Friday, 20 January 2017

Hatsugeiko 2017

This years Hatsugeiko was essentially the establishment of a new self-training regime for the start of 2017. Here is a schedule outlined. In sum, it can be best defined by its sheer simplicity and focus on kihon and kata as training systems for freestyle. This is a critical theme of Budo Karate. In sum, Karate-Do, when practiced properly, is first and fore mostly a Martial Art of extreme effectiveness. Best wishes from chilly Nippon. - André Bertel

Sonoba kihon
Chudan choku-zuki (Hachiji-dachi).
Chudan mae-geri keage (Heisoku-dachi).
Chudan gyaku-zuki (Hidari/Migi zenkutsu-dachi).
Chudan mae-geri keage (Hidari/Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

  • Repetitions: 10 slow reps followed by 30-50 reps with snap.

1. Sanbon ren-zuki.
2. Jodan age-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
3. Chudan soto-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
4. Chudan uchi-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
5. Gedan-barai kara chudan gyaku-zuki.
6. Shuto chudan-uke (Kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite.
7. Chudan mae-geri keage.
8. Ren-geri: chudan mae-geri keage kara jodan mae-geri keage.
9. Chudan mawashi-geri.
10. Chudan yoko-geri keage ashi o kaete chudan yoko-geri kekomi (Kiba-dachi).
  • Please note: Zenkutsu-dachi is used unless otherwise stated.
  • Repetitions: 10 reps slow forward and back, followed by a minimum of 10 with snap (dependent on daily precision and physical state).


a. Kihon ippon kumite
(Jodan, chudan, mae-geri and yoko-kekomi)

b. Jiyu ippon kumite
(Jodan, chudan, mae-geri, yoko-kekomi and chudan mawashi-geri)

c. Uchikomi
1. Jodan gyaku-zuki; 2. Chudan gyaku-zuki; 3. Jodan oi-zuki; 4. Kizami-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki; 5. Kizami-zuki kara chudan gyaku-zuki; 6. Jodan gyaku-zuki kara jodan gyaku-zuki; 7. Jodan gyaku-zuki kara chudan gyaku-zuki; 8. Chudan mae-geri; 9. Chudan mae-geri kara jodan oi-zuki; 10. Chudan mawashi-geri; 11. Chudan mawashi-geri kara jodan gyaku-zuki; and 12. De ashi-barai kara jodan oi-zuki.
  • Repetitions: I practice a minimum of three sets of Kihon Ippon and Jiyu Ippon Kumite (Alternate days for each form of 'Ippon Kumite'). In the case of Uchikomi, repetitions are daily and typically go around 30-50 reps per individual technique and 10-20 per renzokuwaza. 

Each day of the week one Shiteigata (any Heian or Tekki Shodan); one Senteigata (Bassaidai, Kankudai, Enpi or Jion) and one Jiyugata (this is either a second Senteigata or one from the free kata list).
  • Repetitions: A minimum of four reps per kata with bunkai (analysis) of difficult sections: essentially and probably needless to say, this 'bunkai' is kata-specific-kihon.
  © André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2017).

Monday, 16 January 2017

Trainee from Belgium: Kathleen Lambein

I just had the pleasure of having Kathleen Lambein (3rd Dan, JKA—Japan Karate Association—Belgium) here in at my dojo for private training. In addition to being my first renshusei from Belgium she is also the first non-Japanese renshusei for 2017.

Kathleen successfully completed six hours of one-on-one training over two days. Without going into specifics (these are for her) I focused on specific points to boost her karate—via core aspects of Kihon, Kata and Kumite—from a pure Budo Karate perspective. Simplicity and depth, and efficiency, were major themes.
Overall, Kathleen was great to coach as she not only processed the information quickly, but immediately began moving better. I was really impressed by this point. Furthermore, we enjoyed some nice times outside of the dojo. Kathleen, my family and I wish you all the very best!! It was great to have you in Oita!!! See you again!!! 押忍, André

© André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2017).

Monday, 2 January 2017

First Article for 2017... A ‘FEW NOTES’ ON HEIAN SHODAN

To start my articles/posts for 2017 I thought I'd outline a few important points from Heian Shodan Kata. I haven't ‘written out’ the entire kata in grueling detail but have, instead, listed each of the 21 movements with specific notes. I have done this to stress particular points, which I often see performed incorrectly by Shotokan karateka.

