Sunday 30 October 2011


I've had a wonderful week of relaxing balanced by some very hard training. It is just so great to finally have some free time! Early in the week I started catching a cold but fortunately I managed to "sweat it out".

Practice of kata Kanku-dai and Unsu along with Asai Sensei's awesome oyo/bunkai-jutsu for these kata was the highlight of the weekend trainings. Kankudai is the DAI-ICHI KATA OF SHOTOKAN-RYU and cannot be emphasised enough. Whilst the "advanced" Unsu (stolen and adapted from Shito-Ryu) is the most complex formal exercise of the standard 26 Shotokan kata.

Wrapping up both Saturday and Sunday sessions with several hundred mae-geri and gyaku-zuki and I'm ready to blast into November! Practice, practice and more practice is certainly needed! I have some big targets before the end of the year; however, regardless of whether or not I achieve them, I will push my body, mind and spirit to the limit.
© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Thursday 27 October 2011

The difference between sports and traditional (martial arts) karate

The right combination and use of kihon (fundamentals), kata (formal exercises), bunkai/oyo-jutsu (analysis/technical applications), and kumite (sparring), is prerequisite for karate to be the unparalleled martial art of self-defence it is was made to be.

Nevertheless, as Asai Sensei always said, most karateka fail to do enough impact work and oyo. "Most people merely do sports karate". So much so that Asai Sensei formed one organisation for sports-focused karate (JKS) and one for his personal "martial arts karate" (IJKA). Many of you will remember the article I wrote in 2007 on "Air Karate" (if not, you can read it here: and more recently a post on "oyo"
(click here: There have been numerous other articles in relation to these topics, but because this is merely a blog, I've not provided specific explanations. Naturally, I'll keep it this way because this knowledge is for my students around the world, guests who visit the dojo to sweat, and for my hosts when I'm invited to conduct technical seminars.

Overall, unless one has a complete system of training, as explained above, their karate will never be optimally functional. This is what clearly establishes the difference between sports and traditional (martial arts) karate.

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wednesday 26 October 2011


Many new articles and videos are on the way, but until then, here is a short kumite video. Please feel free to make some comments! Best wishes from Christchurch, New Zealand.

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Tokui-gata evaluation

Currently I am reflecting on my tokui-gata (specialised kata) and are making some evaluative changes.

Some words of advice: In traditional karate "Tokui-gata is often not the kata individuals like, but rather, what is optimal for them in real-world application".

Kata must physically reflect bujutsu (martial arts). It is a facet of practice that compliments kihon, kumite & impact work. Based on this training one must constantly adapt. This is critical if one desires to maximise their karatedo.

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Sunday 23 October 2011

My seminar schedule for the next 12 months

Besides the seminars in December this year (click on the poster below) I am available throughout January and the first two weeks of February 2012. After that time, I will be unable to conduct any seminars until late November 2012 at the earliest. Please note the following schedule:


- November 2011: FREE

- December 2011: Seminar from the second week in Christchurch, New Zealand (+ special instructors training & dan examination).
- January 2012: FREE.

- February 2012: FREE for the first two weeks.

- Late February 2012 until late November 2012 UNAVAILABLE

If you wish to arrange a course or to visit New Zealand for training you can email me directly at:

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand

Typical kihon-geiko

There are literally numerous ways to approach kihon-geiko (fundamental training) in karatedo, however here is a basic outline of what I use (based on the numerous times I lived and trained in Japan through during my teens, 20's, and 30's). Rather than just giving some lists, I've also included some "typical repetitions" in the average class. There is nothing special here, just the norm, but as we all know "karate circulates"... So perhaps there is something here that might make you think "hey, I haven't done that in a while". If so, that's great! Anyway, well away from the norm, tonight the New Zealand All-Blacks play in the Rugby World Cup final, so after a hard karate training it will be an exciting evening (and "special age-uke" practice). Take care and train hard! OSU


Perform each technique in 10 times slowly then 30-50 times with maximum snap whilst maintaining precise form. Please note: Although not included, it is customary to also practice other techniques here (i.e. - the various attacks with uraken, kentsui, shuto, empi/hiji, haito, yama-zuki, ushiromawashi-geri etc.). However, the following kihonwaza are most typical.

1. Chudan choku-zuki
2. Jodan choku-zuki
3. Sanbon-zuki
4. Chudan oi-zuki
5. Jodan age-uke
6. Chudan soto-uke
7. Chudan uchi-uke
8. Gedan-barai
9. Chudan-shuto-uke
10. Mae-geri
11. Yoko-keage
12. Yoko-kekomi
13. Mawashi-geri
14. Ushiro-geri

15. Migi gyaku-zuki
16. Hidari gyaku-zuki
17. Hidari kizami-zuki kara migi chudan gyaku-zuki
18. Migi kizami-zuki kara hidari chudan gyaku-zuki
19. Migi mae-geri
20. Hidari mae-geri

Each technique should be executed at least four times in both directions slowly then repeated at full pace (at least the same amount of times). Again, without maintenance of exact form, training is counterproductive. Once more, please note that the following set is based on my current practice, naturally this changes; nevertheless, the formula is very standard i.e. - ren zuki, the basic ukewaza followed by hangeki, and keriwaza or ren geri.

1. Sanbon-zuki
2. Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki
3. Chudan soto-uke kara yoko empi-uchi, uraken soshite chudan gyaku-zuki
4. Chudan uchi-uke kara kizami-zuki soshite gyaku-zuki
5. Tenshin gyaku-zuki: Kaiten shinagara gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki
6. Chudan shuto-uke kara mae-ashi mae-geri soshite 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 kara uraken soshite chudan gyaku-zuki
10. Yoko-keage ashi o kaete yoko-kekomi
© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Thursday 20 October 2011

The home of Shotokan in the South Island

There has been some super training sessions over the last few weeknights.


Tonight we ran through Bassai-sho, Jitte, Hangetsu, Gankaku, Meikyo and Gojushiho-sho. Then jiyu-kumite "shikake-waza", Bassai-dai and sections of Junro-nidan kata were practiced in the general class.

Yesterday, merely high repetitions of stationary kizami-zuki kara gyaku-zuki and mae-geri (migi & hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

And the day before that it was extensive ido-kihon and the five Heian kata, Tekki-shodan, Junro-shodan, & Bassai-dai.

Monday was focused on impact training and some oyo (application) principles from the kata.


Besides being the home of Asai-ryu in New Zealand, the Christchurch Karate Club is truly unparalleled in the South Island, insofar as traditional Shotokan Karate is concerned. It is not the best Shotokan club in the South Island, it is the only one!

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand.

Saturday 1 October 2011


To say my schedule has been hectic lately would be an absolute understatement. However, at the end of this month I will amp up my articles and posts in general. Thanks to everyone for the messages from around the world. I really appreciate them!

Some people have asked about the seminars I'll be conducting here in December. All I will say at the moment is that this Christchurch event will be very special. Below are some direct links to previous courses I've taught including in last year in Christchurch & Palmerston North (New Zealand); Ahrensurg & Hamburg (Germany); Lignano Sabbiadoro & Mira (Venice, Italy); Western Australia and Tokyo (Japan).

Nevertheless, this seminar will very different as I will be unveiling higher levels of Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu Karatedo. As Sensei always said "Step-by-step".

© André Bertel (2011). Christchurch, New Zealand