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Karate as Self-defense: Andre Bertel’s Shotokan

The pictures shows Andre Bertel doing a mae geri.

Andre Bertel has a very elegant style of karate. However, for him his karate focus not on aesthetics but on his self-defense. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

We admit: We like Andre Bertel´s style of Karate. His refreshing understanding of Shotokan Karate as self-defense and its application to real fighting situations deserve more attention.

Real Fights are Different than Shobu Ippon

While ShōbuIppon (勝負一本) is the first step in order to check once own fighting ability. The rules of this type of competition differ extremely from a street fight, a bar brawl, or if somebody becomes molested. Therefore, the modus operandi must be different in self-defense. Andre is a great example how to alter your training to become more realistic in training Karate as self-defense.

In the following Interview with Andre Bertel conducted by Oliver Schömburg, you can find a detailed description of Andres approach.

Interview with Andre Bertel about his Karate

Andre Bertel was Educated by Tetsuhiko Asai

Under the guidance of the late Shihan Tetsuhiko Asai Andre Bertel developed a versatile and very dynamic way of fighting. Above all, his Shotokan style comes close to the origins of Karate. In Okinawa, the developers of Karate understood it as a martial art for the defense in real-life fighting situations. Choki Motobu, an Okinawa Karate Master and contemporary of Gichin Funakoshi, said:

“Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense.”

Such an attitude led to a training regime that always focused on the defensive value of Karate. Until today, Okinawa Karate distinguishes itself through a variety of short-range techniques, low kicks, and an emphasis on kote kitae (toughening of hands and bones). Morio Higaonna, who carries on the Goju-Ryu tradition, depicts this qualities of Okinawa Karate.

Sensei Tatsuya Naka visited an trained together with Morio Higaonna Sensei. The difference of the styles become immediately visible.

Karate as Self-Defense instead of Bunkai

From our point of view, Andres Karate follows this tradition. So, he utilizes the full variety of techniques that one can find in the 26 Shotokan Kata. One should not confuse this approach with Bunkai, which is a very formal application of Kata. Instead of training them within Kata, he learnt from Shihan Asai how to train them in a free and conflict-like way. Hence, the Kata is executed in a more realistic situation and less formalized.

If you have the chance to visit a seminar with Andre Bertel, don´t miss it. Oss!