Sunday 29 August 2021

Revisiting the 10 Precepts of Itosu Anko Sensei

Today I thought I’d share writings from Anko Itosu Sensei. In particular I wanted to highlight his ’10 PRECEPTS’. There’s a lot of knowledge in these writings, but also—in light of history—a lot of controversial stuff as well. Rather than comment on these points, I will simply let Itosu Sensei’s words speak for themselves and for you, the reader, to evaluate them accordingly. Irrespective of all this, what most interests me is: ‘how we can use knowledge for training and improvement’. I really think there are some gems here, hence, this post today. Osu, AB.


Introductory statement: “Karate did not develop from Buddhism or Confucianism. In the past the Shorin-ryu school and the Shorei-ryu school were brought to Okinawa from China. Both of these ryuha have strong points; therefore, list them below just as they are without embellishment.


1.    Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used to protect one's family or master. It is not intended to be used against a single assailant but instead as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one, by any chance, be confronted by a criminal or thug.


 2.    The purpose of karate is to make the muscles and bones hard as rock and to use the hands and legs as spears. If children were to begin training naturally, in military prowess, while in elementary school, then they would be well suited for military service in the future. Remember the words attributed to the Duke of Wellington after he defeated Napoleon: "Today's battle was won on the playing fields of our schools".


3.    Karate cannot be quickly learned. Like a slow-moving bull, it eventually travels a thousand leagues. If one trains diligently for one or two hours every day, then in three or four years one will see a change in physique. Those who train in this fashion will discover the deeper principles of karate.


4.    In karate, training of the hands and feet are important, so you should train thoroughly on the makiwara. In order to do this, drop your shoulders, open your lungs, muster your strength, grip the floor with your feet, and concentrate your energy into your lower abdomen. Practice using each arm one to two hundred times each day.


5.    When you practice the stances of karate, be sure to keep your back straight, lower your shoulders, put strength in your legs, stand firmly, and drop your energy into your lower abdomen.


6.    Practice each of the techniques of karate repeatedly. Learn the explanations of every technique thoroughly and decide when, and in what manner, to apply them when needed. Enter, counter, withdraw is the rule for the tori-te (grasping the hand).


7.    You must decide if karate is for your health or to aid your duty.


 8.    When you train, do so as if on the battlefield. Your eyes should focus, shoulders drop, and body strong. You should always train with intensity and spirit as if actually facing the enemy, and in this way you will naturally be ready.


9.    If you use up your strength to excess in karate training, this will cause you to lose the energy in your lower abdomen and it will be harmful to your body. Your face and eyes will turn red. Be careful to control your training.


10.        In the past, many masters of karate have enjoyed long lives. Karate aids in developing the bones and muscles. It helps the digestion as well as the circulation. If karate should be introduced, beginning in the elementary schools, then we will produce many men each capable of defeating ten assailants.”

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

Friday 27 August 2021

The ENBU experience with Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei

 I was asked about ENBU with Asai Sensei, so i'll answer that today.

When doing enbu (demonstrations) with Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei I learned quickly to not attack randomly. In the few times I did attack him randomly, it turned into freestyle, which resulted in Asai Sensei injuring me. I even experienced one bone fracture, which really  needed surgery (but I decided not to, to keep it as a trophy: which shocks people still to this day, and I'll certainly treasure and feel it, until I’m gone). 

Accordingly though, for my self-preservation, I ascertained that in demonstrations with Sensei it was better to attack him from gedan-barai with simple kihonwaza—like Kihon Ippon Kumite.

I must add here that, the simple basic attacks in demonstrations are important when teaching others, as it allows the trainees to clearly understand what the ‘learning objectives’/’skills to be attained’ are. In sum, it makes things 'clean' as opposed to being blurred.


One of the major reasons, why Asai Sensei’s karate is so interesting for me personally, is that I was physically stronger (in the muscular sense) than him at any point in his life. We talked about this a lot. He kind of mocked me about it, but with lots of laughs. I’m not bragging by saying this, as I am not big, nor a particularly strong guy. However, he was a small built guy by Western standards, and even small built here in Japan. Still, via his relaxation, flexibility and incredible depth of technical excellence, his impacts were worse—than that of anyone else—I’ve ever experienced (firsthand). That is one of the main reasons I became studious about Asai Sensei's Karate.


I felt feeling Tanaka Masahiko Sensei’s power was similar; however, the difference was Tanaka Sensei’s waza felt like a sledgehammer, whereas Asai Sensei’s waza felt like a sharp blade. I feel really bad that I can’t explain it so properly in words, but these masters (and indeed, the other 'true greats'—all successful competitive fightersJapanese and non-Japanese) are just really incredible and highly deserved of their respective fame. All of these people, I am referring to, are equally (or near equally proficient) in both kata and kumite; that is, 'kime' is always there: something which I followed on my karate journey. THIS IS BUDO KARATE.

There are many seniors, above me, in the practice of Asai Sensei's karate; however, we all know his karate, and know that he has set a standard that is 'in the clouds'. 

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

Monday 23 August 2021

Teaching 'HOW TO FISH'

At  (Kyu) and roughly初段 (Shodan) level one should execute their kihon in a highly prescribed manner. While this somewhat varies between Shotokan organizations, the underpinning principles and biomechanics are nearly identical. This is due to the human body inherently having the same generic limitations; thus, the very best way to make any given technique means “…that the key points of execution are more similar than different”. This, of course, applies to other kaiha/ryuha as well.



Accordingly, the highly prescribed manner of the ‘base kihon’ is imperative for one’s foundation and, indeed, “…the prime reference point (for each karateka) to fine-tune/self-specifically customize”, to make their karate optimal for themselves.



Now, before I go on here, I want to emphatically stress that I’m not implying ‘radical deviations from the originally learned (aforementioned) prescribed kihon’. As I said, the fundamental techniques practiced at the kyu and shodan stages are “… the base reference for subtle changes at higher levels, so the individual makes the most of their unique physique, and personal attributes”.



Please note, and hopefully needless to say, radical changes to the foundational techniques—based on bizarre theories, which some people inevitably (and counterproductively) concoct—is not what I’m implying here either. Therefore, and accordingly, if someone begins to go down this path, it is FAR BETTER for them to stick to the kyu/shodan prescribed kihon. Quite simply, this is because it’s particularly difficult to ‘unlearn’ errors and, needless to say, this is not the wisest use of one’s time!

This brings me to the point of answering an important question (that I especially get asked by non-Japanese karateka). This question goes something like this: “Why is so and so Sensei’s shuto-uke different from ‘so and so’ Sensei. Please note, I could have used any technique, stance or leg movement here. Basically, when people ask me this, they are really asking: “What’s the correct way?” or “What’s the best way?”


Well, the correct way is what I explained earlier. The ‘kyu/shodan acutely prescribed way’ of doing kihon. Furthermore, ‘the best way’ is also what I said before: in sum, it is the ‘subtle variations of the prescribed manner’, which ‘specifically optimizes the individuals effectiveness’.


Many people get confused by trying to copy different experts via external cues. They look at Asai Sensei, Osaka Sensei, Tanaka Sensei et al., and do not correctly understand why they all move so differently/uniquely. Usually, their assumption is the differences in their physiques, age, strengths, flexibility, and so on. While there is truth in these points, it is not helpful for a person wishing to really improve their own karate. In sum, it is short-sighted. Certainly—study such fabulous individuals—but “…the base kihon, and ‘one’s own unique features’, are the prime reference points”. Indeed, this, ‘technique-wise’, underpins “….how all ‘the greats’ became really great”.


While these masters and others were learning—from Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, their senpai, and each other “…they were literally ‘adjusting their own kihon’ based on the points I have outlined here today.”


