Thursday 3 February 2011


Training this month has been amped up! Last month as my regular readers will know, I got extremely unwell and had to take it easy. During that time I received a staggering 5000+ get well messages from all over the world… I’m still shocked by that! From every corner of the planet and from every Shotokan karate organisation you could think of. DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA!

This month will be busy and will include a week in Australia where I will be teaching seminars in Toodyay (close to Perth). My schedule here in Canterbury is also busy with the Tetsubukan Dojo, attending the two weeknight classes at the Honbu Dojo, the instructors’ classes, private lessons for members, and my daily self-training.

Kihon: My kihon training this month is again very simple, essentially the same as practiced in Lyall Sensei’s class. In brief: oi-zuki or sanbon-zuki, the four standard closed hand blocks and jodan-barai followed by gyaku-zuki, and the five basic Shotokan-ryu keriwaza.
Kata: Hangetsu (Slowly to warm-up with muscular tension excluding the `Darth Vadar breathing' & in the regular manner), Jion, Asai-ha Unsu, Tekki-shodan, and Kibaken 1-5.
Kumite: I am focusing on two aspects of kumite which Asai Sensei explained as being inseparable. These are explosive basic techniques and the practical application of kata for actual self-defence. Sorry to repeat this, but so many people nowadays are `bunkai experts’ but lack the explosive power of the core fundamental techniques, which generally speaking Japanese karateka have. Contrary to many beer-bellied bunkai theorists, there are no short cuts in regards to this aspect of karate training. On the flip side of the coin, for karate to be a complete martial art, daily practice of street effective application from our database (the kata) is also critical. Therefore, this month my kumite training combines Kihon-ippon kumite for fundamental practice, and oyo (application) kumite.
Bunkai-centric verses Kihon-centric: I’d like to add one more comment in regards to kihon (fundamentals) and kata application. More than 95% of the top Japanese karate experts do not teach practical self-defence applications of the kata, nevertheless most have explosive and effective kihon. My point is that it is possible to have great and effective karate without realistic applications… This is an undeniable fact. Conversely, having all sorts of dangerous applications without highly trained fundamentals is useless (and again, as stated previously, typical of many Western karate `experts’ who have all sports of innovative tricks... Lots of thinking and not enough training...). Such a person will never have a chance against a karate exponent with thousands upon thousands of precise kihonwaza repetitions. In saying that, if Westerners wish to surpass the most elite Japanese karateka, it is possible by training kihon as intensely (and exactly) as the Japanese do, and also practicing the kata for effective self-defence.

© André Bertel, New Zealand 2011.

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