Thursday, 19 November 2020


Training in nature is an important aspect of 'extra practice' for me - outside of the standard work in the dojo. Initially in my youth it was simply to be in a nice environment and for the fresh air. Later, I started learning from practicing on different surfaces, rocks, sand, inclines, declines, etc... While these advantages of training outside still apply, I acquired much more important gains from this practice. That is, to see how small and insignificant I am in comparison to nature; furthermore, to attempt to expand my energy into the environment.

Indeed, power can be expressed much-much easier in a confined place, and the bigger the space gets, this becomes more of a challenge. This is why it is harder to express power in say, the Nippon Budokan, than it is in your dojo. In this regard, being in nature is the ultimate test as it far transcends any human-made gymnasium.


November 18th, 2020... 27 years after my first 'Japan park training experience'.

As I have stated in the past, I was shocked when I first came to Japan in the early 1990s. In New Zealand, if I trained outside, for the most part, I’d practice at the local park. And, indeed in summer, at the beach. Immediately when I attempted to do that in Japan (to train at a park or leisure space), I was surrounded by kids and parents. My practice ended up becoming like a demonstration. People were of course really nice, but it was difficult to train seriously and keep myself on target.

This was only my first attempt at training in a Japanese park. So, I thought it was probably just a one-off… But to my surprise, when I tried again, the same thing occurred. I decided to not give up! So, I went to another park, which was smaller and more hidden. Still the kids and parents seemed to come out of nowhere.


As it was my first time here in Japan, I was doing a lot of sightseeing. It suddenly occurred to me, many of the places I was exploring were empty… The traditional places such as the more obscure Jinja (Shrines) and Tera (Temples). At best I’d see just a handful of people, if there were no special events being held.

 While I have no belief, nor interest, in the religious activities of these places, I recognize the architectural beauty of the buildings—especially when set in lush nature. In particular, such traditional Japanese structures ‘based in thick forests and the mountains’ provide an excellent practice environment, which minimizes disturbances and most importantly: ‘challenges the expansion of one’s energy’. 

To conclude, I hope you enjoy the attached pictures from yesterdays training in beautiful Taketa City, Oita Ken.

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

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