Monday 28 June 2021

鉄騎三段 (Tekki Sandan): Part One


Tekki Sandan

Practice of the three Tekki Kata consecutively on the spot. Shotokan's seika-tanden training.

The name Tekki: means ‘iron’, whilst translates as a ‘cavalry horse’, which describes the extensive use of kiba-dachi. Some translate this kata as ‘Iron Horse’; however, the second kanji is not a regular horse  (uma), it is war-horse. If you look at the kanji you can see ‘uma’ on the left and on the right side of it, additional elements. Please compare and contrast: and 

Origins of the kata and its renaming: Originally developed in China it became known in the Ryukyu Kingdom as Naifanchi. Needless to say, like many of the other kata, it was Funakoshi Gichin Sensei who named them as Tekki. I personally think that Funakoshi Sensei's poetics, even in his signatory  name 松濤 really made him 'the best man for the job' of renaming the kata.

It is said by some of my seniors that both Tekki Nidan and Sandan were developed by Itosu Anko Sensei and based on Naifanchi (Shodan). However, others claim that “…these three kata were originally one long formal exercise comprising of 79 movements”. Allegedly at that time, “the conclusive kamae (at the end of Tekki Shodan) was not done after movement 29 but, rather, after movement 36 (of the ‘Sandan section’)”. While this is not important, it implies the training of all three in succession, which is a common practice.

The purpose of Tekki: Each of the three Tekki primarily work on in-fighting skills ideal for practical self-defense. Their applications focus on a mix of percussive blows, locks, throws and strangulation techniques. A unique aspect of Tekki is that the movements can also be exclusively for grappling with an opponent.

Tekki Sandan kata at the Renshinkan Dojo, Nakatsu-Shi, Oita.

Command count and placement of the kiai: Tekki Sandan has a command count 36 movements with the kiai on movements 16 and 36 respectively.


Musubi-dachi (Rei).

Yoi: Hachiji-dachi, Ryoken-daitai mae.


Movement One:

Hidari chudan uchi-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Two:

Migi chudan uchi-uke doji ni hidari gedan-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Three:

Hidari zenwan chudan osae-uke doji ni migi zenwan chudan uchiotsohi (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Four:

Migi haiwan jodan uchinagashi-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Five:

Migi uraken jodan-uchi (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Six:

Uken migi koshi doji ni sasho uken-ue (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Seven:

Uken chudan-zuki doji ni hidari-te migi hiji-yoko (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Eight:

Migi zenwan hineri doji ni kao migi-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Nine:

Hidari ashi mae-kosa (Kiba-dachi).

Movement Ten:

Migi zenwan sokumen gedan-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Eleven:

Migi zenwan migi sokumen gedan-furisute (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twelve:

Uken migi koshi doji ni sasho uken-ue—kao shomen-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirteen:

Uken chudan-zuki doji ni hidari te koko migi hiji-yoko (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Fourteen:

Migi chudan uchi-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Fifteen:

Hidari chudan uchi-uke doji ni migi gedan-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Sixteen:
Hidari haiwan uchinagashi-uke kara hidari uraken jodan-uchi doji ni migi zenwan mune mae suihei kamae (Kiba-dachi) (KIAI).


Movement Seventeen:

Kao hidari-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Eighteen:

Migi ashi mae-kosa.


Movement Nineteen:

Hidari ashi-fumikomi—kao shomen-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty:

Hidari zenwan chudan uchiotoshi (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-One:

Hidari haiwan jodan uchinagashi-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Two:

Hidari uraken jodan-uchi (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Three:

Saken hidari-koshi doji ni uken sasho-ue (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Four:

Saken chudan-zuki doji ni migi te koko hidari hiji-yoko (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Five:

Hidari zenwan-hineri doji ni kao hidari-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Six:

Migi ashi mae-kosa.


