8 May

While the within is expressed in terms of Karate-Do, I submit that the topic of Nenjuushin, “everyday mind” applies to any sport, hobby, and artistic endeavor, such as painting, music and the like. For your enjoyment and everyday use, I submit the following.

Training within Shihan Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Dojo, I was schooled in the idea that training in the martial arts should not be made into a special event. Rather, it should be a necessary part of our daily lives. This is referred to as “Nenjuushin”, the “everyday mind.”  Later in life, when I began training in Kobudo, the art of ancient weapons, my various instructors made the point that the ancient weapons of the Okinawa peasants were, with limited exception, everyday farm implements. (See endnote #1). In times of turmoil, these everyday farm implements were utilized by the Okinawa peasants to defend themselves against the sword wielding Samurai. Whenever I learned a new weapon, my instructors insisted that the weapon first be used while performing basic, such as push-ups and sit-ups. Such rudimentary practice was necessary to indoctrinate me to the most fundamental use of the weapon.

There is a Zen fable which exemplifies this point. A young priest once asked a Zen master, “What is the most important aspect of practice?” The Zen master replied, “Did you just finish eating?” “Yes,” replied the young monk. “Then go wash your bowl,” came the master’s reply. The meaning of this parable is that practice can never be separated from the essential daily activity of our lives. Indeed, our martial arts must become one within ourselves, not something external to ourselves which we are hopelessly try to grasp. (See Endnote # 2).

The corollary maxims of Nenjuushin maybe found in an article I posted a few weeks ago wherein I set forth the “Twenty Percepts Of Funakoshi-Sensei” – here is a convenient link to the article: https://senseijohn.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/warrior-ideology-part-1-of-2/

Relevant to the concept of nenjuushin are the following three percepts:

8. Do not think that Karate is only in the Dojo.

9. Karate practice is lifetime work; there is no limit.

10. Put your everyday living into Karate, you will find peace.

Applying the above and the everyday mind of nenjuushin to any human endeavor, one may begin to understand how to broaden one’s appreciation and usage of any art. For example, the percept “Do not think Karate is only in the Dojo” stands, inter alia, for the idea that an art is not limited to the physical confines of the place where it is “normally” practiced. Karate-Do is normally practiced in building, called a Dojo. However, at a very young age, my first Sensei, Sensei Nick D’Antuono (one of Shihan DeFelice’s Yudansha), introduced me to the idea that Karate-Do should also be practiced outdoors, in nature. This idea became permanently instilled in my heart. My greatest expression of Karate-Do is now to be found in the most esoteric natural environment. For example, below are two photographs of me practicing the Seienchin Kata at various times in my life. The first is circa, 1999 and was taken at North Truro, Cape Cod, Ma during low tide. The second is circa 2003 and was taken during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the Badlands, ND.


Leaving the confines of one’s studio will provide a fresh experience and perspective of one’s art form. Thus, write music, play music, paint, and the like any where, not just inside. Practice your sport, including  so-called “indoor sports”, outside. If you are an indoor swimmer, swim in a lake or an ocean as part of your training. If you are a basketball player practice outdoors where the spontaneous elements of wind and even rain will help to improve your game.

Looking to the second percept above, “Karate practice is lifetime work; there is no limit” one can begin to understand that such training includes everyday “elements”. I recently taught a senior-level class at Shihan Norlander’s USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo, I utilized an “ancient training device” so that the students can practice technique and Kata with the goal of improving their grip. What was the ancient training device? Two cantaloupes.

Again, this idea can expand any art or hobby. Instead of painting with a brush try something different; remember when you were young and painted with your fingers. If you are a musician, find a non-traditional instrument to use in your songs. I once saw a television documentary about a rock formation in Pennsylvania that is a major tourist location. These rocks, when struck with a hammer, makes beautiful sounds.

When you open yourself to the possibilities of enhancing and experiencing your art, hobby or life’s pursuit, such as Karate-Do by employing the concept of nenjuushin, you will find peace. Thus, the third percept from above; “Put your everyday living into Karate, you will find peace is realized.”

Makiwara practice in the snow, Circa 1998

In concluding this article, I will modify another of Funakoshi-Sensei percepts, “Real ART (Karate) is as hot water returning to cold water if energy is not constantly applied. Nenjuushin will help you keep your art, sport, hobby, or other pursuit fresh, alive, a source of inspiration for many years – in other words, HOT.

In closing I remain, a believer in the everyday mind,




Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do

For a view of Nenjuushin in the form of Kata in nature, here is a link for a promotional video about my Sanchin Kata & Jiriki Kata-Do DVD filmed in the Tonto National Forest. Arizona. Please see the “SANCHIN DVD & BOOK” page tab above for information on how to purchase the DVD.    LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE


  1. The exception to the farm implement origin is usually found in metal weapons, such as the Sai. Metal was costly in ancient times. Tools made from metal, except those  with a specific need, were beyond the normal financial means of the average peasant. Metal tools needed for a specific purpose, such as the sickle, or Kama, which was necessary to trim and cut vegetation, would be purchased only when absolutely necessary. The remaining traditional metal weapons of Kobudo, such as the Sai, Nunti and Naginata were used by members of the police or palace guards.; thus they did not originate as farm implements.

2. Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (Lessons In The Spiritual Life Of The Warrior/Martial Artist (O’Hara Publications, Inc., 1996) p. 48.

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit the “Sanchin Book” page of this weblog.

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to fly-fishing by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Wordpress.Com

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