Andre Bertel, Tetsuhiko Asai Videos (mainly)

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Part I: Sticking Your Neck Out


Apologies for not posting so much recently as we have been busy trying to sort out things for the future and we have been practicing Nijushiho and Gojushiho-Dai. I would like to write up a technical report on this later, but frankly at shodan I am not competent to comment on either of these kata really. I can write up how Ibusuki Sensei teaches them, but I am sure this will cause trouble!


Also we are very excited about Oleg Larionov (online name is Oleg Takumi)* who is coming on Sunday to film Ibusuki Sensei for posterity. Yuko and I have maintained a great friendship with Oleg over the years and we were very complemented that he wanted to interview Ibusuki Sensei for the record. As one of or the only (I can't verify this, so I won't stick my neck out) student of Funakoshi Sensei still teaching Karate, this man, we think, is an living piece of Karate history.


OK this blog is going to be in two parts. In this Part I: Sticking Your Neck Out... I will stick my neck out and relay some of Ibusuki's commentary on Karate. In Part II: Not Sticking Your Neck Out, I will talk about a simple revelation I had that is really helping me recover my form. But I'm so thick, and it's so obvious, you've probably guessed what it is anyway.

So this entry is all about sticking your neck out, and the next one is about doing the opposite. And what the hell, eh? When I see moronic statements like "Today I saw true oi-zuki." think these people need to get out more often!

Returning to Ibusuki Sensei, his opinions on Karate are bound to stir the pot and I am sure that there are many who won't welcome his perspective. Harry must be laughing his way all through the miserable northern winter though ;-).

In a nutshell Ibusuki Sensei feels that the JKA really destroyed Funakoshi Sensei's Shotokan Karate when it introduced competition.

Don't misunderstand, Ibusuki Sensei was personally retaught the Nakayama Sensei "instant orthodox" Kata and personally great respected Nakayama Sensei. But it ain't what Ibusuki Sensei learned!
However, Shotokan needed a brand, and identity, and standardization, so Nakayama Sensei basically stuffed what was a very different Shotokan into a rigid Japanese box.

Deforming Kata to fit Nakayama Sensei's ideas of what Japanese orthodox Karate should be, including the nonsense of having to end up in the same place is fine as a training tool for Ibusuki Sensei.

But he believes that much modern Karate is a very deformed and stunted version of the original art; that Shotokan Karate is really a different beast. In fact, Ibusuki Sensei finds modern Karate ridiculously oversimplified.
Main issues:
- The cult of oi-zuki and maegeri as ippon attacks. Karate is a fluid art, with many different attacks from different angles
- The cult of ichigeki-hisatsu: this is particularly wrong because keeping at multiple techniques was of primary importance. Without strong ippon waza, Karate is ineffective. However it is a distortion to teach the idea of ichigeki-hisatsu in a modern context. In fact, when it comes to using Karate in a modern context, technique should be mastered so as to cause the minimum effective damage.
- The cult of extreme hanmi and shomen that was introduced as a training tool by the JKA, but has been turned into some cult-like fetish that totally alien to original Karate...

...I myself have seen a picture of a supposedly perfect deep oi-zuki with hips NOT in shomen, that is advertised by some as a "true" oi-zuki. What is this, North Korea or something?!

But some of these are straw men easy to shoot down out of context, so I'll try to explain in more detail in a different post.

To escape from the rigid ideas of younger Japanese....this is why Ibusuki Sensei was so happy to see Andre Bertel Sensei back earlier this year. Ibusuki Sensei considered Asai Sensei as the most talented and innovative Karateka of his generation, and probably of post-War Shotokan. He said to me last week:

"I was very disappointed by the differences that emerged in Asai Sensei's JKA. Frankly, most people thought that Mr. Matsuno's JKA would win, because all the really talented Karateka were with Asai Sensei, while the other side were very good, but lacked that genius element."

So when Andre Bertel Sensei started running around showing Asai Sensei's techniques, it was like a breath of fresh air for Ibusuki Sensei (and certainly for Yuko and I).

OK, I have to get back to work, so the next installment will be a very different kind of beast...soemthing like a tortoise, I predict.
Yoroshiku, Paul.

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