Thursday 25 April 2024

ONE SEMINAR IN EUROPE THIS YEAR!!! Freital, Germany, in September!!!

 押忍 (Osu) and Greetings from Oita City, Kyushu, Japan. This year I am only doing ONE SEMINAR IN EUROPE. It will be held in FREITAL, GERMANY on September 7th and 8th. 

Also, this year, there will be no filming, only from our official camera. Therefore, only those who participate will access the full content of the seminar. Yes, we will provide a video, but it will only contain snippets of what will be taught over the two days. So, for those who attend, you will get the knowledge, but not the 'karate couch potatoes'.


For those who are serious about Karate as BUDO/BUJUTSU, this seminar will be very special. A unique event in 2024 for those truly wishing to advance their skills, and that of their students.


For those wishing to attend, I encourage that you pre-book early, in order to not miss out.



© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Trainees from Québec, CANADA

Jocelyn "Strob" Simard and his son Yamato (from Saint-Sauveur, Québec, Canada) came as trainees. Jocelyn’s wife Yuka (originally from Osaka) and his younger children, Yuto and Sayuki also came to the dojo.

The training focused on 基本 (KIHON), including the following focal points: (1) Choku-zuki  mechanics; (2) Koshi no kaiten in zenkutsu-dachi—especially utilizing the rear leg correctly; (3) Gyaku-zuki basic and kumite application; (4) Fumidashi in zenkutsu-dachi; (5) Oi-zuki; (6) The four core ‘closed fist’ ukewaza with focus on hanmi and hikite; (7) Using gyaku-zuki after each uke to test that zenkutsu-dachi hanmi is correct and a full shomen can be achieved with maximum effect and stability.

Other points were covered, but the aforementioned were the main aspects. Moreover, as for the fine details, I have not detailed them here! As they are for Jocelyn and Yamato. This, of course, is the same for all Renshusei. 

With Yuka, Yuto, Jocelyn and Yamato after the training.


(A) 平安初段 (Heian Shodan) with special focus on unsoku, tai no shinshuku (kahanshin and jouhanshin), zenkutsu-dachi shomen and hanmi, and kakato-chushin. In sum, this was to review the aforementioned kihon and expand on this.


(B) 燕飛 (Enpi). Emphasis on correct waza (technique), tachikata (stance), unsoku (leg movements), koshi no kaiten (rotation of the hips), junansei (softness)m and tai no shinshuku (the contraction and expansion of the body), which is so evident in this kata. Also some exercises from my instructor, Asai Tetsuhiko Shihan, for movement 36: "Hidari kaiten-tobi kara migi shuto chudan-uke (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi kara hidari kokutsu-dachi)'.


Overall, this post is only a brief overview of Jocelyn and Yamato training here. I wish them both the very best in their on-going karate development. 

It was great to meet and spend time with all five of you. 



 Jocelyn, me, Yamato and Sayuki outside Yusuhara Jinja.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Sunday 21 April 2024


限界まで!  (GENKAI MADE)

I don’t mean this term negatively or crazily, but in the context of CHALLENGING ONESELF. It means "TO THE LIMIT".


Today in my self-training I pushed myself to the limit.


This is not always possible to stay in good health, but occasionally, and obviously, very productive. This year I'm 48 years old, so I'm still very young, but I'm seeking the karate of Asai Sensei when he was 71, just before he passed away. I'm nowhere near his level.

Saying "GENKI MADE", doesn't mean being stupid. We must not hurt ourselves. It is all about balance for each individual person. 

The best karate, irrespective of health and injury is in one's 50s, 60s and 70s. Asai Sensei proved that to me. This is the karate I'm personally seeking and teaching.

押忍!  アンドレ


                 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Thursday 18 April 2024

Training Regime Variation

Today I did a slight variation from my current training regime, (especially in regard to my kihon practice, for those interested you may find it interesting to compare and contrast this). In sum, I'm posting this to highlight variations, which I intermittently do through the month.

I wish everyone here in Japan and around the world the very best of health and high-level training.

For those of you coming to Japan as Renshusei here at the Dojo, or attending upcoming seminars, see you soon! International Karate Shotokan has many special events in Japan and abroad coming up.


