Wednesday 28 June 2023

We ALL NEED a 'slap in the face'

Self-training today, June 28th, 2023. 

Today my self-training was really interesting for me and also pretty tough. 

KIHON: Tsukiwaza: Choku-zuki, Kizami-zuki and gyaku-zuki and Oi-zuki (Jun-zuki).

KUMITE: Jiyu Ippon Kumite (concentration on tai no shinshuku to launch attacks and defend against them, also tai sabaki and tenshin).

KATA: Heian Shodan, Kakuyoku Shodan, Roshu and Kibaken. The focus was on what was expressed in Jiyu Ippon Kumite and especially my tsukiwaza in Kihon.

In sum, it was a good old 'slap in the face day', which we all need. For me, this lights the fire to seek greater refinement. Ironically, the successful days are less valuable technically; nonetheless, serve to give some psychological relief and inspiration to keep pushing forward. Needless to say, both are needed in one's karate-do journey.


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

Tuesday 27 June 2023

16th Anniversary of this site

I missed it but last week (the 19th of June, 2023) marks 16 years since I started this blog. 

As I’ve stated in previous years “My objective was to help my students inside and outside of Japan and to propagate ‘the Budo/Bujutsu form of Shotokan style karate’.”


Being such a minority form of contemporary Shotokan, and not delving into other styles and aspects of karate (let alone other martial arts) —like the majority of sites do—it still surprises me that this blog has had over two million visitors!!

As fellow student of karate and permanent beginner’ I just want to thank everyone for their support. Furthermore, I hope that site has, even in the smallest way, helped you on your Shotokan journey.


アンドレ  バーテル

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

Monday 26 June 2023

日常空手道 (Vol. 2): YouTube Video

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

Friday 23 June 2023

Seminar Attendees Support: BRAGA, Portugal -- June 2023 (Part THREE)

I was given a tee-shirt at the Portugal Seminar and I'm very thankful. It also includes our IKS logo. 

A big thanks to Francisco Sensei, Karate Braga and CPK from Japan.



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

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Seminar Attendees Support: BRAGA, Portugal -- June 2023 (Part TWO)

This YouTube video (direct-linked below, but please read first) is not to teach 火手 (Kashu) kata, nor to give a complete analysis; rather, it is to highlight some of the key points of this ‘Asai Sensei refined version’ of this form. Most of the video is of me performing it slowly: for ease of observation. The bunkai (analysis) shown is minimal and merely to highlight the waza and/or tachikata/unsoku actions.


As I stated at the Portugal seminar, earlier this month, this rendition of Kashu/Hi no te has never been taught outside Japan before. Accordingly, there are several waza and tachikata which are different from commonly practiced versions. I'm not not going to beat around the bush here, THIS IS THE ULTIMATE VERSION.


This video is primarily for the karateka who attended the 2023 Portugal Seminar as a reminder of the variations “…key points (differing from the more commonly known version).” However, I hope that others, who did not attend, will see some of the refinements Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei made to this ‘natural element kata’. Better still, I hope this leads to better understanding of this formal exercise (at its most refined rendition) through systematic practice and training.


押忍 and greetings from Oita City, Japan.


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

Sunday 18 June 2023

Seminar Report: BRAGA, Portugal -- June 2023 (Part ONE)

I just returned home to Japan from my second seminar in Portugal. I need to begin by thanking the hosts ‘Karate Braga’; in particular, dojo chief instructor Francisco Pinto Sensei, Paulo Araujo Sensei, and Tiago Gomes—whom greatly took care of me. But also I must thank all the seminar participants and their families; furthermore, both local government and businesses whom supported this great international karate event.

Besides karateka from across Portugal, and me coming in from Japan, there were also Karateka from Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France, Belgium, England, Jersey, Brazil, and other regions.

The four sessions over two days concentrated on traditional Shotokan Karate as pure budo. Particular focal points included: (1) kokyu (breathing), (2) junansei (softness), (3) shinko hoko (direction of movement) and (4) the unification of kihon, kata and kumite seeking to achieve ‘ichigeki-hissatsu’ (to be able to incapacitate the opponent with a single waza).

The kata I taught was 火手 (Kashu), which is also referred to as 火の手 (Hi no te). The aim of which was to ‘have a blank slate’ to further refine the aforementioned key points.

