Sunday 26 August 2018

Updated Self-Training Regime

Here is my current updated self-training regime.

My kihon training regime is a little different from usual at present. I simple focus on one technique per day. For example, yesterday it was jodan age-uke. I practiced it: (1) in shizentai; (2) from shizentai to zenkutsu-dachi then returning to shizentai; (3) advancing and retreating in zenkutsu-dachi; and (4) in combination with different techniques (namely, the syllabus techniques: i. jodan age-uke kara gyaku-zuki; ii. jodan age-uke kara mae-geri keage soshite gyaku-zuki and iii. ippo sagatte jodan age-uke kara mawashi-geri, yoko-uraken soshite chudan oi-zuki).

In sum, working on the different core techniques—in isolation and in combination with other techniques—helps me to gain a renewed perspective of the Shotokan kihon. Accordingly, I recommend others periodically do this. I would to like to wrap up by saying `Whilst this idea is by no means a ground breaking training methodology, it has great value when sweating it out on the floor`. Give it a try sometime!!


a.   Jion
b.   Enpi
c.    Nijushiho
d.   Alternating Koten-gata

I am utilizing Jion for my base `Shoto` training; Enpi for continuity and tai no shinshuku; Nijushiho for fluidity and junansei; and a koten-gata—selected `based on my daily condition and findings within each individual training session`.

Overall, my present kata is more complex than usual, which in my view is not the best way—simple is best—however, this `broader than usual approach` is optimal at this time.

My kumite training is presently focused on two aspects: Firstly, continuous tsuki attacks. As I always teach, the combination of hand speed via relaxion and transfer of weight via upper and lower body timing. Secondly, I`m working on open hand strikes to weak points. I will leave it there for today. Greetings from Oita City, Japan. – André

© André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2018).

Monday 20 August 2018

New videos from the Halle Seminar (2018)

Yufuin, Oita, Japan (2002).

Here is a couple of new videos from my recent karate seminars in Halle, Germany. These videos were crerated by Dirk Zeuge from Baden-Baden. Thank you Dirk!! 

In sum, they cover ‘basic points’ for—‘optimal movement/form’ translating into 'application’.

All the very best from Oita City, Kyushu, Japan. Osu!!

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

Thursday 16 August 2018

Start with Jion, end with Jion

I recently returned to Jion to rebalance my karate—personal advice from Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei—a couple of years ago. `Start with Jion, end with Jion`. However, until now, I have needed to address other points.

 Perhaps surprising to some, Jion is Osaka Sensei`s tokui-gata… He said Jion is his favourite, but shiai--of course--Sochin. Needless to say, just as Asai Sensei is NIJUSHIHO and Yahara Sensei is UNSU, Osaka Sensei is SOCHIN.

These masters karate make the current generation red faced. No one can move at their level. This is the source of so much politics... Jealousy.

No one wants to stand alongside Osaka Sensei in kata practice, as we all look stupid. In my case, I want to look stupid, and hopefully get just a little closer to near perfection. 

Osaka Sensei, amongst my other seniors, whom I deeply respect here in Japan, want to preserve the BEST KARATE of Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei. This is a mission I have been pulled into, and are deeply honoured to be pulled into it by such greats. 

2019 will be a very special year for BUDO / BUJUTSU KARATE. Osu!!!

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

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Today marks the 12th Anniversary of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's passing. My thoughts are with the Asai family today.

Tuesday 14 August 2018


On March 16th and 17th of 2019 I will be in Dresden, Germany, to conduct Technical Seminars.

For all information please click on the following link

Alternatively, you can visit the corresponding Facebook event page: 

See you  in Dresden. Osu!!

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

Monday 13 August 2018


Ryu (Tatsu—Dragon), Ko (Tora—Tiger) and Kaku (Tsuru—Crane) are the three most important animals in karate’s early origins from China and Okinawa. In Asai style Shotokan karate, there are other animals referenced for different techniques and their applications (such as the Hebi/Snake, Saru/Monkey, Kuma/Bear and Hyo/Leopard; however, these all originate from RYU KO KAKU.

Today let’s look at RYU KO KAKU in isolation.


Dragon’s, needless to say, are mythological creatures; that being said, they are well known as representatives of the physical power and intelligence. In martial arts karate ‘RYU’ represents tornados. Two or three tornados combined creates a dragon like image. This underpins the unpredictable rising and falling tenshin (rotation) found in Asai Karate. Kata reference: the three advanced ‘tenshin’ forms: Hachimon, Senka and Rakuyo. We also see this in Kaze no te (Hushu), Unsu and Kaminariarashi, amongst others.


The tiger is for relaxation and flexibility so one can target something instantly. Martial arts karate’s `KO` is therefore best explained as agility and explosiveness, which is based on the combination of ground-power and junansei. In sum, it produces the rapid reaction techniques’, which are typical in standard Shotokan-Ryu karate (and all of the other Ryuha/Kaiha, for that matter). Kata reference: Bassai Dai, Jitte Sochin, Kashu, etc.


The crane is refined technique for impacting with precise weapons to weak targets, trapping, hooking and so forth. It is typical to use various open hand karada no buki (weapons of the body), which can be speedily applied with little or limited physical strength. Such movements were important to Asai Sensei purely based on his small stature and, indeed, limits of brute strength. Kata reference: Seiryu, Gankaku, Kakuyoku Shodan, Nidan and Sandan, and so on.

Lastly it is important to point out that in traditional Japanese karate, unlike the Chinese martial arts, THE REPRESENTATION OF THESE ANIMALS IS USUALLY NOT SO OVERT; moreover, we mix them more subtly (I am by no means suggesting 'better'; merely, again, not so overtly). Hence, the overall collective concept of ‘RYU-KO-KAKU’ in traditional karate, when perfected, is seamlessly expressed in jissen-kumite. 

Furthermore, there are a couple of others points, which I will only briefly touch on today... Firstly, many karada no buki specifically correspond with the type of animal. For example, the boshiken is `RYU`, the hitosashiyubi-ipponken is `KO` and the kakushiken is `KAKU`. Secondly, two of these weapons of the body are not in post-war Shotokan—largely due to the `sportification` of karate; nevertheless, Asai Sensei brought them back.

Taken as a whole, this approach to karate is for survival in the face of a brutal and sudden assault. In sum, this IS 'THE TRADITIONAL WAY'; that is, it fulfils the original external purpose of Tode/Karate. While this ‘Way of Karate’ is not the mainstream, those of us who follow it must preserve it for future generations: this includes the Shotokan styles take on ‘RYU-KO-KAKU’.

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

Saturday 11 August 2018

Kita Kyushu Training

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Kita-Kyushu dojo of my friend, and karate senior, Konishi Yasuko Sensei

 Konishi Sensei is a world-class karate technician, furthermore, a really wonderful person—whom I like and respect very much.

For the children’s training she kindly allowed me to teach whatever I wanted. So, I focused on shisei (posture) using tai no shinshuku (compression and expansion) and tenshin (rotation).

For the adults training she asked me to teach Jiyu-Kumite. I primarily focused on 'oi-komi gyaku-zuki'. In particular, we covered maai (meeting distance) and 'the mix of body power and snap'. We also briefly touched on ashi-barai as a follow-up from ren-zuki.

Overall, I would like to thank Konishi Sensei and her students for their very kind hospitality. It was a great honor and a lot of fun times. Until next time!!! ありがとうございました先生!!

To contact Konishi Sensei here is her Facebook account: Needless to say, I highly recommend her Karate-Do.

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