keage ashi o kaete yoko kekomi; (12) Yoko keage kara yoko kekomi; (13) Jodan shuto sotomawashi uchi kara kaiten shinagara jodan empi uchi soshite mawari nagara sagatte jodan shuto uchimawashi uchi; and (14) Jodan soto uke kara yoko yori ashi gedan barai, mae ashi mae geri soshite chudan gyaku zuki zuki. For stationary training I'm simply practising jodan kizami zuki zuki followed by chudan gyaku zuki (jodan kizami zuki in zenkutsu dachi hanmi and chudan gyaku zuki dropping into tate hiza dachi). Naturally I'm equally practising this on both left and right sides.

Kata: Presently I'm especially focused on the following three kata: (1) Empi; (2) Unsu; and (3) Kakuyoku-nidan. However, in addition to these, I'm also ‘lightly covering’ the five Heian, Tekki-shodan (paired up with Kibaken-shodan), and the five Junro for fundmental practice.

Kaeshi ippon kumite: I've been neglecting kaeshi ippon kumite for quite a while, therefore my current kumite training regime is 100% dedicated to this form of practice. The key points that I'm polishing include full and fluid use of koshi no kaiten precisely coordinated with tai no shinshuku. My aim is ensure both attacks and the defence are decisively effective, with special attention being given to the first attack, and the full hip torque (and compression) for the final attack. Essentially hit to finish, cover/block/deflect any potential counter, then hit again with a second finishing blow. Summed up in three words... Kihon, kihon, kihon! And no, I haven't got a 'Arkwright stutter'.

Summary of my practice thus far in July: Technically this month has been very challenging revealing more rough surfaces which need to be sanded down. Returning to extensive ido-kihon training has really forced me to 'once again' fully dissect each technique in the various renzokuwaza (with precise co-ordination of the respective unsoku). On the kata front, the inclusion of Kakuyoku-nidan this month has really been special for me. Asai Sensei made me enthusiastic about all three Kakuyoku, and in-particular this one. I'm practising Kakuyoku-nidan in preparation for the Second Anniversary of Asai Sensei's Passing. In addition to my technical training I've been ending roughly half of my daily self-practices with strength work; namely a few hundred front and side deep squats (this is in addition to the one hundred kneeling squats in my kihon-keiko with gyaku zuki), and large numbers of seiken pushups. This has taken its toll on my recovery times, however, I'm hopeful this will improve in the coming weeks. On the days prior to attending group practice at the local dojo, I'm avoiding this supplementary training to avoid being over-fatigued.

A big "Osu" to you all from hot and humid Kyushu!
© André Bertel, Japan 2008

Monday 14 July 2008

Christa visits Japan

Christa Lehmann (shodan) of Switzerland visited us over the weekend, leaving Kyushu on Tuesday morning. Christa trained at my dojo back in Christchurch, whilst studying English in New Zealand. She even travelled up to Palmerston North for the 2006 National Championships as a part of the Canterbury team (my students went by mini van, which ended up being an unforgetable/hilarious road trip). It was wonderful for Mizuho and I to see Christa here in Japan. Christa also had me give her two private karate lessons. Thanks Christa for coming down to Kyushu to visit us and train! Best of luck for your upcoming university examinations.

André Bertel

© André Bertel, Japan 2008

Thursday 10 July 2008

Personal tuition from Asai Sensei

Here is some video footage of Asai Sensei giving me personal training. Receiving such direct tuition allowed me to expand my physical knowledge and understanding greatly. The most obvious outcome of this training was the extensive amounts of kata I was taught (or corrected on, if not initially learned from Sensei himself). However, more important than all of the kata was how Asai Sensei taught me to use my body for maximum effect, and also to disregard 'trends'. That is, to simply do my own karate adhering to the 'key elements' that he propagated. This biggest honor for me was that Asai Sensei made me his pupil, and always asked me to train with him. These private lessons, unlike group seminars, really took me into Asai Sensei's karate world and still inspire me now. What's more, Sensei never charged me and publicly promoted me as his deshi. It is for these reasons that every day I train, I think of my teacher Asai Tetsuhiko, and will continue to practice, and teach the karate that he passed on to me.

There is no showing off in this footage. It is like you are a fly on the wall watching Asai Sensei giving me personal training. This is how Asai Sensei taught me followed by kumite applications, and usually preceded by some of his unique kihon drills. It is also how he trained during morning practice (with the exception that one just 'tried' to follow along behind him). It may also be of interest to you that he rarely wore his dogi when giving private tuition, and never wore his dogi in his own self-training.

Please click on the stills above to enlarge them and/or follow this link to watch the video footage on youtube:

I hope that everyone enjoys this footage. Direct training from Sensei was, and always be, the highlight of my karate career. Naturally it is also the source of a large portion of the information found on this blog. It goes without saying that I was very blessed to be accepted as a direct student of Tetsuhiko Asai! As time goes by I'll upload more of my one-on-one lessons under Asai Sensei.

I wish you the very best on your karate journey.
© André Bertel, Japan 2008

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Blog Back Online...

My blog has been offline for a week as a result of maintenance and some alterations of past posts. This took longer than expected, as last week, some rather extreme changes in my karate career occurred; I will not fully elaborate here, except to say that ‘past doors have been re-opened’. In the spirit of my training, which is identical to (the source of) this blog, these doors equate to MORE TRAINING! And let’s face it, that’s all that matters!


As a result of these changes I decided to increase my fitness work, to help me to handle the additional workload. Needless to say, my body has been exhausted (my daily routine is physically hard and "time consuming" enough for me already), hence further delaying my blog being made public again. This is where I’d like to apologize, especially to the 350+ people who emailed me requesting access to the site (I'm sorry that I have no time, desire and/or energy to email everyone, nor create mass mails). I am especially sorry to my supporters within the Non-Profit-Organization Japan Karate Shoto-renmei and IJKA, but also my readers from other Shotokan organizations, karate styles and martial arts.

My blog is for everyone who loves Karate-Do, and particularly those interested in practising Asai-ryuha and the 'JKA style' of Shotokan. WELCOME BACK AND "GOMMEN NA SAI" for the delay!
© André Bertel, Japan 2008