Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Latest self-practice routine

Hasn't 2011 been a lightning fast year… Can you believe it’s already September? Here’s is my latest self-practice regime. At present the Joko series of kata have been pivotal for my technical refinement. They really are superb for polishing one’s kihon, unveiling any errors which inevitably exist in your karate, and subsequently scaffold some very innovative applications which you can capitalise on in kumite. At present training has been productive, tough and enjoyable. So really I couldn't ask for more. Best wishes, André.

KiIHON: (1) Sanbon-zuki; (2) Jodan kizami-zuki kara chudan mae-geri soshite jodan oi-zuki; (3) Mawashi-geri kara gyaku-zuki; (4) Ushiro-geri kara uraken-uchi soshite gyaku-zuki; (5) Ren-geri: Mae geri kara mawashi geri, yoko kekomi, ushiro-geri soshite gyaku mawashi-geri; (6) Ren-geri: Yoko-keage ashi o kaete yoko-kekomi; (7) Jodan age-uke kara mawashi-geri, yoko uraken-uchi soshite chudan oi-zuki; (8) Chudan soto-uke kara yori-ashi (kiba-dachi) yoko empi-uchi, uraken-uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (9) Gedan barai kara chudan uchi-uke (neko-ashi dachi) soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; & (10) Chudan shuto-uke (kokutsu-dachi) kara mae-geri soshite nukite.

KUMITE: Primarily jiyu-kumite with emphasis on attacking with ukewaza; counter-kicking; and a mix of ‘jolting’ attacks with tsukiwaza, and cutting attacks with various uchiwaza (please refer to the five Joko kata for technical specifics).
KATA: (Standard Shotokan-ryu kata) Heian-yondan & godan; Kanku-dai, Tekki-sandan; and Unsu. (Asai-ryu kata) Joko-nisei, sansei, yonsei & gosei; and Kaze no te (Hushu).

PS - IJKA New Zealand Honbu Dojo, here in Christchurch, is having a kyu-shinsa this Saturday; therefore, I’ll take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to everyone attempting to advance in grade.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Interview translated in Spanish

Víctor López Bondía of Spain has just translated my interview (that was published in 'The Shotokan Way' online magazine) into Spanish. I am glad that Shotokan Karateka in Spain are studying Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu Karatedo. Again, thank you very much Victor for wanting to translate and publish my interview on your site.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

5th ASAI SENSEI MEMORIAL - New Zealand (Part One)

The 5th Asai Sensei New Zealand Memorial was held in Christchurch, a week postponed due to the record level snow storm which hit the city. Nevertheless, the memorial went ahead tonight. Here's a brief outline of the practice:

Kihon: Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu ashi-ukewaza; tenshin choku-zuki; and Sensei's standard IJKA ido-kihon.


Kumite: 'Bujutsu' jiyu-kumite, Sambon-kumite & Kihon-ippon kumite.


Kata: Heian & Tekki-shodan, Junro & Kakuyoku. Junro kata were trained in the way which Asai Sensei taught them, which is now sadly near extinction. It was emphasised that these kata coupled, with the five Joko, are for 'martial arts' kihon and should not just be 'more kata to learn'. They must be taught, trained and applied correctly!

Embu: Also some of Asai Sensei's muchiken and tenshin waza were displayed with pinpoint control exhibiting enormous power, and vividly illustrating that Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu is extremely unique in the Karate World.

This years Asai Sensei memorial was a spirit felt training and a truly wonderful tribute to Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

Friday, 19 August 2011

Different flowers

A common question which people ask me is “Why are the masters of Shotokan so different?” For example, Asai Sensei, Kanazawa Sensei and Tanaka Sensei… And "do you think your teacher Mr. Asai was the best?"

Let me answer this metaphorically. Think of different flowers in a garden, which you plant in the same soil, and give the same water and nutrients to. Of course they grow differently, even if they are the same types of flowers. Nevertheless, the underlying fundamentals remain the same.


