Friday 31 March 2023

回復力 (kaifukuryoku)

At nearly 50 years old, while I'm still very young. I can say that resilience has been imperative in my life. It is a concerted mental skill which everyone needs, and we all must continue to foster.

Back in October of 2013 I wrote an article titled ‘KARATE DO: A Powerful Mechanism For Resilience’; accordingly, it’s long overdue that I talk about this critical life-skill again.


Nevertheless, while nothing has changed in that time (in regards my views presented back then), I’d like to address the quality of resilience from some different angles.


Firstly, let’s look at in 日本語 (the Japanese language) which is, of course, most relevant to the art of karate.



This is read かいふくりょく (kaifukuryoku)


= ‘times’, ‘counter for occurrences’, 'swirl'


= ‘rebound', 'revenge’, 'return', 'recuperate', 'recover'

= ‘force’, ‘power’, ‘strength’


Combined together as ‘kaifukuryoku’ it means ‘THE POWER TO RECOVER’; so, like resilience in English, it implies ‘the capacity and will to bounce back’.


However, when considering the individual kanji making up the Japanese equivalent, we can ascertain typical linguistic and cultural underpinnings which shape ideas slightly differently. Indeed and to be clear, this applies when comparing and contrasting all languages. On a side note, as I’ve talked about before, this is why “…there are so many very senior karateka, and instructors, in the world with deep misunderstandings about karate technique”; moreover, when they physically train and teach others. Needless to say, this is one of the major disadvantages of non-Japanese Karateka, which is very sad, restrictive and, oftentimes, bad for the propagation of true budo karate. On a positive note, this is problem that we (IKS and others also) are working hard to fix.


Anyway, besides the imperative human foundations of love and empathy, to me, ‘kaifukuryoku’ (resilience) is a top priority in life and, certainly, in karate training as well.


When “…the persistent drive to try again, outnumbers the failures” —something very profound occurs. Not only for that person, but those witnessing it. To me, this is at the heart of 押忍の精神 (Osu no seishin)—‘the spirit/heart of perseverance’.


Like a basketball being thrust down to the floor, it rebounds instantly’. I always tell my students and trainees “come back ‘like that basketball’ in all of your endeavors”: karate and otherwise.


Irrespective of ‘success and non-success’, “…there is no failure within oneself—if one simply KEEPS TRYING”. Please pay attention here that: “…the plural word ‘keep’s’’ over-shadows the word ‘trying’.” This is irrespective of: (a) all personal limitations; (b) all external negativities including the naysayers; and (c) any self-doubt that maybe lurking in one’s subconscious mind. Put another way ‘winners never quit, and quitters never win’.


From jissen-kumite ("real" meetings of hands/fighting) perspective, it possible and actually commonplace for the more resilient person to actually defeat the more skillful opponent. In this way, besides developing technical skill, one simultaneously can develop the spirit of a tiger. Needless to say, this underpins the symbolic ‘tora no maki’ produced by the legendary Japanese painter, Kosugi Hoan. This makes a very important statement, which actually scolds present day Shotokan ‘nitpicking instruction’; “the focus on fine details, and feeling, at the expense of combative reality”. Yes, the fine details are very important and ‘give the edge’; nonetheless, they are “intrinsically secondary to the low motor skill large-scale actions”. Of course, this transcends movement, and, again, relates to strong 気迫 (kihaku/fighting spirit). Don’t be fooled by the charlatans.  

Ferocity and spirit usually overcome fine details and feelings.


The father of modern-day Karate and our Shotokan style said something that I believe fits very well here:


勝つ考は持つな; 負けぬ考は必要

 This  famous saying, which you’ll know all too well,  translates as: “Do not think of winning, rather think of not losing”.


As I have said countless times in past posts, two favorite sayings of Asai Tetsuhiko Shusei-Shihan were 少しずつ前進 which means to ‘move forward little by little’. This was always followed by him saying “Step by step” in boisterously. Another thing he often said in English, during the heat of keiko, was “Never give up!” In sum, his sentiments constantly echoed kaifukuryoku.