Movement Twenty-Seven:

Hidari zenwan hidari sokumen gedan-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Eight:

Hidari zenwan hidari sokumen gedan-furisute (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Twenty-Nine:

Saken hidari-koshi doji ni usho saken-ue—Kao shomen-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty:

Saken chudan-zuki doji ni migi te koko hidari hiji-yoko (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty-One:

Migi sokumen migi chudan tsukami-uke doji ni saken hidari koshi—Kao migi muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty-Two:

Uken migi koshi doji ni saken kagi-zuki (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty-Three:

Hidari ashi mae-kosa.


Movement Thirty-Four:

Migi ashi-fumikomi doji ni hidari chudan uchi-uke—Kao shomen-muke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty-Five:

Migi chudan uchi-uke doji ni hidari gedan-uke (Kiba-dachi).


Movement Thirty-Six:

Migi jodan uchinagashi-uke kara migi uraken jodan-uchi doji ni hidari zenwan mune mae suihei kamae (Kiba-dachi) (KIAI).


Naore: Hachiji-dachi, Ryoken-daitai mae.


Musubi-dachi (Rei).


From kata we can improvise; thereby, make instinctive actions. Maximizing the informal via the formal.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

Saturday 19 June 2021

14th Anniversary of this Blog

IKS Renshusei-geiko: Don Walker Sensei (Western Australia, originally from Scotland) at Ryozenji.

Today is the 14th Anniversary of this Blog. It still stuns me that so many people have visited it—over these years. The reason I say this is that THIS SITE IS SO SPECIFIC. It’s like going to a site to get a product, which virtually no one knows about.

Here are three narrowing points of specificity…


Firstly, this site is about TRADITIONAL KARATE ONLY.


Secondly, even though I deeply respect the other styles of karate (and fighting arts in general)in order to dig deeperthis site is focused on SHOTOKAN style karate ONLY.


Thirdly, and even more specifically, this site is ONLY about Shotokan karate practiced as BUDO/BUJUTSU.

This specific focus makes this blog very unique; that is, THE FOCUS OF ITS CONTENT IS EXTREMELY NARROW. Still, it is sought out by people across the world seeking Shotokan 'bujutsu knowledge' as opposed to the mainstream.

押忍 and 感謝

(Osu and Kansha/Appreciation)


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

Thursday 17 June 2021

十手 (JITTE)


Today I will list each movement of 十手 (JITTE) or ‘Ten Hands’, which is one of ‘THE SEVEN CORE KATA’ of Shotokan-Ryu. I've also included a couple of notes here and there, which will hopefully help those doing this kata. It has 24 movements with the kiai on movements 13 and 24.

Greetings from Oita City, AB.

REI                  MUSUBI-DACHI.


YOI     HEISOKU-DACHI – Sasho uken shita ago mae.


Migi shuhai tekubi chudan osae-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).


Migi teisho chudan oshisage-uke doji ni hidari teisho chudan oshiage-uke (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). Note – this waza can also be an impact and ude-gatame.



Sasho chudan osae-uke.



Migi shuhai tekubi mige sokumen chudan kake-uke (Yori-ashi, Kiba-dachi). Note – the yori-ashi here is directly sideward; however, make a large circle with the right leg (ashi-gake). This waza is also haito uchimawashi uchi.



Migi teisho migi sokumen chudan yoko-uke (Kiba-dachi). Note 1– body/hip and waza together. The elbow is slightly bent and the waza is an arc (the same as Jion and Jiin). Note 2 – hit the spleen.



Hidari teisho hidari sokumen chudan yoko-uke (Kiba-dachi).



Migi teisho migi sokumen chudan yoko-uke (Kiba-dachi).



Ryoken jodan juji-uke (Migi ashi mae kosa-dachi).



Ryoken ryo gawa gedan uchiharai (Yori-ashi, Kiba-dachi).



Yama-gamae (Yori-ashi, Kiba-dachi).



