Thursday 26 March 2009


Two years ago today we arrived back in Japan, therefore today is a day of celebration for Mizuho and myself. It feels as if only two months have passed, but looking at all the things we’ve done since arriving, and it could easily be five or even ten years. This is especially the case in regards to the karate training, which has been nothing less than fantastic.

I’m a person, like all true karateka, who always tries to live in the moment, second by second. Something that requires my constant effort as a 21st century man. I try not to focus on the past, I aim for maximum results now – this is true ‘self-control’. Why? Because the present is the only thing we can control. Being a student of Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei taught me to have future goals, and that these goals are dependent on what I do ‘right now’. This, to Asai Sensei, is what separated the ‘doers’ from the ‘dreamers’, the shapely people from the obese, and more than often, the winners from the losers. I know this is nothing more than commonsense, but in the long-term, it is the hardest ‘technique’ to master. “Past wins and losses are gone, and the future may not come, now is the biggest, and perhaps final chance”. People who live in the past are very sad indeed, as let’s face it, they miss maximizing the present.

If someone attacks me with a knife all that matters is what I do at that time, past achievements and future dreams no longer matter. This is the spirit of a true martial artist. This is why I can celebrate today, not because of the past, but because of now. Violent situations are always brutal and eye-opening if one is the victim. In one 'past' situation, a criminal attempted to take my leather jacket by pulling out a knife. This is what happened... After I rejected his demands he reached into his pocket for his blade. Without hesitation I drove my strongest kizami-zuki (jab punch) into his face, which stopped him motionless. I immediately followed up by hitting him with jodan kake-zuki (upper level hook punch), which put him on the pavement. And to make sure he couldn't come after me, I stamped on his head, and ran off with my knees still shaking. Is that a win worth boasting about? No, because if the same situation happens now, all that matters is now.

These last two years have been my very best in Japan in regards to my development as a karateka, far superior to my many other extended training stints here, but this is natural, following my thinking and way of life. It is not something to brag about, just simply 'get on with it'. My question is "Why do people find it so hard to simply 'try' to live in the moment?" Living in the moment is what makes 'living your dreams' possible. That's why I'm here in Japan! If you were to ask me “André, so what is your next target in karate?” I’d answer “To develop an even more clearer mind on the present”.

Two years in Japan today… But 'now' is all that matters.

© André Bertel, Japan 2009

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