Katannabis – Designing Your Syllabus: Level I Kata

17 Feb

Detail of levels

Level I Kata

(This discussion is geared towards the martial artist who is familiar with Kata. Non-martial artists can learn and use my Kata curriculum I developed specifically for them – please return to the Katannabis page for a link)

About five minutes before a Katannabis session, take a puff of the cannabis entheogen and sit quietly in Zazen. I let the day, with its attendant pressures, worries, joys, sorrow, wash away. Once I am a “Tableau Rasa,” a blank slate, I am ready to start. The starting point is Level I Kata. 

Level I takes into account the basic biological fact that the food of the brain, the residence of the higher state of mind, is oxygen. Yes, your brain, an organ, requires proteins, amino acids and other such nutrients. But, without oxygen, it ceases to function almost immediately. Doubt me, fine – squeeze your throat for four to six seconds then once you wake-up from passing out, stop reading and walk away, you’re not ready for Katannabis!

There are distinct characteristics of the two Kata that you will perform at this level of Katannabis:

  • The creation of a need, or hunger, for oxygen;
  • The similar/dissimilar aspects of the two Kata;
  • The performer’s Kata visualization;
  • Start having “The Passion” – get the energy flowing.

Hunger for oxygen:

The overriding purpose of the early levels is to generate a need for oxygen. You must get the “Blood flowing.” At this stage it is important that the kata be entirely “physical.” That is to say the entire kata is performed swiftly with kime, focus. The overall rhythm of the kata is martial in nature. By this I mean that the sequences are performed physically and spiritually as if you are in combat. By contrast, a methodic, expanded breathing, dynamic tension Kata, will not suffice at this level. 

Similar/dissimilar Kata sequences:

The two Kata in this level must be similar in pattern but dissimilar in specific movement. This is a physical key that will foster a non-physical attribute of Kata. The chosen Kata effectively build upon the other. This means that the movements of the second, more “advanced” Kata are “hidden” within the first. 

Using my Goshin-Do Karate Kata syllabus, I chose Fuku and Gekisai Kata. Other kata that meet the similarity criteria would include, but not be limited to:

  • Gekisai-Dai-Ichi, Gekisai-Dai-Ni, and the other Gekisai variants;
  • Any kata in the Taikiyoku, Pinan or Heian Kata series;
  • Generally any Kata that differentiates between a “sho” (little) and “dai” (great) suffix, Kanku-sho and Kanku-dai, Gojushiho-sho and Gojushiho-dai.

The similarity of Kata pattern with dissimilar specific movements highlights individuality being lost into a more encompassing oneness. The cannabis entheogen connects the Kata mentally by subconsciously highlighting the differences in the two similar kata. Within the same general framework (analogous to the “physical”) there exists a more divergent, fluid, evolving level within the smaller sequences (analogous to the (“spiritual”). While performing the first Kata physically, your mind subconsciously begins to “process as if performing” the hidden moves of the second Kata. When you perform the second Kata physically, your memory is subconsciously revisiting the first kata. 

This phenomenon introduces, on a subconscious level, the non-physical attributes of Kata. These attributes gain more and more emphasis in the coming levels.

Performer’s Kata Visualization:

The key here is as your to visualize the physical application of the movements. You should visualize fighting the imaginary opponent inferred to by the Kata. It is this physical application to which many martial artists devote themselves to. When this mental process is enacted with a partner it is called “Bunkai.” (See endnote # 1) Many a Kata practitioner will spend the majority of their time visualizing the Kata’s inherent imaginary battle. In Katannabis, this is but a starting point. Like Sanchin, all Kata have “Three Battles.” The three battles are not merely limited to the physical. To do so limits you to one battle – the Physical. (See Endnote #2). Below are my visualization notes from my personal Katannabis Journals.

Start the “Passion” – get the energy flowing:

In order to enter the higher mental dimensions, one must begin to generate energy. Let us simply label this energy as “passion” for now. Passion in this sense is analogous with any forceful state-of-mind, or being fervent. This quasi-emotional state generates an energy, senses and responses sail up and down the nervous system to the mind and body. You “feel the burn” not only physically but also mentally. It is this physically derived energy that must be made manifest through the Kata. Be passionate with your Kata!


The above is sufficient to get your starting with developing your own Katannabis curriculum. Effort, experimentation, trial and error, and documenting your efforts, will produce results. Hey look, it only took me twenty of the over fifty years of Kata practice to develop Katannabis. 

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

For those readers unfamiliar with Fuku and Gekisai Kata (the Goshin-Do Gekisai is actually the Gekisai-Dai-San of Sensei Seikichi Toguchi), here are two video: Fuku is from my Kata Lab series and Gekisai features historical footage of Hanshi Frank Van Lenten, enjoy:


1. A full discussion of what I consider “Bunkai” is beyond the ken of this discussion. Suffice to say if you understand that Kata exists on the three levels set forth in endnote # 2, then and in that event, Bunkai the analysis of Kata) must also extend to those three battles. 

2. For too long to remember when it started, I have advocated that the “Three Battles” of Sanchin Kata, and by extension, every other Kata, must include the non-physical elements of Kata, namely:

Battle (or attribute 1): The physical,

Battle (or attribute 2): The Spiritual (non-physical): psyche, emotions, state-of-mind, such as Mushin, Zanshin, Nenjuushin, etc,

Battle (or attribute 3); The Metaphysical: or environmental;, the physical and non-physical geography, or terrain, within which the Kata is performed.


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