Hatsu Bon For Sensei Nick D’Antuono

13 Sep

On September 13th, 2010, Sensei Nick D’Antuono was taken from us. Todays training training and the following Hatsu Bon Poem are offered to his spirit. Should you so desire, please join us and perform a kata of your choice in memory of Sensei Nick and a fallen comrade you may wish to remember on that date. May Sensei’s spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Sensei Nick, myself, Shihan Don Nagle, Circa: 1975

HATSU BON POEM
Please don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am
Nor am I sleeping for eternity
SEE!!
I am already part of the breezes
numbering a thousand
I am part of the light
that brightens this world
Like a diamond glittering in the snow
Like the sun that coaxes seeds to sprout
And in the Fall I become the gentle rain
that nurtures all.
When you open the window in the morning
I am the breeze
That causes your hair to flutter;
And at night, I am the star
That watches over your sleep.
So, please . . . don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am.
I am not dead.
I have been born anew.

Sincerity in sweat, rest in peace, Sensei.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Kata Lab # 2250: Kata Within You – Introduction

30 Aug

A dream is an answer to a question we have not yet learned to ask. Fox Mulder, The X-Files, (Paper Hearts episode, S4, E 10)

Background:
Kata is always within you.
In fact, you intentionally train to have kata within you. If a time comes when you are confronted by an attacker, kata rises to the surface and you can successfully defend yourself. The kata sequences that you instinctively use in your defense will vary based upon a great number of circumstances. Nonetheless, your training in kata will pay dividends in an actual street scenario. This kata lab explores that actuality. This Lab also functions as an introduction to the advanced concepts contained in Kata Lab # 4210: Kata Within You – Advanced.
Experiment:

  • Do not pre-select a kata for this lab. Your kata should be as spontaneous as possible;
  • Do not “spontaneously” perform your “favorite” kata. To do so defeats the purpose of this Kata Lab.
  • As you go about your day be aware of the fact that your kata is brewing inside you, waiting to let itself out;
    At a random point in time (you may also use a timer as in previous kata labs), let the kata out;
  • Perform the kata as you require at that specific time. For example, in Kata Lab number 2230, you performed the kata in a “life and death” scenario. This time, perform the kata as your specific needs may require, examples include, performing the kata to rejuvenate yourself if you are tired, or performing the kata to “stretch your legs” and “get your blood flowing” if you’re lethargic;
  • The kata that bursts forth from within you should be as random as possible based upon your physical and psychological needs at the time.

Conclusion:
This is a very basic kata lab to acquaint you with the idea that at all times, you are your kata and your kata is you. As you go about your day, kata simmers within you waiting to be called forth to help you through your day.
This lab also provides a firm foundation for Kata Lab # 4210: Kata Within You – Advanced and for other more advanced labs that follow.
This week’s featured video is

Bonus video from my new “Underground Bunkai” series:

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (“With the privilege and permission of the superiors”)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.
You may wish to view my other blogs –
  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Surprise – Are You Educated Or Trained?

16 Aug

Many years ago my friend, Shihan Wayne Norlander (R.I.P.), had presented the Issho-Dojo with a gift of a plaque bearing a quotation from Ray Bradbury.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout. Circa 2008

The subject of the quotation is the need for astronauts to continuously train to avoid surprise in the void of space.

If you don’t rehearse over and over –
Your going to be surprised in space –
And, the surprised man out there is the dead one.
We get ready then, by trying to surprise
Ourselves.

Looking at the plaque has brought the concepts of karate-do practice and surprise to the forefront of my thoughts.

As martial artists in general and karate-ka in particular, we often think about, discuss, theorize and debate the impact of practice on the element of surprise as it applies to actual combat. (See Endnote # 1) In my experience, such discussions, while highly enjoyable, are less than conclusive. There simply is no consensus amongst karate-ka as to the practice of karate-do and it’s impact on surprise.

In this article, I would like to stimulate your thoughts as to karate-do practice and surprise. To this end, I ask the question,

“As karate-ka, when it comes to the element of surprise, are you “trained” or are you “educated” as to this eventuality?”

