Thursday, 24 November 2011

New Karate Video on Youtube

I'm admittedly very sore from training today from ample shinshuku practice. Will need to stretch plenty tomorrow morning. Here is a newly uploaded video on Youtube.

I have many projects in the works at present. The next seminar in Christchurch will be a second wave of technical aspects I've not taught openly before. `Step-by-step' I am uncovering the karate I have been taught and the critical elements required to execute it. As those who have attended my seminars and lessons know, this karate is not sports karate!

Many of the drills I've taught in past seminars (here in New Zealand, Japan, Italy, USA, Germany & Australia) serve as the introduction. Now it is time to go to the next level. As Asai Sensei always said, "Step-by-step".

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

We never stop learning

Practice, practice & more practice! Here's my updated training regime. Shodan-shinsa no tame no kihon: (1) Sanbon-zuki; (2) Jodan age-uke kara chudan mae-geri soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (4) Chudan soto-uke kara yori-ashi (kiba-dachi) chudan yoko empi uchi, uraken yokomawashi-uchi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (5) Chudan shuto-uke (kokutsu-dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite shihon nukite; (6) Chudan uchi-uke kara jodan kizami-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (7) Mae-geri kara mawashi-geri; (8) Mae-geri kara yoko-kekomi (same leg); (9) Yoko-keage ashi o kaete yoko-kekomi (kiba-dachi); (10) Mawashi-geri; (11) Ushiro-geri; & (12) Shuto yokomawashi-uchi.

(a ) Empi; (b) Hangetsu; (c) Unsu; & (d) A random Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu koten-gata dependent on my daily technical focus.

( i) Kihon ippon kumite: Asai-ha Shotokan-ryu 14 core waza (jodan, chudan & mae-geri); & (ii) Jiyu kumite no uchikomi renshu.

In addition to the usual calistenics and impact work I've also started to do a little running again. On the weekend I went for a decent 8km run. My lungs and heart handled it easily, but the run definitely fatigued my legs (as my quads and hams were already very tired from all of my karate training). As you may know I am a very big believer in jumping exercises such as plyometrics, however I try to keep my programme varied to achieve the best results. Regardless of what one does, occassionally mixing things up is very important. We never stop learning if we "keep practicing and training"!

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

JKA All-Japan Championships: The Golden Age

The first seven Japan Karate Association (JKA) All-Japan Championships are legendary in the traditional karate world. No bouncing around in kumite or posing in kata. Unlike today the concept of ichigeki-hissatsu (a single finishing blow), was reflected in all matches and all movements. Pure Karate! Here are the results of these seven competitions. Please note I have only used Sensei for my late teacher Asai Tetsuhiko to not exhaust you with this title and for the relevance to my karate (and the karate on this blog/website). Needless to say, all of the karateka who won places in these early events are indeed "Sensei" of the highest calibre. At 28 years old in 1963, Asai Sensei won the kata at the seventh All Japan's and this was his final major event. Overall, this post not only outlines my teachers national titles, but also reflects the Golden Age of the Japan Karate Association.


1st: Hirokazu Kanazawa
2nd: Katsunori Tsuyama
3rd: Masahide Nakamura

1st: Hiroshi Shoji
2nd: Masaru Sakamoto
3rd: Shojiro Koyama


1st: Hirokazu Kanazawa/Takayuki Mikami
3rd: Masahide Nakamura
NB - No second place as there was a draw between Takayuki Mikami & Hirokazu Kanazawa. Budo not sports... So no need to give a second place!

1st: Hirokazu Kanazawa
2nd: Takayuki Mikami
3rd: Shigeru Saito
• Hirokazu Kanazawa (First JKA Grand Champion)


1st: Takayuki Mikami
2nd: Hirokazu Kanazawa
3rd: Masaaki Sato/Hiroshi Shirai

1st: Takayuki Mikami
2nd: Hirokazu Kanazawa
3rd: Shigeru Saito
• Mikami (Second JKA Grand Champion)


1st: Masaaki Sato
2nd: Takayuki Mikami
3rd: Asai Sensei/Toru Yamaguchi

1st: Hiroshi Shoji
2nd: Takayuki Mikami
3rd: Hirokazu Kanazawa


1st: Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei
2nd: Hiroshi Shirai
3rd: Takayuki Mikami/Keinosuke Enoeda

1st: Takayuki Mikami
2nd: Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei
3rd: Hiroshi Shirai
Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei (Third JKA Grand Champion)


1st: Hiroshi Shirai
2nd: Keinosuke Enoeda
3rd: Takayuki Mikami/Yutaka Yaguchi

1st: Hiroshi Shirai
2nd: Takayuki Mikami
3rd: Toru Yamaguchi
• Hiroshi Shirai (Fourth JKA Grand Champion)


1st: Keinosuke Enoeda
2nd: Hiroshi Shirai
3rd: Hirokazu Kanazawa/Yutaka Yaguchi

Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei
2nd: Toru Yamaguchi
3rd: Takeshi Nakaya

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Gichin Funakoshi Sensei's 20 Precepts of Karate-Do

I know you have read them numerous times before; nevertheless, each of the following '20 Precepts of Karate-Do' (written by Funakoshi Gichin Sensei) are always worthy of reflection.


1. Karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy.

2. There is no first attack in Karate.

3. Karate is an aid to justice.

4. First control yourself before attempting to control others.

5. Spirit first, technique second.

6. Always be ready to release your mind.

7. Accidents arise from negligence.

8. Do not think that Karate training is only in the dojo.

9. It will take your entire life to learn Karate; there is no limit.

10. Put your everyday living into Karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).

11. Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

12. Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

13. Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.

14. The battle is according to how you move guarded and unguarded
(move according to your opponent).

15. Think of your hands and feet as swords.

16. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.
It is your behavior that invites trouble from them.

17. Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.

18. Practicing a kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.

19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power,
stretching and contraction of the body and slowness and speed of techniques.

20. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts every day.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Kihon Hangeki Renshu video

Here is a brief video on kihon hangeki renshu (basic counterattack practice). This is used for introductory jiyu-kumite training for kyu grades and can obviously employ any techniques. No combinations here, just single kizami-zuki (jab punches) and single technique counters.


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

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Some video links

For other video links related to this blog please visit my youtube channel at:

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand 2011.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Here is the kihon training method I presently advocate. It is very-very simple, very “Japanese style” and gets long-lasting results fast. There are no fancy combinations… There is nothing to hide behind, your posture, movement, stances, and techniques have to be effective. Make this your `daily regime’ and long combinations soon show themselves as being ‘time wasters’ (why not save that for kata?). What’s more, if you can do the core techniques properly, everything else is a breeze.

Following this routine on a daily basis under an exceptional instructor will boost one’s karate incredibly because it only deals with what really matters. In saying that, unless the trainees are vigorously monitored and corrected this routine can groove extremely bad habits. Furthermore, the offensive techniques must be all practiced with full power against a target such as the heavy bag. This has been talked about in my past posts, so I will not address it today.

Practice method & repetitions: Practice each technique in a stationary stance then on the move. In both scenarios start with at least ten slow repetitions and then follow this with at least thirty repetitions with maximum snap. Regardless of speed, the count shouldn’t be too fast. This is to ensure that techniques are practiced fully and that continuity of motion doesn’t not interfere with the decisiveness of techniques (please note that ido-kihon is in zenkutsu-dachi unless otherwise noted).

So here we go...

1. Stationary: Chudan choku-zuki from shizentai (hachinoji-dachi or heiko-dachi).
2. Ido-kihon: Chudan oi-zuki or sambon-zuki.
3. Stationary: Migi then hidari chudan gyaku-zuki in hidari & migi zenkutsu-dachi.
4. Ido-kihon: Chudan gyaku-zuki.
5. Stationary: Jodan age-uke.
6. Ido-kihon: Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
7. Stationary: Chudan soto-uke.
8. Ido-kihon: Chudan soto-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki or yori-ashi yoko empi-uchi (defending in zenkutsu-dachi then driving forward with yori ashi into kiba-dachi).
9. Stationary: Chudan uchi-uke.
10. Ido-kihon: Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
11. Stationary: Gedan-barai.
12. Ido-kihon: Gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
13. Stationary: Chudan shuto-uke in migi & hidari renoji-dachi.
14. Ido-kihon: Chudan shuto-uke kara nukite (driving forward into zenkutsu-dachi from kokutsu-dachi).
15. Stationary: Chudan mae-geri in heisoku-dachi.
16. Stationary: Migi then hidari chudan mae-geri in hidari & migi zenkutsu-dachi.
17. Ido-kihon: Chudan mae-geri or chudan mae-geri kara chudan oi-zuki or ren-geri.
18. Stationary: Chudan mawashi geri (alternate legs from shizentai landing in zenkutsu-dachi then stepping back into shizentai).
19. Ido-kihon: Chudan mawashi-geri.
20. Stationary: Ushiro-geri (alternate legs from heisoku-dachi rearward landing in zenkutsu-dachi then stepping forward into shizentai).
21. Ido-kihon: Ushiro-geri.
22. Stationary: Yoko-keage in heisoku-dachi.
23. Stationary: Yoko-kekomi in heisoku-dachi
24. Ido-kihon: Yoko-keage (single technique training with kosa-aiyumibashi in kiba-dachi or yoko keage ashi o kaete yoko-kekomi).
25. Ido-kihon: Yoko-kekomi (kosa-aiyumibashi in kiba-dachi or in zenkutsu-dachi).

Supplement this kihon (and the aforementioned impact training) with the eleven kihon-gata (the five Heian, Junro and Tekki-shodan) and kihon kumite (Gohon & Kihon Ippon Kumite). The main point is "TO KEEP KIHON PRACTICE SIMPLE"; therefore, always remember "the biggest asset of kihon training is simplicity". Overall, when working on the `advanced' kata and kumite the more simple and perfect your kihon-geiko is, the better your karate will become.