André Bertel


From Zenkutsu-dachi with Gedan-barai:


Classical tsukiwaza – ‘Base Form’ for Koshi no Kaiten (GYAKU-KAITEN + JUN-KAITEN).


  1. Oi-zuki
  2. Gyaku-zuki


From jiyu na kamae (Jiyu-dachi):


Combinations with “TSUKIWAZA” utilizing tobi-kaiten, tsugi-ashi, okuri-ashi etc…


  1. Kizami-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki
  2. Kizami-zuki kara chudan gyaku-zuki
  3. Jodan oi-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki
  4. Kizami-zuki kara jodan oi-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki


“Legs followed by hands”


  1. Mae-geri keage kara jodan oi-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki
  2. Mawashi-geri kara uraken yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki
  3. Kizami mawashi-geri kara chudan gyaku-zuki
  4. Ushiro-geri kekomi kara uraken yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki


From Zenkutsu-dachi with Gedan-barai:


Classical renzokuwaza – ‘Base Form’ Uke-Tsuki… Big Hanmi and tight Shomen + variations.


  1. Jodan age-uke kara jodan gyaku-zuki, chudan soto-uke, chudan gyaku-zuki, chudan uchi-uke, jodan kizami-zuki, chudan gyaku-zuki, gedan-barai, teisho jodan age-zuki, shuto chudan uke (kokutsu-dachi) soshite chudan tateshihon-nukite.



1. Tekki Shodan

2. Jitte

3. Maizuru Sho




Uchikomi followed by throws (in my current training regime).

Jitte (十手)

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Monday 15 April 2024

Current self-training regime

 Here is my current self-training regime. 


移動基本 (IDO-KIHON)

The first two 連続技 (Renzokuwaza) are hand attacks, the first with closed fists from the free style position and the second with open hands in zenkutsu-dachi. The first primarily relies upon propulsion and moving the center; whereas, the second primarily relies upon the whip like ‘muchiken’. The main point is to maximize the effectiveness of each individual waza.


1. (自由立ち、自由な構え) 上段刻み突きから上段追い突きそして中段逆突き (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Jodan kizami-zuki kara jodan oi-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


2. (前屈立ち) 手刀上段外回し打ちから手同じで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 (Zenkutsu-dachi) Shuto jodan sotomawashi uchi kara te onaji de shuto jodan uchimawashi uchi, shuto tatemawashi uchi soshite haito jodan sotomawashi uchi.


The next three combinations are ‘Legs followed by hands’. This requires the high and compact chambering of each keriwaza, relaxed and sharp kicking snap (whipping out and back, again applying the principles ofmuchiken) and body power and weight into to follow-up tewaza; in particular by ‘sinking the support leg’ after kicking to expand again for the drive forward.


3. (自由立ち、自由な構え) 中段前蹴り蹴上げから上段追い突きそして中段逆突き (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan oi-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


4. (自由立ち、自由な構え) 回し蹴りから後ろ蹴り蹴込み、裏拳上段横回し打ちそして中段逆突き (Jiyu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Mawashi-geri kara uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


5. (前屈立ち、自由な構え) 横蹴り蹴上げから足同じで横蹴り蹴込みそして中段逆突 (Zenkutsu-dachi, jiyu na kamae) Yoko-geri keage kara yoko-geri kekomi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


The next five idokihonwaza I’m working are the five foundational ukewaza followed by counteractions. The main focal point is to prioritize the initial action (unsoku, tachikata, waza) before making the follow up actions. In sum, ‘attack with uke’. Stressing the 腰の回転 (koshi no kaiten) at the very last moment and the maximization of the 引き手 (hiki-te).


6. (前屈立ち) 上段揚げ受けから上段逆突き (Zenkutsu-dachi) Jodan age-uke kara jodan gyaku-zuki.


7. (前屈立ち) 中段外受けから中段逆突き (Zenkutsu-dachi) Chudan soto-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.


8. (前屈立ち) 中段外受けから上段刻み突きそして中段逆突き (Zenkutsu-dachi) Chudan uchi-uke kara jodan kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.


9. (前屈立ち) 下段払いから手同じで裏拳上段縦回し打ち、手同じで上段段横回し打ちそして中段逆突き (Zenkutsu-dachi) Gedan-barai kara te onaji de uraken jodan tatemawashi uchi, te onaji de uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki.



