On The Road With Sensei John – Part 1

16 Apr
Once again, it is April and time to make the road trip home to Arizona (USA) from New Jersey (USA). I have made this almost 2,600 mile “commute” over 20 times since 2004, including 14 times by motorcycle with my dog, Chloe (her picture may be found on the “Meet Sensei” page of this site). It is my custom that a few days prior to each trip, I re-read some of the great literary tales of travel and journey.
The one book that accompanies me on every road trip is a dog-eared copy of On The Road by Jack Kerouac (Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1959). Now, as I pack this epic tome for yet another road trip, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of Kerouac’s musings with you and to encourage you to contemplate Kerouac in light of your Karate-Do and martial ideology. Again, the within is not intended to be the sole province of those fortunate to have knowledge of Karate-Do. Rather, the within can be viewed in terms of any art form or ideological endeavor.
As with the earlier “Dojo Experiments” this article does not provide answers. Rather, through dialogue, the experiment prods you along the path of Karate-Do and life. And so, it is time to be, On The Road.
Except Number One: 
 Something, someone, some spirit was pursuing all of us across the desert of life and was bound to catch us before we reached heaven. Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death; death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death. But who wants to die? Id. At 124.
Take Kerouac’s observation, train earnestly and while secreting the sweet sweat of your efforts, ask yourself:

1. If death is pursuing us through life, why do we insist on taking each day for granted? Make a decision to live the ideology of Ichi-Nichi-Issho (One Day-One Lifetime) which provides, inter alia, that today is your life. When added to yesterday, today forms links of a chain that is collectively known as a lifetime. So, if you want to train, train today. If you love your spouse, or child, tell them so today. Death is pursuing so grasp a hold of the “Now” and fulfill it – NOW.

2. Once adopted as a component part of your personal ideology, would the ideology of Ichi-Nichi-Issho make you “sigh and groan with a lost bliss?”;

3. If you practice your Karate-Do with a pure heart, can you now manifest and achieve the bliss that Kerouac feels is only reproducible in the womb? Is not Karate-Do the womb that incubates your persona to a blissful level?

Excerpt Number Two:

We had longer ways to go. But, no matter the road is life. Id. At 212.

Consider the road of Karate-Do, or your other art form. Does the road continue? Does it stop? Does it contain diverging paths? To be sure, if you have an open mind and a pure heart, Karate-Do is the road to life. As Miyamoto Musashi observed in Go Ron No Sho (A Book of Five Rings) “You must learn this well.”

Excerpt Number Three:

No matter where I live, my trunk’s always sticking out from under the bed, I’m ready to leave or get thrown out. I’ve decided to leave everything out of my hands. Id. At 251.

With the above passage in mind contemplate how Karate-Do has prepared you to have your trunk’s packed; to be ready to spontaneously meet life’s challenges so as to enjoy its rewards.

As my excitement of being on the open road soon approaches the crescendo moment when the key is turned and the engine roars to life, I have also re-read the following from the memoirs of General George S. Patton. I believe this passage also has insights into artful pursuits.

All members of our oil-daubed civilization think of roads as long slabs of concrete or black-top, or at least as dragged and graded thoroughfares full of wheel ruts. As a matter of fact, roads, or it is better to call them trails, existed thousands of years before the earth- shaking invention of the wheel was even dreamed of, and it was along such roads that our sandaled or barefoot progenitors moved from place to place. . .

It takes little imagination to translate the nomad on his white stallion and the men and women on donkeys into the Canterbury pilgrims, while the footman, equipped with large staff and poniard, can easily be mistaken for Friar Tuck, Little John or Robin Hood. This similarity applies not only to their dress, but also to their whiskers, filth and probably to their morals; and they are all talking, always talking. They have no recourse. There are no books, newspapers or radios to distract them. From War As I Knew It: The Battle Memoirs of “Blood & Guts”, General George S. Patton, Jr. (Houghton Miller 1947) pp. 44-45.

As you train, and specifically, as you perform your Kata (or other art form) in a modern Dojo, or studio, consider the early ancestors of your art form as they trained, in sandals or barefoot, in nature. Consider how the art of these primordial practitioners compares to your art as it exists today.

I hope the within Dojo experiments spur in you a reflective desire to contemplate and evaluate your Karate-Do or other chosen art form. Karate-Do is merely the mechanistic means of discovering that which we all desire – to know who we in fact are.

And so, as I am about to drive north to south, east to west on (US) Interstate Highway numbers 78, 81 and 40, I will be thinking of you sincerely sweating, pondering, blissfully enjoying, your Karate-Do. I will visit a few Dojo along the way. Upon my return to Arizona, I will post a travel-log and pictures for your enjoyment and contemplation. Until then, I remain, on the road . . . of life.

 Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do
 For information on my application of the martial arts and Kata to daily life, please feel free to visit my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com

An expanded discussion of my methodology & ideology may also be found in my new book The Dynamic Meditation Rite Of Sanchin: Gateway To The Three Battles To The Plateau Of Human Serenity. Please see the “Sanchin Book” page of this site.

You may also find additional information on Jiriki Kata-Do, by reading my article herein dated December 15 , 2009. Entitled “Kata evolves into a methodology and ideology …”

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