Hidari zenwan hidari sokumen jodan-uchiharai (Hidari ashi fumikomi, Kiba-dachi). Note – this waza uses the same unsoku and hip action of Heian Sandan and Jitte (in addition to other kata). Keep the hip and shoulders back until the tsumasaki transitional stage.



Migi zenwan mgii sokumen jodan-uchiharai (Migi ashi fumikomi, Kiba-dachi).



Hidari zenwan hidari sokumen jodan-uchiharai (Hidari ashi fumikomi, Kiba-dachi)—KIAI.



Ryoken ryogawa gedan kakiwake (Hachiji-dachi).



Migi chudan tsukami-uke, Saken hidari koshi (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – this waza is targeted directly in front of the lead shoulder. Capture the opponent’s bo from where they are in their initial kamae.



Ryote bo tsukami-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).



Bo tori-age kara bo oshimodochi (Migi ashi dachi kara Yori-ashi Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).



Bo tori-age kara bo oshimodochi (Hidari ashi dachi kara Yori-ashi Migi zenkutsu-dachi).



Migi sokumen jodan uchi-uke doji ni hidari sokumen gedan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).



Hidari sokumen jodan uchi-uke doji ni migi sokumen gedan-uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi).



Hidari jodan age-uke (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). Note – reserve and fully utilize the hips to the extreme via the relationship between tsumasaki, kakato and the johanshin.


Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).



Hidari jodan age-uke (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). Note – the rhythm of movements 22 and 23 is continuous but not too much.



Migi jodan age-uke (Yori-ashi, Migi zenkutsu-dachi)—KIAI.


NAORE          HEISOKU-DACHI – Sasho uken shita ago mae.


REI                  MUSUBI-DACHI. 

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021). 

Friday 11 June 2021



I first came to Japan to study karate 'at the source' 28 years ago. Since then, I have trained daily here  for close to 15 years, thus, more than half of this total time. Next week this blog reaches its 14th Anniversary.

This year in August I reach the mark of 40 years practice. However, the years are less important than quality training and hours each day. Moreover, literally having the best mentors in the world technically guiding my karate path. I never met nor trained under  Nakayama Sensei, yet I feel I have through so much time with his best students here.

Living here in Japan, training and learning has been imperative in this process: as both a technician and as a teacher of karate.


All karateka who have studied intensively here in Japan FULLY UNDERSTAND Asai Sensei's aforementioned statement.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

Monday 7 June 2021


There are 17 ‘waza’ or techniques in the first two Heian Kata, which as you will know were reversed in order by Funakoshi Gichin Sensei. Asai Sensei, Nakamura Sensei, Osaka Sensei et al., have explained to me about ‘the switch of order’; and accordingly, I thought I’d share a little bit about this today. First note below, there are eight ukewaza (receptions); four tsukiwaza (thrusts); three uchiwaza (strikes); and two keriwaza (kicks). I will leave stances and footwork for today to make things clear. But firstly though, look at these WAZA… The brackets are used in the case of double techniques; thus, separating the categories in order to accurate each technique.



1.     Gedan-barai

2.     Jodan age-uke

3.     Chudan shuto-uke

4.     Haiwan sokumen jodan yoko-uke (doji ni zenwan hitai mae yoko-kamae)

5.     Jodan sotonagashi-uke (doji ni kentsui sokumen sotomawashi-uchi)

6.     Sasho chudan osae-uke (doji ni chudan tateshihon-nukite)

7.     Chudan uchi-uke: Gyaku-hanmi

8.     Chudan morote-zuki



1.     Chudan oi-zuki

2.     Sokumen chudan-zuki

3.     (Sasho chudan osae-uke doji ni) Chudan tateshihon-nukite

4.     Chudan gyaku-zuki



1.     Kentsui tatemawashi-uchi

2.     (Jodan sotonagashi-uke doji ni) Kentsui sokumen sotomawashi-uchi

3.     Uraken jodan yokomawashi-uchi (doji ni sokuto chudan yoko-geri keage)



1.     (Uraken jodan yokomawashi-uchi doji ni) Sokuto chudan yoko-geri keage

2.     Chudan mae-geri keage



Of course, I could have written further and completed the whole Heian series and perhaps Tekki Shodan also (to analyze all six ‘standard’ SHITEI-GATA; nonetheless, that would be less effective in explaining you what I am trying to clarify.