Kaifukuryoku, thus, is no only about outcomes. These are limited and short-lived . Rather, it is more about ‘the process’ or more better put: ‘the processes’ (again, always plurality). In this way, having resilience not only helps people to achieve. It also contributes greatly to personal happiness. 


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

Wednesday 29 March 2023

A BIG THANKS for YouTube Channel Support!

 Here’s a newly uploaded video on YouTube, which we copied from the screen. It’s just been loaded to my OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL. The direct link is below.


We really appreciate those who support the channel via their subscribing, likes and comments. A big thanks to all of you doing any of these things.


Of course, this drives our motivation to upload more content. 

Osu, greetings and thanks from Sakura covered Oita.

 —           AB

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

Tuesday 28 March 2023




(1) 三本連突き


(2) 上段揚げ受け・中段逆突き


(3) 中段外受け・横猿臂 (騎馬立ち)・裏拳横回し打ち


(4) 手刀中段受け (後屈立ち)・中段縦四本貫手


(5) 中段内受け・刻み突き・中段逆突き


(6) 中段前蹴り蹴上げ・中段追い突き


(7) 連蹴り: 中段前蹴り蹴上げ・上段前蹴り蹴上げ


(8) 裏拳上段横回し打ち


(9) 手刀上段外回し打ち・手刀上段内回し打ち


(10) 天使中段逆突き






()       中段直突き  (平行立ち)


()       前蹴り蹴上げ  (閉足立ち)


()       刻み突き・中段逆突き


()       中段刻み前蹴り・上段前蹴り蹴上げ


()       縦猿臂・後ろ猿臂・前猿臂・横猿臂 (平行立ち)
















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

Sunday 26 March 2023

Friday 24 March 2023

筋肉の記憶 (Kiniku no kioku) - MUSCLE MEMORY

Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei countering Yahara Mikio Sensei. Nakayama Sensei's 'tokui' was ukewaza.
 Today I'd like to talk about  筋肉の記憶 (Kiniku no kioku) also referred to as マッスルメモリー (MUSCLE MEMORY). To begin this article, let’s begin with a dictionary definition. 


muscle mem·ory

[muscle memory]


1. the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement:

"typing relies heavily on muscle memory" · "the secret to learning a technique like this is to do it over and over again until you have developed muscle memory"



So, with many repetitions, our muscles eventually remember various movements, techniques and positions. It also relates to how relaxed (or ‘incorrectly tense’ in the words of Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei) our muscles are, especially in relation to full speed motions under pressure (and, what I refer to as ‘red-line’ actions: where we are pushing to exceed our maximum explosiveness). Needless to say, when I practice and teach, all of this goes hand-in-hand. We'll get into that more later.


The key aspect of all of this is ‘THE INCREASE OF REACTION SPEED WITH OPTIMAL ACTIONS’, when under maximum pressure.


Accordingly, training new waza must be done extremely carefully and methodically. Otherwise, bad habits will need to un-learned later down the track. Sadly, and in reality, while not impossible, this is extremely difficult unless one is extremely determined. On a bright note, I’ve had the pleasure of helping many high-level karateka do exactly this.

This is also one of the key points behind supplementing our standard JKA style Shotokan with Asai Sensei's 'bujutsu extension' of it. As he said himself, "the koten (bujutsu)-gata are a blank slate, which function to further one's skill. This is why the more standardized 'JKF'/'WKF' versions of these kata, for the most part, remove their value. But this is the subject for another article, so I'll leave that there.   

Asai Sensei countering Kagawa Sensei. 

To be brutally honest, it is so common to see people training very hard and giving their best, yet actually making their karate worse. I am not talking about exterior looks here, but actual effectiveness outside the realm of the dojo and shiai-jo. This is a major problem around the world, and elucidates why "...access to top level training, feedback coupled with corrections and/or refinement is utterly imperative". Because, in this way, WHAT IS GROOVED INTO MUSCLE MEMORY IS ‘OPTIMAL WAZA’.

