Friday 24 February 2023

Official Freital 2023 Seminar Report and Photos

 The following is a link to the Official Report of the 2023 International Seminar (in German) by Anja Blume. This includes numerous photos. 

Thank you very much Anja and 



Shotokan-Karateverein Freital e. V. - Internationales Budo-Karate Seminar mit André Bertel Shihan (7. Dan) vom 04.-05. Februar 2023 in Freital (


International Budo-Karate Seminar with André Bertel Shihan (7th Dan) from February 04-05, 2023 in Freital

Relax, Snap: Karate works!

The anticipation of our course in Freital lasted a long time - several times the karate seminar with Shihan André Bertel (7th Dan) had to be postponed due to the pandemic. On 04 and 05 February 2023 we were finally able to welcome him again in Freital.

For me it was the third seminar weekend with Sensei Bertel. I knew with my 4th Kyu that a challenging weekend awaited me. I knew I was going to train on the edge in the hall full of Dan carriers. I knew I had to expect some bruises. And I was really looking forward to it all.

Sensei Stephan Pilz (4th Dan) had the organizational strings in his hand and a direct, private line to André Bertel. It is thanks to him that we members of the Shotokan Karate Club Freital were able to enjoy a special privilege: On the eve of the course, André Bertel gave us two training sessions in our dojo.

He had just arrived and apologized to us for his jet lag. What tiredness? With unbridled power, he whirled off. The beginners received an impressive lesson in greeting etiquette and the execution of the basic techniques, the higher graduates then honed their explosiveness and coordination under the attentive eye of the sensei. Everyone was spellbound – especially our little karatekas. "Snap!" was one of his most urgent requests - meaning the snapped, lightning-fast techniques in karate. Another often heard hint was the admonition "Relax!", because we were much too tense about the implementation of his training. Shoulders down – relaxed! Muscles loose – snap! My trouble with this was hopefully not so clearly visible.

On Saturday, many members of our association were on their feet early to ensure the smooth running of the karate seminar. We were all excited, but we already had practice – in 2019 we already welcomed André Bertel in Freital. And suddenly Freital became the center of international karate: about 200 karateka from 17 nations gradually revived the hall. The mayor of Freital had a similar view in his opening speech - impressed he watched the cheerful André Bertel for a while in the sports hall full of attentive karatekas.

I was totally focused, wanted to do everything right and knew – I won't succeed. After the warming by sensei Marco Herrmann (4th Dan), André Bertel attached great importance to the training of basic techniques. He impressively showed every technique to be practiced, every turn to be practiced or every jump to be practiced - even several times and every time perfectly. And we participants translate his demands on the technique into their own movement - some managed it almost as perfectly. Some, like me, are more like that.

This year's kata, which Sensei Bertel taught us in the seminary, was the original version of the Kata Suishu (water hands), which was taught to him personally by his master Tetsuhiko Asai. This demanding kata mimics the course of the water. Accordingly, we trained the alternation of flowing and energetic movements, speed, rotation and strength. Every arm and foot technique, every movement or position demonstrated by the sensei were ideals for me that required the highest concentration. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, predictably dissatisfied with myself, but happy.

Again and again André Bertel showed the kata with bunkai to prove the effectiveness of the techniques in combat. These demonstrations were always a firework of energy, speed and power. André Bertel's "Try this!" was the signal to implement his instructions on his partner: punches, levers, kicks, throws. Many thanks to my training partners for their patience – my insecurity after every "Try this!" was legendary. But the atmosphere in the hall encouraged me again and again: motivated karateka could be seen everywhere with a smile on their faces – even if they were lying on the ground.

However, this first day of the course did not end just like that - a party with buffet at the Feldschlösschen headquarters in Dresden rounded off the day.

Sunday started with the Kata Suishu. Some could be seen before the training, how they ran the 58 movements of the kata relatively safely. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. So it was time again: full concentration. In addition, André Bertel taught us in the militant implementation and effectiveness of traditional karate. We practiced this constantly on our partner and left this course with the certainty: "Karate works!". Andre Bertel took a long time to talk to individual course participants, to fulfill photo requests, to sign autographs. I saw many karateka thanking the helpers to take a last roll or a last coffee. Quickly everything was back in its old place with our many diligent hands.

But for us Freitaler Karateka it was not over yet: Sensei André Bertel gave interesting training sessions in our dojo on Monday and Tuesday. Nothing could have kept me away from this training. At some point, he also referred to his damaged forearms. That comforted me somehow.

