Monday 31 December 2018

2018 Summary and Links

To summarise, here are direct links to each month of posts this year followed by the content in these months for convenient navigation.

 JANUARY 2018:

Article 1 - あけましておめでとうございます.
Article 2 - Strong seiken (fore-fists) and shuto (sword hands).

Article 3 - MA 間.
Article 4 - The single most important 'training point' of true karate.
Article 5 - Video Links.
Article 6 - 2018 Seminar in Germany: A NEW INTERNATIONAL STANDARD WILL BE SET.

Article 7 - Fabio and Alexia from Paris.
Aricle 8 - Special Kata Practice.
Article 9 - Why 'CHUDAN' so much? A bigger picture.
Article 10 -
Article 11 - Newspaper article.
Article 12 - Bob McCallum Shihan.
APRIL 2018:

Article 13 - Sakura in full bloom: The first training of April.
Article 14 - Andrea and Torsten Return to Oita.
Article 15 - Video: KAKUYOKU NIDAN KATA.
Article 16 - 2018 SEMINAR IN 'KARATE AKTUELL'.

MAY  2018:

Article 17 - Trainee from Australia: David Rush Sensei (4th Dan).
Article 18 - Two days of training in Kumamoto City.
Article 19 - Kakuyoku.

JUNE  2018:

Article 21 - Trainee from Switzerland: Christa Lehman.
Article 22 - 11th Anniversary of this blog.
Article 23 - Mae-geri keage.

JULY 2018:

Article 24 - Halle GERMANY SEMINAR 2018 (Part 1).
Article 25 - Halle GERMANY SEMINAR 2018 (Part 2).
Article 26 - Halle GERMANY SEMINAR 2018 (Part 3).
Article 27 - South Africa Seminar 2019.

AUGUST  2018:

Article 28 - Kita Kyushu Training.
Article 29 - Ryu Ko Kaku.
Article 30 - Today marks the 12th Anniversary of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's passing.
Article 31 - SEMINAR, Dresden, GERMANY (March 2019) - VENUE UPDATED.
Article 32 - Start with Jion, end with Jion.
Article 33 - New videos from Halle Seminar (2018).
Article 34 - Updated Self-Training Regime.


Article 35 - Konishi Sensei visits Oita.

OCTOBER  2018:

Article 37 - Technical variations matter for universal/generic application.
Article 38 - What kata do I teach outside of the standard 26 (not including Hyakuhachiho).
Article 39 - 常行一勢~五勢 (Joko Issei ~ Gosei).


Article 40 - REVISION.
Article 41 - UPDATES.
Article 42 - The next step will lift to a higher level.

Article 46 - Wrapping up 2018 and some RECOVERY ADVICE.

For previous years articles (2007-2017) please follow the appropriate links on the right `sidebar`. Furthermore, to access past videos on YouTube, here is a direct link to the blogs official YouTube channel:


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Wrapping up 2018 and some RECOVERY ADVICE

浪手 (Roshu Kata).
The conclusion of my training this year came the earliest ever, December 24th, as I needed to have surgery (pre-planned and unrelated to my karate training) on the 25th. This also means I will return to the dojo relatively late in the New Year (January 8th, 2019), which is also a first for me in over 25 years. The surgery was successfully completed yesterday, so now I just need to stay in the hospital, for approximately four more days. After that, I've been told that I'll be fully recovered in two weeks. 
鶴翼初段 (Kakuyoku Shodan Kata).
As planned, a long time ago, this time in hospital and recovery will give me a valuable opportunity to reflect; and indeed, do some planning, research and writing in preparation for the New Year  and beyond. In case you are wondering about my fitness, especially, the impact of a couple of weeks 'off training!!!' Well, after nearly 38 years of karate training, I am very experienced with injuries and recovery (although this will be the longest break so far). Right up to the day before surgery I have supplemented my daily karate training and conditioning work with an additional cardio fitness routine. As a result, my resting pulse/heart rate on the day of the operation was 40 BPM (Beats per minute), which according to the doctors is up there with well trained endurance athletes in their prime. Certainly, I'm not old, but I'm still in my 40s. Quick advice here, for recovery irrespective of age, and not just talk... "Always create a buffer: fitness, flexibility, explosive power and agility". The average persons pulse is between 60-70 beats per minute. Check yours, and aim to get fitter. Why not make that a goal in the New Year? Always aim to be the best you can be!! 

My blood pressure and pulse as a result of surgery preparation. Slightly better than usual due to the 'extra training'.

Happy New Year to everyone. I really hope this blog has provided something of use for your personal Karate Journey this year. Stay tuned for 2019. It is going to be a very exciting year. Osu, Andre.
© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018)

Saturday 1 December 2018


After another excellent three hour seminar, under the masterful guidance of Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei, I was given a private training. Here is some video footage from that. Osu, Andre.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Friday 30 November 2018


Personal training from Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei on November 25th, 2018.

