Wednesday, 31 August 2022


 This post is dedicated to my big brother Terry, who suddenly passed away this previous week.

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

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

End of Summer 'Kihon Challenge Training'

 To wrap up the summer, here in Japan, I decided to really push myself. At 26 years old I lost an informal squat competition with Kagawa Masao Sensei who was 47. It was in the final quarter of 2002 after three months training in Japan (at that period, of my life, I was still always on visitor visas. So I could only stay for three months at a time). Anyway, to send me off Kagawa Sensei made the final session 50 minutes of squats 'to send me home with a memory.' Since then, I have regularly turned up the heat in my self-training, especially in regards to squats. Now I am nearly Kagawa Sensei's age back at that time, I'm 46, so I'm hoping to be able to outgun karateka in their 20s like he did with me. He showed me that we must push ourselves to the limit. A big thanks to Kagawa Sensei for his pressure and motivational pressure. Such experiences I will never forget. A great memory! OK, so I onto my SUMMER ' KIHON CHALLENGE TRAINING' regime. OSU!!

基本 (KIHON)

①         Migi chudan gyaku-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi): 1000x

         Hidari chudan gyaku-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi): 1000x

         Migi chudan mae-geri keage (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi): 1000x

         Hidari chudan mae-geri keage (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi): 1000x

⑤         Chudan choku-zuki (Kiba-dachi): 1000x

 In sum, “summer challenge”: 5000 precise kihonwaza and tachikata.




         太極初段 (Taikyoku Shodan)

         平安初段 (Heian Shodan)

         鉄騎初段 (Tekki Shodan)

         順路初段 (Junro Shodan)

⑤         常行一勢 (Joko Issei)

 Just twice each through the above five kata simply focusing on precise 基本技 (fundamental techniques), stances and transitions/footwork. Taken as a whole, in addition to the aforementioned focus on precision, “push… the stances and through the transitions—hard; and relax the waza—soft.”



組手 (KUMITE )


①         基本一本組手  (Kihon Ippon Kumite)

Attack with, and defend/counter against: migi and hidari jodan oi-zuki, chudan oi-zuki, chudan mae-geri keage, chudan yoko-geri kekomi and jodan mawashi-geri (or chudan mawashi-geri).


             When attacking focus on basic form of tachikata and waza, unsoku and shingitai. One must aim to hit in the same manner as breaking boards. In defense concentrate on ‘sinking’ and koshi no kaiten retaining exact shisei, timing of forearm twist and ‘wrist impact’ with ukewaza, and countering spontaneously with the best waza at that moment in regards to maai and positioning of both oneself and that of the training partner.



         自由一本組手  (Jiyu Ippon Kumite)

Attack with, and defend/counter against: migi and hidari jodan oi-zuki, chudan oi-zuki, chudan mae-geri keage, chudan yoko-geri kekomi, jodan mawashi-geri (or chudan mawashi-geri) and chudan ushiro-geri kekomi.


             Focus on large scale and deep attacks with oi-waza, aim to ‘go through the opponent’ physically and with strong kihaku: maximum physical and psychological compression and expansion. Compress into the freestyle stance and jiyu na kamae, then expand to the maximum into a strong classical waza, then compress back into the freestyle position. When defending use large-scale unsoku to escape and fully compress, then expand to the limit when counterattacking. The waza, if not controlled must be one’s best shot to down the opponent. Like kihon ippon the counterattack must be spontaneous and optimal in that moment. After countering immediate compress back into the free style stance and kamae with zanshin. In sum, when both attacking and defending, the aim is to practice ‘ippon waza’ every time.

 In sum, repeat both Kihon Ippon Kumite and Jiyu ippon Kumite five times—attack, defense and counterattack—on both right and left sides.