10. (後屈立ち) 手刀中段受けから刻み前蹴りそして中段縦四本貫手 (Kokutsu-dachi) Shuto chudan-uke kara kizami mae-geri soshite chudan tateshihon-nukite.


The final waza is the classic Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei’s ‘enpi combination’. The main focus is on junansei of the shoulders, use of the core, and transitions to maximize damage damage to the opponent with the respective elbow strikes.


11. (前屈立ち) 縦猿臂から前猿臂、寄り足(騎馬立ち) 横猿臂、回転しながら猿臂、回りながら下がって横揚げ猿臂そして落とし猿臂 (不動立ち) (Zenkutsu-dachi) Tate-enpi kara mae-enpi, yoriashi (Kiba-dachi) yoko-enpi, kaitenshinagara-enpi, mawarinagarasagatte yoko-age-enpi soshite otoshi-enpi (fudo-dachi).




鉄騎初段 (Tekki  Shodan)

十手 (Jitte)

舞鶴小 (Maizuru Sho)





Presently working some of my favorite nagewaza, in Jiyu-Kumite, namely:

A. Ippon seoinage (一本背負投): Single-handed shoulder throw.

B. Seoi nage (背負投): Shoulder throw.

C. Uchi mata sukashi (内股透): Inner thigh void throw.

D. Uki otoshi (浮落): Floating drop.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Some still images from self-training this morning

Here are some pictures from my self-training today. I think the images say more than text. I wish all who read this post the very best in your training! OSU - AB
Mae-geri keage kara oi-zuki. Keep the shisei (posture) as much as possible.

Migi jodan age-uke fires directly from the hiki-te position and is 'sent' via the hip action and 'shoulder snap'.

Hidari gedan-barai (higher grades must adjust the 'uke height' based on their physique and optimal effectiveness, as opposed to the basic 'one fist above the lead leg).

Chudan soto-uke... Elbow set but the uke wrist inverted.

Shuto chudan-uke.

Tateshuto chudan-uke. 

Migi chudan gyaku-zuki.


 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Friday 5 April 2024

桜 (Sakura) 2024

Usually, I'd travel somewhere here inside Oita City, Oita Prefecture, or somewhere else in Japan to enjoy Sakura. However, due to being so busy travelling around Japan in March, my family and I decided to simply enjoy the cherry blossoms directly around our home. The very light rain and dim skies made for a serene atmosphere.

While by no means being professional photos, and just shot and posted now, I hope you enjoy them.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Thursday 4 April 2024

Group from Toodyay, Western Australia

 Ken Bainbridge Sensei brought a group of students from his dojo (Avon Valley Karate in Toodyay, Western Australia) to train here in Oita. Actually, Ken Sensei brought me to his club to conduct a seminar in 2011; furthermore, this was his third time to train with me here in Japan. If you use the 'Search Engine' here on the site, you can read about these times, also access some video footage.


The following ‘brief outline’ is for Ken Sensei and his students, basically ‘bullet points’ to remind them of the aspects covered on this visit. 

Ken Sensei with his group from Toodyay.

基本 (KIHON)


1. Japan standard ‘line up’ (lines) and correct seiza.


2. Sonkyo — 直突き (Choku-zuki).


3. Hip action in choku-zuki.


4. Forearm turn as opposed to ‘corkscrewing the wrist’ in linear tsukiwaza.


5. Correct  鍵突き (Kagi-zuki) and  騎馬立ち (Kiba-dachi).





6.  自由組手の基本  (Jiyu kumite no kihon): effective application of 逆突き(Gyaku-zuki).


7.  自由組手の基本  (Jiyu kumite no kihon): effective application of 追い突き (Oi-zuki).


8.  自由組手の基本  (Jiyu kumite no kihon): 構え (Kamae) — ‘active two arm guard’.


9.  Light 自由組手 (Jiyu Kumite) focusing on relaxation, fluidity and natural actions from the correct Kamae.





10.  平安初段型  (Heian Shodan Kata).


Focal points:


a. Kakato Chushin and ‘leg pressing to transition through freestyle kokutsu’ in Shotokan turns.

b. Kentsui tatemawashi uchi: large scale action and body weight dropped.

c. ‘Setting gedan-barai during oi-zuki. 