The version of Kashu that I taught at this seminar has never been shared outside of Japan before and significantly differs from others. Unlike the commonly practiced form, which has largely become more standardized, this rendition of Kashu is the refined Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei version. The essence of this kata is using natural energy and mimicking the movements of fire. Sensei emphasized the motions of flames in a forest fire.

Being very well looked after (from left to right): Tiago, Paulo Sensei and Francisco Sensei.

As always, more than the kata itself is the point of bujutsu for self-defense, which in budo karate intrinsically links kihon, kata and kumite.

In addition to the karate training itself, there were also great opportunities to socialize. The seminar dinner party was particularly memorable as it was a chance to catch up with many old friends and establish new friendships.

Below is a direct YouTube link to the seminar video. Especially if you attended please like, comment and share. Let’s endeavor to preserve Shotokan karate as Budo together!


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

Monday 5 June 2023

Applications for seminars and renshusei in 2024

2024 applications for INTERNATIONAL SEMINARS and training here in Japan, as a RENSHUSEI, are now open.

All applications can made by email to:

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

Friday 2 June 2023

夏稽古、始動!(Summer training begins)

 Yesterday I began my summer training here in Oita City. Rather than write an article, here are some images from my dojo training (June 1st and 2nd, 2023).

押忍 — André

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

Thursday 1 June 2023

Updated self-training regime: Hard core!

Ready for Portugal! 

その場基本 (Sonoba Kihon)

(1) 中段直突き (平行立ち)

In heiko-dachi make chudan choku-zuki targeting the suigetsu. Focus on: (a) gyaku koshi no kaiten; (b) kakato-chushin for ground power; and (c) hikite no shime.

(2) 上段直突き(平行立ち)

Same as previous ‘tsuki’ but jodan targeting the jinchu.


(3) 三本連突き(平行立ち)

Sanbon ren-zuki in heiko-dachi focusing on the previous points of both chudan and jodan choku-zuki; furthermore, on making four ‘tsuki’ large scale to achieve a kimewaza each time.


 (4)  中段前蹴り蹴上げ (閉足立ち)

In heisoku-dachi make chudan mae-geri keage. The main focus of this practice is: (a) kakato-chushin; (b) toe flexion; (c) high raising of the knee; (d) proper hip engagement in extension of the kicking leg; (e) ankle flexion in the extension of the foot and ‘josokutei’; (f) hikiashi and grounding of the foot back into heisoku-dachi—in sum, a kicking speed ratio of 3:7.


(5) 中段縦手刀構えから中段逆突き  (平行立ちから前屈立ち)

From heiko-dachi make sokumen chudan tateshuto-gamae then advance the corresponding leg in the direction of the tateshuto into zenkutsu-dachi to make chudan gyaku-zuki. To return to heiko-dachi and do alternately leftward and rightward, draw up the lead leg whilst simultaneously making tateshuto in the opposite direction. Do this slow ending hands and feet together to achieve te-ashi onaji. Besides the basic points, focus on dropping then advancing. Also make sure the hips slightly precede the tsuki, and that tsuki slightly precedes the completed stance. Put another way, do not attack with the arms, rather, attack with your stance, hips and center.

移動基本 (Ido Kihon)

(1)  三本連突き

Sanbon ren-zuki emphasizing the pull then push of the jikuashi, which avoids the opening of the lead foot and pushing with the rear foots toes; furthermore, focus on the extension on each ‘tsuki’ via the shoulders and hikite, in addition to propulsion/tai no shinshuku with fumidashi and koshi no kaiten. Pay close attention to making all three thrusts as large as possible, not only in form but in relation to the respective targets.


(2) 上段揚げ受け • 中段逆突き

Jodan age-uke followed by chudan gyaku-zuki. Aim to make a big a robust age-uke followed by a large scale counter thrust. Rear heel, knee/thigh, hips/waist and hikite. Whilst the surface target of chudan tsukiwaza is the suigetsu (solar plexus) the actual aimed target is the opponents spine. Note the completion of age-uke has the perfectly vertical with the thumb side of the fist facing the floor. Also the wrist is above and in front of the forearm.