To conclude, (a) complete thirty diamond push ups, 30 archer push ups. 30  jumping push up and 10 handstand push ups; 1000 crunches; and (c) 1000 three directional lunges (front right and left, right side then left side)

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

Monday, 22 August 2022

Shotokan Karate has the most envied lineage of all karate styles

 Shotokan Karate has the most envied lineage of all karate styles. Firstly, includes the most famous karate master of all time, Funakoshi Gichin Sensei - the founder of modern karatedo, who brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan and popularized it. Secondly, the man who professionally spread karate across the world and made it scientifically based, Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei. And, lastly, Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei who revolutionized JKA style Shotokan, expanding it and returning it to its pre-WW2 Budo/Bujutsu origins.

Of course, one could add many other Shotokan masters under Funakoshi Sensei and Nakayama Sensei; however, I am naturally focusing on my particular Shotokan lineage: as I naturally can't comment on others.

Haters of Shotokan are simply haters because of the styles global unparalleled success and, as already stated, its incredible lineage: not only through a few masters, BUT MANY.

Here's some images today to celebrate our collective Shotokan lineage. OSU!

Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, Funkoshi Yoshitaka (Gigo) Sensei and Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, with Master Funakoshi's grandson.

Funakoshi Sensei completing the execution of yoko-enpi.

Gichin Funakoshi Sensei was not only the founder of Shotokan but of modern day karate.

Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei professionally and scientifically spread karate across the world.

Nakayama Sensei also developed karate competition, but unlike mainstream competition nowadays, it was based on destructive waza. 

Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei with his main senpai, Okazaki Teruyuki Sensei.

Asai Sensei's hidari jodan mae-geri kekomi. A technique he could use from any position.

Asai Sensei and Osaka Yoshiharu: 'Best Karate: Kumite 2'. Osaka Sensei is another important mentor.

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

Thursday, 18 August 2022

三本連突 (Sanbon ren-zuki)

Today I’m going to provide a few notes on 三本連突 (Sanbon ren-zuki): 'Triple combination thrust'. I could have wrote a lot more but decided to write off the top of my head; in particular, ‘focusing on what I’d teach someone in a limited time’. 

So, it should be said that this classic Shotokan renzokuwaza is "...the first kihonwaza examined in the IKS (International Karate Shotokan) Shodan Test"; moreover, it is universally practiced by all other Shotokan groups, and at all levels of training. 

In sum, I hope that this article helps you and that I’m looking forward to receiving some feedback! Osu and greetings from a very hot and muggy Oita City, Japan. — André





From hidari zenkutsu-dachi with hidari gedan-barai advance with SANBON REN-ZUKI. The initial jodan oi-zuki targets the jinchu whist the two consecutive chudan-zuki target the suigetsu (when practicing solo, use your own physique as your 'target references'). The trajectory of each tsuki must be as direct as possible by sliding the forearms and elbows tightly on the sides of the body. Quite simply "...The most direct and speedy line is the key". When extending each tsuki: keep the palm side of the fist facing upwards for as long as possible ‘rotating the forearm as a unit’ at the end of your action. Conversely, keep the back of the fist/forearm facing upwards for as long as possible with the hikite arm, before turning it over to the 'palm upward position'. 

The karada no buki for all three tsukiwaza is seiken, which is the fore-knuckles of the index and middle fingers. Be sure to 'maintain proper alignment of the fist, and both radius and ulna bones': via the correct positioning of the wrists and elbow joints. 

Lock fully into shomen on the completion of fumidashi with oi-zuki; then slightly relax/open to make the gyaku-zuki returning to a precise shomen; for the final tsuki utilize a subtle hip vibration within the shomen position greatly relying on ground power. Make sure that all three waza are full and powerful. I am personally strict on this point. If the two chudan-tsuki are not both effective waza—usually due to being rushed—“…they become highly  counterproductive practice”. So I recommend people are very attentive to this point. To be completely direct, "developing weak actions is literally undermining one's effectiveness and making them vulnerable in the face of a serious attack". Therefore, even in kihon and even if the exercise is not directly applicable, still, ALWAYS TRAIN FOR MAXIMUM CAPACITY.

