Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Photo gifted to me from Hanif Jelani Robinson of Orlando, Florida (USA).
Kihon-geiko: the beginning, end and full circle of Karate-Do.
Fundamentally speaking, traditional karate-do functions to progressively acquire “ever more control over one’s actions”. It is not that “every technique or movement is something you can ‘directly use’—in a self-defence scenario”—clearly that is a ridiculous notion; however, ‘collectively speaking’ (in the technical sense), via increased control, “…all techniques do indeed contribute to an increased capacity to defend oneself”. The late Shuseki-Shihan of the JKA (Japan Karate Association), Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, emphasised this revealing point when he stated that “karate-do masters all bodily actions”. What he was meaning is that `by mastering all types of movements, and grooving the optimal ways to move into our sub-consciousness, we will respond to any given situation appropriately`.  This transcends any `style’. Unambiguously, if this `technical level’ is achieved, inevitably the ultimately trained martial artist will be produced.

Movement 44 my tokui-gata: Gojushiho Dai.
True karate-do is budo, not gymnastics, nor a game of points: The techniques of traditional karate-do have never been about accumulating points or `merely appearing to be strong’; rather, they are all about achieving ichigeki-hissatsu (the capacity to `finish an adversary with a single blow’). Consequently, this means that, in the technical sense “…the body must be controlled, as much as possible, to heighten one’s chances of achieving `ippon-waza’”. Naturally instructors have differing methods for developing this acute level of control (via their self-training and, indeed, when they instruct classes). Today I’d briefly like to share my generic approach/training methodology, which underpins my practice of karate-do. It is what I’ve dubbed ‘A-E training’ and is based on ‘everything being broken down into five distinct parts’; furthermore, it coincidentally (and amusingly) relates to the acronym `AE’ (Accident and Emergency). Needless to say, this is the hospital department you should be aiming to send an attacker (or attackers), should you need to use your karate in self-defence.

What is `A-E training’? `A-E Training’ is quite simply breaking down all karate techniques into five segments or parts. These are as follows: A. Pre-movement; B. Initiation/start of movement; C. Mid-movement; D. Impact point (target penetration); and E. Completion of movement (a decisive return to stillness). Accordingly, this practice forms a full circle, from inaction returning to inaction: with the technique existing `in the middle’. In this way, it addresses ‘not telegraphing’ your movement; the order of joints/muscles used in your action; the complete trajectory of your technique; the point of impact; and the follow through ‘to completion’, which intrinsically pertains to ‘balance’ and, ultimately, `recovery’. Of course, you could say that `A-E training’ also addresses other areas, and it certainly can; all the same, from my personal experience, the aforementioned technical aspects ‘are best optimised through this form of practice’. As I always say to my students in New Zealand, and around the world, “don’t listen to me, try for your selves”.
Enpi kata: Migi jodan age-zuki.

Further practice – utilising `A-E training’: On the sheer `physicality’ front, acceleration/deceleration from `A-B’, `B-C’, `C-D’ and `D-E’ can be studied. For example, full-speed then freeze on the four points following `A’ (the pre-movement position). It is worth mentioning here “…that one in theory could make this `10 part practice’ (i.e.  `A-J training’)”; however, I’ve generally found that beyond ‘five-part-practice’ tends to be unproductive. By and large, this can be best be found when practising with explosiveness (accordingly this is because the range of motion is too short when one exceeds `the three active stages’ of karate techniques; that is, ‘B to D’); hence, beyond `A-E training’ I prefer to deconstruct the drill from A-D, A-C, A-B, then utilise `fluid’ practice.

`A-E training' with jiyu kumite no kihon.
Yet… further practice utilising `A-E training’: I won’t discuss this too much in depth; however, it involves applying each `active stage’ against a makiwara, sandbag and so forth. In this way we can drill techniques to be effective at varying ranges; moreover, subconsciously understand their strengths and shortcomings depending on timing, and maai (meeting distances).

The late and great JKA Shuseki-Shihan, Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei.
On the whole, and at the very least, I hope this article has offered some food for thought; moreover, that is goes beyond the realms of your thoughts and leads to the physical improvement of your karate. All the best, André.