The JKA masters were all nurtured by Nakayama Sensei, but are all very different. Their technical appeal is dependent on one's preferences, and for the martial artist, this preference is determined by combat effectiveness relevant to oneself.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

Sunday, 14 August 2011

New Zealand TETSUHIKO ASAI SENSEI Memorial Training

Five years ago today my late karate teacher, the legendary Shotokan master, Shuseki-Shihan TETSUHIKO ASAI (10th Dan) passed away. It is so hard to fathom that Sensei departed from us half a decade ago... Here in Christchurch-City, we will be conducting the 5th Annual Asai Tetsuhiko Memorial Training in honour of Sensei.

The official New Zealand Tetsuhiko Asai Memorial Training report will be published in the coming days on here. Until then, I've placed a new upload on youtube, featuring some of my memories with Sensei (link below).


© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).

Friday, 12 August 2011

My Philosophy is Karate-Do

My Philosophy is Karate-Do
I currently have an assignment questioning "what is my philosophy?" Needless to say, after 30 years of practice, my life philosophy is centred on Karate-Do: the Way of Empty Hand.

I thought the best means to express this, is by video, as opposed to merely words alone.

Karate-Do as an educative means of human development: Beyond technique, Karate-Do is centred on overcoming oneself through self-realization. The meaning of empty hand is therefore not merely implying that Karate-Do is an 'unarmed' form of self-defence, but rather a vehicle for constantly emptying one's cup to accommodate new, or refined knowledge. Furthermore, contained within this is the development of zanshin or total awareness.

The belt system in Karate-Do is representative of lifetime learning: From white to black belt. Years after attaining the coveted black belt, your belt slowly fades, returning to white. This is symbolic of the never-ending cycle which the Japanese refer to as "Shoshin wasuru bekarazu" which roughly translates as "always maintain a beginners mind". By doing this we further polish our own skills, whilst being more equipped to help others, as fellow learners (what my late teacher Tetsuhiko Asai refer to a being a "permanent student"), and as instructors.

From a broader educational standpoint this is very similar to Paulo Freire’s concept of a lifetime of action and reflection or praxis. Roberts (1998) explains “Knowing for Freire is a permanent process of discovery – of searching, investigating, enquiring and probing” (p. 99).

This is the essence of all forms of human development, and encompasses the essence of Karate-Do; therefore, this is my philosophy.

Roberts, P. (1998). Knowledge, dialogue and humanization: the moral philosophy of Paulo Freire. Journal of Educational Thought, 32(2), pp. 95-117.

© André Bertel, 2011. Christchurch, New Zealand.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Updated training regime

Here's the latest training regime. My schedule has been utterly hectic recently, but nevertheless, I've made some major breakthroughs. As Asai Sensei always elucidated "Step-by-step". Karate is truly an endless journey, so you have to make the most of travelling part. Osu!


Kihon: (1) Chudan oi-zuki; (2) Chudan gyaku-zuki; (3) Age-uke; (4) Age-uke kara gyaku-zuki; (5) Soto-uke; (6) Soto-uke kara yori-ashi empi, uraken soshite gyaku-zuki; (7) Uchi-uke; (8) Uchi-uke kara kizami-zuki soshite gyaku-zuki; (9) Gedan-barai; (10) Gedan-barai kara gyaku-zuki; (11) Shuto-uke; (12) Shuto-uke kara nukite; (13) Mae-geri; (14) Mawashi-geri; (15) Ren-geri: Mae-geri kara mawashi-geri; (16) Yoko-keage; (17) Yoko-kekomi; & (18) Ushiro-geri. {Special emphasis on `strong weapon-soft limbs' and 'leading with the hips'}.

Kumite: Variations of sambon, kihon-ippon & jiyu-ippon kumite (with application of the Junro kata: tai sabaki "seamlessly combined" with linear and rotational counterattacks).

Kata: Heian, Junro, Tekki & Unsu with special focus as per kihon & kumite.

© André Bertel (2011) Christchurch, New Zealand.