The unsoku of fumidashi requires that one pulls with the sasae-ashi then thrust with it in a single action; therefore, the height of the hips must not change through the motion to maximize a smooth build up and transition of power—optimizing speed by traveling as directly as possible—and maximizing zenkutsu-dachi as an attack. That is, keeping the sasae-ashi bent until the end of the step in order to get the most from the driving straight of the knee (tai no shinshuku), ankle spring. and kakato-chushin. Try not to turn the lead foot outwards when advancing (yes, we all do it sometimes); and, likewise, avoid pushing up with ball of the foot (of the rear leg) to gain forward momentum. Instead, keep the rear foot in a set position (flat). This will reduce telegraphing your movement and avoid a tilting forward of the johanshin, which particularly endangers oneself to linear jodan attacks. Therefore and accordingly, throughout this process maintain an excellent shisei with the feeling of driving your hips through your opponent.

For beginners a ‘crescent-step’ is learned, by moving through heisoku-dachi for making shime with the legs; however, once this is mastered one must replicate the thigh action whilst moving their feet directly (that is, the knees and thighs squeezed, but the feet in a deep heiko-dachi). In addition to this, by the time one reaches Shodan their oi-zuki should very slightly precede the completion of their fumidashi action; thereby, maximizing their mass (weight transfer into the oi-zuki) and velocity (hand speed). 

The hikite is very important. It must be in perfect harmony with each tsukiwaza and be as large scale as possible without going behind one’s back. TO THE LIMIT! It’s positioning must also be optimal for each individual karateka with the correct use of shime; in particular, that of the wakibara, hiji and fist itself. In basic form, use hikite to help 'fire out your waza'. In application "...use the hikite to pull in, off balance, blindside, and 'set the opponent' for a king hit". If you can use hikite practically, you greatly reduce the fine motor skills needed for accuracy (and, yes, knock out ability) in a street fight. And, yes, I have plenty of actual experience in this regard.

Keep in a state of muscular softness to maximize snap and natural energy. Needless to say, this state of relaxation is even more essential for one’s mind and, ultimately, zanshin. Accordingly, make sure that your kokyu is natural and that you remain lowered down into your seika-tanden.

Lastly, like all other techniques and combinations, it is utterly essential to not just practice Sanbon ren-zuki into the air. Practice with full contact on pads, the sandbag, focus mitts, makiwara, and so on; moreover, practice with partner drills and the various forms of kumite. In this way your form will improve, along with your combative functionality. To wrap up, I like practicing Sanbon ren-zuki with all three tsuki being jodan, and in opposite stance of my opponent. Osae-uke checking the opponents guard with an immediate oi-zuki with the opposite fist is very hard to defend against if the maai is close and one attacks with ferocity. There is no reason for me to address the second and third tsuki, but, rather, "...keep in mind what Kihon is for".

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

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Today's training

 Today my training regime comprised of Kihon and Kata only; namely, the five core chudan uke-waza: Chudan soto uke, Chudan uchi-uke, Shuto chudan-uke and also, while gedan, Gedan-barai. This included the IKS Shodan and Nidan Grading Syllabus renzokuwaza.

Kata included Gyaku-zuki no kata, Heian Nidan, Heian Godan, Bassai Dai and Raiko.

Currently I am going through a 're-assessment phase' to establish new goals in my own self-training. This is periodically necessary to keep improving. When I look back, I can now see how far my karate has come; moreover, how much more I need to grow to be even a fraction as good as my seniors.