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014). 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Light training: a way to proactively recover from injury

Over the last week I have had to train lightly in order to recover from my injury. In saying that (and in line with my last article `Turning negatives into positives’: http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2014/07/turning-negatives-into-positives.html), I’d like to emphasise that “…an extended period of light training can periodically be highly beneficial”. Furthermore, light training is not necessarily `easy training’! On the contrary, it can still be made `very difficult’. For example, light training can be more endurance focused i.e. – distance or uphill jogging as opposed to doing wind sprints; isometric based exercises as opposed to doing plyometrics, etcetera. Needless to say, light training is probably the best way to acutely concentrate on exact form (the “A’s, B’s and C’s” of every movement in karate-do) without `being distracted’ by speed and power.

Light training doesn’t automatically mean `easy training’: By and large, when we try sitting in a proper neko ashi dachi for ten minutes each side our comprehension of `light training’ becomes a little different… Of course, this is just one example. I guess my point here is that “…no matter what condition we are in, we can still practice karate-do”. All we ever need is: (a) the will to practice; (b) the determination to continue; (c) common sense (especially pertaining ‘to not injuring ourselves’ or, like in my present situation, doing things that make existing ailments get worse); and (d) perhaps a little creativity (in formulating a self-appropriate  training regime, drills and/or exercises) to achieve this.

One more thing, which I have failed to add is, “the need to have good communication with your Sensei and/or training partners”. Essentially, this relates to being able to participate in group trainings without doing anything harmful to your body. This also requires self-discipline… Ironically, “the first thing that most karateka want to do—is `what they are not supposed to/should not do’”! For example, if they have a strained hamstring the first thing they want to do is kick jodan; if they have a broken wrist, the first thing they want to do is punch the makiwara; and so forth… I assume that this phenomenon is probably human nature `with a light echo of Looney Tunes playing in the background’.

Anyway, today after eight days of being injured, including my worst Unsu/kata ever in a tournament last Saturday (due to being in a lot of pain and literally being unable to move) I finally trained a little more freely this evening. I could actually kick with full range of motion and did not need to tense-up/shorten my movements: to protect my injury. Step-by-step! I would like to wrap up by thanking everyone for their support. I am very sorry to Nakamura Shihan and JKA Kumamoto that I performed so poorly in the kata (at the JKA Kyushu Championship), but I promise to make up for it. Lesson learned for overtraining in the week prior to the tournament.

That being said, “light training” has helped me to recover, whilst physically pushing me in other ways. All the best from Kumamoto, Japan. OSU, André.

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2014). 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Turning negatives into positives!

I competed in the JKA Kyushu Senior Karate-Do Championships this weekend. However, I was unable to perform well, actually I bombed out, as I was in too much pain from my recurring spinal injury. The bad timing of this recurring injury really is an understatement! On the morning of the tournament (and three days prior) I could barely walk, which now only happens every few years. Consequently, it was truly the worst performance of Unsu kata I have ever done in a tournament... My back was locked tight, my movements short (from the pain) and all muscles contracted (to self-protect / not over extend).

Why am I posting this? Well basically speaking, besides the suffering, I think it was a great experience! I guess, a kind of “trophy” in my Karate-Do life for “performing a kata so badly”… Yes, it was truly that bad! Nonetheless, and as just alluded to, I learned some great lessons! I'd like to share the three main ones with you today.

 Lesson One: When my back injury flares up don’t use Unsu (even if told to)! :-)

Lesson Two: I still won 3rd Place.., so, as I have always professed—since starting this site—(and somewhat contradicting `lesson one'/the first statement) “just do `whatever' when you enter competitions”. In this way, you develop as a martial artist `from competing' as opposed to the often short-lived gains of shiai.

Lesson Three: I have learned more about myself from this championship (a long term gain). Before, `performing such a bad Unsu would really disturb me’… Now, I can turn such an experience into a positive learning opportunity. What I am trying to say here is that "if you ever have a bad day, please `think of this post'"... Think of André Bertel bombing out with his Unsu. Smile, work around any problems and keep training! Always remember that Karate-Do is LIFETIME BUDO, and both failures and success are natural (and indeed, `imperative' for long-term development) 

I’d like to wrap up by saying that, “I thoroughly believe that, even if I was not suffering, I still would have gained third place in this tournament”.  Overall, there are no excuses in karate-do, only training and moving forward from the experience of this training. Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014).

