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shoshinjacky's picture
Practical karate/dojo in Berlin

Hello everyone,

I am looking for practical karate groups in Berlin or a dojo, where there are people, who have similar knowledge backgrounds and training goals. I am currently residing in Berlin, Germany and watched several videos and books from Iain Abernethy, Patrick McCarthy, Kris Wilder and translations of books of the old masters e.g. Mabuni Kenwa by Mario McKenna. Simply put, I like to avoid the form over function approach and find like-minded people to train with.

Alternatively I stay in my current dojo and continue reading and practicing by myself to learn more about practical karate or how I would also describe it "close range traditional karate". If I stay I would continue advancing in rank in the organisation, hoping someday I have more knowledge and confidence to try to talk my current fellow karateka and even to my sensei about things I found out in books and on the internet (like the articles from Iain Abernethy). At least in this way I would learn more kata and associated bunkai, although that kind of bunkai to this date was often blocking long range tsuki or maegeri. I did not experience systematic kata training similar how Iain Abernethy describes it in his work "An Introduction to Applied Karate" in which one goes beyond bunkai and alter the applications (I think it was called henka) and not mention the step after that, namely kata-based sparring.

One important detail, which I also like to mention: I am only a green belt in my current style (Shito Ryu), had a brown belt in Goju Ryu some years ago, before I moved to Berlin, I am kind of not a very self confident person and most importantly I am a family father. So I have multiple things going around and reasons to spend my little free training time wisely. According to the shuhari principle from a general view I would definitely put myself in the "shu" phase of shuhari (as I am not a black belt), in which I go to training, do as my sensei told and try to advance in rank. But I like to copy or "shu" other things than I currently do, so to speak, which is mostly just learning the sequence of many different kata (as Shito Ryu is the style with the most kata in any karate style). I remember there are quotes of Gichin Funakoshi and even Mabuni Kenwa, they say (just my words here but something along the lines) that there is no use in knowing only the sequence of kata, one should study the essence and applications of kata and so it is much better to know one or a few kata very well than to know many "dances" and therefore to be a jack of all trades regarding kata and karate.

I remember there is a thread with the title "saying bye bye to karate", in which Iain Abernethy states that he knows many practical karate groups in Berlin:

Iain Abernethy wrote:

...but I certainly know of plenty of practical groups in London (2nd largest European city) and Berlin (4th largest European city). Can’t speak to Moscow (biggest) or St. Petersburg (3rd biggest).


Anyway any input is much appreciated, thanks in advance,


ky0han's picture


there is a KU dojo directly in Berlin run by Matthias Hausmann and one in Potsdam run by Olaf Krey who is very close with Patrick McCarthy.

Regards Holger

shoshinjacky's picture

Thank you very much Holger, meanwhile I changed my mind just a little bit: The dojo, which I currently go, is really close to my home, so this is really an advantage comparing with the KU dojos. There is even a third KU dojo in Berlin, Reinickendorf, but that is also quite a way (I guess one can determine in which location I currently reside, from this :-)). So I maybe try those and attend to a training session, but I think in the short term: Because I only have so many hours a day, and work and family going, it is ok to study kata in my current dojo and that also counts as progress for me personally. I guess I don't have to rush, but I keep looking and I definitely continue studying articles/books/videos from the practical karate perspective.

Danke nochmal Holger, ich lese zurzeit auch Deinen Blog, danke auch dafür, thanks again,


Frankie's picture

Hi Shoshin, Which part of Berlin do you live in? I am also looking for a dojo, if I find anything good I can keep you posted. Frankie

shoshinjacky's picture

@Frankie I live in the north of Berlin, dito I share my thoughts and discoveries here, hope it does help someone.

I've done some research regarding karate in Berlin:

1. There are many many dojos Shotokan/Shito/Goju and so on. Berlin seems to be Germany's honbu/headquarter regarding Shito Ryu from the Mabuni Kenei line (first son of Mabuni Kenwa). I currently study this style, it is quite traditional in the sense that there are no competitions, it comprises of warming up, kata, bunkai and even more kata (tremendous amount of kata as Mabuni Kenwa's teachers were Itosu Anko and Higaonna Kanryo, and Mabuni sensei incorporated all the kata in his curriculum, even added his own kata). The reason is, the dojo is really close to my place and the people there are generally nice. I think it is ok as I sweat and train there, have some conversation.

But on the other side I think there is some dogmatism and I cannot speak freely about karate related topics or history as those tidbits I found. It would lead to difficult confrontations (ala "How dare you criticizing the old masters, the explanation, the bunkai, abc123", "You're not in a position, that's the way we always did" and so on). It is somehow paradox, I go to a karate place, study karate history in my free time but cannot share my findings with sensei, senpai and kohai. Because the history of karate is challenging, there are many quirks and things that go against the views of the general modern karateka, even if they claim it is traditional what they are doing. For example there is this stance called uchi hachi dachi or Naifanchin dachi in my current style (from Itosu and further to Mabuni). It is a kiba dachi but the feet look inward similar to sanchin dachi. Consequently the Naihanchi kata or Naifanchin kata is executed in that manner. History shows (sources from Joe Swift and Andreas Quast) that Motobu Choki once asked Matsumura Sokon about that stance. The latter did not share Itosu's view on naihanchi and states there it is even dangerous (for health?) and has no combative value, to formulate if mildly (Matsumura even called it "small turtle stance"). There are texts and hints for instance that Itosu had Genu varum and that he mainly learned karate from Nagahama (old Naha-Te) which maybe explains Itosu no naihanchi kata. So this is just one example.

2. There are three KU dojos in the vicinity Berlin Lichtenberg, Berlin Reinickendorf and Potsdam. Olaf Krey the German KU representative moved to Augsburg a while ago, so the honbu dojo moved to that place too. It claims to be a collection of principles (they avoid the use of the name style, to avoid the rigid, dogmatic nature of modern karate styles) of McCarthy sensei, it seems to offer no nonsense karate training.

3. There seems to be one Matsubayashi Ryu practitioner (Yondan, 4th dan) who offers training but there is no dojo. I find it interesting, because of its old maybe mostly unaltered kata from the times of Matsumura Sokon and Matsumora Kosaku that maybe have more realistic self defense applications. Who knows, I guess I have to find out. I contacted Heinz Tessner, who seems to be the main contact person regarding Matsubayashi Ryu in Germany.

So long,