A brief video PART THREE will follow this post tomorrow. For PART ONE, click here:


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Thursday 29 November 2018


 OSAKA YOSHIHARU SENSEI (8th Dan) taught me the first time in Japan 25 years ago. I have trained many times with Osaka Sensei since then; however, this  was a real milestone in my karate journey.

The highlight of the seminar was the MASTERCLASS on Bassai Dai Kata. I have studied Bassai Dai from Osaka Sensei many times, but the detail this time was the very best!!!
Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei and Andre Bertel. November 25th, 2018.

Fundamental application of movement 18 of Bassai Dai Kata: RYOSHO TSUKAMI-UKE.


Kiba dachi check... 

This is BUDO KARATE!!!

A big thanks again to Osaka Yoshiharu Shihan. More to come in the next couple of days, Osu!!!

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Sunday 18 November 2018

The next step will lift to a higher level

As I have recently discussed, bujutsu karate timing is very different from standard karate which, nowadays (even when labelled as "traditional") is sport karate.

Likewise there are two levels of understanding. One which is kept by the elite of Japan's karate community and the other which is preached to the masses. These points are taught behind closed doors and will never be taught outside the elite。Overall, the karate microcosm perfectly reflects elitism in society now, and historically... and logically so. Why wouldn't it?

The breakthrough is for an outsider to become an uchideshi of someone 'in the know'. A personal student of someone of high seniority in Japan and of high technical skill. This results in something very special.

Returning to the movements of karate, besides the timing differences between sports and martial art karate, there is also extreme movement differences. The sport karate movements have many superfluous actions; whereas, bujutsu karate eliminates as many as possible. 

It is like comparing information in children's books to the empirical research papers from top class university's. 'The Cat in the Hat' verses a cutting edge paper on nanotechnology. 

I will begin to release the next phase of information from my teacher, step-by-step, from 2019 onwards. This will be the base of a new beginning, for those seeking martial arts/bujutsu karate; that is, those who are seeking acutely refined and highly

effective karate-waza.
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Monday 12 November 2018


I'll update my training schedule soon! Also, there will be some special announcements.

OSU, Andre

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Monday 5 November 2018


I`m currently revising kihon, kata and kumite based on old videos I received (which were stored in New Zealand, and kindly brought to Japan). 

This also includes the five Joko kata, which I`ve fully revised (corrected) as of November 3rd—and yes, they are very different from anything online; also; several of the koten-gata that I needed to recheck in order to teach in the future (hence, I have not taught them, but can from now). Overall, this process is keeping me very busy in the dojo.

Another treasure is notes from Asai Sensei on atemi-waza/kyusho-jutsu in relation to the various karada no buki, depth and trajectory of attacks. While I have followed this closely, reviewing the old notes—and my advancement in skill over the years—has shed new light on these notes and videos.

Very exciting things to come!!!

Osu, André Bertel


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2018).

Friday 19 October 2018

常行一勢〜五勢 (Joko Issei ~ Gosei)

Many around the world will know that this article was originally published in 2006; however, it has been republished (and updated accordingly with many additional notes). The original article only discussed the meaning of the five Joko. This article expands on this and also explains the largely incorrect practice and spreading of these kata.
常行一勢〜五勢 (Joko Issei ~ Gosei)
André Bertel (6th Dan)
TOKYO, JAPAN. April 3rd, 2006

This brief article will look at the five Joko Kata, which can be an extremely effective training tool for senior karateka who wish to `re-tackle their kihon`. However, more than any other kata—they have been taught incorrectly and, accordingly, have become ‘just another kata’ (or group of kata in this case). To sum this up as best as I possibly can, “…99.9% of the way that the five Joko are taught and practised is ‘just movement’ and poor movement at that”. That is why I said above, ‘Joko can be extremely effective’; however, for the most part, they are either 'training time wasted'… or, the worst-case scenario, 'counterproductive' for one’s karate.

On one hand there is a strand of Joko which is guided strongly by ‘standard Shotokan-Ryu’—for consistency—in order not to confuse/disturb JKF standardization of Shotokan-ryu. And, on the other hand there are those who have learned online and/or through manuals, which are incorrect as they have missed the majority of underlying key points; that is, the precise objectives (as targeted by Asai Sensei in his design) of Issei, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei and Gosei. In both of these cases, as I stated before, the each Joko will not advance one’s skill; but, instead, "...just be another kata". 

To put it bluntly, Joko, when done correctly is hardcore fundamental training. There is so very much to be gained, but it is not a ‘fun’ path. It’s a road which is narrow and is covered in thorns. Unlike the koten-gata.

The following descriptions provide a generic overview of the key points of Joko Issei, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei and Gosei. These descriptions come mostly from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, however, I have also added some notes to help you, the reader, in regards to understanding each of these kata; furthermore, understanding the misrepresentation of them due to merely 'doing movements'. As you read through, it will become obvious why I have done this.