(3)  中段外受け • 中段横猿臂 (騎馬立ち) • 裏拳横回し打ち

Large scale soto-uke winding up at the ear and completing as a kime waza. Transfer into kiba-dachi, in this practice without yoriashi to execute yoko-enpi, then snap out and back uraken yokomawashi uchi. For enpi, to chamber, stretch the arm as far as possible in the opposite direction—as if extending a light choku zuki—then fire the elbow like a tsuki. For uraken, remain relaxed with a snap/speed ratio of 3:7.


(4) 中段内受け  上段刻み突き  中段逆突き

Chudan uchi-uke followed by jodan kizami-zuki and chudan gyaku-zuki. Low wind up contracting then expanding to make uchi-zuki, then two consecutive tsuki. Reserve the hip action in your uchi-uke to increase snap in kizami-zuki. Care must be taken to avoid making the kizami-zuki without sufficient kime; thereby, reinforcing a gap for one’s opponent to power through. The waza no kankyu for this combination is the same as sanbon ren-zuki.


(5) 下段払い• 中段逆突き

Gedan-barai followed by chudan gyaku-zuki, like the other ukewaza, must also be an attack; that is, attack with the uke then follow up with your tsuki. Again, this highlights the key point that every waza in karate must have kime. Emphasize the tight wind up and contraction of gedan-barai as the defense then expand with the hips, shoulders and back to move explosively. Again, gyaku-zuki must be large scale with ground power and hikite.


(6) (後屈立ち) 手刀中段受け  中段縦四本貫手

Make shuto chudan-uke with fumidashi in kokutsu-dachi, then, with kakato chushin on the spot transfer into zenkutsu-dachi on the spot to make chudan tateshihon nukite. The power must go forwards when transferring to zenkutsu-dachi, therefore, while the lead foot goes slightly sideways it also goes forward. The rear heel stays set in place, however, one must twist the direction of the toes  as far forward as possible. I personally teach a large scale shuto-uke; thereby, emphasizing the waza as an attack. The chudan nukite, like other chudan waza is ‘centralization practice’ with minimal adjustment to jodan and gedan variations.


(7) 中段前蹴り蹴上げ  •  中段追い突き

Chudan mae-geri keage followed by chudan oi-zuki is the base ‘renzokuwaza-waza’ of ‘legs followed by hands’. To do this waza optimally requires a high and tight raising of the knee, and kicking snap ratio of 3:7, and ‘quick hands’ following the kick. That is, impact of your oi-zuki must slightly precede making your zenkutsu-dachi; thus, allowing you to attack with your stance/your mass. As you kick aim to maintain a tight and set hikite where the fist is right back and the elbow is pinched. This ‘shime’ and that of the knee raise and hiki-ashi is in stark contrast to the necessity of light, and relaxed leg muscles, required for effective speediness.


(8) 連蹴り: 中段前蹴り蹴上げ  •  上段前蹴り蹴上げ

Ren-geri involves two consecutive kicks. Chudan mae-geri keage followed by jodan mae-geri keage. Candidates are free to use another keriwaza for the second kick. The main points of focus are the high and compact raising of the knees and the kicking speed ratio of 3:7. In addition to these points the avoidance of superfluous actions is high on the agenda, kakato-chushin and a tight step between the two waza.


(9) 裏拳横回し打ち

Advancing with uraken yokomawashi uchi. The prime focus of this waza is using the elbow as a fulcrum in coordination with a sharp gyaku-kaiten (reverse rotation) of the hips. Unlike combination three, where uraken is executed from a stationary kiba-dachi, this is a oiwaza (lunging technique). The direction, height and positioning of the elbow, and whip like snap to and from this position, make is extremely fast when performed correctly. The key point is harmonious coordination in order to maximize snap.


(10) 手刀上段外回し打ち  手刀上段内回し打ち

Advancing with shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi followed by shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi. This renzokuwaza is actually the practice to two individual waza. Stepping forward with jun-kaiten to strike from the outside inward with the sword hard; then, the stationery making of an inside outward strike using gyaku-kaiten. These waza, unlike sports karate, need to be large scale: just as if one wants to break boards or tiles. In sum, this is fundamental muchiken requiring softness, snap, propulsion and the full use of the core.


型 (Kata)


火手  (Kashu)

浪手 (Roshu)

掌手小 (Shote Sho)


 組手 (Kumite)


基本一本組手 (Kihon Ippon Kumite) attacking with both uke and hangeki.

押忍 — André

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