In order to answer the question, you need to understand the difference between being “trained” as contrasted with being “educated.”

In his book, Finite and Infinite Games, James P. Carse (See Endnote # 2) defines the terms as follows:

To be trained is to be prepared against surprise. (The opponent) must appear to be something he isn’t. All (his) moves must be deceptive: feints, distractions, falsifications, misdirections and mystifications.” To be trained is to avoid surprise caused by such deception. The trained person desires to anticipate every potential scenario so as to hope to control the future (surprise) in an effort to prevent it from altering the present (the fight).

To be educated is to be prepared for and expect (the inevitability) of surprise. The educated man does not avoid surprise but accepts and expects it. The educated man conducts himself so as to expect surprise. Thus, surprise is the natural expression of the future upon the present.

Now, I again ask, “In practicing karate-do are you a trained man or an educated man?”

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

1. I intentionally use the term “theorize” because the vast majority of modern karate-ka simply have not engaged in actual combat. Naturally, the highest aim of karate-do is to avoid physical confrontation. Having said that, I submit that when one who has not engaged in actual combat states what will or will not occur in combat, such statements are merely hypothetical. It is rather spurious for them to state as fact that which in reality is theory. And, “No” tournament kumite is not actual combat.

2. Carse, James P., Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision Of Life As Play And Possibility (Ballantine Books, New York, NY 1986) pp. 22-23.
  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!
   For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
 my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Hatsu Bon For A Fallen Student

2 Aug

It is with a sad heart that I post this Hatsu Bon for a fallen student. In respect of his family, I shall refer to him only as “D.”

When I taught him a decade ago, there was no way of knowing that he would leave this world before his twentieth birthday. He passed away on July 26th, 2017, but the cause his his passing actually occurred Monday, July 24th. Each Monday I shall perform and dedicate the three Taikiyoku kata to his memory and the memory of all students that have passed before my time.

In addition, today’s kata is dedicated to his eternal spirit. Please join me and dedicate a kata to a student, or dojo comrade who has passed before our time.

The following Hatsu Bon poem is not the one I normally post. This poem is taken directly from the memorial card used for “D’s” services. The sentiment is; however, the same. As “D’s” family is of polish descent, the poem was also written in the Polish language.

 

 

May your eternal spirit find peace young “D.”

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Sine Quo Non Sanchin Kata

19 Jul

“Sine Quo Non” is a phrase I learned during my years (1985 to 1989) at Seton Hall University School Of Law (Newark, NJ). Sine quo non is a latin phrase that refers to “an indispensable and essential action or ingredient” or “without which (there is) nothing.”
Sine quo non provides a restatement of the importance of Sanchin. Thus, it is an excellent platform upon which to base this Online Kata session.
The goal of the Sine Quo Non Online Kata session session is to acknowledge and appreciate that without the three battles of Sanchin, breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind, our lives would not be possible.
Sine quo non also refers to the advanced three battles encompassing our multi-state of existence (See Endnote # 1).

Memorial Day 2015 – Sanchin Kata footprints, North Truro, Cape Code, MA

You are cordially invited to perform the Sine Quo Non Online Kata session.

Remember, the group dynamic is not fulfilled by all of us being geographically present, rather, it is fulfilled by each of us performing Sanchin in the proscribed manner.

Session Parameters:
(Those readers that know my “Holy Trinity” of Kata, please see Endnote # 2)
Date: The week of July 24th, 2017;
Time: either first activity in the morning or the last activity at the end of the day. Even better, perform Sanchin at both times;
Location: preferably an outdoor location;
Salient Points:

  • As you perform Sanchin, remember and embrace the simple fact that without the fundamental three battles (breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind), you would not exist;
  • Without the three battles, you would not live, therefore, your life is, in fact, the synchronization of the three battles. Thus, life is Sanchin and Sanchin is life;
  • Appreciate the frailty of life during your performance and seek to embrace the beauty of life throughout your day;
  • For those that understand the advanced three battles reflected in Endnote # 1, exist in each of the three states of being throughout the day;

The last requirement of this Sanchin Pilgrimage is to remain in an enraptured physical, spiritual and metaphysical state throughout the day by way of the concept of “Zanshin” (the “remaining mind”).