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A reverse look at kihon-centric karate: the karate-do of contemporary Japan

Kihon training: the beginning and end of Karate-Do.
One of the common criticisms of modern day Japanese karate, by Western exponents, is the “high level focus on kihon”—and purported lack of `street effective applications’ (especially pertaining to the kata). In response to this, many Western karateka have put a huge amount of effort into developing oyo (applications) and, in some cases, have become dedicated to this aspect of karate. Today I’d like to offer my opinion on `kihon centric karate’, which essentially is that “the extreme focus on kihon—in contemporary traditional Japanese karatedo—is a major improvement on the karate of the past”. Furthermore, that it is consistent with the original (traditional) objective of karate techniques: ichigeki-hissatsu…to develop the capacity ‘to finish an attacker with a single blow’.   

Before I go on, I’d like to stress that I also practice and teach the applications of kata; what is more, I wholeheartedly emphasise that “…not `physically and instinctively understanding’ effective oyo turns kata into what I dub “TTW’s” (`Training-Time-Wasters’)”. Nevertheless, I believe that KIHON is the first and fore-most priority in karate training, without which any `effective application of karate’ will very limited—“especially in the multidimensional blur of a violent encounter”.  Put another way, when someone starts `smashing into you relentlessly’, all the fancy stuff goes out the window; hence, kihon becomes the most essential `technical point’ in determining one’s self-defence capabilities.
Hidari chudan gyaku-zuki.
Let’s take a trip back to the time `before kihon’, where it is alleged that training was exclusively kata. Suddenly Funakoshi Gichin Sensei introduced kihon, simple kata (namely, then three Taikyoku and Ten no kata), and very simple yakusoku-kumite (prearranged sparring). He even reduced the number of kata down to 15 (in addition to the aforementioned four that he, and/or his son developed). While it is regularly argued that Funakoshi Sensei was making karate into a `less dangerous’ martial art (from what he learned in Okinawa), I do not believe that this provides a full picture. Certainly, on some levels, this idea has some truth in it; however, I think you will agree that ‘nothing in life is black and white’. Accordingly, I believe that he: (a) improved karate for his `introduction’ of it on mainland Japan; (b) made karate more accessible for a wider spectrum of society—karate as a ‘do’ form; and (c) also made karate ‘more combat effective’ based on traditional concepts… This `killing of three birds with one stone’ was achieved via his introduction of (and extreme emphasis on) kihon training.

My rationale for believing this does not need to be explained, insofar as making karate `more accessible to everyone’ and `putting safety catches’ on techniques (this is all very well documented online and, of course, in numerous publications); that being said, his increasing of karate’s combat effectiveness obviously does. 
Essentially, Funakoshi Sensei realised that karate cannot compete with Judo in a grappling situation, nor was it like boxing… He did not believe in karate `for fighting’, and only believed it should ever be used `when no other option was available’. From these ideas, which can be found throughout his writing, it is clear that the karate-do of Funakoshi Sensei was not “a watered down beast”… On the contrary, he wanted his students to become more effective in a life or death self-defence scenario. His answer was to practice `the most effective techniques, over-and-over again`… KIHON TRAINING WAS BORN.
Morooka Takafumi San (JKA 4th Dan) performing his `budo karate' Sochin kata.  
Funakoshi Sensei was a clever man—a school teacher and deeply inquisitive martial artist; consequently, he conjured up pedagogically sound methodologies that could extensively advance karate as a martial art. Firstly, that “…by repetition, key points become more instinctive”; thus, quicker technical progression is imminent. Secondly, that training kihon increases ones ‘physicality’ to execute techniques. And thirdly, from these previous two points, one can more efficiently apply the oyo-jutsu embedded in the kata.
Another phenomenon also occurred, which led to kihon-centric training in contemporary karate practice… Via `kihon-centrism’ Funakoshi Sensei saw an unprecedented rise of technical skill amongst his students in Tokyo. This new breed of karateka “…was `physically and technically exceeding anyone’ he had ever encountered’’. By and large, his `kihon practice methodology was verified as being a superior training method’. Further highlighting this point, the `kihon curriculum’ of Funakoshi Sensei was soon `being mimicked’ by all of the other ryuha and kaiha (schools/styles of karate). This point should not be overlooked, as it was well before the existence of competition karate.
On the whole, I’d like to emphasise that understanding the oyo of kata is absolutely essential; however, kihon is even more essential. Analogically speaking, you can think of kata as conventional power, and kihon as atomic power. I will leave you with this thought. Osu, André. 
© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014).