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

Monday, 15 August 2022

IKS Sandan Exam Requirements (From August 1st, 2022)






 1 得意技 (その場基本)


得意技 (移動基本)


得意技 (応用)




1 得意型①松濤館流 (自己選択)


2 古典型(自己選択)


3 得意型② 松濤館流 (自己選択)










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

Saturday, 13 August 2022

IKS Nidan Examination (Translated to English)




 A minimum of two years must have elapsed since achieving Shodan



KIHON Ido Kihon



Assume Jiyu-dachi with Jiyu na kamae by drawing up the rear leg and contracting, advance five times into Zenkutsu-dachi with Kizami-zukiSanbon ren-zuki



Assume Jiyu-dachi with Jiyu na kamae by drawing up the rear leg and contracting , advance five times with Chudan mae-geri keageZenkutsu-dachi, Chudan oi-zuki



Execute the following combination five times: Ippo-sagatte (one step back) Jodan age-uke(then advance with the following four attacks): Mawashi-geriUshiro-geri kekomiUraken yoko mawashi uchiChudan gyaku-zuki


4→手刀上段外回打・回転しながら後上段猿臂・回りながら下がって手刀上段外回打(前屈立  騎馬立前屈立)

Advance five times with Shuto jodan sotomawashi uchiKaiten shinagara ushiro jodan-enpiShuto jodan sotomawashi uchi (Zenkutsu-dachi→spin into Kiba-dachi→reverse spin into Zenkutsu-dachi)



Sonoba Kihon


5 前蹴蹴上(または横蹴上のどちらか)・横蹴蹴込・後蹴(前屈立 同じ足 右左)

On the spot make three consecutive kicks with one leg, without grounding the kicking foot until the third and final kick is executed. Make Mae-geri keage to the front, Yoko-geri to the side (examinees free choice of either yoko-kekomi or yoko-keeage), then Ushiro-geri kekomi to the rear. Repeat three times on both the right and left sides.


6 逆突(移動目標)

Gyaku-zuki (Idomokuhyo): On the spot execute gyaku-zuki ten times with both right and left seiken against various targets and distancing directed by the examiners; furthermore, this must be driven by precise tainoshinshuku, of the rear leg, and large scale koshinokaiten.




1 得意型 松濤館流 (自己選択)

Self selection from: Bassai DaiKanku DaiEnpiJionJitteGankakuHangetsuTekki NidanTekki SandanBassai ShoKanku ShoChinteSochinUnsuNijushihoGojushiho ShoGojushiho DaiMeikyoWankanJiinHyakuhappo (Hyakuhachiho)


2 順路初段・順路二段・順路三段・順路四段・順路五段  (自己選択)

Self selection from: Junro ShodanJunro NidanJunro SandanJunro YondanJunro Godan


3 抜塞大・観空大・燕飛・慈恩・十手・岩鶴・半月 (自己選択)

Self selection from: Bassai Dai Kanku DaiEnpiJionJitteGankakuHangetsu




Examinees free choice of either Jiyu-Kumite or Goshin-jutsu

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

IKS Shodan Examination (with English Notes)

I recently uploaded the new IKS Shodan and IKS Nidan grading requirements, which I first formulated in Japanese. Today I've added a translation and a few supplementary notes in English. In the coming weeks I will upload the higher International Karate Shotokan Dan Examinations.

The point of the IKS syllabus is not only to test individuals for Dan but, more importantly, to provide a 'training road map' to lift people's Shotokan karate to the highest level; in particular, in a budo/bujutsu context.


 André Bertel






KIHON Ido Kihon



Advance five times with Sanbon ren-zuki



Retreat five times with Jodan age-ukeMae-geri keageChudan gyaku-zuki


3中段外受・横猿臂・裏拳横回打・中段逆突 (前屈立騎馬立前屈立)

Advance five times with Chudan soto-ukeYoko-enpiUraken yokomawashi uchiChudan gyaku-zuki (Zenkutsu-dachi→Kiba-dachi→Zenkutsu-dachi)



Retreat five times with Kokutsu-dachi, Shuto chudan-ukeKizami mae-geri keageZenkutsu-dachi, Chudan tateshihon-nukite



