Andre Bertel confessed in a recent blogpost that his hardest Dan examination was godan. He also understand Karate as self-defense.

Andre Bertel: His “hardest” Dan Examination!

By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Everyone, who has seen or heard something about Andre Bertel, comes to the following conclusion: not much could make him lose his inner balance. He always seems to be under control over every situation. Calm and focused he masters all challenges. But such coolness does not comes for free.

The Godan Examination of Andre Bertel

In recent blog entry he confessed that his 五段 (Godan) examination was the hardest one in his career so far. This comes as a surprise. Because he has already reached the 六段 (Rokudan). Therefore, not the last grading was his hardest but the one before. This itself comes as a surprise. One would expect a constant increase in difficulty.

But why was it different in Andre Bertel´s case? What made the 五段 (Godan) examination so much more difficult for him than the previous one? The reason was Shihan Tetsuhiko Asai, his master. He announced Andre´s participation in the examination just a few minutes before it took place.

Andre Bertel´s Master: Tetsuhiko Asai

It is important to know that Andre Bertel and Tetsuhiko Asai had a special relationship. Andre trained several years under Asai Shihan as his master student. Since Tetsuhiko Asai´s death, Andre Bertel carries the legacy of his master.

Tetsuhiko Asai himself studied Shotokan at Takushoku University directly under Gichin Funakoshi and Masatoshi Nakayama. This fundamental education made him a tough cookie. He always used sparring and 護身術 (Goshin-Jutsu/Self-Defense) in seminars and daily training. Therefore, Andre was used to challenging situations. However, everyone can imagine how surprised and shocked he must had been about the announcement.

Tetsuhiko Asai and Andre Bertel training Kumite and Goshin-Jutsu/Self-Defense

His Hardest Dan Examination

On the other hand, the surprising participation in the Dan examination was not the only challenge. Quoting Hawaii Chief Instructor, Edward Fujiwara Sensei, Andre concludes:

“this was the most complex Godan examination that he [Fujiwara Sensei] had ever seen.”

Edward Fujiwara

Several reasons made Fujiwara Sensei say this. Firstly, he had to perform Gojushiho Dai and redomly selected by Shihan Asai Meikyo. In addition, his master advised hi to perform the katas Kakuyoku Shodan, Suishu, and Hachimon. Shihan Asai developed this katas. They do not belong to the 26 official Shotokan katas. Andre stated in his blog:

In sum, it was five consecutive kata for the fifth dan, kind of appropriate I guess: four of which came completely out of the blue!!! The price of being an uchideshi!!!!!!

Secondly, Andre had to demonstrate his fighting skills. Beside jiyu kumite Tetsuhiko Asai advised him to do Goshin-Jutsu. So, one can imagine the physical challenge. Therefore, we highly recommend to you to read Andre Bertel´s incredible and thrilling report about his examination.

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