My point is, these 17 initial waza are what Itosu Sensei really stressed at the start of training for young people. So what? Based on this, you can see that these kihonwaza are very easy to apply and are highly effective in self-defense.


This naturally brings me to Itosu Sensei’s student, the founder of what is now known as 松濤館流 (SHOTOKAN-RYU): Funakoshi Gichin Sensei. Yes, he changed the order Pinan Shodan and Nidan, and significantly modified these kata technically. But still, for the most part, they remained same formal exercises… But…


HE MADE THESE KIHON-GATA FAR BETTER! MORE ECONOMICAL FOR APPLICATION IN SELF-DEFENSE than what his teacher taught! Yes, he improved his teacher’s karate. Not only improved, but the made the Shotokan ‘Heian Kata’ superior.


Some may contest that his modifications were to ‘sportify’; however, this assumption is false as Funakoshi Sensei was actually against ‘competition karate’. For him, on a technical level, karate was a martial art for self-defense. Moreover, only to be used in the most dangerous circumstances. This theme can be found throughout his publications. Accordingly, the modifications to the kata were improvements for increased effectiveness in this regard.


With this in mind, Funakoshi Sensei also changed the kata to increase difficulty; thus, also increase effectiveness in application when one utilizes more natural movements. This is why Shotokan kata is particularly disadvantaged in competition nowadays. The stances are more for training the body, balance, and so forth; thus, great for those focused on kata for fighting—but not advantageous for those wanting to ‘perform precisely’ in competition. This is why Shotokan Kata, when done properly looks like a fight. Examples, Osaka Sensei’s Sochin (actually, let’s face it, almost every kata); Kagawa Masao Sensei’s Bassai-Dai, Bassai Sho and Sochin; Yahara Sensei’s Bassai-Dai, Kanku-Sho, Unsu; Asai Sensei’s Nijushiho, Tekki Nidan, Kakuyoku, Hushu, etcetera.


And while I never feel I can be as good as the aforementioned senpai (seniors) I remain inspired by their skill: and this helps to drive me forward in my own training.


I haven’t detailed why I didn’t explain the waza in the first two Heian kata for ‘real fight application’. However, I don’t need to for anyone who is an experienced street fighter, or full contact fighter. They understand. Low kick, high tsuki/uchi, choke and break.


Furthermore, within these limited waza there are a vast array of standing grappling waza and, yes, newaza (ground fighting techniques) encrypted as well.


In sum, when Shotokan is practiced properly, as BUJUTSU, it is second to none. Unfortunately, the overemphasis of winning competitions has resulted the dilution of effectiveness: especially in regard to development of destructive fundamental techniques.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

Saturday 5 June 2021

巻落し受け (Makiotoshi-uke)

While there are some stylistic differences the two handed ‘windmill’ like reception is found in most ryuha/kaiha. In Shotokan, it is known as 巻落し受け (Makiotoshi-uke); however, in most styles it is termed 回し受け (Mawashi-uke). So today, I thought I’d write about the difference between these two labels; moreover, some other aspects pertaining to this technique of karate. Before I delve in, I’d like to warn you—the reader—that I’m writing rather quickly and freely today; consequently, this article may turn out to be less structured than usual. OK, so that said and done, let’s begin!