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

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Obsession with form

There are two broad problems amongst karate practitioners: The first is “poor technical form”; and the second is “obsession with form”. While these are at opposite ends of the scale, they both result in ineffective karate.

Obsession with form is the problem which most, if not all mainstream Japanese organisations typically have. What happens is that they are so consumed by form that they spend too much time on cosmetics as opposed to making their karate effective. Of course, karateka should always be seeking better form, but form has purpose and this purpose is to achieve effectiveness within the context of the style one does i.e. – Shotokan, Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu, Wado-ryu etc. A great example is Mikio Yahara Sensei who is known for his stiff ankles. His back foot in zenkutsu-dachi cannot go much beyond 45 degrees and his kokutsu-dachi rear foot simply doesn’t get to that 'textbook ideal' 90 degree angle… Needless to say, he still has wonderful karate. I can personally relate to this (with my stiff ankles) and similarly have never found it to lessen my effectiveness (note my kizami-zuki photo from todays training). A fellow instructor once said to me "you can't do zenkutsu-dachi with your rear foot at that angle". So I replied by saying "you think about my rear ankle while swallowing your own teeth". My question is when did zenkutsu-dachi and other karate techniques/movements/stances become so obsessive?

Another example is of course is my late instructor, the legendary Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei, who was limited by his small frame. People criticise the continuity of his movements, but this is how he made his karate work for himself.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean we can just settle for lapses in our form or personal abilities. The art of karate is to constantly seek `personal perfection’… Not obsessively but with application in mind. Moreover, SOME THINGS DO MATTER AND MUST BE DONE otherwise our karate will be useless. For example the correct use of kokyu (breathing), tai no shinshuku (contraction and expansion of the body), koshi no kaiten (rotation of the waist) etc. Someone like Asai Sensei could break a damp hardwood board a foot behind his head (without utilising his waist); thus, to copy his favoured small-scale hip action would clearly be foolish…

Problem two – POOR TECHNICAL FORM: Poor technical form means “incorrect form and ineffectiveness”. Incorrect form is `style based’ and ‘ineffectiveness’ is dependent on one’s ability to apply techniques. In the case of smaller people, we must develop ways to make up for our smaller body mass and strength. And for bigger people, often speed is an issue. Of course, these are mere generalisations… We all know big people who are very fast and small people who are amazingly strong. My point is that poor technical form is not only about form but its relationship with physicality. If you want to discuss correct positioning and movement compare the greats i.e. – Sensei’s Asai, Kase, Enoeda, Yahara, Osaka, Imura, Ueki, Tanaka etc. They are all different but the important points are the same and all of them have or had destructive karate-waza.

Karate is about GOING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE GOT / OPTIMISING WHAT YOU HAVE! Not settling for less, but aiming to have the best technique you can. The secret is to not be obsessed with form but rather use form as a vehicle to optimise the application of your techniques. Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei once said “Kihon is for kumite, kata is for kumite and kumite is for kumite”. His point was that while karate is an art as opposed to a sport, it is first and fore-mostly a MARTIAL ART.

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

Friday, 11 November 2011


Every moment of traditional karate training is technically dedicated to effectiveness, that is, effective application in jissen-kumite (as opposed to karate dojo kumite or a competition). This puts us traditional karateka in a relatively unique position insofar as modern karate is concerned. Asai Sensei faced this as well, so he created the IJKA to exclusively focus on his `bujutsu karate'.

I've trained my waza to cause maximum damage as this is what Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei said was necessary to retain the "traditional" martial art of karate as techniques must have "the capacity to fracture the blocking arm or leg of the opponent-even without effort". Without this critical focus, regardless of label, one has 'Sports Karate'. And sports karate is a VERY LAME FORM OF BOXING.

Nowadays, if one doesn't do kata to perform them nicely, or kumite to merely snatch points, the fact is, they are no longer doing mainstream karate. Obviously, this is very sad - a blurred shadow of `martial arts karate'. Nevertheless, if you have read my blog over the last four years, karate is not only about ichigeki-hissatsu, but also a healthy body and mind, reisetsu/reigi-saho, amongst other things. Yes, karate can be for everyone, but is not for everyone.

THE DAILY GRIND WHICH IS BEHIND THIS BLOG IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT - MAKE THIS DAILY TRAINING YOUR OWN! This blog is about my training and YOU, the reader, and how YOU TRAIN. That is why this blog is different - there is sweat, blisters, some blood and the occasional fracture behind my writing. No one (including myself) should be satisfied with their karate. All karateka must continue to push forward with a beginners mind whilst constantly seeking ichigeki-hissatsu from the various waza.

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

Thursday, 10 November 2011

2011 Christchurch, New Zealand KARATEDO TECHNICAL SEMINARS

The time is nearing to this years technical seminars in Christchurch.

For all information please contact me directly at

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