To conclude, I’d like to wish Ken Sensei and his student all the very best in their training and, both a fun and safe travel back to Australia tomorrow morning.




 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Renshusei from Switzerland: Christa Lehmann (4th Dan)

 Christa Lehmann (4th Dan), from Switzerland, once again returned to Oita for private training. Of course, it was not only great to have her here in the dojo, but also to catch up. 

This time her first request was to work on 鉄騎三段 Tekki Sandan Kata. Other kata covered included some key points from: 平安初段Heian Shodan, 鉄騎二段 Tekki Nidan, 燕飛 Enpi, and 五十四歩小 Gojushiho Sho (amongst others).


Christa also requested to go through core kihon. So, I concentrated on: 1. Sanchin-dachi; 2. the transition from Fudo-dachi (outward tension) to Sanchin-dachi (inward tenshin)—using the opening sequences of 舞鶴大型  (Maizuru Dai Kata) as a case study; 3. The foundational ido-kihon focusing on propulsion, hips action, transitions and positioning.


For 組手 (Kumite) practice I had her work on a handful attacks and counterattacks. These were attacks with: a. 中段逆突き (Chudan gyaku-zuki); b. 上段追い突き/上段順突き (Jodan oi-zuki/Jodan jun-zuki). And counterattacks―utilizing ‘Deai’—with: c. 上段流し突き (Jodan nagashi-zuki); and d. 中段前り(Chudan mae-geri). Exact impact distance for her waza was a prime aim.


To conclude, the aforementioned notes, presented here, are for Christa to recapitulate any of the aspects covered. Overall, it was great to have her as a Renshusei here again, and to see her on-going karate development.


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).

Monday 1 April 2024

Beach Training in Miyazaki

I enjoyed a two-hour beach training in Miyazaki. Just kihon, kata, and some basic conditioning work, but an excellent session. My focus was on 体の伸縮 (TAI NO SHIHSHUKU): the contraction and expansion of the body, which can both large/extreme, subtle, and/or a mix of both. 

I’ve personally always enjoyed training on different surfaces. Dry sand, in particular, makes the drive of the sasae-ashi challenging. Needless to say, this propulsive ‘stretch’ of the rear is of critical importance for the execution of budo karate thrusts and keriwaza.


What’s ironic here is that in sports karate, this is not done. In fact, it’s the total opposite: what many nickname ‘The Superman punch’. So yes, tai no shinshuku is used to the maximum; however, the difference is “maximum powered impact aimed to hit vital targets”—verses—“a tag stretching to the longest to ‘skin touch’ and escape”.


Obviously tai no shinshuku is by no means limited to the lower body, rather, the entire body maximizes it. These ‘squeeze/release/squeeze’ actions (etcetera) are major contributors in achieving dynamic and effective karate-waza. A really-really obvious example of this in the sentei-gata is 燕飛 (Enpi).


A good basic exercise we use in IKS is the extreme extension of all three thrusts in 三本連突き (Sanbon ren-zuki). Without ‘losing shomen’ each waza must fully use ground power and 腰の回転 (Koshi no kaiten: Hip Rotation. In each these actions the hiki-te must be contracted fully by a large-scale action and ‘shime’ of the fist/wrist and elbow.


Another related aspect here is our focus on large-scale ukewaza, especially the ‘four core closed-fist receptions’: 上段揚げ受け (Jodan age-uke), 中段外受け (Chudan soto-uke), 中段内受け (Chudan uchi-uke), and 下段払い (Gedan-barai). We train these waza primarily as attacks; again…, TAI NO SHINSHUKU. Overall, the full expression of the uke functions for the follow up waza, which cannot be reliably delivered if the initial action doesn’t maximize kime. I should add here that I also practiced 掛け受け (Kake-uke) and 手首掛け受け (Tekubi kake-uke) in 猫足立ち (Nekoashi-dachi).


With all the aforementioned points as foci, I concluded my training practicing the following kata: 平安初段 (Heian Shodan, 慈恩 (Jion), 燕飛 (Enpi), 百八歩 (Hyakuhappo) and 舞鶴大 (Maizuru Dai).  

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2024).