The Mountain Path – Introduction

15 Feb

Sensei often discussed martial arts ideology. Many times, a given ideology was symbolized by a zen koan, or an obscure saying. The following from the Zen-master Ikkyu, is one such example.

“Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain, but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.” (See endnote number 1)

In the martial arts, this quote has several applications. One such application is to express the idea that regardless of the specific martial art (karate compared to kung-fu compared to aikido, etc), all martial arts have the same goal. Similarly, within the context of karate, the quote illustrated the idea that notwithstanding the specific style of karate studied (Goju-ryu compared to Shorin-Ryu compared to Isshin-Ryu, etc), all styles of karate had the same goal.

I remember the first time I heard the quote. After a hard training session, Sensei DeFelice used the quote to symbolize his concept that the various karate kata all had the same goal. I looked around the dojo and, as par for the course, the class were all nodding their heads knowingly like a bunch of enlightened bobble-head figurines. Unfortunately for me, my character is not one to bob-the-head. My character tends to absorb such teachings and then ask more and more questions.

I came to realize that the above concept was utterly incomplete. A close examination clearly implies three stages of a journey. The above discussion merely expresses one-third of the available concepts.

The next three articles will explore my thoughts as to not only the apparent one-third, but also the unrealized two-thirds of ideology behind the saying.

dreams-seisan   Until then, train hard, practice your kata with a true heart, and be of clean spirit. Oh, and remember:
“Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain, but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.”

Respectfully submitted (“By the light of the silvery moon”)


Sensei John Szmitkowski

Featured video: from the Underground Bunkai series:


1. Though not referenced as a source of the quote at the time, the quote seems to come from the Zen-master Ikkyū (1394-1481). It is; however, also found in other sources and contexts. Two examples are:

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same”, a Chinese proverb, and

“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” A Hindu proverb.

KATA LAB  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:

© 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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing
DOJO STICKER-1   the Goshin-Do Karate blog at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: