Saturday 30 July 2022

空手と気 (Karate to ki)

As many know I am a big reader and especially enjoy academic articles pertaining to the various fields of physics, physiology, biomechanics and so forth. Needless to say, I also study a lot of Japanese texts on Karate and Budo/Bujutsu in general. 

At present I’m reading 空手と気 (Karate to ki) which is a book outlining (Ki)  in karate. The text also has strong links to Iaido as the author has an equally high Dan in that art as well.


To summarize my thoughts on ki, I believe in it, but away from the often mysticism, pseudoscience and quasi-religious elements. However, once one strips these aspects away, the value of the ‘ki’ concept becomes questionable. Therefore, I personally prefer to understand ki through observable and natural situations in life.


1.            空気 Kuuki (air)

2.            元気Genki (fine/happy/active)

3.            勇気Yuuki (courage)

4.            電気Denki (electricity)

5.            天気Tenki (weather)

6.            内気Uchiki (introversion)

7.            浮気Uwaki (affair)

8.            病気Byouki (illness)

9.            士気Shiki (samurai/bushi spirit)

10.          短気Tanki (short temper)

11.          雰囲気Hun-iki (atmosphere)

12.          活気Kakki (filled with ‘activity’/‘active spirit’)

13.          陽気Youki (lively/positive)

14.          呑気Nonki (not thinking much)

15.          本気Honki (serious)

16.          一気 Ikki (one shot)

17.          無邪気 Mujaki (innocent)

18.          やる気 Yaruki (willingness to do)

19.          平気Heiki (not worried, ok)

20.          殺気 Sakki (feeling that something can happen in any moment)

21.          根気Konki (the spirit of resilience)



From now I’d like to add just a few relevant and older Chinese perspectives of KI (Chi/Qi), which I deeply respect:


(1)  Meridian Qi: Qi that circulates through the meridians and circulates throughout the body, supporting the activities of each meridian.


(2) Qi in Chinese Medicine: Qi in Chinese medicine has different names depending on its main active part.


(3) The Qi of the Taoist School: At the end of the warring states period in China, "Zhuangzi" explains that the gathering and scattering of Qi caused changes in the creation and disappearance of all things.


Last but certainly not least; (4) Qi in martial arts is often referred to as the ``extension force'', ``stretching force'', and ``the power to move the center of gravity'' of the body. It is here we can see Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's extension/advanced waza of JKA Shotokan.


Taken as a whole, I could use more examples; however, I think what I’ve provided in this article more than enough establishes that Ki/Chi/Qi is not mystical. It is, in fact natural energy that we all innately have. Therefore, the real power is how much energy that we can utilize in any particular domain of our respective ‘Ki’. Some people, who have made KI into a mystical force not only put themselves in  danger but, in the case of those who teach this fakery, also put their students in danger.

In sum, lets maximize KI, natural energy to make our karate more effective, and our daily lives better as well.

          © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

Friday 29 July 2022

心技体 (Shin Gi Tai)

 心技体 (Shi Gi Tai) is an extremely important concept in Karate-Do and, indeed, life in general. In karate, (Shin) is one’s mentality and heart; (Gi) is one’s technique; and (Tai) is the body.

Out of balance and there will always be a problem, a major weakness. For example, someone can externally appear to have good technique and/or knowledge, yet lack the necessary courage and fighting spirit in the face of a serious situation. Likewise, they might have a very strong heart but lack the physicality to stop a strong opponent. Of course, another situation might be that the personal is mentally and physically strong, but has insufficient technical prowess.


Irrespective and in light of these examples, ‘Shi Gi Tai’ must be sufficiently in balance—and this balance must be established by and for each individual—that is, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.


Firstly, this requires self-awareness, which encompasses the elements of self-honesty and well refined introspection; Secondly, regular ‘good quality’ training (ideally with high quality training partners); and thirdly, if very fortunate, having access to a high-level sensei/mentor/coach. This last point is what led me here to Japan 29 years ago, and has resulted, in total, well over a decade here. As the saying goes 'A great teacher is worth more than gold'.


Overall, balancing and refining each domain of Shingitai is a three dimensional circular process, that is, they never end horizontally—just keep going around and around; moreover, the three circles overlap and ascend or descend largely based on our conscious effort. This vividly highlights the need for ‘Mindfulness’ in Karate practice and training.

All of the four main RYUHA equally emphasize the importance of 心技体

To conclude this post, I’d like to add that I talked about this topic via Heian Shodan a couple of years back, so here’s a direct link if you’d like to read some more:


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

Wednesday 27 July 2022

'START OVER'': The Theme of the Bavaria Budo Experience

 Here is another video from my seminar in Bavaria, Germany, last week. This footage was filmed and edited by Oliver Schomburg. Again, thanks again Olli. Also, be sure to check out his awesome YouTube channel: olliwaa - YouTube 

© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

Monday 25 July 2022

A big bow and thanks to Oliver Schomburg

Photo from Bavaria, July 2022. Courtesy of Oliver

Recently as you all know, I finally taught a seminar outside of Japan, in Bavaria, Germany. Today I'd like to offer special thanks to Oliver Schomburg (3rd Dan) whom kindly filmed the event (both photos and all the videos below). In sum, 100% of the footage in these three videos (and the photos) are thanks to him. 

Arigato Gozaimasu Olli, OSU!!!


 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

Saturday 23 July 2022

Friday 22 July 2022

Thursday 21 July 2022

YouTube Seminar Video: BAVARIA 2022 (Part 1)

I just came back to Japan and arrived just on time for my 46th birthday with my wife and daughter. I was blessed to safely return; however, I am deeply thankful to God that I could return so efficiently.

Traveling outside Japan is VERY EASY, however, re-entering Japan is highly problematic.  Here is part one of this seminar from last week in Bavaria. Sadly, maybe this was my last seminar outside Japan (unless Japan changes its rules).

I have no power. I can only hope that Japan opens like the rest of the world. 

© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

Sunday 3 July 2022

Friday 1 July 2022

Seehausen, Bavaria... See you soon

Many people have messaged me about the upcoming seminar in Bavaria. It will be a RE-START event, I want to make it more technical than physical. Normally I try try to balance these two factors, however, my focus is to not physically over-pressure people as we return to norms.

I am very looking forward to teaching outside Japan again and, for all who attend this exclusive seminar, it will be a special event. 

I understand that it will be a small seminar, however and irrespective of this, I recommend all who attend to bring a pen and notebook. 


© Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).