Monday, 30 June 2014

Morgan Dilks Sensei visits Aso-shi, Kumamoto, Japan.

This week my good friend Morgan Dilks Sensei and his family came to visit, and practice karate-do, here in Aso-shi (after training with his teacher, Fukamizu Kennichi Shihan in Takanabe, Miyazaki). Morgan is currently living in Singapore, for his work, but will be moving back to Palmerston North (New Zealand) later this year.

The conclusion of movement 44 in Unsu kata. 
We had an absolutely wonderful time catching up and had an excellent three hours of advanced karate-do practice on Sunday morning. Morgan taught the first part of the session focusing on turns; namely, 270 degrees (from zenkutsu-dachi into zenkutsu-dachi (shomen/zenmi and hanmi), kokutsu-dachi and kiba-dachi. He also went through oi-zuki/jun-zuki and chudan shuto-uke (zenshin)—primarily focusing on timing. Excellent practice and a great sign of things to come: especially for karateka back in `Palmy’. I then took over and went through the full oyo-jutsu (applications) of Gojushiho-Sho kata, then covered Unsu in depth, again also, with its respective oyo. We wrapped up with individual renditions of Unsu working on timing for effective technique/practical application.

Here are some of the previous links, on this site, with Morgan Sensei:
After training...Morgan Sensei outside Aso-shi Budojo, Kumamoto, Japan.

Via Morgan Sensei, I trained with his instructor -- Fukamizu Shihan -- in 2010: http://andrebertel.blogspot.jp/2010/02/karate-practice-in-miyazaki.html

Away from karate-do, and as always, Mizuho and I had a really fantastic time hanging out with Morgan, Yuko and the girls. The only question is “where in the world will we catch up next time?” I'd like to wrap up by saying that I am deeply honoured to be a friend of Morgan, Yuko and their children. Thank you all for coming to visit us in Aso-shi. Osu, André.
Morgan Sensei will `fly back' to Palmerston North later this year.
 © André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2014).

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Latest training regime marks the seventh anniversary of this site