Finally, I’d like to address some individuals, who ‘criticize variations’ from the base/prescribed kihon’, which is EXTREMELY COMMON NOW! Even among those with high Dan in the mainstream organizations. This trend has arisen from the lowering of standards to attain high Dan and qualifications. Such individuals have only been ‘spoon fed the basic system’, and have ‘yet to have been deemed, as good enough, to go to the next phase’. Often, in fact, they never do: probably due to their tunnel vision… In this regard the major associations made some grave errors in giving such people high dan and examination rights. Unambiguously, this has led to the confusion amongst many non-Japanese instructors and, in particular, big egos, brand label obsession, and ‘not very good karate’, to back all that up… All that seems to matter is lots of ‘stand around photos’ with famous instructors. Well, at least they get their pictures each year….  Hmmmm…..


It is also shown in how robotic standards are these days, even at the top. Just looking at the top Japanese instructors (especially up to the 1990s)—and their vast technical variability (uniqueness)—strongly reflects this. So far, in this century, we’ve seen a more ‘packaged’ form of karate, which is less budo/bujutsu in nature and “…more aimed at mass participation and competition success”. While these are potentially good things, they are not good when they take away the optimization of each individual’s budo prowess.


So, how can you moderate your own kihon for yourself to optimize your karate? Well, the power is literally in your hands: “your empty hands!” Firstly, you must have solid kyu/shodan level—the prescribed—kihon. Secondly, based on these waza you must self-check and test for yourself. This means: (a) mirror and/video work to adjust/modify/balance your form; (b) test in impact training; (c) test in all the forms of kumite training; and lastly (d) reinforce/subliminally groove the core skills via kata practice. Using this way, and hopefully with access to a high-level instructor (or instructors) with good character, you will find ‘the best way for you which will be unique’—but ‘avoid negativity deviating from proper kihon’—via going on a strange tangent.


Lastly, I hope that this article helps you via empowerment of yourself. I’ve quoted it many times before and I’ll unapologetically say it again today: “You can feed a person for the day by giving them a fish, or you can feed them for life by teaching them how to fish”. Osu and best wishes for your training, AB.

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

Sunday 22 August 2021

引手: Form, generic underpinnings and functionality


Asai Sensei is not only initiating hikite on me here, he is also attacking my brachial artery (TH 11).

Generally, speaking there are two major forms of 引手 (hikite), the first is the ‘linear hikite’—which is used to initiate linear waza; in particular, tsukiwaza. The second is the ‘arced hikite’—which is often employed with circular waza such as ukewaza and uchiwaza. However, this goes beyond 'how to'; that is 'why?' Functionality, was the actual origin of HIKITE. Let me explain generically from what I have been taught over the years, here in Japan, by the very best of the best.


Indeed, the use of hikite is a case-by-case situation which is actually dictated by application as opposed to form. Accordingly, there are a couple of important points that we use in Budo Karate. Firstly, as I have explained in great detail in the past, the main purpose of hikite is as follows:


“Hikite is to achieve ‘ichigeki-hissatsu’, that is to finish with a single blow. The hikite’s role in achieving this is threefold. Firstly, to pull in the opponent to create a ‘collision effect’ which greatly intensifies the impact of the respective blow. Secondly, it ‘keeps’ the opponent or ‘sets’ them which not only makes it harder for them to escape, but also greatly reduces the fine motor skills required to impact in the unpredictability and intensity of a real fight. Thirdly, it functions to off-balance and ‘blindside’ the opponent.”


It is important to note here that the hikite is preceded by an iriguchi-waza (an entrance technique) so that an opening is created. For those unfamiliar, there are three of these from the origins of karate: an attack to the eyes, throat or testicles.


Beyond this point of initiation, the key aspect is INSTICTIVELY using the correct hikite in any given moment. This is actually 'an easy skill', even for intermediate level karate exponents (if it is ALWAYS TAUGHT AND FOLLOWED IN DAILY PRACTICE). It also shows "...if an instructor knows what they are doing or not". Interestingly, many Japanese instructors now fall in this ‘not knowing’ category. This is because they only know hikite in its basic form for 'opposite side power generation. While they do 'cerebrally know' the application form of hikite, " is mostly a novelty", which they occasionally 'show' their students (and from 'an almost academic standpoint'). Inevitably, based on the mainstream focus of 'fist/foot kendo', such original and highly effective knowledge will only further dissolve into obscurity.

Hiki-Te in the classical sense literally makes the classical techniques work!


Underpinning these applicative aspects, as I have just said, we have the ‘basic’ of hikite, which is its foundational function of generating power with the opposite hand/arm. This aspect is not only related to this but, also, the central division and interconnection of the muscular-skeletal system. 

The “breaking of the upper body into five sections”, with “…each section being used together, separately, in different combinations and varying orders” is at the heart of how experts move at different level (the two Sensei who personally taught me in these regards were Asai Sensei and, still now, Osaka Sensei). The initiation of all of this, outside of the psychological/cerebral aspects, and positioning/movement IS THE HIKITE.


On the subject of the seichusen and my past writings (on the three ‘tanden’) one must understand and properly utilize six points. These are as follows from the aforementioned two masters:


The three planes of motion:


(2) FRONTAL; and                 



The three axis’s of rotation:





Needless to say, the hikite plays a particularly import important role when utilizing these planes and axis’s; however, outside of Budo Karate, what often gets 'left out of the equation' is that the hikite also 'negatively interferes' with the opponent’s planes and corresponding axis’s. This was Asai Sensei's specialty and was one of the underpinnings of his specialization in TENSHIN.


What I am elucidating here is that the hikite is not only to do with one’s own attack, but also disrupting the opponent or opponents. Without this full equation it is impossible to fully utilize hikite in its originally designed/purposed manner; thus, invalidating its functionality in the real world. When you understand this, you will understand the training of TENSHIN and why I teach it so much,


In context of tenshin, the ironic thing about this is that "...if one understands and practices their hikite in this way, their hikite is given ‘more life’." Besides application itself, performance of the solo fundamentals and kata are also significantly enhanced. Therefore, even for those karateka who do not practice Budo Karate—that is, solely focus on sports karate—they too, will benefit from doing hikite correctly! The problem is that such people will probably never visit this page!! Osu, André

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

Tuesday 17 August 2021

試し割り (Tameshiwari)




The late Nishiyama Hidetaka Sensei demonstrating 'budo karate' tameshiwari.

By request, I have been asked to give my views on tameshiwari. So here you go! To begin, tameshiwari literally implies a ‘breaking test’, which runs parallel with the tameshigiri or 'test cutting' utilized in Iaido. Basically, tameshiwari is where the karateka attempts to break an object to test the skill and power of a particular (waza) or several of them.


Typically boards and rooftiles are used, however, sometimes river stones and bricks. In the 20th Century, breaking blocks of ice and wooden baseball bats became popular; however, many traditionalists here in Japan believe that “such demonstrations made karate look more like a 'circus act' than budo”. That's probably true as some fakers used tameshiwari as means to gain attention, then later fame. In sum, to quote one of my senpai, they used 'breaking stuff' " distract people from their poor technical skill".


Irrespective, tameshiwari certainly has its place in karate, but is far less important than technique itself (kihon, kata and the various forms of yakusoku-kumite, including kata application); impact training; and, indeed, jiyu-kumite.


The three best examples of tameshiwari I’ve seen were Tanaka Masahiko Sensei’s demonstration on his infamous documentary (please reference the mae-geri 'still' below); Keith Geyer Sensei’s breaking at the Tokyo Budokan (Nakahara JKA); and a 'close-range' demonstration by Yahara Mikio Sensei, when he was Fuku-Shuseki Shihan of the Asai/Matsuno JKA. Two characteristics were in all three of these awesome examples of tameshiwari. Firstly, there was no ‘hype up’ nor lining up. The attacks were immediate from shizentai with no kamae, just like the sudden pre-emptive attack in an actual fight. Secondly, every technique demonstrated by the above three 'master karateka' would literally be utterly destructive if done on human flesh and bone (as opposed to hardwood boards). In sum, this tameshiwari is directly reflective of actual karate technique being applied without control = real karate; that is, : "karate as applied in self-defense".

Tanaka Sensei's enbu of four instant and consecutive waza concludes with perfect zanshin.

These demonstrations not only exhibit ‘high level technique’, but function as the valuable ‘testing of waza’ with full ‘ichigeki-hissatsu’ potential. 

In sum, all the showboating in tameshiwari (i.e. – slow winding up with several ‘line-up movements’: to get the 'audiences' attention and gradually build up the hype), is just that: ‘showmanship’. Likewise, all the fancy unusable kicks—and other superfluous movements—are just 'bling': nothing more than metaphoric 'glitter and strobe lights'. When tameshiwari is done in this way, the meaning of it is almost completely lost with the exception of 'entertainment'. That being said, when done 'in the correct manner' (as I referenced in the three aforementioned examples) tameshiwari is an excellent test of one’s own waza and demonstration of karate power to others.

 Osu, André

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

Monday 16 August 2021

精神と技法 : PART FOUR

 One of the things that strikes me in ‘Karate-Do: Kokoro to waza’ is Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei’s writings on (Chinese), which is known as Ki’ (or ‘Chi’/‘Qi’).


 is claimed to be a core element of all living things. It literally translates as ‘breath’, ‘vapor’ or ‘air’; however, it is usually described more specifically as a ‘vital force’ or something similar. Including and expanding upon this, some believers in Ki believe that it actually exists even in or around mountains, trees, plants and so forth.

Ki (Chi/Qi in Chinese) is at the heart of both traditional Chinese medicine and in the classical Chinese martial arts. The practice of developing, harnessing (and balancing) this ‘energy’ is known as qigong (of which Asai Sensei’s widow, Mrs. Keiko Asai, is a master of).


To cut to the chase, I started to translate the writings of Nakayama Sensei in 精神と技法 about this topic but have decided not to—as it “crosses several lines intertwining science, theology, philosophy and possibly mythology”—which I’m personally not comfortable to delve, nor in fact, qualified to do so. Besides the Japanese renderings of these writings (which I can ‘understand’), in my opinion, require ‘someone qualified in relevant academic disciplines’.


Consequently, I want to firmly state here again that ‘I am not confirming nor denying the existence of Ki’. Merely that it would be disingenuous, and potentially misleading to readers, if I translated this content. On the dojo floor, what probably best illustrates my position, on this subject, is my continued practice of 気法拳 (Kihouken), which I primarily do as a central part of my breathing training.

Anyway, my sincere hope is that the scientific community delves further ‘into this topic and acquires ‘scientifically verified existence of it as opposed to mere opinion, or dare I say, some form of bizarre dogma. I have discussed this with several people here in Japan, and abroad, and hope that empirical evidence of Ki (or its non-existence) will eventually produced. Imagine it being featured in the big scientific journals! Wouldn't that be exciting! With such scientific evidence—fully verifying 気 and its features/attributes—I would be ‘more than pleased’ to translate this information (as it would serve my overarching goals as a practitioner and instructor of karate).


Therefore, I will ‘pass over’ this part of ‘Karate-Do: Kokoro to waza’ for the time being. 


Lastly, I need to add that, if Ki is my “…breathing, blood flow, psychology, brain processes, emotions, generic energy level each-day,  or ‘some combination of these’, or other such aspects”, then of course, I’m a believer; nevertheless, I would find it hard to justify it as a ‘separate term’ from what is ‘already understood in the scientific realms’ to various degrees. Thus, in my opinion, the claimed phenomena/force of Ki needs to be (or include) an aspect/element from outside of these parameters. Some ‘spiritual energy’ internally harnessed or ‘brought in from outside’? Being at one with ‘the universe’ as people often say? This clearly crosses the line in spirituality, and possibly religion and/or mythology. As we can see, to write authoritatively about such things, without actual evidence, might be interesting or even fun, but it is still folly without hard facts. Especially in the context of contemporary Budo as opposed to becoming ‘Jedi Knights’.


