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 8 August 2022

Supplementary outdoor training

Movement two of Heian Shodan: Migi chudan oi-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

In addition to daily dojo training, in the warmer months I regularly do an additional training outdoors. Today, after a mountain run to loosen up, I went through all the standard 'Shitei-gata' of Shotokan: the five Heian and Tekki Shodan; and also 'Koten-gata' Shote Sho. 

The weather was perfect at about 35 Degrees Celsius (95 Degrees Fahrenheit)  with about 70 percent humidity. 

Here are a few shots from the session. OSU!!
Movement 18 of Heian Shodan: Hidari shuto chudan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).

Movement 24 of Heian Nidan: Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

Movement 19 of Heian Godan: Tobikomi.

Movement seven of Shote Sho.

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

Wednesday 3 August 2022

How to join IKS

Many people have requested IKS (International Karate Shotokan) membership from around Japan and across the world.

Of course, we cannot just accept anyone. Membership requires that the individual either: (a) Passes an official IKS Dan Examination; or (B) Transfers an existing Dan rank from a recognized organization.

International Karate Shotokan is not interested in becoming a big group but, rather, is a quality organization focused on: (1) the propagation of the highest level of Budo/Bujutsu karate; (2) friendship; and (3) freedom from negative politics.

We also have a legacy to preserve. 


Andre Bertel (7th Dan, Technical Director)


IKS Head Office. Oita City, Japan.

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

Monday 1 August 2022

What is 基本 (Kihon)?

基本 (Kihon) is a noun which means ‘basis’/‘basic’, ‘standard’ and ‘foundation’. When speaking about 基本技 (kihonwaza) I personally prefer using the term ‘Foundational techniques’ as ‘basics’, in present day English, also implies ‘easy’.


Of course everyone knows that kihon is not easy, and this is proven by the fact that 'the foundational techniques ultimately determine the degree of one’s real skills'.


On a psychological level, “…this truth is not a popular understanding as it shows what real karate is” and, indeed, “…how difficult it is to do well”.


In saying that, with ‘the right guidance, practice and training’, one can iron out the fundamental techniques and reach a high level. This requires: (1) simplification of kihon practice; (2) optimally deconstructing techniques then reconstructing them; (3) applying them—impact training, kumite etcetera; and (4) sound evaluation. Of course, this cycle doesn’t end as repetition as ‘ever refined technique’ is the mother of good learning.


Within the training/coaching construct, which I’ve just outlined above, it is easy to see one critical maxim: “In Budo Karate, kihon is for kumite, and kata is for kumite”. That is, a detachment from kumite, jissen-kumite (real fighting), is not real karate.


This doesn’t mean we do not do exercises and drills that are not directly applicable in a real fight. However, always the underlying principles—in all practice—are for effective self-defense.


At this point I need to take a step back to the fourth point I mentioned earlier: "evaluation".


As an instructor, and in my own practice/training, I place a very-very high priority on ‘evaluation of kihon’ (again, "evaluation" in the aforementioned and outlined ‘budo karate kihon’).


This means that I know where I am in the present, I have a goal, and that I’m literally moving towards that future goal. In real terms, that means I’m always advancing. At the worst of times I’m static. But in these situations, once recognized, I must problem solve in training/practice. This is both ‘natural’—it cannot be avoided; and also, ‘very important’—it is a critical cross roads on the journey of improvement. This is KIHON!


So, when I hear the term 基本 (KIHON) these are the points that first come to mind. This is thanks to such great personal mentors such as Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, Nakamura Masamitsu Sensei, Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei, and others. In this regards, I am happy to have committed my life to seeking out the best of the best, but I'm also greatly indebted to their superior knowledge, which I will never surpass nor equal.

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