Thursday, 13 August 2020


Kumite with my student Matt Brew (Yondan)
Jiyu Kumite at the seaside with my student Matt Brew (Yondan).

 I was recently asked why I can hit people with such a wide variety of techniques in Jiyu Kumite (I’ve often been asked this type of question in various ways over the years). The reality is that, from Asai Sensei, Tanaka Sensei, Osaka Sensei and other instructors, I simply LEARNED THE RIGHT WAY! So what is the right way?


The reality is that people think I have a ‘large arsenal’ in free sparring, but, in reality; I only have a handful of techniques. So, what is behind this phenomenon? The answer is 



That is, to be able to effectively use your techniques optimally in relation the environment, stimuli, opponent(s), and so forth. In this way, one technique becomes many—because the karateka can automatically adapt it for optimal effect.


Do not get confused here. It is NOT JUST ADAPTING TECHNIQUES. For example, trajectory changes in an attack. Rather it is adapting techniques autonomously ‘in an instant’ with optimal effect. This is a skill that requires true mastery of the fundamentals and, consequently, being able to apply them in a freestyle context.


On the contrary, many people have a wide range of techniques, which require very specific circumstances to be successful. Such techniques are what I can only refer to ‘underdeveloped technique’s’. This type of karate is inferior to boxing and kickboxing. In actuality, this type of karate is not real karate.

Jiyu Kumite with David from Spain during his time as a Renshusei.
Jiyu Kumite in Japan, HENKA MAWASHI-GERI, ippon!

Jiyu Kumite is essential to develop the overarching skill of TECHNICAL ADAPTABILITY. Needless to say, this skill is imperative in all fighting arts. This also raises a big question……. Many people teaching karate now ‘demonstrate well’, but can they do what they teach against a non-cooperative and strong opponent? This is my professional asset and the key to what effective fighting karate is. 


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

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