Consequently, based on this point, I assume that “…the term seems to cause more confusion, than assist, karateka”. That is, it might seemingly ‘mystify’ karate to some degree, which is something I’m deeply opposed to.


In sum, rather than pretend 'I know something, which I do not know', I always prefer to admit my lack of knowledge on any such point (or subject). And, more importantly, such unconfirmed information is not something I personally wish to translate; thereby, potentially misleading those who read my work.


Some may find this disappointing, in the sense of reading Nakayama Sensei’s text; however, based on the points I’ve made in this post, I will leave that to others.


I want to also stress here that this is by no means being disrespectful to Nakayama Sensei of whom I have the highest respect as a Shotokan instructor. As I have stated before, I believe he was and remains ‘the greatest instructor’—The GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)—based on the undeniable and incomparable number of 'elite technicians that he produced'. In addition, to Nakayama Sensei, my writing here has no disrespect towards believers and practitioners of Ki. I am just admitting that I SIMPLY ‘DO NOT KNOW’.

So, whilst I haven’t translated these aspects of the ‘Karate-Do: Kokoro to waza’, I believe that this article has still effectively addressed Nakayama Sensei’s writings about in the book; hence, making this post well worth publishing. If nothing else, I hope it opens up dialogue about the existence or non-existence of Ki and hopefully ‘somewhat contributes towards further understanding’ away from mysticism and blind faith. If you would like to discuss this matter more with me, you are free to email in English or Japanese at:


 To end with a bit of humor: お元気ですか? (O genki desu ka?). “How are you?” Notice the ‘Ki’ in there! Also, as Nakayama Sensei pointed out, in addition to ‘genki’: 勇気 (Yuuki, courage),  気力 (Kiryoku, energy/spirit),   堅気 (hatagi, temperament), and so on. Taken as a whole, I really hope that this article has at least provided some food for thought on the subject of Ki in relation to the writings found in 'Kokoro to waza' and beyond.

 Osu, André

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

Sunday 15 August 2021

In Memory of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei (June 7th, 1935—August 15th, 2006)

 Today marks 15 years since the passing of ASAI TETSUHIKO SENSEI.

Our thoughts are especially with the Asai family on this day and,

indeed, his many other students—seniors, peers, and juniors—here

in Japan, and around the world.

I personally feel deep appreciation to Asai Sensei for his immense 

contribution to my karate development. This is something I will never 


Of course, many others feel the same, especially my seniors. Every year numerous stories are shared about Asai Sensei's very tough trainings and complex technicality; however, almost as much is said about the great sense of humor he had. 

Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei stated of all his students: "He (Asai Sensei) probably has no equals" (Best Karate).

Great memories of not only a unparalleled karateka, but also a great man.

To conclude I will give an anonymous and very appropriate quote from one of Asai Sensei's peers at Takushoku University in the late 1950s:

 “Osaka Yoshiharu Kun is known as ‘the textbook technician' of the Kyokai (JKA); whereas, Asai Tetsuhiko Senpai is known as 'THE POET' of Shotokan”.





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

Thursday 5 August 2021

精神と技法 : PART THREE

Today I will provide a translated overview of the textbook 空手道 : 精神と技法 (‘Karate-Do: Kokoro to waza). With 390 pages the ‘Technique Section’ is largely re-hash of the content featured ‘Dynamic Karate’ but with some updates. However, what I’ve translated as the ‘Spirit/Heart/Mind Section’ is unique to this publication.


I’d like to state here that when necessary I’ve added the odd word or term for clarification; furthermore, omitted some words where they make sense in Japanese yet become confusing in English.