It is important to always remember that 筋肉の記憶 (Kiniku no kioku) or 'Muscle Memory' is essential, but it can also mean the grooving of bad habits.

For those seeking the Budo way of Shotokan and Karate as Bujutsu, if serious, you are welcome to apply to come to Japan and train as a renshusei here in Oita City. Those who have done this have greatly improved their karate skill by learning optimal actions and underpinning elements: that are simply not taught outside the most elite training sessions here in Japan. Furthermore, these aspects (with the exception of those who are uchideshi of top-level Japanese masters) are not shared with non-Japanese practitioners.

Asai Sensei and Enoeda Sensei (Early 1960s).

The name of my group IKS has a strong meaning and message. I-K-S: INTERNATIONAL (all people from ALL countries), KARATE (OUR art), and SHOTOKAN (OUR style). Therefore, the 'prime technical priority' is correct 筋肉の記憶 (Muscle Memory) -- of karate-waza -- for all Japanese karateka, and everyone outside Japan also. This not only benefits non-Japanese Shotokan karateka, but also Shotokan karateka here in Nippon. OSU, André

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

Wednesday 22 March 2023

精神 (Seishin)

 Continuing from the last article on 矢勢 (Yaiki) I’d like to go further on this subject by discussing 精神 (Spirit/Mentality), which is the key determinant of good or bad yaiki. If you didn't read this, here's a direct link, which provides the base for this post: André Bertel's Karate-Do: 矢勢(やいき) ( 

 Before doing so, for your information, I want to point out that the second character in yaiki, which is 勢, is the same kanji denoting the five ‘kihon training kata’ known as 常行 (Joukou). Rather being typically labeled by Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei (as Shodan—Godan), he intentionally used 一勢、二勢、三勢、四勢 and 五勢 respectively. This translates as first to fifth ‘MOMENTUM’ ('energy/force/vigor/authority/influence/ impetus') and has a strong connotation to physics. Here's a link to an article outlining JOKO (Joukou) if that helps you: André Bertel's Karate-Do: 常行一勢〜五勢 (Joko Issei ~ Gosei) (

So how can one’s 精神 (Seishin) determine good 矢勢 (Yaiki)—the momentum of their metaphorical arrows? That is tsuki, keri, uchi, and so on…


Let’s consider 試し割り (Tameshiwari)—where we test our karate waza to break boards, stones, etcetera. Here's a link on this topic: André Bertel's Karate-Do: 試し割り (Tameshiwari) (

So, when doing tameshiwari, if you harbor any feelings of fear or hesitation in your mind, you greatly minimize your capacity to destroy the object. This is simply because your mental states/spirit restricts your action. Yes, it puts the breaks on!


This is also the same in both 型 (Kata) and  組手 (Kumite). “… Hesitation dramatically alters the dynamics of karate-waza”. 


I found that when I used to compete in karate tournaments, and also when I experienced real fights whilst in the security industry. When less experienced I had to wrestle with fears and over excitement. My self-discovery was that I had a burning desire to defeat my opponent in Kumite and outside the dojo. This sometimes made my body inflexible. Because of this, I occasionally lost, and, during those times—even when I defeated my opponents—I did not do so with all my potential, and in an ideal manner.


It was not until I dropped the aim of ‘all-out winning’ (to “lose magnificently”), and lost fear of harm in real fights, when I could react, and move, in an optimal way under stress. So, literally, my mind/spirit made me free. For that time onwards I really improved and my yaiki was, and has always remained, truly reliable.


Irrespective of technique, without strong seishin, one’s skill will never be optimal; furthermore, defeat can readily come when facing a much less skilled opponent. That is because they can overwhelm the more skillful individual by physical ferocity and breaking their spirit. I’ve seen some instructors simply getting a good shot to the face in Kumite, then watched them go into panic mode. Yes, the ‘Goodbye Nice Technique Mode’. Accordingly, to have 'good yaiki' at all times must be underpinned by unwavering Karate Seishin: 気迫 (Kihaku). In this way, even when harmed “…the properly sharpened arrows you launch will be destructive, and the mind/spirit will not fail your body”. This is BUDO/BUJUTSU KARATE, which is true karate. Anything else is just a fake show.