You may wish to not only perform this session as scheduled, but may also make it an integral part of your regular Sanchin practice.

In closing, I remain, the three battles of Sanchin,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

 For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

ENDNOTES:
1. A more advanced Sanchin-Ka (practitioner of Sanchin) should understand that the basic definition of the three battles (or aspects of Sanchin) is redundant. Specifically, breathing and bodily movement describe a physical state. Thus, two of the three battles may more accurately be defined as the physical state and the spiritual state (which encompasses state-of-mind, emotions and psyche). How then do I define the third battle? It is the environmental state (how we interact with the world around us, its effects upon us physically and how we effect it).

2. For those readers that know what I call the “Holy Trinity” of kata, Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei (Pechurin), I would suggest the following performance parameters:
First act in the morning, with the rising sun, perform Sanchin as an ode to the physical aspect of life, namely breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind”;
At mid-day, perform Seienchin as a reminder of the spiritual nature of life and the duality of same symbolized by the affect of “calm in the storm, storm in the calm”;
The very last act of the day, under the awe-inspiring night sky, “pray” with Suparunpei (Pechurin) as emblematic of a desire to appreciate the eternal interconnectivity we have with all that surrounds us.

Suggested video of the Holy Trinity:

Sanchin Kata:

Seienchin Kata:

Suparunpei Kata:

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Sensei John is now on Facebook, under – FLY FISHING DOJO, you are invited to send a Facebook friend request.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata – A Solution – Part 1

5 Jul

   New Jersey loves its shore.

That wondrous place where the sand is kissed by the Atlantic Ocean Songs have been written about it, movies made around it and until recently a great place to visit.

If you live in New Jersey or have followed the national news, you are familiar with the state’s budget battle. The battle resulted in government, including several state parks, being shut down during the Fourth of July weekend. One such state park was Island Beach State Park.

This park in particular became a flash point. It became “the” example of political arrogance. It showed we deserve to be powerless.

Island Beach State Park contains a vacation residence for the governor. Did our esteemed governor, Chris Christie, stand in solidarity with others that could not use the park? Did he even understand their frustration? Most worked all week and looked forward to a long weekend. Several, like me, had to work part of the weekend and maybe only had one day off. Now, the ocean was off limits. No frolicking in the waves. No playing in the sand. No reading a book to the melody of the ocean.

For all of New Jersey, except the Christie and family, the entrance to Island Beach State Park was barricaded by highway cones. Three rangers turned people away. The park was closed. The ocean was off limits.

So how did Governor Christie connect with the people he represents? He and his family used their vacation residence. They had the entire park to themselves.


The media soon circulated photos of a sunbathing Christie adorned in his oversized beach outfit. He was surrounded by smiling family and no one else. When asked if this was unfair, the Governor looked up from his straining beach chair and glibly told us:

“The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t. That’s the way it goes. Run for governor and you can have the residence.”

Soon social media was abuzz. On Facebook, a few media outlets were posting live video feeds with the governor’s statement. Angry New Jerseyians soon took to posting their live comments online.

My first thought was, “What a bunch of sheep; teach the guy a lesson.” The logistics were simple. Island Beach would normally have been filled to capacity on a holiday weekend. Thousand of people would have been in attendance. So it seemed simple. I almost posted a comment,

“Go use the State Park despite the shut down. There is no way three rangers can turn away thousands of people. Don’t sit on Facebook complaining, its your state park, use it as is your right as a resident.”

Then reason took hold of my thoughts. “Bad idea.”

Notwithstanding that the governor’s political arrogance need to be called out, it would be chaos to defy the governor in such a way. I understood there was one reason people could not defy the governor. They could not use the park in defiance of his closing. It was simple. People did not know kata.