Joko Issei combines one arm and two arm actions in coordination with transitions/body shifts; furthermore, the mix of circular and linear techniques or ‘circle and point’. All of the hand/arm techniques in this kata are with closed fists with the exception of one hidari tateshuto-uke prior to the first kiai. A feature of this kata, which is found in the entire Joko series, is the need to be relaxed in order to execute the transitions correctly. It is worth noting that Asai Sensei intentionally designed these kata via their long lengths and transitions to compel natural and smooth movements.


The second Joko combines circular and linear techniques, however, this time a mix of open hand defences and attacks are stressed’ alongside ‘open and closed hand tsuki and uchi’. The combinations of the defensive kizami mae geri and attacking mae-geri is a standout point; also, the use of mawashi-geri. Probably the most outstanding point is the combined use of various weapons of the body: namely, teisho, shuto, haishu, seiryuto, tateshuto, kakuto (koken), keito, seiken and josokutei. This kata is the base of Shotei Dai (Shotei) and Shotei Sho (Sensho) but, ironically more difficult than both of these due to the intentionally difficult kihon transitions.


Joko Sansei literally functions to perfect gyaku-hanmi (the reverse half-facing position). This use of extreme and maximum torque for rotation is employed in the three core stances—kiba dachi, zenkutsu dachi and kokutsu dachi—however, shomen hanmi and the shizen positions are also seamlessly interwoven to optimize training. Overall, this kata mixes robust large scale and close distance techniques in harmony with the aforementioned hip work and body shifts/transitions. I personally love this kata and find it really lifts me up when I need to improve my hip work for application.


The forth Joko picks up from the previous kata with a high emphasis on mixing different ranged techniques; in particular, its large number of enpi-uchi/hiji-uchi (attacks/counterattacks with elbow strikes) and constant use of tenshin (rotation). Through various degrees of turns, and spins, different angles of attack and defence can be achieved which, if mastered (within context of the foundational movements), result in the reactive application of unpredictable henka-waza (changing techniques). Junro Yondan can be revisited via this kata and one can further perfect centralization with compression in turns; thereby, mastering that turns are not only rotation but driving towards the respective target.


The standout point of Joko Gosei is its featuring of close-to-ground jumping turns, stance switches and spins. Such techniques include rapidly switching legs on the spot to change the position to effectively attack; jumping and spinning around to deliver techniques; turning and balancing on one leg to defend then immediately counterattacking with mae-geri (the reverse action of Unsu kata); and so forth. In sum, this kata requires a significant level of precision and body control; thus, technically speaking, appropriately wraps up the Joko series. I would like to conclude this by saying that I teach a version slightly different (from Kato Sensei and what is widely taugth here in Japan post-2006 standardization). In this regard, I'd like to thank a senior Japanese instructor and a non-Japanese instructor for confirming this. Both of whom I will not name, but sincerely appreciate. While I deeply respect these versions of Joko Gosei, I will keep teaching the version and applications Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei personally taught me, whilst respecting the changes made by others. 

In sum, as already said, the five Joko are 'level-up Junro' fundamental training kata. They are 'free-choice kata' for those wishing to boost fine points in their kihon; in particular, for Dan graded practitioners. Sadly, on the Internet, Joko have been represented extremely poorly by those with very low level kihon. Obviously, this defeats the purpose of practising them... Unless one just wants to learn 'yet another kata'. To these people, I advise, `learn proper kihon!`

To conclude, the name 常行 Joko (Joukou) means to 'always do', which relates to precise kihon practice and ongoing rehearsal of precise execution; furthermore, the labels of
勢〜五勢 (Issei ~ Gosei) means first to fifth 'energy/force/vigor/authority/influence/ impetus'. A final point in this regard is to understand that 勢 (SEI) is like the power in physics... As a lover of science and theology, again, I will leave that there for you to think about.

It is important to note that "...Issei ~ Gosei, with different kanji can be understood as 'First Generation ~ Fifth Generation'". Asai Sensei just told me that this also has relevance, based on each kata 'choronologically ordered' technique-wise. He said to me that "while this is not the meaning", this was how he pieced each kata together. What a genius he is even in post-operation mode!!! 

Added document from my personal notes: To emphasize the genius of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, there is more...He told me that ["the meaning of Joko and its overall objective is basically ‘always to do’. However, historically there is more behind the name.... The kanji can also be read ‘Jougyou’, which has Buddhist connotations. It means to keep training strictly without becoming lazy in one’s practice!"] 

Based on these understandings and, obviously, when taught correctly, Joko is extremely useful for those wishing to refine their kihon for greater effectiveness and to practice strictly; moreover, seriously: this is the meaning and purpose of 常行. Osu, ァンドレ.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2006/updated 2018).