Here is my latest karate-do self-practice routine, which I have been following since early last week. I guess it is not particularly outstanding in any way, just merely about `getting stuck in’ and attempting to capitalise on self-analysis. Bolstering this, of course, is the phenomenal tuition of Nakamura Masamitsu Shihan, whose technical advice is absolutely invaluable. Before I outline my latest self-training regime, it is probably also worth mentioning that today marks the seventh anniversary of this blog! Osu, André.
KIHON: This month, in my kihon training (besides seiken choku-zuki, gyaku-zuki, mae-geri, and shuto yokomawashi uchi) I am focusing on ido-kihon; namely the JKA (Japan Karate Association) syllabus techniques. Normally, I tend to be more diverse and simplistic in my self-practice of kihon; nonetheless, I periodically still go through the `examination kihon’. That being said, I do not believe in merely doing laps up and down the dojo. Every practice, I focus on a core theme i.e. – kokyu (breathing), a specific aspect of my unsoku (leg movements/footwork) and so on. Anyway, here is my `flexible’ base plan…
Ido kihon: (1) Either `Chudan jun-zuki’, `Sanbon ren-zuki or ‘Kizami-zuki kara sanbon ren-zuki’; (2) Either ‘Jodan age-uke kara chudan soto-uke kara chudan gyaku-zuki’ or `Ippo sagatte Jodan age-uke kara mawashi-geri, yoko-uraken soshite chudan jun-zuki; (3) `Chudan soto-uke kara yori-ashi yoko enpi (kiba-dachi), yoko uraken soshite chudan gyaku-zuki’; (4) Chudan uchi-uke (kokutsu-dachi) kara kizamiz-zuki soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (5) Ippo sagatte gedan barai kara chudan jun-zuki soshite chudan jun-zuki; (6) Either ‘Chudan shuto-uke (kokutsu-dachi) kara nukite’ or ‘Chudan shuto-uke (kokutsu-dachi) kara kizami mae-geri soshite nukite; (7) Either ‘Mae-geri kara chudan jun-zuki’, ‘Ren-geri’ or Mae-geri kara yoko-kekomi soshite chudan gyaku-zuki; (8) `Yoko-keage ashi o kaete yoko-kekomi (kiba-dachi); and (9) Either Mawashi-geri kara gyaku-zuki’ or mae-geri kara yoko-kekomi, mawashi-geri soshite chudan gyaku-zuki’.
 ·         Repetitions: At present I am doing quite low repetitions compared to normal Each ido-kihon waza I merely perform 10 times slowly, then 10 times with maximum effort. If unsatisfied, I simply do another set (another 10 slow, then with everything I’ve got). In sum, my kihon training at present is all about quality rather than quantity, and really working on `precision coupled with explosiveness’ in a systematic way.
KUMITE: At present, Nakamura Shihan has us going through all of the forms of standard Nihon Karate Kyokai kumite (Gohon kumite, Kihon ippon kumite, Jiyu ippon kumite and Jiyu kumite) but occasionally he gives us a variation; for example, jiyu ippon kumite—then immediately after the counterattack—a quick moment of jiyu kumite. In my self-training, besides reviewing what we are doing in the group practices, I am working a lot on my deai-waza; furthermore, reviewing the oyo (applications) of Gojushiho Dai kata.
KATA: Quite simply my kata practice is divided into three sections: shitei, sentei and tokui-gata, as follows…
 (A) Shitei-gata: Heian Shodan, Heian Nidan, Heian Sandan, Heian Yondan, Heian Godan and Tekki Shodan; (B) Sentei-gata: Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Enpi and Jion; and (C) Tokui-gata: GOJUSHIHO DAI.
·         Repetitions: Unlike kihon I am tending to do kata `until failure’ i.e. – until I can no longer continue. Of course, this depends on my daily condition and the environment each day. To wrap up the kata portion of my training, I always end with a treat i.e. – “blast out a kata not from my regime” (either another jiyu-gata or a `non-syllabus’ kata). For me, this final kata really strips me of all my energy, and ends the session with a bang.
アンドレ バーテル
© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014).

Saturday, 14 June 2014

五十四歩大 (Gojushiho Dai)

As you will know, I am not a person to chop and change (unless I have an important enough reason to do so). Recently, that has been the case, and if necessary I will change again… What I am talking about here is my tokui-gata (specialised formal exercise) which, since returning to Japan last August, has now changed three times! I started off working with Nijushiho (二十四歩), which I used for my JKA (日本空手協会/Japan Karate Association) Godan shinsa; then switched to my old favourite, Unsu (雲手). Finally, following last Friday’s training, I was `technically encouraged’ to trade in Unsu for Gojushiho-Dai (五十四歩大).

So why the change? Well, basically because of the way I see kata in the bigger picture of karate training; that is, what I believe the kata are for. Essentially, I believe that kata are training exercises for technically increasing our martial arts/self-defence prowess. Consequently, the selection of tokui-gata/jiyu-gata should be based on the kata that best achieves this target. Needless to say, this must be supported by: (a) the base/foundation of kihon; (b) the shitei-gata (Heian and Tekki); (c) the sentei-gata (Bassaidai, Kankudai, Enpi and Jion); (d) the various forms of kumite; and (d) impact training (i.e. – makiwara training etc.).  

Some more specifics about my change to Gojushiho Dai… Like Nijushiho, I found that Unsu has many useful elements; nonetheless, it has not pushed me to develop in the way that I’m physically seeking at present (and technically require). Gojushiho Dai, on the other hand, addresses a number of skill sets/combative principles that I’m envisaging to further refine (and literally need to if I wish to maximise my martial arts ability). In particular, I’m looking more closely at a higher level of hand/foot timing for greater effectiveness; refined `wave-like transitions’ of power; and, on the `technical front’, the neck based throws/attacks, which without a doubt “best characterise” both Gojushiho Dai and Gojushiho Sho (coming from the original Useishi / Gojushiho of Okinawa). Again, this returns us to the traditional budo karate adage that “…kihon, kata and kumite are indeed one”. By and large, kihon and kumite-wise, the aforementioned points in my karate need to be further refined and, more pertinently, there are subtle deficits that need to be addressed.