My conclusion: André Bertel doesn't just teach karate. He teaches enthusiasm, motivation and technique that enables your own body to do incredible things. His way of praise, repeating, encouraging and being patient makes him a very good teacher. I understand why even karateka from Colombia travel to experience André Bertel in Freital.

We would like to thank Sensei André Bertel as well as all participants, organizers and helpers – together this course was an incredibly inspiring event!

(Report by Anja Blume)

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Thursday 23 February 2023

水手 (Suishu performed slowly): Part 2 - Informal Video

 This video of Suishu Kata was informally and suddenly filmed on the spot by my (now eight-year-old) daughter, Mia. 

Notice I changed aspects of movements 46/47. This variation is also OK with the OYO (application) but at (for) a closer distance. No 'hidari koko jodan oi-zuki' (as I taught at the Freital, Germany seminar last week) but rather an enpi-uchi. Asai Sensei taught this variation to me, so both are OK depending on the maai. 

Overall, this version of Suishu is different from the version taught widely now, and is different from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's official video; however, this was how he practiced and taught it in private. Therefore, it must be preserved

Suishu's training of transitions, fluidity, adaptability, and, of course, natural energy offers us many useful lessons to advance 'standard Shotokan'. My kindest regards and best wishes from Oita City, Kyushu, Japan. OSU, - AB.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Monday 20 February 2023

水手 (Suishu): Part 1 - Brief Written Summary

This post is for the attendees of my recent seminars in Freital, Germany, on February 4th and 5th, 2023. It outlines the unique version of 水手 ’Suishu’ (Water hands) Kata, which I was personally taught. My hope is that these notes will help all of you to retain this kata; moreover, its relaxed use of energy/power, water like adaptability, and combat applicability that it transmits. Greetings and best wishes from my dojo here in Oita City, Kyushu, Japan. — 押忍!



Suishu (Mizu no te)


Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei also called this kata 水の手  (ミズノテ ) or ‘Mizunote‘. His official description is as follows: “This bujutsu kata incorporates movements of water into taijutsu. A jutsu for mastering the concept of water, which is expressed in ‘the change of speed and strength’ in the various waza (sometimes intense, sometimes gentle) . Accordingly, Suishu mimics the flow of water. It is one of five ‘natural energy’ kata, which function to perfect fluidity, adaptability, and the optimal use of power to transcend muscular strength”. — Andre Bertel.


[58 movements with kiai applied on the actions 27 and 58]


Kata overview:


Rei: (Musubi-dachi).


Yoi: Ryoken daitai mae (Shizentai).


1. Step back diagonally rightward into migi ashi mae fudo-dachi with sasho jodan sotonagashi-uke following into migi te osae-uke. Asai Sensei also taught this as Hidari kokutsu-dachi; however, that for higher grades, the less distribution of weight to the rear leg is more effective. Thus, Fudo dachi should be used by higher grades in this action.



2. Change into migi zenkutsu with migi gedan uke-zuki.


3. Hidari chudan oi-zuki.


4. Draw in the right foot and face diagonally to the right in heiko dachi with migi haishu/haiwan uchinagashi-uke


5. Move back diagonally into hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi with usho jodan sotonagashi-uke flowing into hidari te osae-uke.


6/7. Repeat steps two and three on the opposite side.


8. Execute hidari jodan uchi-uke diagonally to the left.


9. Step diagonally on the line of the previous uke into hidari zenkutsu-dachi with hidari uraken jodan tatemawashi uchi.


10. Hidari ashi soto-uke and at the same time make hidari jodan soto-uke.


11. Migi chudan gyaku-zuki (hidari zenkutsu-dachi).


12-15. Repeat movements 8–11 on the opposite side.


16. From where you are deliver hidari jodan uchi-uke.


17. Pivoting into hidari zenkutsu make migi jodan uchi-uke.


18. Advance on the centerline into migi zenkutsu-dachi with hidari chudan gyaku-zuki.


19. Turn 90 degrees leftward into hidari ashi mae nekoashi-dachi with hidari jodan soto-uke flowing into sasho gedan-barai and a simultaneous usho hitai-gamae, then counterattack with migi shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi (saken hidari koshi). Complete this action, by expanding from hidari ashi nekoashi-dachi into hidari zenkutsu-dachi; thereby, utilizing the transfer of weight into zenkutsu-dachi to make your impact with your 'shuto' both relaxed and heavy.


