Sunday 14 July 2019

Ido Kihon elucidating blind faith

Over the last few days I have been extensively working on IDO KIHON in addition to kumite and karate training. The one thing that I aim for in my foundational training is optimal efficiency and effectiveness of every action. I call it `organic movement for maximum effect`, but this would require a long article so I`ll leave that here.

To be honest, I am not interested in the latest trends for competition nor what organizations (or famous instructors) teach as budo gospel. I`m only interested in optimizing my martial arts ability/effectiveness.

This brings me to a major psychological weakness in Shotokan, and one which I have long eradicated from my own karate training; that is, BLIND FAITH. Proof... my karate and, far more wonderfully, my senior students around the world

Obviously, this advice is not for beginners, it is for seasoned black belts -- as you need a strong base of physical knowledge first; nevertheless, from my experience, BLIND FAITH is unfortunately as high as ever, even amongst senior instructors... Even in our so-called information age.

SOLUTION.... Listen and learn, practice and TEST... Test in kumite, test is self-defence/street defense training, test against the bag, makiwara etc... Then, test alternative methods of doing the same thing. Test for yourself!!! Find the best one for you!!! Make karate your own. If you don`t, you will never maximize your unique potential. 

This begins with Kihon and, in my case, it is Ido Kihon at present. I will leave you with some images from my last few days of Ido Kihon training. Osu, AB.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2019).

Sunday 7 July 2019

Latest Self-Training Regime and some Tips

Movement one of  二十四歩 NIJUSHIHO.
Here is my latest training regime. To supplement this one, as I have not posted my personal routine in a while, I've also included some information on practice objectives in kihon; furthermore, some tips for Yakusoku Kumite training (namely, three major points to avoid when counterattacking). I hope this post finds everyone well, moreover, offers something useful for your own karate practice. Best wishes from Oita City, Kyushu, Japan.
Osu, André

基本 (Kihon)

At present my foundational training is all Ido-Kihon, based on the following 10 renzokuwaza. Repetitions of each of these is dependent on my daily condition; nevertheless, the average is between 10 and 30 bursts.

1. Basic punch combination with a focus on correct propulsion and penetration, via ‘shoulder extension’ and hikite: either (a) Sanbon ren zuki or (b) Kizami zuki kara sanbon ren zuki;

2-5. Fundamental rotation from hanmi into zenmi with focus of correct correspondences between axises and heels: the four foundational  closed fist ukewaza—(2) jodan age uke, (3) chudan soto ude uke, (4) chudan uchi ude uke and (5) gedan barai—each followed by chudan gyaku zuki;

6. Transition of power from back stance ‘100% forward’ with both keri and tsuki: Chudan shuto uke (kokutsu dachi) kara chudan kizami mae geri soshite chudan tate shihon nukite;

7-9. ‘Legs followed by hands’—with special focus on the sasae ashi—when kicking and, again, after kicking to deliver the follow up ‘tsuki’: (7) Mae geri keage kara oi zuki; (8) Mawashi geri kara chudan gyaku zuki; (9) Ushiro geri kekomi kara chudan gyaku zuki; and…

10. Defining the difference between the two main forms of yoko geri, however in both cases, especially expressing full ‘tai no shinshuku’ for optimal power and bio-mechanically healthy movement: Yoko geri keage ashi o kaete yoko geri kekomi (kiba dachi).


At present Im practising four kata per day. These are: (1) One 指定型 (Shiteigata)any 平安 (Heian) or 鉄騎初段 (Tekki Shodan); (2) One 選定型 (Senteigata)either 慈恩 (Jion), 拔塞大 (Bassai Dai), 燕飛 (Enpi) or 観空大 (Kanku Dai); (3) One 自由型  (Jiyugata)currently either 珍手 (Chinte) or 二十四歩 (Nijushiho); and (4) One 古典型  (Kotengata). In recent weeks this kata has been chosen from the natural energy forms: 火手 (Kashu), 水手 (Suishu), 風手 (Hushu) and 浪手 (Roshu). Training/Repetitions: all four kata that I practise each day are repeated no less than four times (alternating between very slow and regular speed).

Movement 16 of Sentei-gata: 観空大  KANKU DAI.
Movement 36 of Sentei-gata: 燕飛 ENPI.
 組手 (Kumite)

Im focused on two forms of Kumite at present to lift my foundational skills and reactivity. These are: 五本組手 (Gohon Kumite) and 基本一本組手 (Kihon Ippon Kumite)

While some may scoff at the practicality of these training methods, over the years, I have found them to be very effective tools for sharpening my pragmatic skills. People who have attended my classes and seminars will understand this!! Anyway—away from this generic point—in my current training I am working on further cutting down the time for immediate hangeki (counterattack). 

Please note: It is imperative to avoid three major errors that many people make when countering in yakusoku kumite: 

(i) Firstly, many karateka merely use gyaku zuki, every time, when they counter their training partner. Of course, gyaku zuki is perfect if the maai, and positioning/angles, are optimal. If it isn't optimal, it is an all-out error. This is what is often referred to, by competent instructors ,as 'the brainless gyaku-zuki'.

(ii) Secondly and contrastingly, many people start ‘getting creative’ and using all sorts of fancy counters… Don’t be creative, choose the most effective/devastating counter instinctively. Avoid set techniques. Overall, ask yourself, after each time returning to shizentai, “would the counter I selected, in that given moment, give me the best chance of finishing my opponent?”. If not, it is obvious that bad habits are being trained. 

(iii) And thirdly, as mentioned above, move as quickly as possible, without any adjustment from your defensive position. This relates to the first two points, yet needs to be stressed. Any adjustment of your defensive position to launch your counterattack literally invalidates the counterattack. You must 'launch' from where you are!!! With this in mind, let me reiterate… Counter from your immediate position, with no adjustment and with the best possible technique (to the optimal target). This is based on you and your opponents position in an instant. Don’t be creative with your counterattacks, be utterly pragmatic. Yes, the best technique is the most simple in that moment; hence, gyaku zuki is often used. But not always! Last, but certainly not least, always remember that Gohon and Kihon Ippon Kumite are Kihon drills, not "Kumite/Fighting" as such; therefore, use the controlled stimuli these drills provide to hone practical responses.
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2019).

Tuesday 2 July 2019


Two from India came to Oita for training, Mr. Sudhir Parab (from Mumbai, Bombay) and Mr. Kailas Lohar (from Pune, Maharashta). Both came to me with the desire to begin properly learning the Shotokan style as budo/bujutsu.

It was clearly a challenge for them to relearn Kihon but both men did their best and I could see significant improvements, in their movement, by the end of the second session. This is a credit to their efforts.

I’ll not provide fine details of what I taught them except that I focused on the foundational techniques via Heian; continuity with Enpi; and 'Seiryu kata' as a base for understanding relaxation and snap (青柳 - Seiryu Kata performed PROPERLY: Please refer to the following YouTube video reference:

Furthermore, I taught Sudhir and Kailas proper Gohon Kumite and Kihon Ippon Kumite including first level basic objectives; thereby, helping them link these 'kihon partner training methods' to all other aspects of Karate Training. This will provide a base for future training.

Last, but certainly not least I provided an introduction of ‘Self-defense principles/themes’, which are consistently found throughout the standard Shotokan kata.

To conclude, I’d like to wish both Sudhir and Kailas the very best in their ongoing karate development. Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2019).