Background: A little about Gojushiho-dai… With a command count of 67, Gojushiho Dai is the longest kata in standard Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do: as established by the Kyokai. Whilst Gojushiho Sho more closely resembles the original Okinawan form, and is more commonly seen in exams and tournaments, Gojushiho Dai is widely regarded as being more technically challenging. It is rumoured that Funakoshi Gichin’s Sensei’s son, Funakoshi Yoshitaka (Gigo) Sensei “…developed both the Dai and Sho versions we have today—from Shito-Ryu’s Gojushiho” (via Mabuni Kenwa Sensei); however, there is also a belief that “the Dai rendition came from our late Chief Instructor, Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei”. An interesting and fun piece of trivia, which is often told to Shotokan karateka when learning this kata, is that the gedan ippon nukite in Gojushiho Dai is “…imitating a woodpecker on a tree trunk looking for worms”. Garden insects aside, Gojushiho Dai is indeed a masterpiece, like a long story, that has many technically sophisticated gems within it; nevertheless, it tends to be more appreciated by high level karate-do experts: as opposed to `most anyone else’. 

Conclusion: It may sound unusual but I’d like to wrap up by saying that “my switch to Gojushiho Dai is something that training itself has directed me to do”. Several subtle points in this kata have `called out to me’—via my kihon and kumite practice (namely, technical deficits that need my immediate attention—if I’m to really progress from now). It goes without saying that `self-honesty’ is an essential skill in all endeavours: perhaps best reflected by ‘the meaning of 54’ in the name `Gojushiho’? Taken as a whole, this elucidates a critical point in traditional budo karate… “The Art does not dictate the martial art; rather, it is the Martial Art that shapes the art”. Indeed, this point is worthy of deep introspect amongst all contemporary Karate-Do practitioners.  Kindest regards and all the very best from Kumamoto, Japan. Osu, André.

© André Bertel.  Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014).

Monday, 9 June 2014

Practice is Karate-Do

In the case of all physical disciplines, of course including karate-do, the basis for development—physically, technically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually—derives from actual practice.

Unambiguously, theory and ‘thinking about karate’, whilst important, is counterproductive when it “takes precedence over actual training”. In all cases, thinking is secondary to training/practice. To restate what I said in my opening sentence: “all of the non-physical benefits of karate-do practice, and budo training in general, come from doing the hard yards in the dojo”.

This is an area where Japanese karateka, generally speaking, are far superior to their Western counterparts. Fundamentally, they train and just get on with it. Contrastingly, Westerners tend to over-theorize, come up with many creative answers (especially in the case of kata applications) and, in many cases, even significantly change techniques, kata, drills etcetera.

Like it or not, this to me is the loss of the traditional Japanese budo karate, which keeps things very simple and `effective in the real world’… It is this very `simplicity’ that causes things to become far more difficult. What I mean is that “simple things require much more depth; and therefore, much-much more practice”. From this perspective it is easy to see why the `creative theoretical path’ is a much easier one.

By the way, the photos from this post are from my practice of Gojushiho Dai kata today. This follows some high level advice from Nakamura Masamitsu Shihan, not pertaining to this kata; nevertheless, resulting in my training of it (here, broken down into kihon and also at formal dojo keiko).  Such advice only comes when we put ourselves on the line physically… Sweat, blisters, calluses and bruising are prerequisites. Subsequently, we grow to understand ourselves better, our strengths, limitations and kokoro.  

Just some food for thought, Osu.

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto-ken. Japan (2014).

Monday, 26 May 2014

Unsu Kata: A generic outline

As you may well know from earlier posts, I recently switched back to Unsu (雲手) as my tokui-gata. This occurred for a variety of reasons, but the most predominant of these were: (a) advice from Nakamura Masamitsu Shihan; and (b) directly pertaining to the first point... that “…the techniques/applications of Unsu really suit my small frame: in a self-defence context”. Hence, today I thought I’d provide a broad outline of each technique in Unsu kata.

