sensei andre bertel, UK seminar nov 2012

sensei bertel is the international instructor with the ijka in chistchurch, and is well-known for his teaching around the world as well as in japan; a student of the late sensei asai, he passes on the distinctive asai-ha karate through seminars around the world. when debbie and i were on holiday in new zealand earlier in 2012, i was lucky enough to train with sensei bertel in christchurch, and was keen to train with him again.

the seminar was organised and hosted by michael barr, of the poulton IJKA club, and consisted of two days training with sensei bertel that covered fundamental concepts of shotokan karate and aspects of karate developed by sensei asai, as well as approaches to kumite and the opportunity to learn the kata seiryu, not considered part of the shotokan canon. the seminar included social time with sensei bertel, his wife, and the other attendees, many of whom had travelled from europe for the seminar, and was great fun as well as being extremely educational.

technical aspects

sensei bertel was keen to impart his perspective on the way karate is often practised in europe, with regards to the generation of power. this revolved around fundamental principles of rotation, compression, and relaxation. alongside a variety of exercises that focussed on these fundamentals, going right back to the knee positioning in zenkutsu-dachi, there was a strong focus on posture. there were some neat drills for tai sabaki, an unexpected subtlety of mae geri, some hard work moving into and out of seiza, and the infamous crab takedown of kani basami.

social aspects

the demographic of the course was generally high-grade, with a few kyu grades also in attendance from the poulton clubs. i was fortunate to meet karateka from denmark, germany, switzerland, the basque country, as well as some from down the road in richmond; many had trained with sensei bertel previously in germany. as well as being international, gender-, age-, and grade-mixed, a number of different karate associations were represented and it was great to have the opportunity to mix with that crowd. and of course, a little friendly rivalry is never a bad thing!


the seminar was very enjoyable, and i am looking forward to working on the fundamentals for myself and also for the club. one point that was raised in discussion with sensei bertel was the way that it is possible to have many years of karate training without being exposed to different ideas and philosophies about karate training, and there is a danger of falling into stagnation without intending to or even realising. shihan bertel is exactly one such instructor to not only inspire greater effort, but to bring a great deal of expertise and wisdom to bear on how you should be training, and why. lessons have been learned, and will hopefully be passed on too. you have been warned!

-neil jerome, 2012

sensei bertel's blog is here
the IJKA poulton blog is here
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