Since people did not know kata, they “deserved” to have the park closed. Had they known kata, they could have swam in the ocean, played in the sand and otherwise relaxed. Without kata this was (voluntarily) lost to them. Even if only martial artists used the park, it would still be problematic. Most martial artists do not sufficiently understand kata so as to make this act of defiance feasible The truth is not enough people understand my saying that “Life is a kata.” ©

For now I’m going to let that hang in the air a bit. Think about it and see if you can figure out what I mean. If not, further along I’ll post my thoughts on the idea that Kata can be a solution to political arrogance.

In the meantime, I wish the governor well with his on going political battles, including his battle with his bulging persona and ego.

Until next time, I’m out and about. Riding my motorcycle to anywhere I please. Always, my kata is packed with me. For me and a few select others, our motto is “Kata – Anybody, anyplace, anytime.” ©

 

This weeks video features Sanchin Kata during a motorcycle ride alongside the cotton fields of San Tan Valley, Arizona (my home from 2004 to 2014).

Respectfully submitted

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 

   For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!
 For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata – A Perfect Summer Souvenir

21 Jun

Ah, summer is here!

A time when many of us travel. Whether we journey to an exotic location for an extended stay, simply indulge ourselves in a long weekend, or take the refreshing day trip, a hallmark of summer is travel. In an effort to preserve our experiences, such travel usually involves the ritual of obtaining souvenirs. Here is a simple way to collect a souvenir for no financial cost; the sole cost may be expressed in terms of a little sweat.

Seienchin Kata, Badlands, SD, Circa 2004 – Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Since I was first introduced to the concept at ten years old by Sensei Nock D’Antuono, I have always enjoyed performing kata outdoors in any location. I can unabashedly admit that I prefer to perform kata in the magnificence of Nature’s Dojo instead of the relative sterility of a traditional dojo. To be sure, the traditional dojo carries an aura and mystique for me, but, I carry such a dojo in my heart and prefer to exhibit it in nature.

Tensho Kata practice, Cape Cod, MA, circa, 1999

For decades, I have collected kata souvenirs of my many travels. Much like looking through a photo album, I am able to revisit my travels by recalling them while performing my kata. Regardless of my present location, I can perform a kata and recall a memory of performing the kata at a different time and in a different place.

A Sanchin pontoon boat ride with Miko (R.I.P.), Lake George, NY circa 1999

Here is a video of my most last kata souvenir filmed in 2014 amongst the wild horse herd at the Lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Here are a few tips to assist you in collecting your own kata souvenirs.

  • Wherever you travel perform your kata. For those readers that acquainted themselves with Sanchin Kata, perform Sanchin. (You may use this convenient link to acquaint yourself with Sanchin Kata https://senseijohn.me/sanchin-book/ ) Karate practitioners, please see the recommendations of the the “Kata Sommelier” below);
  • During your performance note the experience of your surroundings, what are the sights and smells? If barefoot, how does the ground feel (is it sandy, rocky, watery, etc). Pay attention to the weather conditions; was it hot, sunny, cold, rainy?
  • Remember the time of day of your performance; sunrise, midday, sunset, etc. Take notes of your experiences before and after the kata performance so that they will be associated with the kata;
  • If you are with someone, recall their presence during your kata;
  • If possible, to assist you, take a photo of a pose from your kata, video record the performance or simply jot down a few notes for future reference;
  • Remember that you interact with the environment during your kata performance, therefore, you leave a part of you in the environment. Thus, a part of you will always remain “on vacation” at that location.
  • Kata Sommelier: For my karate colleagues I would recommend that you perform a different kata at each of the various locations you visit this summer. This way a specific kata will be associated with a specific location, thus giving you a lasting “souvenir.”

Sanchin at the Lower Salt River, AZ

Good luck and have a great summer collecting Kata souvenirs!

Here is a video of my Shobu Sanchin Kata while being watched by vultures.

In closing, I remain collecting my kata summer souvenirs.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/category/kata-laboratory/
  Sensei John is available his Kata Laboratory seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

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