Saturday 27 March 2010

Sakura covered Nippon

This week has been very busy with karate. Training and teaching daily as usual, nothing extra, but also karate nomikai (drinking parties), which is typical at this time of the year in Japan.

My practice is going well (translated into English, “still trucking”), but I’m currently sporting two minor injuries which have been somewhat annoying, and the occasional sake induced hangover. A special session on just mae-geri and yoko-keage was excellent a few days back. It was all stationary work from heisoku dachi and zenkutsu-dachi. I lost count in somewhere close to 1000 kicks…The only word which comes to mind is ‘grueling’! Yet another practice was dedicated to continuous repetitions of Heian-nidan, Heian-yondan, and Heian-godan. These sessions were particularly beneficial for me, as they took me away from my current routine, and "gave my body a shock". Without trying to sound impressive, I have to say the Heian kata are “by far the hardest kata in Shotokan-ryu”. Every kata is difficult for me, but in all honesty, and as mentioned in the past, I’ve always found them to be the most technically difficult, and more importantly, the most revealing. If you think you have good karate, just do the Heian series! If you still do, you are either perfect or…

As a point of reference, if you want to see great Heian kata (or any 'proper' Shotokan kata for that matter) check out Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei. To me, he still sets the ‘standard’! Effective form equating to beautiful kata, as opposed to merely polished movements for aesthetics. Here’s a quick link:

Finally the sakura (cherry blossom) trees are in full bloom and many people here are enjoying hanami with their family, friends and work colleagues. I have been lucky to have been in Japan for the last five years during hanami, also many times during the 1990’s. For me, nothing beats sakura alongside the traditional architecture of Japan... So by now you are probably asking yourself "where the heck are the sakura pics?" Well, I promise to post some in the next few days, perhaps with a kimono or two thrown in...

OK, to conclude, I’d like to update our email information. In the next few days our OCN email account will be closed. Therefore if you wish to contact me, please send your email to this address: Likewise if our old 'bertelono' email is still in your address book, to avoid any miscommunication, please delete it and update! My best wishes to you from sakura covered Nippon.
© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

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