Saturday 29 May 2010

Back in Japan & straight back to the dojo

The day after returning home to Japan from Europe my karate training schedule was updated, and has not altered since then. As always, heaps to work on, and no time to waste! Best regards from Oita.
With not so many repetitions I'm presently using the following 10 techniques for ido-kihon practice. Typically eight times each very slowly followed by eight times with snap. The main focus being full use of the legs and hips, maintenance of excellent posture and the avoidance of 'muscle force'. Please note I have not included here my daily repetitions of gyaku zuki and mae geri (from stationary hidari and migi zenkutsu-dachi).

(1) Chudan oi zuki; (2) Jodan age uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; (3) Chudan soto uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; (4) Chudan uchi uke kara chudan gyaku zuki; (5) Tenshin gyaku zuki (Kaiten shinagara gedan barai kara chudan gyaku zuki); (6) Chudan shuto uke (kokutsu dachi)kara tate shihon nukite; (7) Chudan mae ashi mae geri kara jodan mae geri; (8) Chudan mae ashi mawashi geri kara jodan mawashi geri; (9) Ushiro geri; and (10) Yoko keage kara yoko kekomi or yoko keage ashi o kaete yoko kekomi (kiba dachi).

This is my current kata training routine. For those who attended the recent technical seminars I taught in Germany and Italy, you will see that I am still practicing Seiryu extensively. Obviously exceptions to this schedule have occurred in dojo group trainings.

Kihon-gata: (a) Heian/Tekki; & (b) Junro/Kibaken (Shotokan & Asai-ryuha kihon kata: Alternate days).
Sentei-gata: Jion.
Jokyu-gata: Unsu, Hushu & Seiryu.

Since returning to Japan 'Kihon ippon kumite' (Basic one step sparring) has been the main focus. The key points include dropping (compressing) in defense, with a full rotation into hanmi, then sharply counter rotating into shomen. Throughout this process the spine, from the head to the tail bone does not tilt, but rather, remains vertical. And even more stressed is the attack, where the ma'ai (distance) is integral for making the training, for both partners, productive. Just to name one crucial point, often done incorrectly... "The attacker must be aiming to hit, and reserve the rotation, from a full hanmi into 'tight/locked shomen', until the end of their aiyumibashi (bridge step)". Simple yes, but this must be second nature, as a result of constant drilling, for one's entire karate life. This is the full-circle in karate-do, where kihon, kata and kumite are harmonious, and therefore meaningful.

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Monday 17 May 2010

German Newspaper Article

Many thanks to Oliver Schomburg for sending a copy of this newspaper article (and translating it into English). You can click on the article to read it in Deutch.


"International Karate Seminar"

New Zealand master visits Ahrensburg

The martial arts club ASG Yawara in Ahrensburg had the opportunity to welcome a very special guest. Andre Bertel, seventeen times New Zealand national Karate champion and former VIP-bodyguard, came to Ahrensburg to share his knowledge for one month. The New Zealander who lives in Japan is bearer of a sixth Dan black belt and was personal student of the late Karate legend Tetsuhiko Asai (10th Dan). With his humor and cheerfulness he fascinated everyone who was lucky to meet him. And be it in-front of Ahrensburg castle, in a street café or on the platform of the underground station. No training place was inappropriate for the passionate Karateka. Since the age of five the humble sportsman practices the “way of the empty hand” every day. As a result, many people’s jaw dropped when master Bertel demonstrated his unconventional techniques with lightning speed during a seminar, organized by ASG Yawara on 17. and 18. April. A video clip is available on the internet platform Youtube under “Andre Bertel teaching Asai Karate in Germany”. Unfortunately, several Karateka from Ireland had to call their seminar attendance off. Due to the volcano ashes from Iceland all flights to Hamburg were cancelled. However, all other participants from Germany, Denmark and Switzerland were hooked and wanted to know when Andre Bertel would come back next time. A week later Yan Lu and Oliver Schoemburg, who had invited and hosted the master, followed Andre to Italy. Many fans awaited him in Lignano-Sabbiadorro, near Venice, during another seminar. Back in Germany, master instructor Bertel gave his last training session for the time being, before returning to Tokyo: at the check-in counter of Hamburg airport."