That being said, some terms may still cause some confusion as I felt unable to replace them without distorting Nakayama Sensei’s writing. Moreover, I wanted, as much as possible, to retain the terms he utilized in the publication.


Overall, with ‘Dynamic Karate’ already published in English and other languages, it is unnecessary for the ‘Technique Section’ to be translated. However, I will gradually translate the other section of the book (the ‘Spirit/Heart/Mind Section’) and THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF KARATE-DO’.


This month marks my 40th Year since I began my Karate Journey, more than quarter of which has been here in Japan. Nevertheless, when considering my seniors in this art—Japanese and Westerners alike—I’m still in awe of their excellence and knowledge. To those of you reading this, I am sending a big bow from my dojo here to you. These karateka, many of which were direct students of Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, are especially inspirational for me in my daily training. Accordingly, I really want to offer my gratitude to you all. 押忍!


Now I’d like to say that this task, time wise, is very appropriate and, indeed, a humbling process. Unequivocally, looking at greatness inherently does this. In this regard, I believe that in any endeavor, the only way forward is humility as we must constantly see, understand and evaluate ourselves with self-honesty. Moreover, from this vantage point we must face our weaknesses and problem-solve to eradicate them. THIS TRULY IS THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL KARATE JOURNEY, which is travelled through the physical training of this form of budo.


‘Karatedo: Kokoro to waza’ shows that this must be done by self seeking precise budo karate kihon, and also the need for seeking the very best mentors. When we think of the numerous unparalleled karateka that Nakayama Sensei was instrumental in producing, I think it’s impossible to think of a better mentor in the history of the Shotokan system. Hence, his work, especially in regards to the 'underpinning psychological aspects' of our art is of particular importance. This point cannot be stressed enough, especially now in a world focused on 'performance dance', 'kabuki face' and 'screaming kata'; furthermore,   'tip-tap-tag kumite' followed by disgusting etiquette and 'high fives', which is unacceptable in any form of Japanese Budo/Bujutsu. Such actions only confirm the vast chasm between BUDO and sports karate.

To conclude, I hope that this is of some use to our Shotokan Family who follow Budo Karate—irrespective of organization or dojo. Also to our Budo friends in other Kaiha/Ryuha. My best wishes and positive energy from Oita City, Kyushu, Japan.


アンドレ  バーテル

André Bertel.






·        Preface/Foreword


·        The 20 precepts of Shoto (The Niju Kajo)


·        Table of contents


·        Index







The Beginning


Chapter 1   The infancy phase of Karate


Chapter 2   Chinese Kenpo and the Kenpo of Okinawa


Chapter 2   From Karate to Karatedo





The Long process towards to making a modern karate competition


Chapter 1   From exchange training style to a more formal competitive match



-      Brought to the 11th tournament (Mishima Yukio)

-      Karate as a competitive sport (Tetsuo Kishiro)



