Shibumi – Kata Framework: Strategy

4 Dec


The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient


Shibumi Kata Framework:

The framework upon which I am building the Shibumi Kata (with direct inout from “Dean”) is as follows:

1. The strategy by which “Dean” will modify his physical and psychological state to offset the dilatory effects of cancer in general and specifically chemotherapy;

2. The conduit from translating the strategy to the actual tactics used in such modification;

3. The tactics, or the specific means which will enable “Dean” to achieve his goals of modifying his physical and psychological states.


The strategy employed by the Shibumi kata is grounded the most elemental aspect of nature, namely the three states of matter. All matter exists in three states: solid, liquid and gas. To assist “Dean”, I have ascribed a very simple symbolism with each state. The three states shall be represented by water, steam and ice.

All three states modify their existing environment. By adapting a state, “Dean” chooses the means by which he interacts with the environment.

The three states shall be applied to Shibumi as follows.

Water State:

The “Water State” is the default state. It is the state that is desired at all times. Like water, this state is completely flexible and bounded only by the container. As a glass contains water, a river bed contains a steam and the shores contain an ocean, the environment within which Dean exists at any moment in time shall be the sole boundary within which he is confined. This is to say that as “Dean” defines his boundary, so he defines his limits.

This concept may be understood by the following example.

During chemotherapy, “Dean” shall be placed in a private room, in a comfortable chair and have the chemotherapy chemicals delivered into a port (previously placed on “Dean’s” chest).  “Dean”, like an average person, may choose to define his limits as the confines of that room.  In nature, absent an “effect” (such as an event that causes a tsunami, for example) water modifies its boundary slowly, steadily and over time. Thus in this state “Dean” acquiesces to and accepts his situation both physically and psychologically.

While accepting it, he also fully understands that with patience, he can modify himself physically and psychologically. He can modify how he chooses to perceive his physical environment, in this case the room for chemotherapy. He can also modify his external environment and situations that confront him. For example, a rainy “depressing” “gloomy” day can be welcomed as a means for bringing life-giving water. An irritable person encountered during the course of a day, while initially irritating, can be viewed as a positive experience by understanding the contrast emotion – by contrast to irritability, “Dean’s” composure can be savored.

Modification Of the Water State:

“Dean” may need to psychologically modify his water state. To so benefit, he may choose to contract his perception of that which confines him within his own mind. For example, in the water state, “Dean” may consider himself confined to the chemotherapy room. If he contracts his perception, he would limit his confinement to the chair he sits in rather than the room within which lays the chair. He may also expand his psychological view of his confinement. In this instance, “Dean” may consider himself confined  not to either the chair or the room for chemotherapy, but rather to the Hospital within which the room is contained. Such expansion and contraction is achieved through the “Steam State” and the “Ice State”

Steam State:

The Steam State is a lighter, more adaptable state. As water turns to steam, its boundaries are lessened; steam flows and exists more freely than water. By adapting the steam state, “Dean” can lighten any physical or psychological burden.

To accomplish this, “Dean” will perceive steam being absorbed by its unbounded environment. If for, example “Dean” suffers from a specific discomfort, say a pain in his chest from the burning effect of the chemotherapy drugs, he can dissipate the pain by perceiving it as flowing through and out of his entire body and not just contained within his chest. Similarly, if “dean” suffers from a depressed state, he can dissipate the state by recognizing it exists and allowing it to envelope him so as to expel it from him. Steam affects its environment quickly and profoundly. A fast burst of steam can drive a steam engine, a quick burst of steam can burn and scar human skin. As such, by lightening his physical and psychological state from the water state, “Dean” can quickly modify himself and the effect his surroundings have upon him.

Ice State:

The ice state is a compressed, hard state. As water turns to ice, it compresses and solidifies its molecules. Similarly, the ice state will allow “Dean” to contract within himself. In effect, he will take a generalized physical or psychological state contract it and ultimately “lock it away.” The most common side effect of “Dean’s” chemotherapy is a generalized fatigue and malaise. Such side effect will effect “Dean’s” water state. “Dean” can contract these general feelings (turn them to ice, if you will) thereby removing the generalization of same throughout his body. Once reduced from a larger state to a smaller state, these effects can be compartmentalized, managed and expelled from within “Dean”

The next chapter looks at the catalyst for the strategy – the act of breathing.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI - bonzai lake


Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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