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

Tuesday 21 March 2023


Great to have mutual respect between karate styles who truly follow the BUDO WAY.

Here is a link to the Kyokushin Oita Homepage with a brief article. If you cannot read Japanese, Google translate will certainly work.

You can click here: 松濤館の空手家、AndreBertel先生と交流 (

A big OSU and 'Arigatou gozaimasu' to Mimura Tadashi Shihan and Kyokushin Karate Oita.

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

Monday 20 March 2023


In this brief article I will explain 矢勢(やいき) ‘Yaiki’, which is a term from 弓道(Kyudo: Traditional Japanese Archery), and is also an important concept in Budo/Bujutsu Karate: irrespective of Ryuha/Kaiha, Shotokan or otherwise.

Yaiki is ‘the movement of arrow's’.


Even when an arrow hits a target truly high level karateka can immediately ascertain the manner of how it hits ‘is either good or bad’. One may believe or conclude that ‘as long as the arrow hits the target, the movement is not so important’. However, if the arrow has insufficient ‘yaiki’, whilst it hits the target, it cannot puncture the board or, in the case of old school battle, puncture the opponents armor.


It should be obvious now how yaiki applies to the various waza of karate. A top level budo karateka’s waza is clearly dangerous (seen in its speed, power, control and autonomous adaptability). Karate with technical immaturity can have good form and speed, but lacks a devastating capacity and also the ability ‘to adapt and remain just as effective’ in a live scenario. Nowadays, many senior graded black belts fail to discern this, which is sad.


These karateka may fool the majority when demonstrating and/or they might wins points in competition, but they have bad yaiki, as they have not trained their waza correctly nor thoroughly enough with constant seeking of  一撃必殺 (Ichigeki-Hissatsu); that is, to finish with a single blow.


I’ve seen several Shotokan instructors on YouTube who many people think are good, even though they have very low Yaiki. Their karate is ‘performance karate’, laced with lots of well spoken talk. However, if they have to use their karate in a really violent situation, their ‘karate’ will fail them. They are 'karate salesmen and theorists', weak and easily crushed in a real fight. 


Yet, why do so many high graded karateka now cannot discern this UTTERLY CRITICAL POINT? WAKE UP!


For many years I’ve taught this, but still people are still confused. The Shotokan we have is effective in free fighting AGAINST ANYTHING.


Please always reference 矢勢(やいき)‘Yaiki’. If you do, you’ll understand the old school Japanese perspective of true karate—irrespective of the fakery—and, in this way, you be guided to seek true training and instructors. Like my masters, Asai Sensei, Nakamura Sensei, Osaka Sensei et al.


押忍!    アンドレ

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

Saturday 18 March 2023

Updated self-training regime



1.            中段直突き (自然体

30 to 50 reps of chudan choku-zuki (Shizentai).

2.            上段直突き(自然体)

30 to 50 reps of jodan choku-zuki (Shizentai).

3.            三本連突き(自然体)

30 reps of sanbon ren-zuki (Shizentai).

4.            中段前蹴り蹴上げ (閉足立ち)

60 reps of chudan mae-geri keage (Heisoku-dachi). 

5.            上段前蹴り蹴上げ (閉足立ち)

60 reps of jodan mae-geri keage (Heisoku-dachi). 

6.            左上段刻み突きから右中段逆突き(左前屈立ち)

30 reps of hidari jodan kizami-zuki kara migi chudan gyaku-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

7.            右上段刻み突きから左中段逆突き(右前屈立ち)

 30 reps of migi jodan kizami-zuki kara hidari chudan gyaku-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

8.            左中段刻み前蹴りから右上段前蹴り(左前屈立ち)

30 reps of hidari chudan kizami mae-geri kara migi jodan mae-geri keage (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

9.            右中段刻み前蹴りから左上段前蹴り(右前屈立ち)

30 reps of migi chudan kizami mae-geri kara hidari jodan mae-geri keage (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

10.          中段連  (騎馬立ち)

 Three ten second bursts of chudan ren-zuki (Kiba-dachi).

