Andre Bertel 2 Day UK course............

On Saturday the 10th November 2012, Shian Andre Bertel 6th Dan from Christchurch New Zealand had arrived at Thornton Cleveleys Lancashire, to deliver the first of two days training at the YMCA Sports Centre.

The course was arranged by Sensei Michael Barr IJKA 4th Dan, from our very own dojo at Blackpool and Wyre Karate Ryu, who had been planning on what was to be expected as a sensational international course.
I felt that I would write this blog entry from my own perspective as a 1st Kyu in Shotokan Karate, rather than a summary of the weekend, to illustrate my own findings on the course, my strengths and weaknesses to enable other Karateka of a similar grade to relate to.
On arrival, registration was the first requirement of the day and once I had been booked in by fellow club member Naz at 10:30am, it was time to get into my Gi and get warmed up before the 11am start.
The sports hall was quite cool and it was clear that there was a large number of Karateka in attendance, who were keeping warm, whilst wearing fleeces over their Gi tops and some were even wearing socks.
It didn't really take me long to work out that most of the ensamble of Karateka were from mainland Europe, anyway I got into my usual routine of warming up by doing some simple stretching and having the odd drink of Lucozade to keep my energy levels topped up.

Kevin and Naz warming up at Registration!

11am had arrived, where Sensei Michael Barr had got everyone lined up and addressed the course, who then asked Sensei John wills IJKA 2nd Dan from our club to conduct a warm up.
After ten minutes we were joined by the man himself on the dojo floor, Shian Andre Bertel, who I have been following on his blog for the past few years and I have to say I was quite nervous at the prospect!
The first of many sessions that day started with Chokutzuki, where Andre almost straight away mentioned no tension, relax the shoulder and arms when punching, which was going to be the repeated message throughout the seminar.
This was then complemented by spinning through a 360 degree turn to deliver a further Chokutzuki, in order to demonstrate that a vertical spine/posture, will assist in delivering a quicker more efficient technique each and every time. Having never done this before, this is obviously something that I am going to have to practice more in order to refine all of my Karate.
When Andre does this, it looks so simple yet it is a very difficult technique to master and I wasn't the only one thankfully!
Zenkutsu dachi was the next session, which was to receive the Koshi no Kaiten (Hip rotation) treatment, which I have been trying to master during recent months. For example, when performing Gyakazuki, my hips needed to be opened more fully than I had been doing prior to executing the technique. This combined with a slightly bent back leg at this stage, was like a coiled spring about to burst into action, or as Andre put it, like a bow at full tension ready fire that deadly arrow.
One minor point, is that the bent back leg had to be bent more so downwards instead of outwards, if you get the picture?
I have to say that I was able to follow Andre very easily as he is able to put his point across clearly and in a simple way to allow everyone to understand him in order to grasp the technique.
All the above was then added to the big picture of delivering either Gyakutsuki, Kizamitsuki and Oitsuki, whist using the "three Key" elements of the weekend, which were continuously revisited.
Stance, back leg bent to allow maximum compression, hips opened to maximum to exploit a fully wound up position, back vertical head upright, shoulder and arm relaxed fully and then explode into the ultimate Gyakazuki by utilising all these techniques together in complete harmony. Did it work? You bet it did.
But as everything, I need to work on this, a lot!!
Once all of these points were added together, it was down to partner based exercises in one step Kumite to see how it works, however there was another element to look at.
Andre stated that it was common for European Karateka to be too far away from each other when performing Kumite and I have to say that he is very true with his observations, hence we went close, which is ideally an arms length away from you partner.
The distance when added to all of the previously mentioned elements would mean that you should be able to deliver the ultimate in powerful strikes, on target each and every time. As you can see, there is not point in having a great technique if you are nowhere near the target area!

To be continued..............

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