Chapter 2   Differences in ideas and behaviors: between the West and the






Karatedo scriptures


Chapter 1   What is Karatedo


Chapter 2   Emptiness and nothingness





Zen and Budo


Chapter 1   Establishment of modern zen in Japan


Chapter 2   Zen content and personality


Chapter 3   The practice of zen and the performing arts





The ‘Kokoro’ (heart) of Karate-Do


Chapter 1   There is no first attack in karate


Chapter 2   There is no kamae in karate


Chapter 3   The itinerary in the minds of karate practitioners









Overall perspective of the foundational techniques


       Preface / The foundational techniques of Karate-Do


1             Karate-Do is scientifically based


2             The form of physical stability and center of gravity in movement


3             Power and speed


4             Concentration of power


5             The driving force of movements is muscular strength


6             Rhythm


7             Timing


8             ‘Tanden’ and waist



Chapter 1  Stance and posture


1             In a rotational form


2             What is a good way to make stances


3             Stance stability


4             How to practice stances



Chapter 2  Rotation and driving force of the waist


1             About the rotation of the waist (hip rotation)


2             Extruding the waist (hip drive/thrust)



Chapter 3  Balance / Center of Gravity / Movement of the Center of Gravity



Chapter 4  The limbs are also weapons


1             About limb training


2             How to use the hands


3             About the rotation of the waist (hip rotation)






Training of the foundational techniques


Chapter 1  Tsuki (Thrusts) / Theory and Practice


1             How to make thrusts


2             Types of thrusts


3             The basic technicality of thrust / direct collision


Factor one: Correct Trajectory


Factor two: Speed


Factor three: Concentration of Power


4             Gyaku-zuki


5             Stance and impact distance


6             Jun-zuki (Oi-zuki)


7             Nagashi-zuki


8             Kizami-zuki



Chapter 2  Uchi (Strikes) / Theory and Practice


1             How to strike


2             Closed fist strikes


3             Strikes with the elbows


4             Shuto uchi (Sword hand strike)




Chapter 3  Keri (Kicking) / Theory and Practice


1             Kicking is a powerful weapon of karate


Factor one: Correct knee squeeze


Factor two: Snap via the bending and stretching of the knee


Factor three: Waist and Ankle Spring


2             Various kicks and practice methods


Karate photographically analyzed via bursts with a strobe flash


-      Shirai Hiroshi Sensei: Tobi Yoko-geri

-      Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei: Nidan-geri

-      Yaguchi Yutaka Sensei: Yoko-geri kekomi

-      Kanazawa Hirokazu Sensei: Board breaking with mae-geri




Chapter 4  Uke (Recieving) / Theory and Practice


1             The characteristics of ukewaza (receiving techniques) in Karate-Do


2             The foundational techniques of receiving


Factor one: Direction to apply force (trajectory/course)


Factor two: Twist and timing


Factor three: Uke with koshi (the waist/hips)


Factor four: Relationship between the elbows and flanks


Factor five: Do not receive too much (over action is incorrect)


Factor six: Receiving is also a kimewaza (Decisive technique)



3             Basic form / The procedure and practice of Ukewaza


4             Use of special parts


5             Receiving using both hands


6             Receiving kicking techniques


7             Foundational practice of receiving





Training of the foundational techniques


Chapter 1  Response to jodan (upper level) attacks


 Combinations of receiving and decisive techniques (countering)


Chapter 2  Response to chudan (middle level) attacks


Combinations of receiving and decisive techniques (countering)


Chapter 3  Response to gedan (lower level) attacks


Combinations of receiving and decisive techniques (countering)




Completion of foundational technique training


Chapter 1  Fundamental practice



1             Jun zuki practice


2             Sanren zuki practice


3             Jodan age uke practice


4             Jodan age uke kara chudan gyaku zuki practice


5             Chudan ude uke practice


6             Chudan ude uke kara chudan gyaku zuki practice


7             Chudan ude uke kara yori ashi chudan yoko enpi uchi practice


8             Shuto uke practice


9             Shuto uke kara nukite practice


10         Uraken yokomawashi uchi practice


11         Jodan kizami zuki kara chudan oi zuki, uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi, shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi soshite shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi practice


12         Mae geri keage practice


13         Mawashi geri practice


14         Yoko geri keage and Yoko geri kekomi practice


15         Mae geri keage kara mawashi geri, yoko geri (yoko keage or yoko kekomi) practice


16         Ippo sagatte jodan age uke kara mawashi geri, uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan jun zuki practice


17         Mawashi geri kara yoko geri (yoko keage or yoko kekomi) practice


18         Mae geri keage de ashi onaji yoko geri kekomi practice


19         Mae geri keage kara yoko geri (keage matawa kekomi) soshite ushiro geri kekomi practice



Chapter 2  Preparatory exercises and Training


Junbi undo (Preparatory exercises)


Training of the arms and legs


Training with the sandbag


Training with the makiwara


How to make a makiwara


Tools needed for karate training


Explanation of the various muscles necessary for karate


Map of the vital points on the human body






[End of content translation]


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