Before I begin it is probably worth mentioning that—on June 19th—this site will turn 10 years old. To be honest I never envisaged such longevity and international popularity (as of January 1st, 2017, over 1,500,000 visits). A big ありがとうございます to the thousands of supporters, around the world, of this blog.

Lastly, but certainly not least, before  I get on to the article I’d like to offer my best wishes, happiness, and good health—to everyone—for the New Year. 押忍, André.


By André Bertel

1.      Hidari sokumen hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). Note – Lower the weight at the knees, torque the body into shomen, then release to a full hanmi upon making your zenkutsu-dachi, with the front knee above the tips of your toes. A generic rule in budo karate-do: the technical maxim is ‘to the limit’. Furthermore, note the ‘heel—toe’ method (essentially ‘kakato chushin). Generally speaking, when advancing, retreating and turning, in combination with ‘shime’ and the ‘muchiken’ use of the arms and legs. Don’t forget to consciously ‘floor the sokuto’ whilst inverting the foot in the direction of the movement as much as possible

2.      Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – the generic rule of pulling and pushing from the heels in kihon and kata. Jun-zuki (Oi-zuki) is the base of this practice. Also, note ‘extension’ of the rear leg while maintaining a deep front knee, strict shomen and ‘floored sokuto’. Furthermore, note the importance of hikite in all tsuki waza: in this regards, small finger of the upturned fist higher than the thumb-side and the elbowed pinched (employing shime); also, the forearm being level/parallel to the ground, thus, making the punching distance/trajectory as short as possible.

3.      Migi gedan-barai (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – Keeping heel of the rear foot set ‘as a pivot/the jiku-ashi’ be sure to fully engage shomen when making this 180 degree turn (before springing back into hanmi).

4.      Migi kentsui tatemawashi uchi (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – take a half step back simultaneously as you pull the arm back. Likewise, simultaneously return to zenkutsu-dachi as the hammer-fist strike is completed. The trajectory is a large clockwise circle, which travels from gedan-barai, past the left ear and over the head, then down to just under the shoulder height. The arm must be only slightly bent so an optimal whipping action can be achieved.

5.      Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

6.      Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

7.      Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). Note – with jodan age uke take special care of the neck/head posture; furthermore, the uke must be large scale and robust: completing at a fist widths distance from the head. Also note and adjust the blocking arms elbow in relation to the corresponding wakibara (opening) and shoulder (raising).

8.      Hidari jodan age-uke (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi)

9.      Migi jodan age-uke (Migi zenkutsu-dachi) – KIAI. The kiai comes from the seika tanden, is short and sharp, perfectly timed with the technique (moment of kime).

10.     Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

11.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

12.     Migi gedan-barai (Migi zenkutsu-dachi).

13.     Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

14.     Hidari gedan-barai (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi). The first jun-zuki moving ura-shomen comes from gedan-barai (hanmi)—like the first four in Heian Shodan; therefore, utilizes the combination of the support leg drive and hip rotation.

15.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi). This jun-zuki, and the following, is initiated from the shomen position; accordingly, moreso focusing on the drive of the support leg and a double twist of the hips.

16.     Hidari chudan jun-zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

17.     Migi chudan jun-zuki (Migi zenkutsu-dachi) – KIAI.

18.     Hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi). Note – with Shuto chudan uke do not swing the body but, instead, keep set and snap the arms and stay in shomen for as long as possible. Twist the body side on upon completion and keep the head set throughout; that is, in the direction of the blocking arm, upright and bold. With the 270 degree turn into kokutsu dachi, again, pivot on the support foots heel and coordinate the heel, ankle knee and hip turn with the technique and turning of the head.

19.     Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi). When moving 45 degrees use the guide hand to help bring the rear hip forwards into shomen whilst loading up shuto uke. Snap back the hips upon the completion of the step; thereby, ‘making the technique with the hips’ as opposed to just the arms.

20.     Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi). The same points apply as movement 18, however, the turn is 135 degrees; that being said, this slight change can be utilized to exam ones subtle use of chikara no kyojaku, which often fluctuates/changes in relation to even the slightest changes in unsoku/ashi-hakobi.

21.     Hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).

© André Bertel. Oita, Japan (2017).