20. Turn 180 degrees and repeat movement 19 on the opposite side.


21. Pivot into hidari ashi mae hiza-kutsu with migi shuto sokumen harai-uke.


22. Okuriashi by drawing the left foot half way to the right with migi shuto jodan age-uke/kamae.


23. Advance into hidari zenkutsu-dachi with hidari chudan mae enpi-uchi.


24. Migi teisho chudan gyaku-zuki.


25. Turn 180 degrees into migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi with migi shuto gedan-barai.


26. Migi kizami mae-geri.


27. Without returning to neko ashi advance directly into migi zenkutsu-dachi with hidari chudan gyaku-zuki (KIAI).


28. Yori-ashi rearward and slightly leftward into hidari ashi mae neko ashi, turning to face the left side, with hidari shuto gedan sotomawashi uchi/uke.


29. Hidari chudan kizami mae-geri.


30–31. Repeat movements 28-29 on the opposite side.


32. Kosa-aiyumibashi to the left simultaneously loading both shuto diagonally rearward at the right lower waist.


33. Move into hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi with a slow hidari shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi doji ni usho sokumen hitai gamae.


34. Kaiten shinagara migi jodan shuto uchimawashi uchi in kiba-dachi.


35. Turn leftward into hidari ashi mae neko ashi dachi and make ryo sho jodan age-uke.


36. Move into hidari zenkutsu-dachi with shuto hasami-uchi.


37. Step forward into migi zenkutsu-dachi with ryo ken gedan uke-zuki flowing into tateken chudan morote-zuki.


38. Turn clockwise to face ura shomen in kiba-dachi with migi tekubi jodan kake-uke diagonally to the right.


39. Transfer into migi zenkutsu-dachi with hidari chudan gyaku-zuki.


40. Migi teisho jodan age-zuki. A stationary and subtle switch into migi ashi mae fudo-dachi is utilized here. Asai Sensei also taught a return to kiba-dachi.


41-43. Repeat movements 38-40 on the opposite side.


44. Step forward with the right foot into migi zenkutsu-dachi. When doing this defend with hidari hidari te sotonagashi uke flowing into migi haishu jodan age uke. Note — the wind up for migi haishu jodan age uke is from behind your back whilst making the hidari te sotonagashi uke. In actuality this is a Kamae for striking the eyes and, when used in defense, is applied as kamae then usho osae uke.


45. From this position make a migi enpi-uchi (keep the hand of the striking arm open with the shuto formation).


46. Step forward into hidari zenkutsu-dachi with a pressing/pushing migi shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi. Asai Sensei emphasized t me that this is a press, opening the neck and off balancing, to attack with the next two waza.


47. Hidari koko jodan oi-zuki.


48. Migi koko jodan gyaku zuki. Movements 47 and 48 are ren-zuki both impacting with the ‘tiger mouth’.


49. Turn 270 degrees into migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi with migi shuto jodan tatemawashi uchi


50. Migi uraken jodan tatemawashi uchi moving into migi zenkutsu-dachi. Note, this is done with a large

scale rolling action like a wave coming on to a beach.


51. Hidari chudan oi-zuki. Asai Sensei stresses that movements 50 and 51 (and 53/54) are continuous.


52-54. Turn 180 degrees and repeat movements 47-49 on the opposite side.


55. Stepping 90 degrees to the right into Kiba-dachi make a big clockwise circle with the arms (ryo sho jodan-uke) that immediately flows into a large circular migi shuto jodan sokumen uchimawashi uchi. Note, hidari shuto suigetsu kamae is utilized here.


56. Kaiten shinagara counterclockwise into kiba-dachi with hidari yoko enpi-uchi. Note, the striking elbows hand is in the shuto formation.


56. Mawari nagara sagatte with both shuto raised up high—then slowly make ryo sho gedan te osaeuke—whilst simultaneously moving into migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi.


 58. Drive forward into migi zenkutsu-dachi with ryo sho shuto jodan uchikomi (KIAI). Asai Sensei taught me that this waza is to impact with boshiken on both sides of the carotid artery. 


Naore: Ryoken daitai mae (Shizentai).


Rei: (Musubi-dachi).

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Sunday 19 February 2023

Thursday 16 February 2023

Freital, Germany Seminar: February 2023 (PART 2)

                                    RIP ASAI SENSEI

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Sunday 12 February 2023

Freital, Germany Seminar: February 2023 (PART 1)

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).