Tuesday 12 April 2011

In Japan for a few weeks

We are back here in Japan for the best part of a month. The following practice regime here in Nippon is not "revolutionary" by any means, but is physically demanding and technically relentless. I think that this hard basic style training, and the sheer pressure for exactness (at all times) is what separates the traditional karate dojo in Japan from most everywhere else. My best wishes to you from Sakura covered Nippon. - André.

Stationary kihon: From hachinoji-dachi: (1) Chudan choku-zuki; (2) Jodan choku-zuki; (3) Gedan choku-zuki; (4) Sambon-zuki; (5) Jodan age-uke; (6) Chudan soto-uke; (7) Chudan uchi-uke; and (8) Gedan-barai. From migi then hidari renoji-dachi (9 & 10) Migi & hidari chudan shuto-uke. From heisoku-dachi: (11) Chudan mae-geri; (12) Yoko-keriage; and (13) Yoko-kerikomi. From heiko-dachi advancing into zenkutsu-dachi and back: (14) Mawashi-geri. From heisoku-dachi driving rearward into zenkutsu-dachi and back (15) Ushiro-kerikomi. From heiko-dachi advancing into zenkutsu-dachi then back: (16) Chudan oi-zuki. From hidari then migi zenkutsu-dachi: (17 & 18) Hidari & migi chudan gyaku-zuki. From hidari then migi zenkutsu-dachi: (19 & 20) Hidari & migi mae-geri. {REPETITIONS: 30-50 repetitions with maximum snap after 10-20 warm up techniques. Typically these warm-ups also include dissected versions of the waza. I.e. - four step mae-geri with "ichi" being called four times etc}.


Ido-kihon (1) Chudan oi-zuki; (2) Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki; (3) Chudan soto-uke kara chudan yoko empi-uchi; (4) Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki; (5) Gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki; (6) Chudan shuto-uke kara nukite; (7) Ren geri: Chudan mae-geri kara jodan mae-geri; (8) Mawashi-geri; (9) Yoko-keriage ; and (10) Yoko-kerikomi . {REPETITIONS: No warm up set, just straight into it with full speed. Only 10 repetitions of each, but a long pause between each count. Explosive off the mark to 'total stillness' and zanshin}.

Kata & Kumite Typically ido-kihon is followed by a couple of bouts of kihon kumite, namely the standard methods of gohon and/or kihon ippon kumite as "basic training". From there kata is drilled based on one kata in isolation being fastidiously repeated (over and over again) with every sub-action being under harsh scruntiny. . Training is ended by a few rounds of very intense jiyu-ippon kumite, uchikomi & jiyu-kumite

© André Bertel. Kyushu, Japan 2011.

Friday 8 April 2011

Never Satisfied

My practice today included some kata, calisthenics and lots of mae-geri (front snap kick). Thinking about mae-geri as the mother of all kicks, and it still challenges me to no end. Generally speaking, I know deep in my stomach that it’s literally impossible to be satisfied with the kihonwaza (fundamental techniques), but this is what should spur karateka on!


A beautiful aspect of this is that kihon forces you to feel like you’ll never be any good at karate, but over time, with quality training, you do indeed see the improvements, whilst at the same time you can see even greater things from the higher peak that you stand on. This of course brings you right around, full circle, where you must face your weaknesses with less naivety, and try to overcome them once again from scratch… A never-ending process which is extremely humbling.


Bad habits: What’s more, our bad habits may return, therefore our technique must become even more acutely refined to overcome these inevitable challenges. Being in my mid 30’s I think of ‘Space Invaders’. I’ve never been into computer games, however, as a young lad Space Invaders was pretty popular. As I’m sure you know, as the player advances, things speed up considerably, and more enemies come. Things don’t change very much, there are no special graphics, no special moves – it is very simple, you just have to be better and faster at doing the same thing (to avoid being blown up into “even worse looking dots”).


In this regard, with the exception of being zapped, it really is like karate. As you progress troubles come faster, so you have to be better, concerning yourself with “higher order” problems. Returning to my practice today, especially in regards to mae-geri, it was extremely challenging based on this inherent principle in isolation, and will no doubt always be.


The key is to embrace challenges and allow them to fuel your motivation, especially when considering the core techniques of karate-do. I always tell my students “simple and easy sit at different ends of the continuum”. This is why kihon training never ends for the karateka and why we can never feel satisfied with our technique.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Complete update of video links

For my past video links including competition, seminars around the world, training etc please click here: http://andrebertel.blogspot.com/2011/01/andre-bertel-karate-do-video-links.html



FEBRUARY SEMINARS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kckvNnOa8Sk

JANUARY SEMINAR IN CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND (Begins with a slow rendition of Kakuyoku-Nidan Kata): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m34qsesUDEQ

SOME MORE COMPETITION CLIPS: http://andrebertel.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-kumite-videos-posted-on-youtube.html and http://andrebertel.blogspot.com/2011/01/three-more-kumite-videos-on-youtube.html

VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM EARLY LAST DECADE: http://andrebertel.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-video-andre-bertel-ijka-jks-new.html

ASSISTING ASAI SENSEI TEACHING IN HAWAII, U.S.A: http://andrebertel.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-video-assisting-asai-sensei-in.html

© André Bertel, Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Friday 1 April 2011


Karate is practice, training, one's skill and heart... Not dan, titles, qualifications and especially not organisation. In saying that I've re-posted this article as my original post, which was very blunt, has hurt some people's feelings and pride. I'd like to restate here, that my opinions are certainly not gospel, just my opinions and I'm sorry if some people feel offended by them. This appology was not requested by anyone, but rather from my own wish to make anyone who has been offended to feel better. This blog is about my own personal karate training and views, and if that is upsetting, perhaps it is a site which you should avoid. Regardless, I will do my best from now on to avoid causing any offense to all visitors.


FOCUS ON TRAINING FIRST and fore mostly, and everything else will fall into place. Here are some photos of me self-training in Kakaji Japan (Bungo Takada, Oita-ken) - because as I said at the start of this post "training is what counts". These are courtesy of my lovely wife Mizuho. My best regards to you all.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand, 2011.