Monday 11 August 2008


I decided to slightly increase my self-training during our Obon holiday which started on Saturday. This evening on completion of day four, my body is really feeling it! The additional practices really shocked my muscles from day one.

My Saturday training session, under the tuition of Tachibana Shihan (8th Dan), was harder on my legs than usual as I'd already trained twice, firstly in the morning (kata; precisely following my current 'fixed' routine) and secondly in the early afternoon (kihon, namely the ido-kihon for the cha obi and shodan exams) therefore I will not describe these sessions in detail here. Fortunately I managed to get through the dojo training with my burning thy muscles, feeling much better by the end of practice. I'll briefly give an overview of this lesson here:

Jodan age uke - The Asai way: We initially practiced stationary migi chudan gyaku zuki from tateshuto kamae 30 times, followed by jodan age uke kara chudan gyaku zuki 30 times, then chudan gyaku zuki kara jodan age uke 30 times. We then switched and repeated on the opposite side. Physically the hardest point of this training was the deep zenkutsu dachi we remained in. My quads were on fire. Shihan emphasized exact shomen, hanmi, hiki-te, shisei (posture), power from the tanden/hara, and uchi momo (the inside thys). The main focus in this class was on jodan age uke, the way that Asai Shuseki Shihan taught it. Tachibana Shihan demonstrated this technique focusing on shoulder snap, and natural energy by 'swinging' the block. We applied this by using age uke to attack the opponent and/or destroy their balance from a variety of angles, which Shihan demonstrated several times as he learned directly from Shuseki Shihan. This led onto partner drills up and down the dojo with the attacker firing three jodan punches (jodan oi zuki, jodan gyaku zuki and jodan maete zuki) with the defender blocking with jodan age uke (hanmi), jodan age uke (gyaku hanmi) and jodan age uke (hanmi). This was again repeated against three jodan heiko zuki with the attacker making ryo seiken hiki-te (loading up again for the next double punch) after being blocked by the defender. In all cases, snap, swing and correct positions of the hips, ankles, and posture, were closely monitored.

Kata: Kata covered were Heian-sandan (including one time in reverse), Tekki-shodan, Kibaken-shodan, and Jitte; three or four times each. Fundamental comparisons were made between the positions of the elbows in Shotokan-ryu techniques in 'Best Karate' style (namely Heian-sandan and Jitte, but also Tekki and Kibaken). Tachibana Shihan gave special attention to Jitte by initially taking us through it very slowly. He explained and demonstrated each technique, during which I was given some valuable advice on my bo tsukami uke. The class ended with Kihon Ippon Kumite in grading syllabus fashion (jodan oi zuki, chudan oi zuki, chudan mae geri, chudan yoko kekomi and jodan mawashi geri with free-choice defenses, and counterattacks).

Sunday Training Sessions: The first two practices on Sunday were dedicated to the kihon in my current routine: ( with special attention given to mawashi geri in isolation, and the final renzokuwaza with jodan soto uke. The training was very tough and revealed some new weaknesses I'm determined to erradicate. The third training session was altered from my current routine to include Jion, Junro-shodan, Kibaken, Kanku Dai, Sochin and Kakuyoku-nidan. Much of the time was committed to Jion and Junro concentrating on the fundamentals which I'm currently honing. A physically and technically demanding practice to say the least.

Monday and Tuesday: Focus has been on kihon keriwaza, and Kakuyoku-nidan in preparation for the memorial practice for Asai Sensei this Friday. Today was special as I did a beach training taking advantage of the 30+ tempratures. Much of my kick training was done balancing on rocks fighting a strong breeze. The warmth and soothing wind made hard training seem easy. Kata practice on the beach was typically challenging for the exact application of level hips, due to a sloped, and 'soft sinking' surface. I often entered the water. To be completely honest, as tired as I was today after the high repetitions, it was more difficult to keep a smile off my face, as the training was so much fun.

I must like pain, as I'm greatly looking forward to tomorrow's practice sessions. But I'm sure I'll be waking up with plenty of lactic acid to reduce my enthusiasm. All the more reason to train! Where ever you are in the world let's train hard together in the spirit of true karate-do.


© André Bertel, Japan 2008

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