Sensei’s Journal: Entry # 19 – Symbols Of The Shaman

21 Feb

There are no symbols of rank in either my Kata-Rx for Wellness program or my Katannabis (Kata-Rx entheogenically combined with medical cannabis). Karate was different. There were ten levels (called “Kyu” grades) from beginner to black belt. These levels being represented by various colored belts, starting with white, and/or stripes on the belt. At black belt there are also ten levels, called “Dan” grades. The lowest being first degree (San-dan) and the highest being tenth degree (Ju-dan). The various black belt degrees from fourth grade (Yon-dan) to tenth grade (Ju-dan) are somewhat exotic involving combinations of the colors black, red and white. For a description of the black belts in the Goshin-Do system please use this link

In the photo below are the three black belts that have the most meaning to me. They best represent my development and views on kata throughout the years. They are, my first degree black belt (now a grayish-white with age), my fourth degree (Yon-dan) belt, (red and white stripes on one side and black on the other) and my seventh degree black belt (Nana-dan) (red and black sides). See endnote # 1

You will notice the Kanji on the one tip it reads, “Ichi-Nichi Issho” or “One day one lifetime.” I was so enamored of this philosophy that, beginning with my fourth degree belt, every belt thereafter had the embroidery. I also named my Kata-Rx for wellness hallmark kata for the philosophy.

My original black belt represents the period during which I became comfortable with developing and experimenting with the physical aspects of kata. I had also earned the title of “Sensei” (literally “Before-being”, but loosely “Teacher”). This period brought about a deep rooted imagination to discover so-called “hidden” self-defense techniques in the Kata. Thus began a period of introspection and discovery.

Decades later I was awarded my fourth degree black belt and the title “Karate-Do Renshi” (karate advanced teacher or coach). At this time I began to develop my concept of the “Three battles of Kata” to represent the idea that there was more to kata than just the physical. There was the spiritual which codified state-of-minds, emotions and psyche and the environmental which represented the interrelationship between Kata and the physical environment. These were the earliest stages of my Kata-Rx for wellness program and its humble beginnings with my “Sanchin Kata for everyone” campaign and book.

Even more decades later when I was awarded my Seventh Degree (nana-dan), I began to develop my Katannabis program – the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx and medical cannabis as a meditative, mind-expanding practice.

So there you have it, the evolution of my Kata-Rx and Katannabis programs symbolized by three belts. I look at them now not as symbols or ranks, but as my “Symbols of the Shaman.” But, that is for another day.

Until the next time, I remain, 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

And by-the-way:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class:


 1. I had passed my fifth degree black belt (same coloring as the fourth degree except that the white stripe is black) onto my senior black belt. I buried my sixth degree black belt (one side alternating red and white panels with the other side black) with my father who would drive me to my earliest lessons when I was ten years old.

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

  • Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;
  • Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);
  • Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.


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