Picture caption:
“Karate in-front of Ahrensburg castle: 6th Dan Andre Bertel (in the air) presented his techniques with amazing speed. ”

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Video footage from my seminars in Italy

Here is another video once again courtesy of Oliver and Yan Schomburg, this time from my seminars in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italia (not far from Venice).

These karate seminars were hosted by Mauro Mion Sensei (7th Dan) and Giuseppe Formenton Sensei (7th Dan), and largely orchestrated by Silvio Cannizzo (4th Dan). Needless to say, like in Germany (please check my previous post and video) the technical content I covered was primarily focused on my late teacher, Asai Tetsuhiko's karate ("Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu").

Mizuho and I would like to thank everyone in Italia who ensured that we had a great time in and out of the dojo. Besides the above mentioned people, also Ylva and Erik Cannizzo and also Terry Cannizzo (...also Jack), Flavia Formenton, Christina Mion, Luca Tassotti and all the traditional Shotokan karateka I taught and befriended in Italy.

Click here to check out the video:

A big "OSU" to you all as we fly home to Japan!

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Video footage from my seminars in Germany

As I am sure you are aware I have been teaching open karate seminars and private classes in Europe over the last four weeks.

The clinics & lessons have been primarily focused on Asai Sensei´s karate and his approach to Shotokan-ryu. I´ll "back post" many photos and articles over the coming weeks for you all. In saying that, here is a link to some video footage (courtesy of Oliver Schomburg) from the Germany seminars. Click on this link to view:

This post and others will be updated/uploaded in the coming days. Also if anyone who attended the seminars would like to comment, I will publish these in a report. You can email your comment followed by your full name:

Please include which seminars you attended! Also your dojo, rank and location/nationality.

Best regards from Europe,
Andre Bertel

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Award from the Mayor of Mira, Italy.

I was given a special award for teaching karate-do by the Mayor of Mira, Veneto Italy. Here are a couple of photos from the presentation at the city office.

A big thanks to Mauro Mion Sensei (7th Dan), also pictured here, who hosted me to teach at his dojo in Mira and looked after us so very well.

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Photos from the Lignano Sabbiadoro Seminars

Here are some photos from the Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu Karate seminars I taught in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. Rather than write about the content of my lessons, I thought I would photographically present some of the content (Please note: As with most photos on this site you can click on them to enlarge the image). All the best, Osu!!
© André Bertel, Japan 2010.

Monday 3 May 2010

Silvio Cannizzo: Master Artist & Martial Artist

Silvio Cannizzo is a world class painter and also a veteran karateka with over 30 years training under his yondan (4th degree black belt) in Shotokan. His shop, based not far from the train station in Venice is breathtaking and clearly very popular with tourists and locals alike (click here to visit his website and for the location of his gallery: It is a place one must visit if they want to purchase something truly “made in Venezia”. We will treasure his artwork and that of his wife Ylva in our home!

We also enjoyed making friends with Silvio and Ylva’s children, son Erik and daughter Terry, and not to mention, German Sheppard Jack! Away from all of the training sessions in Venice we were kindly shown around by the Cannizzo family and wonderfully taken care of. And in between all of the formal karate-do keiko, hanging out, Italian dining, and fantastic sightseeing, Silvio and I did some private training together, especially focusing on koshi no kaiten (hip rotation), tai no shinshuku (the contraction and expansion of the body) and the Asai-ryu karate kata ‘Kibaken’, which I taught in the same way that Asai Sensei taught me. I was greatly impressed by Silvio’s perfectionist mentality, a true artist, as he had me take him through the kata more than 30 times at his home, to ensure that he merely got the sequence right!

Mizuho and I would like to deeply thank Silvio & Ylva for their kindness and hospitality. We are very honored to be your friends and hope to see you all again, in the future! Osu, André Bertel.

© André Bertel, Japan 2010.