Whilst this, by no means, completely describes each of the movements featured in Unsu, it does clearly establish `what is completed in each count’ (and how each action in the kata is 'formally labelled' in Japanese, including the tachikata or stances).
All the very best from somewhere over the North Pacific, André.


REI: (Musubi dachi).

YOI: Ryoken taisoku namaeshita (Heisoku-dachi).

1.      Ryoteisho agomae kara ryoseiryuto ryokatayoko (Heisoku dachi).

2.      Ryokeito chudan haneageuke (Migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi).

3.      Migi gedan ippon nukite (Migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi).

4.      Hidari ashi mae neko ashi dachi.

5.      Hidari gedan ippon nukite (Hidari ashi mae neko ashi dachi).

6.      Migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi.

7.      Migi gedan ippon nukite (Migi ashi mae neko ashi dachi).

8.      Hidari tateshuto chudan uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo dachi).

9.      Migi chudan gyaku zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

10.  Migi tateshuto chudan uke (Migi ashi mae fudo dachi).

11.  Hidari chudan gyaku zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

12.  Hidari tateshuto chudan uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo dachi).

13.  Migi chudan gyaku zuki (Hidari zenkutsu-dachi).

14.  Migi tateshuto chudan uke (Migi ashi mae fudo dachi).

15.  Hidari chudan gyaku zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

16.  Hidari chudan mawashi geri (Migi naname mae fuse).

17.  Migi chudan mawashi geri (Hidari naname mae fuse).

18.  Ryoseiryuto ryokata yoko (Kiba dachi).

19.  Hidari keito chudan kakeuke doji ni migi teisho koho gedanuke (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

20.  Migi keito chudan kakeuke doji ni hidari teisho koho gedanuke (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

21.  Hidari haito jodan sotomawashi uchi (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

22.  Hidari jodan mae keage (Migi ashi dachi).

23.  Migi jodan soto uke (Migi ashi dachi).

24.  Saken chudan zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

25.  Migi haito jodan sotomawashi uchi (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

26.  Migi jodan mae keage (Hidari ashi dachi).

27.  Hidari jodan soto uke (Hidari ashi dachi).

28.  Uken chudan zuki (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

29.  Ryoken taisoku namaeshita kamae (Heisoku-dachi).

30.  Migite jodan kensei doji ni hidarite gedan kamae.

31.  Uken gedan zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

32.  Saken gedan ukezuki (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

33.  Uken gedan ukezuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

34.  Hidari tateshuto chudan uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo dachi).

35.  Migi teisho hidari teisho uchi (Hidari zenkutsu dachi).

36.  Migi kakato gedan kekomi (Hidari ashi dachi). – KIAI

37.  Saken chudan zuki.

38.  Uken chudan zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi).

39.  Migi sokumen migi gedan barai (Kiba dachi).

40.  Hidari haito hidari sokumen jodan yoko uke (Kiba dachi).

41.  Hidari shuto sokumen gedan barai (Kiba dachi)

42.  Migi haito hidari sokumen jodan yoko uke (Kiba dachi).

43.  Saken migi sokumen chudanzuki (Kiba dachi).

44.  Hidari tateshuto chudan uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo dachi) kara migi chudan mikazuki geri sasho ate (Hidari ashi dachi) soshite hidari kakato ushiro kekomi (Migi ashi zenkutsu—udetate).

45.  Hidari tekubi makiotoshi doji ni migi teisho migikatamae kara hidari teisho gedanzuki doji ni migi teisho jodanzuki (Hidari ashi mae ashi mae sanchin dachi).

46.  Migi tekubi makiotoshi doji ni hidari teisho hidarikatamae kara migi teisho gedanzuki doji ni hidari teisho jodanzuki (Migi ashi mae ashi mae sanchin dachi).

47.  Hidari jodan age uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo dachi).

48.  Migi chudan gyaku zuki (Hidari zenkutsu dachi). – KIAI

NAORE: Ryoken taisoku namaeshita (Heisoku-dachi).

REI: (Musubi dachi).
 © André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2014).