11.          縦猿臂から後ろ猿臂、前猿臂そして横猿臂 (自然体)

10 repetitions of tate-enpi kara ushiro-enpi, mae-enpi soshite ushiro-enpi (Shinzentai).

12.          手刀上段外回し打ちから手刀上段内回し打ち、手刀縦回し打ちそして背刀上段外回し打ち

10 repetitions of shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi kara shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi, shuto tatemawashi uchi soshite haito jodan sotomawashi uchi (Shinzentai).




1.            上段刻み突きから三本連突き (自由立ちから前屈立ち)

20 reps of jodan kizami-zuki kara sanbon ren-zuki (Jiyu-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).

2.            上段揚げ受けから中段前蹴り蹴上げそして上段逆突き(前屈立ち)

20 reps of jodan age-uke kara chudan mae-geri keage soshite jodan gyaku-zuki (Zenkutsu-dachi).

3.            中段外受けから中段逆突き(前屈立ち)

20 reps of chudan soto-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki (Zenkutsu-dachi).

4.            中段外受けから中段横猿臂そして裏拳横回し打ち  (前屈立ちから騎馬立ち)

20 reps of chudan soto-uke kara chudan yoko-enpi soshite uraken yokomawashi uchi (Zenkutsu-dachi kara kiba-dachi).

5.            中段内受けから上段刻み突きそして中段逆突き (後屈立ちから前屈立ち)

20 reps of chudan uchi-uke kara jodan kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki (Kokutsu-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).

6.            転身の下段払いから中段逆突き (前屈立ち)

20 reps of tenshin no gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki (Zenkutsu-dachi).

7.            手刀中段受けから中段刻み前蹴りそして貫手 (後屈立ちから前屈立ち)

20 reps of shuto chudan-uke kara chudan kizami mae-geri soshite nukite (Kokutsu-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).

8.            前蹴り蹴上げから中段追い突き  (自由立ちから前屈立ち)

20 reps of mae-geri keage kara chudan oi-zuki (Jiyu-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).

9.            中段前蹴り蹴上げから上段前蹴り蹴上げ (前屈立ち)

10 reps of chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage (Zenkutsu-dachi).

10.          中段刻み前蹴りから上段前蹴り(自由立ちから前屈立ち)

10 reps of chudan kizami mae-geri kara jodan mae-geri keage (Jiyu-dachi kara zenkutsu-dachi).

11.          裏拳横回し打ち  (前屈立ち)

20 reps of uraken yokomawashi uchi (Zenkutsu-dachi).

12.          手刀上段外回し打ちから手刀上段内回し打ち (前屈立ち)

 20 reps of shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi kara shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi (Zenkutsu-dachi).




1.  平安初段 (Heian Shodan)

2.  五十四歩大 (Gojushiho Dai)

3.  火手 (Kashu)

Each kata eight times (slow then full speed - thus, twice for each direction): Northward, Eastward, Southward and Westward.





Attacks and defenses with and against: (1) Jodan oi-zuki, (2) Jodan gyaku-zuki; (3) Jodan kizami-zuki, (4) Chudan oi-zuki; (5) Chudan gyaku-zuki, (6) Chudan mae-geri keage, and (7) Jodan haito sotomawashi uchi.

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

Friday 10 March 2023

IKS (International Karate Shotokan) Technical Lineage





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

Thursday 2 March 2023

Freital, Germany Seminar: February 2023 (PART 5) - Bonus Footage 2

The YouTube footage in the direct link below is from the private training at the host dojo, during the Friday evening prior (to the 2023 Freital International Budo Shotokan Karate Seminar).

Thanks so much for the footage Stephan! For those who attended, these clips should serve well as reminders of the key points; furthermore, a base for much bigger things to come in the future. No 'Biggus Jokes" here!

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