Advance five times with Zenkutsu-dachi, Gedan-baraiNekoashi-dachi, Chudan uchi-ukeZenkutsu-dachi, Kizami-zukiChudan gyaku-zuki


6→ (下段搔分) 連蹴 (中段前蹴蹴上・上段前蹴蹴上)

Assuming the Gedan-kakiwake position advance three times with Ren-geri: Chudan mae-uke keageJodan mae-geri keage



Advance three times in Kiba-dachi with Yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete yoko-geri kekomi



Advance four times with Mawashi-geri Ushiro-geri kekomiUraken yokomawashi uchiChudan gyaku-zuki



Advance five times with Shuto jodan sotomawashi uchiShuto jodan sotomawashi uchi (onaji te — same hand for both strikes)



Advance five times with Kaiten shinagara chudan gyaku-zuki


Supplementary Notes for the Kihon Section of the Exam: (a) When not mentioned the default stance is Zenkutsu-dachi; (b) The kiai is applied only once on the final waza - of the final step - when moving in each direction; (c) The → symbol implies advancing in either direction, therefore, when the following waza are also forward moving, mawatte is called, and a 180 turn is executed between sets. From there, the examinee advances in the opposite direction. (d) There is no command count for techniques: the examinee must move with their own kankyu (own rhythm/timing) after the command of 'hajime' is given by a designated member of the examination panel.




1  抜塞大・観空大・燕飛・慈恩・十手・岩鶴・半月 (自己選択)

Self selection from Bassai Dai Kanku DaiEnpiJionJitteGankakuHangetsu


2  順路初段

Junro Shodan


3  平安初段・平安二段・平安三段・平安四段・平安五段・鉄騎初段 (自己選択)

Self selection from Heian ShodanHeian NidanHeian SandanHeian YondanHeian GodanTekki Shodan


Note: To pass the kata section of the exam, the karateka must select the best kata for themselves based on their strengths, weaknesses, size and so forth.





Impact test

 •             The examinee must demonstrate their five strongest techniques against a target such as a                          sandbag or impact shield with maximum power.

                Note: The techniques must include at least one tsuki and one keriwaza. The waza selected                        should be optimal for the individual based on their personal strengths, weaknesses, size and                    so forth.

         自由一本組手(上段追突、中段追突、中段前蹴、中段横蹴蹴込、回蹴 、中段後蹴蹴込)――右片方

Jiyu Ippon Kumite (Jodan oi-zuki, Chudan oi-zuki, Chudan mae-geri, Chudan yoko-geri kekomi, Mawashi-geri, Chudan ushiro-geri kekomi) ――Right side only.


For mawashi-geri also announce your target: either jodan mawashi-geri or chudan mawashi-geri

Note: In order to pass 'Shodan standard' Jiyu Ippon Kumite, when attacking while maintain correct form, the attacker must aim to hit the opponent. Hard contact is permitted when attacking. However, whilst contact is also necessary to pass when countering (maai be exact 'for an effective full-contact counter'), the waza must be fully controlled). That is, if the counterattack is not controlled, the attacker will be downed. In sum, these two aspects are essential to pass Shodan. Lastly, "...if an individual is not confident and able to defend against full-contact pre-arranged attacks in Jiyu Ippon Kumite, they are not ready for the IKS Shodan Exam".  - Andre Bertel.

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

Thursday, 11 August 2022

IKS Nidan Exam Requirements (From August 1st, 2022)












4手刀上段外回打・回転しながら後猿臂・回りながら下がって手刀上段外回打(前屈立  騎馬立前屈立)




5 前蹴・横蹴蹴込・後蹴(前屈立 同じ足 右左)


6 逆突(移動目標)




1 得意型 松濤館流 (自己選択)


2 順路初段・順路二段・順路三段・順路四段・順路五段  (自己選択)


3 抜塞大・観空大・燕飛・慈恩・十手・岩鶴・半月 (自己選択)





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