1.0        The difference between the terms:

Basically 回し (Mawashi) describes the movement, round/turning (commonly termed roundhouse) or turning 受け (reception) i.e. mawashi-geri, mawashi-zuki etcetera. Whereas, (Maki) means wrapping and 落し translates as falling. Accordingly, 巻落し受け (Makiotoshi-uke) means ‘wrapping falling reception’, which ‘more than describes the physical action/motion’ additionally ‘describes its application in relation to an actual opponent/attacker’. In this regard, think ‘makiwara’ (rolled straw) or ‘temaki-zushi’ (hand rolled sushi).


1.1        Its practice in the ‘standard Shotokan kata’:   

In Shotokan ‘the larger scale versions’ only appears three times in the standard 26 kata: the full version twice in 雲手(Unsu- movements 45 and 46 respectively. And once in 二十四歩 (Nijushiho) movement 34. The two in Unsu, as said before, are full-scale; whereas, the final movement of Nijushiho is a roughly halved. However, the smaller versions such as ‘Shuhai tekubi osae-uke appear in 十手 (Jitte) movement one (reference: Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei); and earlier in Nijushiho – ‘movement 16’ (which Asai Sensei termed ‘‘Tekubi kake-uke’). Certainly, these waza are effective, however, not as versatile as a full scale makiotoshi-uke (as these waza are also contained within it).  


1.2        The ‘Makiotoshi-uke’ kata of Shotokan-Ryu:   

When we consider that the full version of 巻落し受け (Makiotoshi-uke) is featured eight times in 百八歩 (Hyakuhappo/Hyakuhachihoour version of Suparinpei/Pechurin) and, in fact, nine times ‘in application’ (if we include movement 35 (‘Tekubi kake-uke) immediately after the final makiotoshi uke and teisho awase-zuki).


This aspect in isolation readily clarifies the technical value of this kata; however, more important, in my opinion, is the vast use of 三戦立ち (Sanchin-dachi) and generating power from this position, which is also largely neglected within standard Shotokan training. While these are merely two points of this kata, and there are indeed many others, we can again see the importance of this kata. It is well worth noting here that it is said that Hyakuhappo entered Shotokan through Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei and his close friendship with Yamaguchi Gogen Sensei.

It is also worth noting here that Some Wado Ryu groups also have their version of Suparinpei which also allegedly “…entered their style via their founder, Hironori Otsuka Sensei’s relationship with Yamaguchi Sensei”. 


1.3        Makiotoshi-uke is a highly effective 古典技 (Classical technique):

Makiotoshi-uke is a highly effective waza in self-defense as it is easy and natural to apply. This is because it utilizes natural energy via the use of the circular action of the waza; furthermore, it makes the most of both gravity (by ‘dropping’) and disruptive angles (by ‘rolling’/’wrapping’). Added to this requires very minimal fine motor skills to apply, which is of course optimal for reliability when facing a sudden assault. That being said, it is not a waza for karate ‘competition kumite’ (except in the use a kamae and/or kenseiwaza); therefore, much of mainstream Shotokan merely practices it in the performance of Nijushiho and Unsu. This is a real shame as makiotoshi-uke is the basis for many defense and follow up counterattacks—as said before—for actual self-defense.


1.4        The ‘other kata‘ with makiotoshi-uke and critical partner drills

In addition to these kata, and 百八歩, I personally teach makiotoshi-uke in 古典型 such as 明鏡二段 (Meikyo Nidan), 掌手大 (Shote Dai), 安三 (Ansan) and many others. More importantly, we practice applying it in close range kumite/self-defense drills (Goshin-jutsu/Oyo-Kumite).


If one’s aim is merely ‘fist kendo’ and ‘to score points’, perhaps this waza is only for those wishing to look nice in the performance of their kata; nevertheless, if one is interested in karate as bujutsu, makiotoshi-uke is highly versatile technique (which can defend, impact, lock, take down, throw and choke an opponent). In sum, makiotoshi-uke is a waza that reflects pre-WW2 karate, which was not a sport but, rather, a complete system of self-defense. I will conclude on that note today.

押忍! André

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).